The most recommended pseudoscience books

Who picked these books? Meet our 26 experts.

26 authors created a book list connected to pseudoscience, and here are their favorite pseudoscience books.
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Book cover of Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present

JJ Savaunt Author Of Barren

From my list on detecting bullsh*t.

Who am I?

Writing is my life. As a child I wrote poems, scripts, and short stories. A couple of decades, a BCALA literary award, and a three-book deal later, my wild imagination has grown into a passion for exposing the truth. In 2020, a third of the 300,000 missing women in the United States were Black, and in that same year, I was almost a victim of human trafficking myself. With this second chance, I write to bring awareness and attention to women who cannot speak for themselves. I write to shed light on the truth and these five books have helped me on my journey.  

JJ's book list on detecting bullsh*t

JJ Savaunt Why did JJ love this book?

Did you know that 75% of bones in the human body are found below the knee? I thought that was interesting as well… if only it were true! This book taught me to critically assess data and not blindly accept every ‘scientific-sounding’ statement as truth. Medical Apartheid details the origins of several medical innovations which shockingly date back to slavery. The things doctors once considered permissible to do to enslaved women on the basis that ‘they did not feel pain’ brought literal tears to my eyes, but it was necessary for me to read because it shared the truth. A horrible, terrifying truth that pharmaceutical giants—like Pfizer—refuse to acknowledge to this day. 

By Harriet A. Washington,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Medical Apartheid as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER • The first full history of Black America’s shocking mistreatment as unwilling and unwitting experimental subjects at the hands of the medical establishment. No one concerned with issues of public health and racial justice can afford not to read this masterful book.

"[Washington] has unearthed a shocking amount of information and shaped it into a riveting, carefully documented book." —New York Times

From the era of slavery to the present day, starting with the earliest encounters between Black Americans and Western medical researchers and the racist pseudoscience that resulted, Medical Apartheid details the ways…


Book cover of The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

Jerry Fishenden Author Of Fracture. The collision between technology and democracy-and how we fix it

From my list on technology and democracy.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved technology. I like the constant change, the sense of creativity and invention, of how it can act as an incredible force for good and human progress and betterment in the world. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t tinkering with gadgets—taking radios apart to mend them or learn how they worked; designing electronic circuits for music synthesis; programming computers. But I’ve also always been interested in politics and the complex intersection of technology and public policy. So much so that most of my working life has been spent at this intersection, which is why I love these books—and hope you will too.

Jerry's book list on technology and democracy

Jerry Fishenden Why did Jerry love this book?

Carl Sagan was a huge influence when I was younger, helping to popularise science, and this book encourages us to be more questioning and critical in our thinking.

One of Sagan’s phrases has stayed with me ever since: “The methods of science—with all its imperfections—can be used to improve social, political, and economic systems.”

In an age when truth and objectivity are under assault, and opinions and prejudice are given as much weight as facts and evidence, we need a more rational, scientific, and objective approach to politics to help restore a much-needed sense of balance and sanity to our world.

By Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Demon-Haunted World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A prescient warning of a future we now inhabit, where fake news stories and Internet conspiracy theories play to a disaffected American populace

“A glorious book . . . A spirited defense of science . . . From the first page to the last, this book is a manifesto for clear thought.”—Los Angeles Times

How can we make intelligent decisions about our increasingly technology-driven lives if we don’t understand the difference between the myths of pseudoscience and the testable hypotheses of science? Pulitzer Prize-winning author and distinguished astronomer Carl Sagan argues that scientific thinking is critical not only to the…


Book cover of Demonology

Richard Hardack Author Of Not Altogether Human: Pantheism and the Dark Nature of the American Renaissance

From my list on to reassess the nature of nature.

Who am I?

I received my Ph.D. and J.D. at Berkeley, and my next book Your Call is Very Important to Us: Advertising and the Corporate Theft of Personhood, is forthcoming from Rowman & Littlefield. My research into literary and legal history made me fascinated with how people project hopes and fears onto the social construct of nature. How does one explain the contradictory ways white men imagined they could transcend painful isolation by merging into a nature coded as non-white and female? These fantasies play out in popular culture, e.g. in Avatar, in which men seek the unobtanium they lack: a nature that was always lost/a retroactively-constructed fantasy, and a cover for what it seemed to oppose—finally the corporation.

Richard's book list on to reassess the nature of nature

Richard Hardack Why did Richard love this book?

Though it focuses on dreams and the occult, the ulterior subject of Emerson’s Demonology is the arcane inversions, doublings, and “unconscious” of transcendentalism. Between many of Emerson’s pronouncements falls this shadow of Demonology, which provides key tenets of his philosophy. Demonology is the cumulative residue of an attempt to explain away that which resists Emerson’s theory that nature is consistent, explicable, rational, and benign. Encapsulating the uncanny, and the inexplicable forces of dreams, animals, and pseudosciences, Demonology consolidates all that is “outside” and negated for Emerson—everything that is, in his terminology, “not me.” Demonology locates the cracks in Emerson’s consciousness, as well as the hobgoblins in his notion of Reason. Emerson’s conception of nature here is notably modern, and often sounds Lacanian—the demonological exception or irrational, that which cannot be fully understood or described, is the necessary anomaly or remainder on which the universality of nature depends.

By Ralph Waldo Emerson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Demonology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'"The name Demonology covers dreams, omens, coincidences, luck, sortilege, magic and other experiences which shun rather than court inquiry, and deserve notice chiefly because every man has usually in a lifetime two or three hints in this kind which are specially impressive to him. They also shed light on our structure."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson is one of the most influential thinkers in American history. His Transcendentalism preached a close communion with man and nature and is one of the great life-affirming philosophies of any age. As one of the architects of the transcendentalist movement, Emerson embraced a philosophy…


Book cover of How to Argue with a Racist: What Our Genes Do (and Don't) Say about Human Difference

Dashka Slater Author Of Accountable: The True Story of a Racist Social Media Account and the Teenagers Whose Lives It Changed

From my list on facing down extremism, online and off.

Who am I?

I’ve spent the past ten years reporting and writing true crime narratives about teenagers and hate, first in The 57 Bus and now in Accountable. My research has led me into some fascinating places and has left me convinced that we cannot prevent what we don’t understand. In both books I found that the young people who harmed others weren’t the stereotypical grimacing loners I’d always associated with hate and extremism. Instead, they were imitating behaviors that we see all around us. Being young, with brains that aren’t fully developed in important ways, and lacking the life experience that teaches us a more nuanced understanding of the world, they are ripe for radicalization.

Dashka's book list on facing down extremism, online and off

Dashka Slater Why did Dashka love this book?

When researching the online radicalization that drew in one of the teenagers I write about in my book, I understood how easy it would be to fall victim to fake science about race if you weren’t armed with the real science.

Rutherford’s pocket-sized book refutes common lies and misconceptions about human difference in a manner that is easy to understand without glossing over the complexity of genetics.

By Adam Rutherford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Argue with a Racist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This authoritative debunking of racist claims that masquerade as “genetics” is a timely weapon against the misuse of science to justify bigotry—now in paperback

Race is not a biological reality.
Racism thrives on our not knowing this.

In fact, racist pseudoscience has become so commonplace that it can be hard to spot. But its toxic effects on society are plain to see: rising nationalism, simmering hatred, lost lives, and divisive discourse. Since cutting-edge genetics are difficult to grasp—and all too easy to distort—even well-intentioned people repeat stereotypes based on “science.” But the real science tells a different story: The more…


Book cover of Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks

Richard Farr Author Of You Are Here: A User's Guide to the Universe

From my list on how science actually works… or doesn’t.

Who am I?

I was once an academic philosopher, but I found it too glamorous and well-paid so I became a novelist and private intellectual mentor instead. I wrote You Are Here because I love what science knows, but an interest in how science knows drew me into the philosophy of science, where a puzzle lurks. Scientists claim that the essence of their craft is captured in a 17th Century formula, “the scientific method”... and in a 20th Century litmus test, “falsifiability.” Philosophers claim that these two ideas are (a) both nonsense and (b) in any case mutually contradictory. So what’s going on? 

Richard's book list on how science actually works… or doesn’t

Richard Farr Why did Richard love this book?

This practical, informative, and hugely entertaining book is mainly about the role of journalists, big pharma, “nutrition experts” and others in generating our many false beliefs about medicine and our health. Along the way, though, Goldacre paints a vivid picture of why sloppy, irrational thinking, along with confirmation bias and social bias and framing effects, so deeply infect so much science even before it gets twisted and misreported by outsiders. A goldmine of useful cases and examples, with a simple moral: how much harder it is than it lookseven for those crowned with a doctorate!to think clearly about evidence.

By Ben Goldacre,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bad Science as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Have you ever wondered how one day the media can assert that alcohol is bad for us and the next unashamedly run a story touting the benefits of daily alcohol consumption? Or how a drug that is pulled off the market for causing heart attacks ever got approved in the first place? How can average readers, who aren't medical doctors or Ph.D.s in biochemistry, tell what they should be paying attention to and what's, well, just more bullshit?

Ben Goldacre has made a point of exposing quack doctors and nutritionists, bogus credentialing programs, and biased scientific studies. He has also…


Book cover of Pseudoscience and Deception: The Smoke and Mirrors of Paranormal Claims

Bryan Farha Author Of Pseudoscience and Deception: The Smoke and Mirrors of Paranormal Claims

From my list on critically analyzing paranormal claims.

Who am I?

As a licensed mental health professional, I once had a client claiming to be demonically possessed, and requested that I get an exorcist to drive the evil spirits out of her body. Instead, I utilized a therapeutic approach to challenge “irrational” beliefs. The problem was gone. I realized that people were prone to strange beliefs and started to read and listen to “experts” who were skeptical in nature. To my surprise, I saw Carl Sagan distinguishing astrology (pseudoscience) from astronomy (science). His talk was clear, convincing, and logical. I was hooked.

Bryan's book list on critically analyzing paranormal claims

Bryan Farha Why did Bryan love this book?

Instead of “writing” this book on each subject myself, chapters are written by the most noted experts in the field of the subject matter. Some of the topics include claims of astrology, psychic ability, alternative medicine, after-death communication, psychotherapy, and pseudoscience. Mostly, I’ve never seen people so excited to study critical thinking as when the subject matter involves the paranormal. 

By Bryan Farha,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pseudoscience and Deception as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pseudoscience and Deception is a compilation of some of the most eye-opening skeptical articles pertaining to extraordinary claims and pseudoscience. The articles explore paranormal, extraordinary, or fringe-science claims and reveal logical explanations or outline the deceptive tactics involved in convincing the vulnerable. Topics include claims of astrology, psychic ability, alternative medicine, after-death communication, psychotherapy, and pseudoscience. The contributors to this book are among the most accomplished critical thinkers, scientists, and educators in the world and tackle their respective topics from a rational, logical, and skeptical perspective. Most students are seldom excited to study "critical thinking"-with the exception of allegedly paranormal…


Book cover of Summerland

Tone Milazzo Author Of The Faith Machine

From my list on spies in strange places.

Who am I?

Spies are everywhere across the panorama of fictional tropes, in fantasy, science fiction, horror, and historical fiction. Spies are like salt. No matter the genre, drop a little espionage into the mix, and it tastes better. There’s an inherent complexity to a spy, a dichotomy baked into the profession, simultaneously a criminal and an agent of the government. A spy could be a one-man-army, a smooth-talker, or someone inside your computer network, but no matter who they really are, they’re never who they seem. The spy plays with identity, loyalty, and integrity in ways that the worst of us do but is safely compartmentalized in fiction for our enjoyment.

Tone's book list on spies in strange places

Tone Milazzo Why did Tone love this book?

If you’ve chafed at the limitations of scale by these suggestions, this is the book for you.

All the stories on this list, including my own, take pains to couch the supernatural in such a way that the political, social, and economical natural orders are not threatened by the introduction of speculative elements. Not in Summerland.

Their pseudo-science real, Victorian spiritualists find a way to the afterlife and back. Within decades the strange, alien city on the other side is flooded with the principles of industry, commerce, and espionage.

Taking place between the World Wars, the existence of Summerland, and the technologies that unfold from its discovery change the landscape of pre-World War II Europe, but not the inevitability of human nature.

By Hannu Rajaniemi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Summerland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"It reads like John Le Carré if Le Carré ate a ton of acid before writing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy..." —NPR on Summerland

From Hannu Rajaniemi, one of the most exciting science fiction writers in the last decade, comes an awe-inspiring account of the afterlife and what happens when it spills over into the world of the living

Loss is a thing of the past. Murder is obsolete. Death is just the beginning.

In 1938, death is no longer feared but exploited. Since the discovery of the afterlife, the British Empire has extended its reach into Summerland, a metropolis for…


Book cover of Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System

Maurice Possley Author Of Hitler in the Crosshairs: A GI's Story of Courage and Faith

From my list on true stories with meaning and power.

Who am I?

I am a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who has worked for the past 10 years as the senior researcher for the National Registry of Exonerations. In that capacity, I have written nearly 2,500 individual accounts of men and women and teenagers who were wrongly convicted of crimes they did not commit. Some of them were sentenced to death. I have seen and written about these tragedies firsthand.

Maurice's book list on true stories with meaning and power

Maurice Possley Why did Maurice love this book?

Chris Fabricant has written a compelling account of how the “junk science” of connecting bitemarks to human teeth has resulted in dozens of wrongful convictions of innocent people in America. I have known Chris for many years. He is a fierce advocate for truth and justice. This book powerfully exposes how forensic dentists have used methods with no scientific basis to convict the wrong people and the guilty people went free.

By M. Chris Fabricant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Innocence Project attorney M. Chris Fabricant presents an insider’s journey into the heart of a broken, racist system of justice and the role junk science plays in maintaining the status quo.

Praise from John Grisham, author of A Time for Mercy: "No one in America will ever know the number of innocent people convicted, sent to prison, and even executed because of the flood of rotten forensics and bogus scientific opinions presented to juries. In this intriguing and beautifully crafted book, Innocence Project lawyer M. Chris Fabricant illustrates how wrongful convictions occur, and he makes it obvious how they could…


Book cover of The Halo Effect... and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers

Nathan Kracklauer Author Of The 12-Week MBA: Learn the Skills You Need to Lead in Business Today

From my list on unconventional takes on leadership and management.

Who am I?

As a wannabe rockstar studying philosophy and mathematics, never in my wildest nightmare did I imagine I would one day earn a living traveling the world, helping corporate managers become better bosses. But in unexpected ways, all the different strands of my interests and passions have woven together into a work-life well lived, with over two decades of experience and contemplation distilled down into this book I have co-written with my friend and business partner, Bjorn Billhardt, CEO of Abilitie.

Nathan's book list on unconventional takes on leadership and management

Nathan Kracklauer Why did Nathan love this book?

There are so many golden calves in the world of management and leadership theory, and this book knocks nine of them down politely but mercilessly.

My favorite chapter: “The Delusion of Rigorous Research,” coming from a business school professor who knows first-hand what he’s talking about. I’m encumbered by philosophical training, and in the business world, I constantly find myself asking, “Yes, but what does that word actually mean?” or “What kind of evidence could support that claim, and is that evidence you could actually collect?”

More and more content about how to succeed in business and management gets produced by humans, and increasingly by AI. In that context, I’m grateful for books like this one that focus more on “how” than on “what” to think.

By Phil Rosenzweig,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Halo Effect... and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why do some companies prosper while others fail? Despite great amounts of research, many of the studies that claim to pin down the secret of success are based in pseudoscience. The Halo Effect is the outcome of that pseudoscience, a myth that Philip Rosenzweig masterfully debunks in THE HALO EFFECT. The Halo Effect describes the tendency of experts to point to the high financial performance of a successful company and then spread its golden glow to all of the company's attributes - clear strategy, strong values, and brilliant leadership. But in fact, as Rosenzweig clearly illustrates, the experts are not…


Book cover of The Management Myth: Debunking Modern Business Philosophy

Nathan Kracklauer Author Of The 12-Week MBA: Learn the Skills You Need to Lead in Business Today

From my list on unconventional takes on leadership and management.

Who am I?

As a wannabe rockstar studying philosophy and mathematics, never in my wildest nightmare did I imagine I would one day earn a living traveling the world, helping corporate managers become better bosses. But in unexpected ways, all the different strands of my interests and passions have woven together into a work-life well lived, with over two decades of experience and contemplation distilled down into this book I have co-written with my friend and business partner, Bjorn Billhardt, CEO of Abilitie.

Nathan's book list on unconventional takes on leadership and management

Nathan Kracklauer Why did Nathan love this book?

This book is so many things at once. It’s a history of management education. It’s a damning indictment of the consulting world. It’s an acerbic memoir of life as a consultant that had me laughing out loud.

But what resonated most with me is that it’s also a profound and rigorous argument for why business schools are not the right place to learn about management and that the traditional liberal arts give you more skills and mental models for assuming responsibility for leading an organization.  

By Matthew Stewart,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Management Myth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fresh from Oxford with a degree in philosophy and no particular interest in business, Matthew Stewart might not have seemed a likely candidate to become a consultant. But soon he was telling veteran managers how to run their companies.

In narrating his own ill-fated (and often hilarious) odyssey at a top-tier firm, Stewart turns the consultant's merciless, penetrating eye on the management industry itself. The Management Myth offers an insightful romp through the entire history of thinking about management, a withering critique of pseudoscience in management theory, and a clear explanation of why the MBA usually amounts to so much…