Benjamin Radford


Articles, Essays, Memoir, Mystery, Folklore, Historical Nonfiction Mysteries


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Benjamin Radford is an award-winning author, co-author, or contributor to over 20 books, and has written thousands of articles for Discovery News and on a wide variety of topics, including urban legends, mysterious phenomena, critical thinking, and media literacy. Radford also wrote and directed two short films, invented a board game, and co-founded an award-winning podcast. Radford has been quoted as an expert by hundreds of media outlets including CNN, ABC News, BBC, CBC, The New York Times, Gizmodo, Forbes, The New York Times Magazine, The (London) Times Literary Supplement, Fortean Times, the Huffington Post, Scientific American, Wall Street Journal, Wired, and Vanity Fair. Radford has a Masters degree in education and a Bachelors degree in psychology, and is a member of the American Folklore Society. More about Radford can be found on Wikipedia and at

Books: Fiction

Title: The Merchant of Dust
Publisher: Rhombus eBooks/2015
Genre: Fiction

A dark satire set during a political campaign in 1980s New Mexico, The Merchant of Dust tells the story of Mark Thomas and his attempt to thwart a U.S. Senate hopeful who may be responsible his father’s death, first by joining his opponent’s campaign, then by uncovering his role in a scandal. He soon finds danger lurking close to his home town of Thoreau.

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Books: Nonfiction

Title: Bad Clowns
Publisher: University of New Mexico Press/2016
Genre: Folklore/Pop Culture

Bronze Medal Winner of the Independent Publishers Book Award. Bad clowns—scary or malevolent ones, not incompetent ones—are all around us: on television, in movies, video games, books, and elsewhere. Bad clowns have—much to the irritation of good clowns—over the years become the most recognizable type of clown. Yet there is relatively little (even semi-serious) scholarship about these villainous vagabonds. Bad Clowns goes far beyond trotting out the familiar bad clown tropes of John Wayne Gacy and Pennywise. They are included here, of course, but you’ll also find bizarre, lesser-known stories of weird clown antics including S&M clowns; Ronald McDonald protests; Bozo obscenity; clowns in vans abducting children; evil clown scares in England and Staten Island; behind-the-scenes at Marvel Comics with Obnoxio the Clown; sex clowns, dip clowns, troll clowns and much more. Bad Clowns is the first book to examine bad clowns as pop culture (and counterculture) icons. Bad Clowns is the definitive book on bad clowns, drawn from a variety of perspectives.

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Title: Investigating Ghosts: The Scientific Search for Spirits
Publisher: Rhombus Books/2018
Genre: Science/Folklore

Winner of the New Mexico/Arizona Book Award. Ghosts have fascinated and haunted us for millennia. They appear in our campfire tales, films, books, and television shows as well as in our dreams and nightmares. Despite widespread belief in spirits—and the popularity of television ghost hunting shows—scientific evidence for them remains elusive. Investigating Ghosts is the first book to examine the history and techniques of ghost hunting from folkloric, scientific, and sociocultural perspectives. No mere armchair scholar, this book is based on nearly twenty years of first-hand, science-based investigations and research. Investigating Ghosts will entertain and educate skeptics and true believers alike, separating fact from fiction about this timeless mystery. Topics include: Guidelines for scientifically investigating ghost reports; analyzing photographic, audio, and video evidence; ghost hunting equipment: What works, what doesn’t, and why; in-depth case studies of solved ghost investigations; and understanding the psychology of ghost experiences.

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Title: Mysterious New Mexico: Miracles, Magic, and Monsters in the Land of Enchantment
Publisher: University of New Mexico Press/2014
Genre: Southwest/Folklore

Winner of the Southwest Book Award. New Mexico’s twin traditions of the scientific and the supernatural meet for the first time in this long-overdue book by a journalist known for investigating the unexplained. Strange tales of ghosts, monsters, miracles, lost treasure, UFOs, and much more can be found not far from the birthplace of the atomic bomb. Huge radio astronomy dishes search desert skies for alien life, and the world’s first spaceport can be found in this enchanted land; in many ways New Mexico truly is a portal to other worlds. Mysterious New Mexico is the first book to apply scientific investigation methods to explain some of New Mexico’s most bizarre lore and legends. Using folklore, sociology, history, psychology, and forensic science—as well as good old-fashioned detective work—Ben Radford reveals the truths and myths behind New Mexico’s greatest mysteries.

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Title: Media Mythmakers: How Journalists, Activists, and Advertisers Mislead Us
Publisher: Prometheus Books/2003
Genre: Media/Culture

As the lines between advertising, news, and entertainment blur, the ideal of an informed citizenry becomes harder and harder to achieve. We, the American public, aren’t sure anymore what to believe, or where to put our money and trust. We know we’re being manipulated, misled, and outright lied to by those who seek our support. Whether it comes from advertisers, activists, or the government, the manipulation is constant and pervasive. Those who are supposed to help us understand the world and the problems we face frequently fail us. Journalists and the news media offer entertainment and sensationalism instead of significant information. Politicians and lawmakers who guide our country are little better; instead of real solutions, we are offered merely illusions of change. This hard-hitting critique of our media culture examines not only the ways in which we are deceived, but the media’s role in propagating those deceptions. But Media Mythmakers goes beyond criticism to give concrete examples of the damage that manipulation of the news causes. From missing children to the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, from the efforts to end slavery to AIDS education, myths and deception in the media threaten us all. While the public is being misled, real problems go unaddressed and resources are wasted on misguided ideas. In an increasingly complex world, where accurate and unbiased information is more important than ever, this book provides a timely and much-needed analysis.

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Title: Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore
Publisher: University of New Mexico Press/2011
Genre: Folklore/Latin America

Finalist for Book of the Year (Foreword Reviews) and the New Mexico Book Awards. Among the monsters said to roam the world’s jungles and desolate deserts, none is more feared than the chupacabra—the blood-sucking beast blamed for the mysterious deaths of thousands of animals since the 1990s. To some it’s a joke; to many it is a very real threat and even a harbinger of the apocalypse. Originating in Latin America yet known worldwide, the chupacabra is a contradictory and bizarre blend of vampire and shapeshifter, changing its appearance and characteristics depending on when and where it is seen. Rooted in conspiracy theory and anti-American sentiment, the beast is said to be the result of Frankenstein-like secret U.S. government experiments in the Puerto Rican jungles. Combining five years of careful investigation (including eyewitness accounts, field research, and forensic analysis) with a close study of the creature’s cultural and folkloric significance, Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore is the first to fully explore—and solve—the decades-old mystery of the chupacabra.

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Title: Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries
Publisher: Rhombus Books/2010
Genre: Science/Paranormal

Finalist for the New Mexico/Arizona Book Award. Scientific Paranormal Investigation gives an inside look at the life and work of a real-life scientific paranormal investigator. From aliens to zombies, ghosts to monsters, Scientific Paranormal Investigation is X-Files meets CSI, applying scientific methods and principles to real-life mysteries, and finding explanations when it seems none are possible. Topics include crop circles, psychic detectives, ghosts, lake monsters, and much more.

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Title: The Martians Have Landed! A History of Media-Driven Panics and Hoaxes
Publisher: MacFarland/2011
Genre: Media/Culture

History is replete with examples of media-created scares and panics. This book presents more than three dozen studies of media scares from the seventeenth century to the twenty-first century, including hoaxes perpetrated via newspapers, radio, television and cyberspace. From the 1835 batmen on the Moon hoax to more recent bird flu scares and Hurricane Katrina myths, this book explores hoaxes that highlight the impact of the media on our lives and its tendency to sensationalize. Most of the hoaxes covered occurred in the United States, though incidents from Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and Australia are featured as well. Several are global in scope, revealing the power global media wields.

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McFarland Books

Title: Lake Monster Mysteries: Investigating the World’s Most Elusive Creatures
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky/2006
Genre: Media/Culture

For centuries, eyewitnesses around the world―from America to Africa, Argentina to Scotland―have reported sightings of dark, mysterious creatures in area lakes that surface briefly, only to quickly disappear. While the most famous lake monsters of Loch Ness and Lake Champlain have gained international notoriety, hundreds of lakes around the world are said to shelter these shadowy creatures. Lake Monster Mysteries is the first book to examine these widespread mysteries from a scientific perspective. By using exhaustive research and results from firsthand investigations to help separate truth from myth, the authors foster our understanding of what really lurks in the cold, murky depths. Benjamin Radford and Joe Nickell are considered to be among the top lake monster authorities in the world. Here they share unique insights into many of the world’s best-known lake monsters. They interview witnesses and local experts and discuss the different types of lake monster sightings, delve into possible explanations for those sightings, and examine hoaxes, evidence claims, and legends surrounding the monsters. The authors have also conducted groundbreaking fieldwork and experiments at the lakes and have examined recent photographic and sonar evidence. Incorporating newly-revealed information and up-to-date developments in the cases they present, professional monster hunters Radford and Nickell plunge into both the cultural histories of these creatures and the scientific inquiries that may hold the key to these mysteries.

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