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Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology Paperback – July 11, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0767427227 ISBN-10: 076742722X Edition: 4th

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages; 4 edition (July 11, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076742722X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767427227
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,773,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Feder obtained his B.A. in anthropology in 1973 from the State University of New York at Stonybrook. He obtained his M.A. in anthropology in 1975 from the University of Connecticut and his Ph.D. from the same institution in 1982. He has taught in the Department of Anthropology at Central Connecticut State University since 1977 where he is now a full professor. His primary research interests include the archaeology of the native peoples of New England and the analysis of public perceptions about the human past. He is the founder and director of the Farmington River Archaeological Project, a long-term investigation of the prehistory of the Farmington River Valley. He is the author and co-author of several books including: Human Antiquity: An Introduction to Physical Anthropology and Archaeology (with Michael Park; now in its fifth edition; McGraw-Hill); Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology (about to appear in its seventh edition; McGraw-Hill); The Past In Perspective: An Introduction to Human Prehistory (about to appear in its fifth edition; Oxford University Press); and Linking to the Past: A Brief Introduction to Archaeology (now in its second edition; Oxford University Press). Finally, he is the author of A Village of Outcasts: Historical Archaeology and Documentary Research at the Lighthouse Site (Mayfield Publishing). When he's not digging in the dirt or writing books, he likes to hang out with his one wife, two kids, and four very bad cats. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

He enjoyed it immensely and lent it to me afterward.
A. Coleman
It also does a nice job debunking most of those claims, but largely gives the reader a sense of how to apply critical thinking to make up their own mind.
S. Henyard
This is seriously one of the greatest books I have ever read.
Jenniffer Masterson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 2, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is an outstanding book written as a result of the author's own reading in the paranormal genre. Kenneth Feder points out how believable he found "The Morning of the Magicians" until it wandered into his own field of expertise: archeology. After comparing notes with chemists, physicists, historians, etc. he found the same response-- that such books seem perfectly logical--at least in areas in which one has no knowledge.
All the big name hoaxes are here: the Cardiff Giant, Piltdown Man, the Shroud of Turin; but presented in a way that's fresh for the initiated and straight forward for the budding archeologist; and since he's writing as an archeologist, Feder never lapses into the bitter sarcasm so common to skeptical writers.
There are surprises: who knew one of the largest pyramids in the world was in St. Louis, or that the Shroud of Turin was declared a fake in 1359? Above all Feder's love of archeology and sincere delight in the real mysteries of the past should make this book required reading for anyone interested in human history.
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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful By GF on March 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
A superlative journey to the edges of reason and beyond with a witty and knowledgable guide. As the claims of self-styled "alternative" historians of the ancient past gain more and more publicity, it is excellent to encounter such a balanced and well-reasoned antidote to their poison. Particularly useful is to realize that the supposedly "new" theories of the likes of Graham Hancock(who is not addressed in the book, unfortunately) are, in reality, little more than recycled flim-flam from earlier speculative and paranormal movements.
One previous reviewer brands the book "too sceptical," which is nonsense. Feder actually subscribes to the Theran theory for the origins of the Atlantis myth (which I personally do not), but the investigative process by which he reaches this conclusion is clearly charted in the text. He is no dogmatist, dismissing ideas out of hand. He carefully presents the cases for and against various claims and exposes flaws based on a comparison with the observable evidence and archaeological procedure. In any case, it is also hard to see how one could be "too sceptical" about claims that aliens built the pyramids.
An excellent read. Highly recommended to any with an interest in "alternative" archaeology, esp. if you've tended to believe such "theories" in the past.
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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Hardman on October 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
Kenneth Feder has collected a whooole bunch of examples of funny hoaxes and archaeological misadventure in this curiously good book. Read about the Cardiff Giant scam, the Piltdown man hoax, Noah's ark tomfoolery and fakery, the slippery slope of Creationist craziness, Atlantis Atrophy, the Shredded evidence for the Shroud of Turin, and more!
Feder's volume is interesting, stimulating, and even if you are a well read skeptic, you will probably learn something new. I personally was reminded how easy it is to fool people who want to believe something and aren't moved to investigate or challenge the beliefs they are comfortable with. The gist of the book seems to be that people who rely mostly upon faith can end up believing just about anything, while those who are inclined to question and test new information via logic, scientific methods, and common sense are more likely to actually uncover the facts for themselves, doing away with faith altogether.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "bmeissner" on December 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a masterful review of some of the more enduring fantasies associated with archaeology. As an archaeologist myself, I found it both accurately and beautifully written. But most importantly, Feder does more than debunk these myths. He discusses not only why he does not accept, say, stories about Atlantis, at face value. He also explains what would be considered evidence that the stories are true. As interesting and provocative book on skepticism as there is, and a great book to give someone in order to teach the skeptic mindset.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Virgil Brown VINE VOICE on May 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
One can't blame Kenneth Feder for wanting to write this book. In the first chapter, he states his reasoning: In the late 1960s he subscribed to a book club lured by the cheap price of four books. One was on psychic sciences, one on yoga, one on the black arts, and one on magic. Claims in these books based on physics, biology, psychology, and history seemed reasonable to Feder because he thought that he did not have "the knowledge to assess them intelligently." But archaeology ... that was another matter. Feder is a professional archaeologist who weighs in this book.

I like the 1st chapter which is on epistemology. Feder probably could have waxed eloquent on epistemology, why we know what we know. Instead he tells the story of two maternity wards in the Vienna General Hospital. In Ward 1, the mortality rate for women was five times the rate of that in Ward 2. In 1848 Ignaz Sammelweis tackled the problem. Was Ward 1 more crowded? Was birth position a factor? Were the student doctors in Ward 1 too rough? Did the appearance of the hospital priest pose a psychological factor? Sammelweis tested all of these hypotheses and came up with zilch. It was something of a stroke of luck when Sammelweis lost a male doctor friend of his who had the same symptoms as the women in Ward 1. Bacteria was totally unknown in the 1840s. Yet Sammelweis determined that the same "cadaveric material" that existed in dead bodies made its way via student doctors from autopsies to women in Ward 1.

The Cardiff Giant was a money magnet from the beginning. Just after Stub Newell "discovered" the giant, he got a license to display it and within three weeks raked in $7,000 at 50 cents a look. Cousin George Hull eventually confessed, but by then P T Barnum had made a copy of the giant.
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