Aliens. Ley lines. Water dowsing. Conspiracies and myths captivate imaginations and promise mystery and magic. Whether it's arguing about the moon landing hoax or a Frisbee-like Earth drifting through space, when held up to science and critical thinking, these ideas fall flat.
In Weird Earth: Debunking Strange Ideas about Our Planet, Donald R. Prothero demystifies these conspiracies and offers answers to some of humanity's most outlandish questions. Applying his extensive scientific knowledge, Prothero corrects misinformation that con artists and quacks use to hoodwink others about geology – hollow earth, expanding earth, and bizarre earthquakes – and mystical and paranormal happenings – healing crystals, alien landings, and the gates of hell. By deconstructing wild claims such as prophesies of imminent natural disasters, Prothero provides a way for everyone to recognize dubious assertions. Prothero answers these claims with facts, offering historical and scientific context in a light-hearted manner that is accessible to everyone, no matter their background.
With a careful layering of evidence in geology, archaeology, and biblical and historical records, Prothero's Weird Earth examines each conspiracy and myth and leaves no question unanswered.
1. Science and Critical Thinking
2. The Flat Earth
3. Ptolemy Revisited
4. The Hollow Earth
5. The Expanding Earth
6. Did We Really Land on the Moon?
7. Magnetic Myths
8. Earth-Shaking Myths
9. Quacks and Quakes
10. Was There a Great Flood?
11. Are Dinosaurs Faked?
12. Is the Earth Only 6000 Years Old?
13. Mysteries of Mount Shasta
14. The Myth of Atlantis
15. The Mysterious Ley Lines
16. Crystal Con Artists
17. Water Witching
18. Mysterious Earth: Why People Want to Believe Weird Things
Donald R. Prothero is the author of numerous books and scientific papers including UFOs, Chemtrails, and Aliens: What Science Says, Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future, and Abominable Science! Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids. He taught college geology and palaeontology for 40 years, at Caltech, Columbia, Cal Poly Pomona, and Occidental, Knox, Vassar, Glendale, Mt. San Antonio, and Pierce Colleges.
"Weird Earth is about the facts and the people who don't believe them. Don Prothero describes the process of science – and the process of not accepting it. If you're wondering if humans walked on the Moon, if you've wondered where the lost City of Atlantis went, or if you're wondering what your cat will do before an earthquake, check out Weird Earth. (They sure did. It was never lost. And, your cats won't do any more than they ever do.) Don Prothero lays it out for us Earthlings – and it's weird."
– Bill Nye
"Written in a clear, readable style, Weird Earth is a science-based analysis of various dubious and 'crank' geological beliefs, and is especially useful to lay readers curious about these so-called unexplained topics."
– Benjamin Radford
"Geologist Prothero (Fantastic Fossils) offers a breath of intellectual fresh air with this amusing look at how to dispel endemic pseudoscience and conspiracy theories through rational thinking [...] As Prothero takes on one crackpot notion after another, his writing is accessible and often wry. With its wide variety of topics and sharp insights, Prothero's latest delivers something weird for every reader."
– Publishers Weekly
"Pairing convincing arguments with photographs and helpful diagrams, Weird Earth is lucid in applying common sense to everyday geological questions and passionate as it calls for scientific literacy."
– Rebecca Foster, Foreword Reviews
"Prothero offers plenty of convincing proof that nonsense is nonsense."
– Kirkus Reviews
"In his latest, science teacher and proud skeptic Prothero takes on a raft of pseudo- and antiscientific beliefs and handily debunks them: flat earth, hollow earth, young earth, geocentrism, moon landing conspiracies, faked fossils, flood myths, Atlantis, dowsing, and more. He briefly describes these schools of thought, where they come from, and summarizes the scientific evidence which shows that these beliefs are incorrect. But he wants to do more than just debunk. He believes scientists need to explain why and how they come to the conclusions they do."
– Booklist, American Library Association
"I really enjoyed it, but part of me is also thinking, 'It's such a bummer that we're in a place where [the author] felt like this was a good thing to write.'"
– Phil Ferguson, The Phil Ferguson Show
"In the current Trumpian political climate, where basic moral and scientific values seem to have been made effectively "redundant", it is refreshing to have a reminder that the Earth is not flat, Antarctica is still a continent, and there is a collective, knowledge-based world out there. Prothero, a popular educator and excellent science writer, is so engaging and readable in print that it almost becomes purely entertaining to read his prose. The book offers a series of 16 chapters, all debunking particular crackpot theories related to the Earth. These come wrapped between a very good introduction titled "Science and Critical Thinking" and a concluding chapter titled "Why People Want to Believe Weird Things". Some of Prothero's chapters address topics related to the actual history of geology and astronomy, such as the hollow Earth theory and the progressive understanding of our place in the solar system. Other chapters cover elements of the creationist debates on the great flood, the young age of the Earth, and the question of the reality of dinosaurs. Then there's the "Myth of Atlantis" and the question: "Did We Really Land on the Moon?" Each of these cases is described and deconstructed for the reader in a straightforward and accessible style."
– P. K. Strother, Choice
"If you have any interest in geology and the basics of skepticism, this is a good book for you."
– Lee Moller, The God Con
"This book [...] is in a way a coming together of his years of study and analysis of scientific investigations of some of the most prevalent weird ideas from beliefs in flat earth, expanding earth, hollow earth and geocentrism to faith in the paranormal, aliens, UFOs, crystal healing, and even the controversy of the faked moon landing. Although written from the perspective of American realities, the ideas in the book hold true globally [...] With vivid examples and scientific explanations, the book makes for interesting reading."
– Hasan Jawaid Khan, Science Reporter
"Prothero writes well and knowingly. He patiently analyzes one wild claim after another and presents scientific evidence so that no questions remain unanswered. As one reviewer put it, "Prothero provides ample evidence that nonsense is nonsense.""
– Kim Møller Hansen, Scandinavian UFO Information