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Skeptic's Dictionary

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Skeptic's Dictionary

The Skeptic's Dictionary
Author Robert Todd Carroll
Country United States
Language English
Subject Scientific skepticism
Genre non-fiction
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
Publication date August 15, 2003
Media type Paperback
Pages 446
ISBN ISBN 0-471-27242-6 ,
ISBN 978-0-471-27242-7
OCLC Number Dewey Decimal 001.9 21
LC Classification Q172.5.P77 C37 2003
Followed by Becoming a Critical Thinker

The Skeptic's Dictionary is a collection of cross-referenced skeptical essays by Robert Todd Carroll, published on his website and in a printed book.[1][2][3] The site was launched in 1994 and the book was published in 2003 with nearly 400 entries. As of January 2011 the website has over 700 entries.[4] A comprehensive single-volume guides to skeptical information on pseudoscientific, paranormal, and occult topics, the bibliography contains some seven hundred references for more detailed information. According to the back cover of the book, the on-line version receives approximately 500,000 hits per month.


The Skeptic's Dictionary is, according to its foreword, intended to be a small counterbalance to the voluminous occult and paranormal literature; not to present a balanced view of occult subjects.[5]

The articles in the book are in several categories:

Print versions are available in Dutch, English, Japanese, Korean, and Russian.[6] Numerous entries have been translated for the Internet in several other languages. A newsletter[7] keeps interested parties up to date on new entries and an archived list of previous newsletters is available for online perusal. Norcross et al. state that Carroll has made considerable progress in exposing pseudoscience and quackery.[8]

According to the author,

“The Skeptic’s Dictionary is aimed at four distinct audiences: the open-minded seeker, who makes no commitment to or disavowal of occult claims; the soft skeptic, who is more prone to doubt than to believe; the hardened skeptic, who has strong disbelief about all things occult; and the believing doubter, who is prone to believe but has some doubts. The one group this book is not aimed at is the 'true believer' in the occult. If you have no skepticism in you, this book is not for you.”

Carroll defines each of these categories, explaining how and why, in his opinion, his dictionary may be of interest, use, and benefit to each of them. He also defines the term “skepticism” as he uses it and identifies two types of skeptic, the Apollonian, who is “committed to clarity and rationality” and the Dionysian, who is “committed to passion and instinct.” William James, Bertrand Russell, and Friedrich Nietzsche exemplify the Apollonian skeptic, Carroll says, and Charles Sanders Peirce, Tertullian, Søren Kierkegaard, and Blaise Pascal are Dionysian skeptics.[9]

Roy Herbert's review of the paperback version written for the New Scientist magazine commented that "it is an amazing assembly, elegantly written and level-headed, with a wry remark here and there", and that "this superb work is likely to be used so often that it is a pity it is a softback book."[2]

See also


External links

  • Google books link
  • The Skeptic's Dictionary
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