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Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology 4th Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an excellent book to encourage skepticism. It's a college text book but does not read like one. It's very accessible and I highly recommend it.Published 8 months ago by Jeff Pedigo
bought for an Anthropology class and was very interesting to read!Published 16 months ago by lizanoel21
Author is too hung up on his distaste for UFO theory, book is very dryPublished 22 months ago by Christopher Hall
Since I am a Christian, I didn't like the idea that it showed how everything from Stonehenge to the Great Pyramid could have been done by human ingenuity and then soundly renounced... Read morePublished on October 1, 2013 by zachi10
This was a required text for a Gen Ed class I took. I kept reading it after finishing the class, and then lent it to a friend.Published on July 11, 2013 by P. Hoff
This is seriously one of the greatest books I have ever read. It is rare for a non-fiction book to be a page-turner, but Dr. Read morePublished on March 18, 2010 by Jen Masterson