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No. 7: June 1979

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Is there a science of anomalies?

Westrum and Truzzi term their paper a "bibliographical introduction" to anomalies. Indeed, the article is laced with references to the great classics on scientific anomalies and worth reading for this aspect alone. But the authors go farther. First, they define three different kinds of scientific anomalies: accepted, validated, and alleged. Next, they discuss the criteria used in judging anomalies by the scientific establishment. In dealing with anomalies, the focus inevitably narrows down to the reliability of the data and, quite reasonably, the honesty of those collecting, reproducing, and otherwise manipulating these data. Westrum and Truzzi then turn to the great anomaly collectors (Fort, Gould, Sanderson, Heuvelmans). What did these men produce and is it valuable to science?

(Westrum, Ron, and Truzzi, Marcello; "Anomalies: A Bibliographical Introduction with Some Cautionary Remarks," Zetetic Scholar, 1:69, 1978.)

From Science Frontiers #7, June 1979. 1979-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987