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More Skeptics Books Added to Catalog [4 reviews]

From: (Glenn Campbell, Las Vegas)
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 1997 21:56:17 -0800

All reviews are my own.  These books are available from our
bookstore by phone (702-729-2648) or on-line shopping cart.
See more at the given URLs.


By Jim Schnabel, $25.95

"Poltergeists, Pranksters and the Secret History of the
Cropwatchers." This is the kind of delicious expose we adore: It
is not about crop circles themselves but about the personalities
and human conflicts that surround them. It is a history of the
investigation of crop circles in England starting in the early
1980s. What started with collaboration and a sense of adventure
soon degenerated into the kind dissention and senseless
backstabbing the UFO field is known for. Researchers divided
themselves into camps, each supporting a different theory to
explain the circles. The conflicts became personal, and
researchers were soon contacting their solicitors to charge each
other with libel. (Thank goodness libel law is more liberal in
the U.S.!) All the well-known players are profiled with lots of
personal and historical details (which we have used to help build
our on-line database). The book ends with the story of "Doug and
Dave," who claim to have hoaxed at least the best known of the
circles -- a strong implication by the author that that the whole
phenomenon is an illusion. Crop circle proponents certainly don't
like this book, but as a literary work it is wonderfully ironic.
Unless you are a "true believer," you won't be able to put it
down. (1993)

"Without judging, or being patronizing, he tells the story of
each happy nutcase's involvement in the crop circle saga, mainly
through their own words. It's an endearing, absorbing account."

     --The Observer

"The funniest book I've read in ages."

     --The Daily Mail


By Elizabeth Loftus and Katherin Ketcham, $13.95

"False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse." While not
dealing specifically with UFO beliefs, this book can be taken as
a skeptical work regarding alien abduction claims. It attacks the
reliability of "reconstructed" memories, those that have
supposedly been repressed by traumatic experiences and recovered
years later during hypnosis or psychotherapy. The authors argue
that what we regard as solid memories are in fact highly fluid,
and traumatic memories can be as easily confabulated as
recovered. The many case studies contained herein focus on false
allegations of sexual abuse that have destroyed many families.
False memories often serve a protective function, and if you
believe that a memory can be repressed and later recovered, then
you also have to accept that a memory can be unconsciously
created or distorted to serve an emotional need. Was a person
abducted by aliens as he now "remembers," or was the memory
"created" by his emotional system to help him avoid a more
painful reality. As longtime academic researchers into the
function of memory, the authors are well-versed on its
weaknesses, and argue eloquently that no "repressed memory" can
be trusted in isolation. Includes index and references. (1994)

"The descriptions . . . of the 'therapeutic' practices by which
memories are recovered are a frightening indictment of at least
some members of the burgeoning therapy industry...."

     -- The New York Times Book Review

"Loftus has been an inventive and prolific investigator of
memory's foibles.... This book shows the false side of recovered
memories, and their horrifying consequences.... "

     -- The New England Journal of Medicine


By William Stiebing, $19.95

"...And Other Popular Theories About Man's Past." A skeptical
treatment of popular "ancient mysteries," including unproven
claims about Atlantis, pyramid powers, cosmic catastophes,
world-wide floods and ancient astronauts. Written by a professor
of history who has participated in many archeological
expeditions, this book tries to respond to the many fantastic
circulated about ancient history. Drawing on archeological
literature, the author shows inconsistancies in many of the
claims, including those of Erich von Daniken, the "grandfather"
of the Ancient Astronaut movement, and "cosmic catastrophism"
proponent Immanual Velikovsky. The author shows how the theorists
distort archeological evidence to support their conjecture while
ignoring the historical context of that evidence. Includes
footnotes, index and extensive references. (1984)


By Larry Kusche, $16.95

Case-by-case analysis of the missing aircraft and ships
contributing to the mythology of the "Bermuda Triangle," the area
of the Atlantic Ocean between Florida, Bermuda and Puerto Rico
where many craft have been lost. Fifty-six chronological chapters
cover each of the best known disappearances, from the six Navy
aircraft that vanished in 1945 to dozens of ship sinkings over
several centuries. In each case, the author finds that the
maritime disasters were not nearly as mysterious as portrayed in
the paranormal press. The author is a reference librarian at
Arizona State University and used his professional skills to dig
up some little known documents. This book contains many excerpts
from original newspaper stories first reporting each event,
making it a valuable resource for those interested in maritime
disasters, explained or otherwise. Includes index and
bibliography, as well as relevant maps and photos of the missing
craft. (1995)


See other reviews at:

Entries for still other skeptics books may follow as I have a
chance to review them.

(c) Glenn Campbell, 1997.  This message may be freely
distributed on the internet as long as it remains intact.

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Created: Dec 1, 1997