A Critical Encyclopedia

by Brian Regal


Turning metals into gold. Reading head bumps for personality clues. Finding water in the ground with a stick. At some point, all of these were considered legitimate scientific practices. But efforts to pass similar activities off as genuinely scientific are by no means confined to a less enlightened age. From homeopathy to UFO hunting to Creationism, the practice of stamping unscientific activities with the imprimatur of science is alive and well today.

Print Flyer
Cover image for Pseudoscience

October 2009


Pages 191
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Science/General

More than just a collection of factual entries, this rich resource explores the difference between scientific and pseudoscientific pursuits in a way that spurs readers to ask questions and formulate answers.

What makes science science? How do we tell which assertions, beliefs, and methods are scientifically sound, and which are not? Brian Regal's authoritative, entertaining new reference, Pseudoscience: A Critical Encyclopedia gets at the heart of these questions by helping readers understand how the scientific method works, how to critically analyze all kinds of "evidence," and how to sort through long-running myths and current pseudoscience controversies.

Ranging from the dawn of history to the present and across world cultures, Pseudoscience uses a field of endless fascination as a means of driving home the importance of solid scientific reasoning. The encyclopedia spans the full spectrum of scientific and nonscientific pursuits, from chemistry, biology, psychology, and medicine to eugenics, religion, cryptozoology, the occult, and paranormal activities. Specific entries focus on general concepts of science, the lives of individuals, and claims of abilities. Throughout, these entries go beyond simply stating facts by constantly engaging readers in a discussion about the very nature of true scientific discovery.


  • 124 entries, from alchemy and alien abductions to yetis and zombies, that continually focus readers on the true nature of legitimate scientific methods and findings
  • An introductory essay, drawing on the work of genuine historians and philosophers of science, offering guidelines for assessing topics in pseudoscience
  • 40 original line drawings created specifically for this reference, depicting key individuals, creatures, artifacts, and more
  • An extensive bibliography of current and classic works on the full range of pseudoscience topics covered in this volume
  • An index that makes it easy to locate specific topics, terms, names, and ideas


  • Uses the fantastic yet inherently intriguing claims in various areas of pseudoscience as a means of teaching how real science works
  • Provides entries that go beyond facts and figures to address crucial ideas at the core of real scientific inquiry
  • Explores current controversial topics such as Creationism, intelligent design, and eugenics
  • Gives students and other interested readers the tools they need to debunk unscientific claims and myths
Author Info

Brian Regal is assistant professor of the history of science at Kean University, Union, NJ. His published works include Henry Fairfield Osborn: Race and the Search for the Origins of Man and the Annals of Science article, "Entering Dubious Realms: Grover Krantz, Science and Sasquatch."



"This book is designed to get general readers and students in the middle grades and up thinking about the difference between scientific and pseudoscientific pursuits, whether the term ‘pseudoscience' explains anything, and whether the various topics explored here, from acupuncture to zombies, are worthy of the name pseudoscience."SciTech Book News

"This work successfully provides an objective view of pseudoscience topics. . . It is recommended for upper-level school libraries and public libraries."ARBAonline

"Regal has compiled an interesting survey of pseudoscience. His introduction on the definition of pseudoscience and its social and philosophical implications is a very good way to start to think about pseudoscience and how to detect it. . . . Public libraries as well as academic libraries with popular-culture or history of science courses should consider acquiring this title."Booklist

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