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Abominable Science!: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  472 ratings  ·  81 reviews
Throughout our history, humans have been captivated by mythic beasts and legendary creatures. Tales of Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Loch Ness monster are part of our collective experience. Now comes a book from two dedicated investigators that explores and elucidates the fascinating world of cryptozoology.

Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero have written an entertaining, edu
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Hardcover, 411 pages
Published August 6th 2013 by Columbia University Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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Start your review of Abominable Science!: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids
Dan Schwent
Abominable Science talks about the origins of cryptids like Bigfoot, the Yeti, the Loch Ness monster, sea serpents, dinosaurs currently living in Africa, and cryptozoology in general.

Official Business: I got this from Netgalley. Thank you, Netgalley!

Confession time: When I was a kid, I was way into books like this, most written by Daniel Cohen. If the book had blurry photos of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, or UFOs, I was all over it. When you're a kid, it's easy to swallow all that bullshit an
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Manybooks
Although Daniel Loxton's and Donald R. Prothero's Abominable Science!: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids is interesting enough in and of itself and yes indeed, generally rather entertainingly penned, really, for most of us who do think logically and scientifically, Abominable Science!: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids does not really offer anything all that novel and/or special. For that there are likely no surviving dinosaurs in the Congo and that the ...more
Travis Starnes
Nov 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
I find the area of cryptozoology infinitely fascinating. Although I am a non-believer in such things, the myths, history and legends behind the seemingly endless search for these creatures is like the very best Saturday afternoon television. While one is a scientist and the other is clearly versed in the science behind these claims, this is more of a historic and anthropological examination and debunking of the myths. They spend a lot of time talking about how the claims came about, the morphing ...more
Marijan
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, interesting and pofesional analisis of the dryptozoology phenomenon, as well as convincing debunking of several most (in)famous cryptids.
Charles Dee Mitchell
Ask me about the Loch Ness Monster. Having read Abominable Science I now know more than I ever thought I would about this particular cryptid.

Cryptids are those semi-mythical, or poorly documented, or, lets just face it, non-existent creatures sought after by cryptozoologists. The authors of this volume present themselves as “skeptical crytozoologists.” Well, of course they are. The book is published by Columbia University Press, so I would hope it’s not on the level of cable TV shows like Monste
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Carl Marcus
Oct 16, 2013 rated it liked it
This is certainly not a bad book, it has humor and a lot of fun information, but I found it a little disappointing for a number of reasons:

➤. My main objection is that I had hoped for more science and less historical research. While I am not saying that the latter is not valid, I just wanted more on biomass etc.
➤. The authors tend to attack people based on how they personally feel about someone else's qualifications. (They are pretty opinionated about who is qualified to find an imaginary anim
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Nicky
Abominable Science is an interesting book about creatures of modern legend -- Nessie, the Yeti, Sea Serpents... It's quite a dry read, almost academic, with tons of footnotes and clear sources. But it's fascinating for all that.

For me, it was mostly fascinating because of the amazing lengths people will go to in disbelieving evidence. To me, the lack of verifiable sightings of any given creature is strong evidence -- though not hard proof -- that it doesn't exist. It would only take one verifie
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Dee Eisel
Aug 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
So... close! This book came so close to getting five stars, and then it ruined itself in the last chapter. But I still recommend it as worth the read.

I loved the vast majority of Abominable Science. I grew up, like one of the authors, as a full believer in cryptids as living, breathing organisms. After nearly scaring the bejeezus out of myself a few times in my 20s, I did more research and began to doubt what I thought I was seeing. (And what it was doesn't matter - the fact is that I later real
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Bert Edens
From my book review blog at:

http://kickinbooks.wordpress.com/2013...

I received a copy of this book from Columbia University Press via NetGalley. While it was provided at no expense to myself, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.

First and foremost, if you are looking for a book that is going to verify your beliefs in all things cryptozoology, you are going to be disappointed.

This book actually takes the opposite tack. It takes scientific principles and applies them to the study of
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Sarah
Dec 03, 2014 rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this book, and I thought I would. I was seduced by the flashy cover and that scintillating exclamation point. I was taken in, like an eyewitness whose Sasquatch turns out to be a burned-out tree stump.

The first thing I want to say about the book is it is heavy. (Physically heavy, I mean.) The pages are thick and glossy, making for a weighty volume. The book contains a number of illustrations that are very cute, but don't really add much to the information presented. All
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Tom
An illuminating look at the origin stories of a handful of cryptids that stretches to 400-plus pages when it could have been a lean 250 -- if only the authors could stop repeating themselves. In fact, despite the wealth of background information the book imparts, it's a bit drudging until it reaches the "Mokele Mbembe" chapter, where a righteous take-down of creationist charlatanism takes place. From there the book moves into a chapter that eloquently explores the pitfalls of the pseudo-scientif ...more
Christopher Saunders
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Abominable Science! by Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero is a fascinating, archly humorous introduction to cryptozoology from a skeptical perspective. Lloxton and Prothero examine the most famous cryptids (Bigfoot, the Yeti, Loch Ness Monster, sea serpents and Mokele Mbembe) by tracing their ties to folklore, popular culture and the evolution of their mythology. The results aren't flattering to believers: many famous sightings, photographs and stories are obvious hoaxes, while the myths evolv ...more
Rebecca Kiefer
Cryptozoology, mainly in the form of over-the-top TV shows, is one of my guilty pleasures. I saw this book for sale at one of the Smithsonian museums and thought it would be enlightening to read the real science behind it. (I was also surprised to learn how many of the hosts on those shows are pursuing cryptids to promote creationism - that has definitely turned me off for the future.)

I’m comfortable with the scientific method, but I liked seeing it so specifically applied to investigations of d
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Jeff Soyer
Dec 01, 2013 rated it liked it
The Abominable Snowman. The Loch Ness Monster. Bigfoot. As a kid, I ate that stuff up. In fact, along with watching every monster movie I could, I also poured through the pages of Fate Magazine. Eventually one grows up — but, in my case, only a little. Authors Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero have written a book, Abominable Science (Amazon link) about their investigations into such cryptozoological subjects.

Both authors are skeptics although as is quoted more than once in Abominable Science
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John
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own, science
The Definitive Book on Cryptozoology

Written by an artist (Daniel Loxton) and a scientist (Donald Prothero) who have differing opinions on the potential of cryptozoology to become a valid part of science, but share a strong commitment to adhering to legitimate means of conducting science, critical thinking and skepticism, “Abominable Science: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie and Other Famous Cryptids” is the definitive book on cryptozoology. It is an engrossing, entertaining, and insightful exploratio
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Vannessa Anderson
Abominable Science was a fun read
Fox
Feb 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Abominable Science! is one of two books that my library has classified under the cryptozoology header. Books for adults, I mean. Apparently there's a fairly vast number of children and YA books dealing with the subjects, the bulk of them fiction. Looking for some more in depth writings on the topic was what lead me to this book, and man, it was a delight to read. This book is divided up into a number of sections, each focusing upon a single cryptid. All the big ones are represented: Bigfoot, Ye ...more
Allison Thurman
Aug 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
It's rare to find a book about cryptozoology that doesn't fall solidly into one of two camps: the believers or the debunkers. The authors here do a fine job of presenting evidence, admitting when they don't know something, while still pointing out the failings of amateur cryptozoological research.

While the book shoots down a lot of favorite pet theories (Bigfoot = missing link; Loch Ness Monster = plesiosaur), they acknowledge that people *do* see strange creatures and make suggestions as to wha
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Christiane
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I picked this up because of the cover which features a Bigfoot-like creature with huge fangs, and is made to look like an old-time trashy comic book. Imagine my dismay when the book itself is a well-written, well-researched, scientific account of cryptids that explains in detail the pseudoscience behind these beliefs. As a native of the Pacific Northwest I have always had a hopeful belief in Sasquatch, but it is hard to argue with actual fact, which is that despite years of expeditions and resea ...more
Mark Schlatter
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: overdrive
Three reasons why I liked this book on cryptozoology (that is, the study of cryptids --- disputed creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster):

1) After a somewhat pedantic coverage of the scientific method, the authors gear down on good solid reasons to doubt the existence of cryptids: the lack of fossil records, carcasses, evidence of feeding grounds, etc... There's even a great graph of the logistic model describing the number of species in a certain genus yet to be found. There's a ton o
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Zack Clopton
Jan 29, 2017 rated it liked it
As a skeptic, I approve heartily of this book. As a monster romantic - someone who thinks the possibility of cryptids existing is awfully neat, even if there's zero concrete evidence for it - it's quite a disheartening read.

The authors lay out compelling evidence that five famous cryptids never existed and there's zero cause to assume they ever did. Bigfoot is a collection of known hoaxes and tall tales. Yeti sightings are of bears. The Loch Ness Monster is a pop culture inspired series of misi
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Margaret Sankey
Dec 12, 2013 rated it liked it
I admit, I was pretty excited about the Time-Life MYSTERIES OF THE UNEXPLAINED until academia ruined it all. This is a fun book by a professional artist/avocational skeptic and an academic paleontologist, who approach cryptozoology the way Adrienne Mayor does in the books of hers I enjoyed about ancient people thinking mammoth bones meant cyclopes: what would lead people to think they'd discovered Yetis, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Sea Serpents and the Congo Dinosaur? Was it misunderstanding ...more
Binary Blogger
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science
Read through the Loch Ness chapter and you'll get the idea of the rest of the points. redundant and long winded.... so long winded. ...more
Michael Reilly
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
A substantial, intelligent examination of famous cryptids and their unscientific emergence as cultural icons, Abominable Science! investigates cryptozoological facts and fiction in a sensible, reasoned analysis that seeks to separate the fantastical lies from the truths of critical observation and professional expertise.

Highly interesting and often more entertaining than many of the alleged sightings and bold claims of inept fraudsters, Abominable Science! asks serious questions about the lack
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Nicholas
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The book is written as a skeptical review of the field of cryptozoology through in-depth analyses of theories and alleged evidence surrounding the most famous cryptids. Despite the dismissive tone, the authors gave the field of cryptozoology more respect than many of its purveyors could ever have given. This can be seen in the exhaustive research, meticulous footnoting, and the persistent tracking of famous ‘sightings’ that often led to questions of credentials, circumstances, and side-dramas th ...more
Eric Wojciechowski
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was always under the impression that Bigfoot, Mokele-mbembe and the other cryptids covered in this book were misidentified objects like bears or otters. Or maybe logs rolling in the water or unkept hermits roaming as far away from civilization as possible. What I was unaware of that this book brings out is that most of the origin stories began as complete hoaxes. Yes, bears walking on their hind legs have been misidentified as a Bigfoot and seals as a Loch Ness Monster. But the amount of faker ...more
Dan Ust
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
More a 3.5. Gets tedious at times. There's an embarrassment of riches on the five cases covered. Mauve that's excusable because going for shallower treatment of note cases would've loaded me down with trivia.

Surprising things for me about cryptozoology: cryptids like Nessie and Bigfoot actually have a very short history, the role of media in fostering their rise, and the involvement of Creationists in this (especially Mokele-mbembe).

They also go over polling data -- who believes and such. Some s
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David
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Like a lot of other small children, I was fascinated by books about mysteries. Especially the ones about monsters and unknown animals. ‘Abominable science’ tackles the standard creatures of cryptozoology and looks at the thin evidence for their existence. Then it moves onto the question of where the ideas of these creatures come from and why. This is not one of those books that just makes blind and convoluted assumptions about things. This explains how the ideas behind the reports of sightings e ...more
Zach MacDonald
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’ll admit it, I’ve always been a fan of cryptids. I have a past of gullibility surrounding them in the face of all rationality. Fox Mulder would know where I’m coming from when I say I want to believe that some of these mystery creatures are out there. With that said, I was served a rich dish of steaming reality in this book by skeptic Daniel Loxton and paleontologist/geologist Donald Prothero, and I enjoyed every page of it.

Loxton and Prothero, while writing the chapters separately, compliment
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Tim
Mar 16, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a little slower read than I was anticipating, but it was very good. I'm a huge fan of this genre of science writing that looks at things like Bigfoot or Nessie and explores the background and actual history/science of sightings and how the myths built up over time and the likely real world explanations. ...more
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Daniel Loxton is a Canadian writer, illustrator, and skeptic. He is the Editor of Junior Skeptic magazine, a kids’ science section bound into the Skeptics Society's Skeptic magazine. He writes and illustrates most issues of Junior Skeptic. ...more

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Nature, in Her infinite awesomeness, can provide solace even when you’re stuck in the house. As a matter of fact, the numbers suggest that...
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“At the heart of the mystery of Bigfoot is a paradox: many people see Sasquatches, but no one can find one. This is an extremely uncomfortable dilemma for Bigfoot advocates. Either Sasquatches are too rare to locate, in which case they should also be too rare to see; or the common and widespread sighting reports are by and large accurate, in which case science should long ago have located a specimen.” 0 likes
“The practice of making claims that appear to be scientific, but do not actually follow the scientific method of testability and falsification of hypotheses, is usually called pseudoscience.” 0 likes
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