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Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  407 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
This textbook presents the scientific method and applies it to popular frauds and misconceptions in the field of prehistoric archaeology, such as the Cardiff Giant, Piltdown Man, Atlantis, America's first inhabitants, creationism, Noah's Ark, and the Newark Holy Stones. Black and white photographs are provided. The fifth edition adds a chapter on a
Paperback, 366 pages
Published May 10th 2005 by McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages (first published April 1990)
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Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
A fairly interesting read. Its style is somewhere in between that of a textbook and that of a "popular" book. I'm not sure it entirely succeeds at either. The topics it covers include the Piltdown Man hoax, the Cardiff Giant hoax, the mound building culture, Atlantis, and settlement/discovery of North America. It's my personal opinion that everyone who has an interest in science should be aware of the Piltdown Hoax. The Cardiff Giant hoax was new to me; it might be of interest to those of you wh ...more
Sharon Hill
May 27, 2016 Sharon Hill rated it it was amazing
Essential book for any one interested in anomalies, anthropology, fringe claims, science communication and scientific skepticism. Excellent. A joy to read. No swearing, though, which makes it a bit odd if you are familiar with Dr. Feder...
Jun 12, 2008 Melissa rated it really liked it
Probably the favorite book I read in Archaeology. Great myth busters and questions answered. Debunks what you thought you knew about atlantis, ancient egypt, giants, evolutionary findings and more...
AK Anderson
Aug 01, 2015 AK Anderson rated it it was amazing
Hilarious, thought-provoking, and educational. I highly recommend this for the gullible and the skeptical.
Jan 23, 2013 Rob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't think I've ever been so enthusiastic about reading a textbook before. I first learned about Professor Feder through his appearances on the podcast Monster Talk, where he is profane, irreverent, and hilarious. None of that is in the textbook, of course, but the snark surfaces occasionally and he seems to become more irritated with pseudoscientific hucksters the closer the book (which, though organized by subject, roughly follows a chronological track) gets to the present. More than once, ...more
Yasiru (reviews will soon be removed and linked to blog)
Pseudoscience from an archaeology perspective. Nothing really new (apart from the critical thinking exercises at the ends of chapters that gives it a textbook-like quality despite its informal tone), but a nice collection of the kind for which I admit having a soft spot.

Thought to write this brief review on seeing this news item-

I find it hard to sympathise with what doubtless many people find the more human side of the row, that of the tribes. The attitu
Holden Attradies
I've heard many an interview with Kenney Feder, and he is a very entertaining man to listen to speak (he also has quite the impressive sailor mouth). I'm pretty envious of any one who has been lucky enough to take a class from him (he's a Professor).

I knew going into this book that it is one of the modern classics of the skeptic community. Sometimes books that have such high praise make me anxious, I feel like all the praise is only setting me up to be disappointed. But just like "Bad Astronomy"
Craig Clark
Dec 20, 2013 Craig Clark rated it really liked it
I first started out on the 'Ancient Astronaut' theories of Von Daniken and figured I should read what the other half thinks and was I surprised. This totally blows von Danikens' theories away. Feder argues that most pseudo archaeology depends on common sense and although that makes sense to layman's, most academics are scientists who have used tried and tested methods to answer previously asked / answered questions which are the 'fringe' authors stable.

He does concede that Archaeology isn't what
Nov 08, 2008 Holly rated it really liked it
I've read this book more times than I can count and I continue to read a chapter or two here and there when I get the chance. I truly enjoy Feder's ability to take pseudo-archaeology to task and fully admit that this reveals a bit of schadenfreude on my part that most likely stems from from having heard an endless list of crackpot theories myself through much of my collegiate career in Anthropology. He addresses many of the most popular pseudo-science myths (from aliens, to Atlantis, to the disc ...more
Matt Sautman
Feder's Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries is not a terrible book, and in fact it is very informative, but it is unfortunately quite uneven in quality. The earliest chapters and the concluding chapters are the book's strongest points, and the chapters in between are of a varying quality. It isn't that these middle chapters do not include important information within them, but many seem to only focus on presenting data and debunking ideas without highlighting larger concepts. The best chapters in this ...more
Eric Wurm
Jul 18, 2014 Eric Wurm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of the many books available on strange beliefs, bad science, fraud, and proper skepticism, this is the first I've encountered with a basis in archaeology. Ken Feder dissects some of the current myths and perpetuations of fraud that even now circulate in the media.

Feder expertly describes cases which have perpetuated myth and superstition. He breaks down the claims made in each and gives the evidence for the best explanation. Each chapter offers relevant photographs and drawings, an "FAQ" section
Carla Remy
Apr 04, 2013 Carla Remy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This is a text book, but it's not too dense or daunting, even if it did take me a long while to read. An ultimate book for skeptics. I loved the stories of early hoaxes like the Cardiff Giant and the Piltdown Man. It was thought-provoking to read about all the ulterior motives (religious, nationalistic) people have with history and science. And it was good to finally get to the bottom of the whole Atlantis question, and it's really hilarious and sad. Plato invented the idea of Atlantis as a fict ...more
Aaron Rodriguez
Great review on pseudoscience and how it relates to archaeological discoveries in the past. Provides a historical overview too on how archeological events were often turned into pseudoscience, only to be later debunked. For example, the Cardiff giant is a great story written by feder and it was interesting and informative. If you enjoy archaeology, and the scientific process, the book is a must read. I was forced to read it, but I still found it to rather compelling. My only problem with feder i ...more
Christopher Sheehan
Mar 19, 2013 Christopher Sheehan rated it really liked it
I read this book is Dr. Feder's "Before History" class at CCSU, which covered many topics in this book. Even if anybody thinks Science can be boring, they should enjoy this one. It talks about various pseudosciences, mysteries and popular Myths out there. Some of these include Atlantis, creationism, Noah's Ark, Stonehenge, psychics, discovery of America and Easter Island.

Even though it's been a few years since I read this book, compared to most of the other books I read in college, this was my f
Nick Wallace
Oct 29, 2009 Nick Wallace rated it really liked it
I can always find the time for a book on pseudoscience, it seems. When the focus is history and archaeology, my interest is doubly piqued. Some of the more popular delusions (Atlantis, extensive pre-Columbian peopling of the Americas by Europeans, alien intervention) are presented, with point-by-point breakdowns. The latter, ancient astronauts, always one of my peeves, is given a thorough trouncing.
Sep 19, 2016 James rated it it was amazing
Every 'Opened Minded' (to use a catch phrase) person should read this book, if for no other reason than to challenge the basic assumptions and beliefs, real or imagined, that each of us possess. In a period of history, despite unprecedented access to information, many people still want to be 'validated' rather than informed. This book is for them.

Alfred Kroeber would be proud!
Keith Schmidt
Aug 31, 2011 Keith Schmidt rated it really liked it
Clear and sometimes funny descriptions of silly stories that a few people made up and a few more believed, and unfortunately still believe, until the crushing weight of actual scientific evidence exposed the lies.
Oct 11, 2016 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I probably should have read this book when it was assigned. I am interested to see if there is an updated version. I may use the discussion on hypothesis forming and testing in the early chapters of my book with my Academic Skills classes.
Dominique Lamssies
This is an excellent book that, surprisingly, gave me some interesting critical thinking skills. The way Feder talks about pseudoscience encourages the reader to form their own questions about the things peopel claim. Highly recommended.
Marty Monahan
Feb 04, 2014 Marty Monahan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very readable introduction to the topic, written with humor and a great sense of fun. Anyone interested in critical thinking and or deception will be well served here. Specifically Feder shows how things can be misused for an agenda and how you can spot this and reason your way past it.
Mar 05, 2014 Megan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings about the text, but there is no doubt in my mind that it is well written and well intentioned. I enjoyed reading it and exploring a perspective I have not encountered much of thus far.
Mar 17, 2012 Ben rated it really liked it
A good primer to many popular archaeological mysteries. It's explanation of the scientific method at the outset lays the foundation for evaluating the subsequent theories. Can be a bit dry, but well worth the effort to hang with.
Aug 30, 2012 Lizzieorr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is really interesting, lots of great archaeology fraud stories! The author is kind of a jerk about people who believe in the supernatural though, it is a bit hard to read his rants without feeling bad.
Jan 13, 2011 Heidi rated it it was amazing
Also required reading for my Anthro class.
I enjoyed this book as well. Learned alot.
It's staying in my library.
Serra Zander
Jan 29, 2014 Serra Zander rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book for those who are curious about "ancient mysteries" and how archaeologist know what they know.
Dave Maddock
Oct 26, 2008 Dave Maddock rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
My favorite professor from college. Written as a text for an intro class essentially on epistemology and the scientific method, it can be a really fun read.
Sep 02, 2009 Christina rated it really liked it
this is one of my anthropology 105 texts this's the first college book i've ever really enjoyed reading!!
Sarah Price
Sep 04, 2012 Sarah Price rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-books
I really liked this book. I'm glad it was required for class because I never would have picked it up, otherwise.
David Rank
Feb 21, 2009 David Rank rated it it was amazing
Anyone inclined to follow fringe archeology theories or believe in the "gods were aliens" mythology should read this book first.
Beth Miller
Beth Miller rated it liked it
Aug 24, 2012
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