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A Historical Bibliography> Table of Contents> Science and Pseudoscience

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Darwin, Evolution, and Creationism


The Magicians: Houdini to Randi



The emerging sciences of geology, evolutionary biology, and sociology combined in the middle of the nineteenth-century to challenge the worldview of Protestantism in the English-speaking West. Geological observations of volcanic processes and fossils suggested that the earth was far older than the six thousand years offered by a literal reading of the biblical records. Evolutionary theories provided an alternate explanation of the many species and genera, and tied humankind to the animal world in a way that suggested humans were not the special unique creation of god. Sociology offered mundane explanation of human social ills and offered human ways of reorganizing society to correct such ills.

Adding to the impact of the new sciences were intellectual corollaries in biblical textual criticism, Social Darwinism, and socialist utopianism. One school of German biblical criticism offered a compelling picture of the editorial process by which a set of texts were put together to make the present five books of Moses, whose traditional authorship of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy was also challenged. Social Darwinism applied the laws of natural selection to the human society underpinning laissez-faire capitalism and the extremes of a free market. Socialism pushed in the opposite direction for a state-controlled economy with the promise of the benefits of a non-competitive utopia. Neither Social Darwinists nor socialists had any use for a distracting church ideology and the clergy who led it.

Traditional religionists and the new realms of intellectual speculation set the stage for what Henry Dickson White would term the warfare between science and religion. It would take several generations for the leadership in the Christian Church to produce a modern form of religion that engaged the new sciences but by the early twentieth century a spectrum from separatist fundamentalism to Unitarianism would emerge, with the largest blocks being formed by the neo-evangelicals and the post-modernists liberals, the later distinguished by their acceptance of biblical historical criticism, taking an accommodationist stance toward biological evolution, and the development of a social gospel.

Through the twentieth century, non-theists have considered science their natural ally while Christian polemicists have moved from denouncing science to using it in their apologetic treatises. In the scientific phase of atheist vs. Christian polemics, evolution has paid a key role. After the significant defeat many religionists felt following the monkey trial in Tennessee in the 1920s, a variety of new approaches to science developed among the more conservative fundamentalist and evangelical movements, usually referred to as creation science, Christians differing among themselves regarding new earth (less than ten thousand years) versus old earth approaches. The former received the most attention as several of its advocates such as the Bible Creation Society in San Diego produced a plethora of materials and attempted to affect public school curricula. Responding to creation science has been a major focus of atheist works on science.


Barbour, Ian G. Religion and Science. London: SCM Press, 1998.

Brooke, J. H., Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Cannon, Walter F. “The Normative Role of Science in Early Victorian Thoughts.” Journal of the History of Ideas 25 (1964): 487-502.

Caudill, Edward, ed. Darwinism in the Press: The Evolution of an Idea. Hillsdale, N.J., 1989.

-----. “The Bishop-Eaters: The Publicity Campaign for Darwin and On the Origin of Species.” Journal of the History of Ideas 55 (1994): 441-60.

Clayton, Philip, and Zachary Simpson, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Cramp, Arthur J. Nostrums and Quackery: Articles on the nostrum Evil, Quackery and allied Matters Affecting the Public Health. Chicago: Press of the American Medical Association, 1921. 832 pp.

Dampier, Sir William. A History of Science and Its Relations with Philosophy and Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1948. 514 pp.

Dewey, John. The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy. New York: Henry holt and Co., 1910.

Draper, William. History of the Conflict between Religion and Science. New York:Appleton, 1874. London: H. S. King, 1874. Posted at:

Eisen, Sydney, and Bernard Lightman, Victorian Science and Religion: A Bibliography with Emphasis on Evolution, Belief, and Unbelief, Comprised of Works Published from c. 1900-1975. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1984. 696 pp.

Ellegard, Alvar. “Darwin's Theory and Nineteenth-Century Philosophies of Science.” Journal of the History of Ideas 18 (June 1957): 362-93.

Fishbein, Morris. Fads and Quackery in Healing. New York: Blue Ribbon Books, 1932. 382 pp.

Fleming, Donald Harnish. John William Draper and the Religion of Science. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1950.

Gardner, Martin. In the Name of Science. 1932. 2nd rev. and expanded ed. as.: As Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. New York: Dover Books, 1957. 363 pp.

Gilley, Sheridan, and Ann Loades. "Thomas Henry Huxley: The War between Science and Religion.” The Journal of Religion 61 (1981): 285-308.

Gillispie, Charles C. Genesis and Geology: A Study in the Relations of Scientific Thought, Natural Theology, and Social Opinion in Great Britain, 1790-1850. N. Y. 1951.

Harding, T. Swann. The Popular Practice of Fraud. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1935. 376 pp.

Hodgson, Richard, et al. “Report of the Committee Appointed to Investigate the Phenomena Connected with the Theosophical Society.” Proceeding, Society for Psychical Research III (1887): 201-400.

Kim, Stephen Shin. Fragments of Faith: John Tyndall's Transcendental Materialism and the Victorian Conflict Between Religion and Science. Ph.D. diss., Drew University, 1988.

Knight, David M. The Nature of Science: The History of Science in Western Culture since 1600. London: Andre Deutsch, 1976. 215 pp.

-----. The Age of Science: The Scientific World-View in the Nineteenth Century. New York: Basil Blackwell, 1986. 251 pp.

 -----. Sources for the History of Science, 1660-1914. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press,  1975. 192 pp.

Lack, David, F.R.S.  “The Conflict between Evolutionary Theory and Christian Belief.” Nature #4732 (July 9, 1960): 98-100.

Lamb, Ruth Deforest Lamb. American Chamber of Horrors: The Truth about Food and Drugs. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1936. 418 pp.

Lichtman, Bernard. “Christian Evolutionists in the United States, 1860-1900.” Journal of Cambridge Studies 4, 4 (December 2009): 14-22.

-----. “Darwin and the Popularization of Evolution.” Notes and Records of the Royal Society 64, 1 (March 2010): 5-24

-----, ed. Evolutionary Naturalism in Victorian Britain: The ‘Darwinians’ and Their Critics. Burlington, VT/Farnham, Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2009.

-----, ed. Victorian Popularizers of Science: Designing Nature for New Audiences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. 545 pp.

-----, and Sydney Eisen. Victorian Science and Religion: A Bibliography with Emphasis on Evolution, Belief and Unbelief, Comprised of Works Published from c. 1900-1975. Hamden, CT.: Shoe String Press/Archon Books, 1984. 696 pp.

McGrath, Alister E. Science & Religion: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1999.

Reingold, Nathan, ed. Science in Nineteenth-Century America, a Documentary History. New York: Hill & Wang, 1964. 339 pp.

-----. Science in America: a Documentary History, 1900-1939. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981. 497 pp.

Simpson, James Y. Landmarks in the Struggle between Science and Religion. New York: George H. Dolan Company, n.d. 

White, Harry Dickson. History of the Warfare between Religion and Science. 1896.

Wilson, D. B. “Victorian Science and Religion.” History of Science 15 (1977): 52-67.

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Darwin, Evolution, and Creationism

The struggle of the discipline of biology (and the related field of paleontology) to establish itself in the public school curriculum came to a head in 1925 in Dayton Tennessee following the passing of a law by the state legislature against teaching biological evolution. John Scopes, a high school teacher, allowed himself to become the focus of a test case of the Tennessee law which had originally been championed by Texas fundamentalist Baptist minister William Bell Riley who presided over the Worlds Christian Fundamentals Association was instrumental in recruiting former presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan to take the case for the prosecution while agnostic lawyer Clarence Darrow spoke for the defense. Though Bryan won the case, the court of public opinion favored Darrow.

Many felt that the creationist cause has been defeated once and for all, but it slowly rebuilt its support and in its various forms now claims a substantial portion of the religious community, both Christian and otherwise. In the last generation it found a new expression in what was termed intelligent design, which argued for God as the intelligence that was the best explanation for the design found throughout nature. In the 1990s, it briefly replaced creation science as the best alternative for having some form of anti-evolutionary ideology replace evolution as the model for the study of biological sciences in the American public schools. It was largely dismissed by the 2005 court case Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District which found intelligent design to be a religious ideology not a scientific theory.


Ames, Robert and Philip Siegelman, eds. The Idea of Evolution: Readings in Evolutionary Theory and Its Influence. Minneapolis: Meyers Publishing Company, 1961. 362 pp.

Appleton, Philip. Darwin. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 1979.

Allen, Warren. Background of the Scopes Trial at Dayton, Tennessee. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee, Ph.D. dissertation, 1959.

Atran, Scott. In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion, Evolution and Cognition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Bailey, Kenneth K. The Enactment of Tennessee's Anti-evolution Law. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University, Ph.D. dissertation, 1949.

Barlow, Nora, ed. The Autobiography of Charles Darwin. (1809-1882). New York: W. W. Norton, 1969.

Bates, V. L. Christian Fundamentalism and the Theory of Evolution in Public School Education: A Study of the Creation Science Movement. Davis, CA:  University of California—Davis, Ph.D. dissertation, 1976.

Bernabo, Lawrence Mark. The Scopes Myth: The Scopes Trial in Rhetorical Perspective. Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa, Ph.D. dissertation, 1990.

Betts, Edward G. The Argument of the Century: The Ontario Press Coverage of the Scopes Trial and the Death of William Jennings Bryan. Kingston. ON: M.A., Queen's University, M.A. thesis, 1992.

Bowler, Peter. Evolution: The History of an Idea. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2009. 496 pp.

-----. The Eclipse of Darwinism: Anti-Darwinian Evolution Theories in the Decades around 1900. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. 312 pp.

-----. Fossils and Progress: Paleontology and the Idea of Progressive Evolution in the Nineteenth Century. New York: Science History, 1976. 191 pp.

-----. Monkey Trials and Gorilla Sermons: Evolution and Christianity from Darwin to Intelligent Design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009. 272 pp.

-----. The Non-Darwinian Revolution: Reinterpretation of a Historical Myth. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. 256 pp.

-----. Theories of Human Evolution: A Century of Debate, 1844-1944. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986. 336 pp.

-----, and David Knight. Charles Darwin: The Man and his Influence. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996. 264 pp.

Brown, Andrew. The Darwin Wars: The Scientific Battle for the Soul of Man. London: Touchstone, 2000.

Caudill, Charles Edward. The Evolution of an Idea: Darwin in the American Press, 1860-1925. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina, Ph.D. dissertation, 1986.

Dennett, Daniel Clement. Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life. New York: London: Simon & Schuster, 1995.

Eisley, Loren. Darwin’s Century: Evolution and the Men Who Discovered It. New York: Anchor Books, 1961.

Gillispie, Charles Coulston. Genesis and Geology: A Study of the Relations of Scientific Thought, Natural Theology, and Social Opinion in Great Britain, 1790-1850. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1959.

Ginger, Ray. Six Days or Forever?: Tennessee vs. John Thomas Scopes.  Boston : Beacon, 1959.

Glass, Bentley, Owesei Temkin, and William L. Strauss, Jr., eds. Forerunners of Darwin: 1745-1859. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1968.

Gould, S. J. Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life. New York: Ballantine, 1999.

Greene, John C. The Death of Adam: Evolution and Its Impact on Western Thought. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press, 1959. 388 pp. Rpt.: New York: Mentor/New American Library 1961. 382 pp.

Grossbach, Barry Leonard. The Scopes Trial: A Turning Point in American Thought? Bloomington, IN: Indiana University, Ph. D. dissertation, 1964.

Hull, David L. Darwin and his Critics: The Reception of Darwin's Theory of Evolution by the Scientific Community. Cambridge, UK Cambridge University Press, 1983.

-----. Science as a Process: An Evolutionary Account of the Social and Conceptual Development of Science. Cambridge, UK Cambridge University Press, 1988.

-----. The Metaphysics of Evolution. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1989.

Irvine, William. Apes, Angels, and Victorians: The Story of Darwin, Huxley and Evolution. Lanham, MD: University Pres of America, 1955. 520 pp.

Johnson, Frank W. C. Rhetorical Criticism of the Speaking of William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Seward Darrow at the Scopes Trial. Cleveland, OH: Case Western Reserve University , Ph.D. dissertation, 1961.

Kelly, A. The Descent of Darwin: The Popularization of Darwinism in Germany 1860-1914. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1981. 196 pp.

Klaaren, E. M. Religious Origins of Modern Science: belief in creation in seventeenth- century thought. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1977. 

La Follette, M. C. Creationism, Science and the Law: The Arkansas Case. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1983.

Larson, Edward J. Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion. New York: Harper, 1997.

Larson, Julie Marie. A Narrative Analysis of The Scopes Trial. Los Angeles: University Of Southern California, Ph.D. dissertation, 1995.

Levine, Lawrence W. Defender of the Faith—William Jennings Bryan: the Last Decade 1915- 1925. New York: Columbia University, Ph.D. dissertation, 1962.

McMahon, Thomas J. Protestant Fundamentalism: Public Education and the Politics Of Regression. Manhattan, KS: Kansas State University, Ph.D. dissertation, 1987.

Mandalbaum, Maurice. “Darwin’s Religious Views.” Journal of the History of Ideas 19 (1958): 363-378.

Midgley, Mary. Evolution as a Religion: Strange Hopes and Stranger Fears. Rev. ed. London: Routledge, 2002.

Moore, James R. The Post-Darwinian Controversies: A Study of the Protestant Struggle to Come to Terms with Darwin in Great Britain and America 1870-1900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979.

Morgan, Jeffery P. The Scopes Trial: A Brief History with Documents. New York: Bedford Books, 2002. 230 pp.

Nash, J. V. “The Religious Evolution of Darwin.” Open Court 42 (1928): 449-63.

Numbers, Ronald. The Creationists. New York: Alferd A. Knopf, 1992.

Ospovat, Dov. The Development of Darwin's Theory: Natural History, Natural Theology, and Natural Selection, 1838-1859. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1981. 320 pp.

Pfeifer, Edward J. The Reception of Darwinism in the United States, 1859-1880. Providence, RI: Brown University, Ph.D. dissertation, 1957.

Roberts, Jon H. Darwinism and the Divine in America: Protestant Intellectuals and Organic Evolution, 1859-1900. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988.

Roberts, Windsor Hall. The Reaction of the American Protestant Churches to the Darwinian Philosophy, 1860-1900. Chicago: University of Chicago, Ph.D. dissertation, 1936.

Ruse, Michael. Can a Darwinian Be a Christian?: The Relationship between Science and Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

-----. Darwinism Defended: A Guide to the Evolution Controversies. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1982.

Scopes, John. World's Most Famous Court Trial: State of Tennessee vs. John T. Scopes.  New York: DaCapo, 1971.

Shermer, Michael.  In Darwin’s Shadow: A Biographical Study on the Psychology of History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. 422 pp.

-----. Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design. New York: Times Books, 2006. 224 pp.

Smout, Kary D. Terminology Battles: Word Meanings as Rhetorical Tools in the Creation / Evolution Controversy. Durham, NC: Duke University , Ph.D. dissertation, 1991.

Turner, Frank M. Between Science and Religion: The Reaction to Scientific Naturalism in Late Victorian England. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1974. 304 pp.

 -----. “The Victorian Conflict between Science and Religion: A Professional Dimension.” Isis 69 (1978): 356-76.

Wilson, David Sloan. Darwin's Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

Witham, Larry A. Where Darwin Meets the Bible: Creationists and Evolutionists in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. 344 pp.

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While the issues between religious and scientific cosmologies persisted, a new concern arose over the appearance of bad science with its subversion of scientific methodology in a world where the love of science apart from any understanding of the rules by which it operates (scientism) has popping up in a multitude of settings. In the post-Enlightenment nineteenth century, a variety of attempts were made to substantiate a number of religious and metaphysical ideas by claiming scientific credentials for them. Among the first were the claims of Franz Anton Mesmer and his students of a universal cosmic power that undergirded and enlivened the cosmos. Reference to Mesmer’s fluid became the basis of a variety of alternative healing claims as well as the revival of magic. Spiritualists claimed to demonstrate scientifically the picture of survival into the afterlife they advocated. In the twentieth century scientific claims would be made for yoga, transcendental meditation, and telepathic contact with alien life. 

In the late nineteenth century, the discipline of psychical research attempted to find a scientific basis of the claims of Spiritualism which as a movement offered to demonstrate scientifically the individual survival of bodily death. Many of those who flocked to the field were clergymen who had lost their faith or the children of clergymen who wished to attain the faith of their parents. Psychical research was victimized to the widespread fraud that permeated Spiritualism and would be replaced by parapsychology which attempted to bring psychic phenomena into the laboratory.

As science became the domain of highly trained scientists, hope dwindled for the amateur to make a real contribution, while the few successes by amateurs motivated a wide variety of people to go looking for neglected areas of research especially some that would have a significant payoff to the person who succeeded when all around him/her said that they were on a fool’s pathway. From the hope of finding a new species of monstrous proportions, fields like cryptozoology emerged. Ancient astronauts proposed alternative ways of interpreting archeological remains. A variety of healing treatments of questionable values continue to offer hope to those with terminal illnesses.

In the 1970s, a new movement formed to focus concern on the whole realm of flawed science from scientific endeavors marred by weak methodologies and fraudulent endeavors in the scientific community, to religion passing itself off as science, Skeptics made shining the light of rationality upon what was termed “pseudoscience” their goal.

Humanist Paul Kurtz spearheaded the new movement and launched it by calling together the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (or CSICOP), now the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. CSICOP called the public to back an initial broadside against the growing popularity of astrology, a statement against any claims to scientific truth by astrologers signed by a number of prominent scientists. While the attack upon astrology proved more difficult than originally imagined, over the years CSICOP broadened its concerns to include a variety of phenomena of questionable scientific status, and spawned a number of similar organizations with variant related emphases such as the Skeptical Society and the James Randi Educational Foundation. 

The pseudoscience issue has spawned a host of books and articles (see the Internet sites for the Committee for Skeptical Inquirer or the Skeptics Society for numerous articles on the many topics covered by the term pseudoscience). The list below is representative of the philosophical stance of the skeptical movement and the issues that have swirled around it.  No attempt has been made to even sample the many topics covered nor to list the particular publications that have most come under attack.

The skeptical movement, while based in the atheist/humanist community, has attracted a variety of religious people who for whatever reason are committed to attacking pseudoscience, including many conservative Christians who see the attacks upon psychic phenomena tied to the Esoteric (or New Age)  religious community and who see skeptics as an ally in their Christian apologetic endeavor.

The skeptical movement has had mixed results and experienced some setbacks with the emergence of cable television and the popularity of documentaries and others shows on ghosts, UFOs, ancient astronauts, and cryptology.


Aaseng, Nathan. Science versus Pseudoscience. New York: Franklin Watts, 1994. 144 pp.

Bauer, Henry H. Beyond Velikovsky: The History of a Public Controversy. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984.

-----. Science or Pseudoscience: Magnetic Healing, Psychic Phenomena, and Other Heterodoxies. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2000.

Boyer, Pascal. Religion Explained: The Human Instincts That Fashion Gods, Spirits and Ancestors. London: Vintage, 2002.

Bridgstock, Martin. Beyond Belief: Skepticism, Science and the Paranormal. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009. 214 pp.

Bunge M. “Demarcating science from pseudoscience.” Fundamenta Scientiae 3 (1983):369-388.

Carroll, Robert T. The Skeptic's Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions. New York: Wiley, 2003. 446 pp.

Charpak, Georges, and Henri Broch. Debunked: ESP, Telekinesis, Other Pseudoscience. Trans. from the French by Bart K. Holland. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.

Collins, H. M. and T. J. Pinch. Frames of Meaning: The Social Construction of Extraordinary Science. Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982.

De Grazia, Alfred, et al. The Velikovsky Affair: Scientism vs. Science. New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1966. 260 pp.

Does Science Make Belief in God Obsolete? West Conshohocken, PA: John Templeton Foundation, n.d. [2005?]. 66 pp.

Feder, Kenneth L. Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology.  New York: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1998. 304 pp.

Frazier, Kendrick. Science under Siege: Defending Science, Exposing Pseudoscience. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2009.

Gardner Martin.  Science – Good, Bad and Bogus. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1960.

Ginenthal, Charles. Carl Sagan and Immanuel Velikovsky. Tempe, AZ: New Falcon Publications, 1995. 448 pp.

Hansen, George P. "CSICOP and the Skeptics: An Overview." Journal of the American Society for Psyschial Research 86 (Jan. 1992): 19-63.

Hansson, Sven Ove. "Defining pseudoscience." Philosophia naturalis 33 (1996): 169–176.

Hess, David J. Science in the New Age: The Paranormal, Its Defenders and Debunkers, and American Culture. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993. 256 pp.

Hick, John. The New Frontier of Religion and Science: Religious Experience, Neuroscience, and the Transcendent. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

Hines, Terence. Pseudoscience and the Paranormal: a Critical Examination of the Evidence. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1987. 372 pp.

Hofstadter, Douglas R. "Metamagical Themas [On CSICOPís history and activities]." Scientific American 246 (Feb. 1982): 18, 20, 23, 24, 26.

Irwin, Harvey J. The Psychology of Paranormal Belief: A Researcher's Handbook. Hatfield, Herts., UK: University Of Hertfordshire Press, 2009. 192 pp.

Kammann, Richard. “The True Disbelievers: Mars Effect Drives Skeptics to Irrationality.” Zetetic Scholar 10 (December 1982).

Kelly, Lynne. The Skeptic's Guide to the Paranormal. New York: Basic Books, 2005. 272 pp.

Klass, Philip J. UFOs: the public deceived. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1983.

Kominsky, Morris. The Hoaxers: Plain Liars, Fancy Liars, and Damned Liars. Boston: Brandon Press, 1970. 735 pp.

Kruglyakov, Edward. “Why Is Pseudoscience Dangerous?” Skeptical Inquirer 26, 4 (July/August 2002). Posted at

Kurtz, Paul. The New Skepticism: Inquiry and Reliable Knowledge. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1992. 272 pp.

-----, ed.Skeptical Odysseys: Personal Accounts by the World's Leading Paranormal Inquirers. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2001. 430 pp.

-----, ed. A Skeptic's Handbook of Parapsychology. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1985

-----. Skepticism and Humanism: The New Paradigm. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2001. 306 pp.

-----, with Barry Karr, and Ranjit Sandhu, eds. Science and Religion; Are they compatible? Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 2003. 368 pp.

-----. The Transcendental Temptation: A Critique of Religion and the Paranormal. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1991. 516 pp.

Lilienfeld, Scott O., Steven Jay Lynn, and Jeffrey M. Lohr, eds. Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology. New York: Guilford Press, 2004. 474 pp.

Lippard, James. “Skeptics and the “Mars Effect”: A Chronology of Events and Publications.” Posted at

Mooney, Chris. The Republican War on Science. New York: Basic Books, 2005.

Mooney, Chris, and Sheril Kirshenbaum. 2009. Unscientific America: How scientific illiteracy threatens our future. New York: Basic Books, 2009.

Nickel, Joe. Adventures in Paranormal Investigation. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2007. 320 pp.

-----. Looking for a Miracle. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1998.

-----. The Mystery Chronicles: More Real-Life X-Files. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2004. 384 pp.

-----. Real-Life X-Files: Investigating the Paranormal. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2004. Revised illustrated edition as: Investigating the Paranormal. 2007.

Northcote, Jeremy. The Paranormal and the Politics of Truth: A Sociological Account. Exeter, UK: Imprint Academic, 2007. 237 pp.

Persinger, Michael A. Neuropsychological Bases of God Beliefs. New York: Praeger, 1987.

Pigliucci, Massimo. Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2010. 336 pp.

Pinch T. J. and H. M. Collins. "Private Science and Public Knowledge: The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal and its Use of the Literature." Social Studies of Science 14 (1984): 521-546.

Playfair, Guy Lyon. “Has CSICOP Lost the Thirty Years' War?” Posted at  

Pratkanis, Anthony R. "How to Sell a Pseudoscience." Skeptical Inquirer 19, 4 (July/August 1995)): 19–25. Posted at

Radford, Benjamin, and Joe Nickels. Lake Monster Mysteries: Investigating the World's Most Elusive Creatures. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2006. 208 pp.

Rawlins, Dennis. “Starbaby.” Fate Magazine 34 (October 1981):67-98. Posted online with associated articles at

Sagan, Carl. The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God. Ed. by Abb Druyan. New York: Penguin Books, 2006. 284 pp.

Sheaffer, Robert. The UFO verdict: examining the evidence. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1986.

Shermer, Michael.  The Believing Brain. From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies---How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths. New York: Times Books, 2011. 400 pp.

-----.  The Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. 368 pp.

-----. Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? Expanded Edition: Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2009. 360 pp.

-----, ed. The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience. 2 vols. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 2002. 903 pp.

-----. Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time. New York: W. H. Freeman & Company, 1997. 306 pp.

Smith, Jonathan C. Pseudoscience and Extraordinary Claims of the Paranormal: A Critical Thinker's Toolkit. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. 432 pp.

Still, Arthur, and Windy Dryden. “The Social Psychology of ‘Pseudoscience’: A Brief History.” Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 34, 3 (September 2004): 265-290.

Ward, Keith. Pascal's Fire: Scientific Faith and Religious Understanding. Oxford: One World, 2006, chapter 11.

Waterman, Philip F. The Story of Superstition. New York: AMS Press, 1970.

Williams, William F., ed. Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience. New York: Facts on File, 2000. 448 pp.

Wilson F. The Logic and Methodology of Science and Pseudoscience. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press, 2000.

Wilson, Robert Anton. The New Inquisition: Irrational Rationalism and the Citadel of Science. Scottsdale, AZ: New Falcon Publications, 1986.

Wynn, Charles M., and Arthur Wiggins. Quantum Leaps in the Wrong Direction: Where Real Science Ends . . . and Pseudoscience Begins. Washington, DC: Joseph Henry Press, 2001.

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The Magicians: Houdini to Randi

Spiritualism attracted a variety of people, including a set of would-be mediums that made it their business to convince people of Spiritualism’s teachings by presenting stage magic as real psychic phenomena. The tricks ranged over a wide field from various ways to fake clairvoyance and telepathy to elaborate materialization séances. Beginning with Harry Houdini, magicians have taken offense at people who practice stage magic but pass it off as something supernatural.

A few such as Milbourne Christopher and James Randi have actively opposed such magic tricks on ethical grounds and have joined in efforts to expose them. Randi became convinced that fraud lay behind much parapsychology and regularly called for trained magicians to be part of any teams doing psychical research. Though regularly overstating the extent of fraud, he found enough fraud in unexpected places, including the world of popular healing evangelists, to provide substance to his attacks upon the paranormal in general. Most recently, the popular team of Penn and Teller has taken up the attack upon paranormal fraud.


Brandon, Ruth. The Life and Many Deaths of Harry Houdini. New York: Random House, 1993.

-----. The Spiritualists. The Passion for the Occult in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983.

Christopher, Milbourne. Mediums, Mystics and the Occult. New York: Crowell, 1975.

-----. Panorama of Magic. New York: Dover, 1962.

Citron, Gabriel. The Houdini-Price Correspondence. London: Legerdemain, 1998.

Cohen, Patricia. "Poof! You’re a Skeptic: The Amazing Randi’s Vanishing Humbug." The New York Times (February 17, 2001). Posted at  

Ernst, Bernard M. L. Houdini and Conan Doyle: The Story of a Strange Friendship. New York: Albert & Charles Boni, 1932.

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Kalush, William. The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero. New York: Atria, 2007. 608 pp.

McLuhan, Robert. Randi’s Prize: What sceptics say about the paranormal, why they are wrong and why it matters. Leicester, UK: Troubador Publishing, 2010.

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Sullivan", Walter. "Water That Has a Memory? Skeptics Win Second Round." The New York Times (July 27, 1988). Posted at:

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