Medusa's Gaze and Vampire's Bite: The Science of Monsters



Modern Audiences Do Not Find Dragons Frightening Fascinating As Mythical Creatures, Yes, But Terrifying, No Yet, Present Them With A Story About A Virus That Can Kill A Healthy Adult In Hours And They Will Have Nightmares For Weeks The Difference Between The Two Is Believability Monsters Are At Their Most Frightening When They Carry Characteristics That Tie Them To The Real World In Some Way.Preposterous As They Might Seem Today, Dragons Were No Different In Ancient Times Humans Long Ago Stumbled Upon Skeletons That Had Sharp Teeth And Talon Like Claws These Fossils Were Real And Some Were Frighteningly Large Those Who Looked At Them Could Only Guess At How Dangerous The Animals That They Belonged To Must Have Been From Such Interactions, Dragons Were Born Yet, In Spite Of Ample Physical Evidence That Dragons Existed, None Were Ever Seen In The Flesh Dragon Bones Were Ultimately Proven To Be The Bones Of Huge Predatory Dinosaurs Like Tyrannosaurus Rex, But Before The Mystery Was Solved, They Were The Makings Of Frightening Beasts That Managed To Evade Human Sight By Lurking Deep Within The Shadows Of The Wild The Science Of Monsters Will Explore Monsters That Have Haunted Humanity Throughout The Ages, From Medusa To Sea Serpents, Giants, And Vampires In Each Chapter Kaplan Uses Scientific Principles, Current Research, And His Thorough Knowledge Of The Natural World To Explain Why Specific Monsters Came To Be And What It Was About Them That Was So Terrifying To The People Who Brought Them To Life.Medusa's Gaze and Vampire's Bite: The Science of Monsters

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  • Paperback
  • 248 pages
  • Medusa's Gaze and Vampire's Bite: The Science of Monsters
  • Matt Kaplan
  • English
  • 06 August 2017
  • 9781451667998

10 thoughts on “Medusa's Gaze and Vampire's Bite: The Science of Monsters

  1. says:

    I really wanted to like this book I was psyched to hear Matt Kaplan on NPR and put my name in at the library so I was the first person to get it.I should have quit early on It got incredibly repetitive, had such snarky and completely unnecessary but also incredibly predictable and unoriginal footnotes that they tipped the book into Just Plain Bad territory Considering how often Kaplan repeated himself, I wondered why he didn t combine a lot of his sections Perhaps the book would have stood up better as individual articles, but as a whole, it just got to the point where I literally yelled at the book OH MY GOD ITS FOSSILS ALREADY I GET IT Also what was with the here, let me give some wild theory and then immediately explain how wrongwrongRONG that theory is Why did you ju...

  2. says:

    Monsters, it turns out, evolve over time Vampires didn t always sparkle, zombies didn t always crave the taste of human brains, and until very recently dementors didn t even exist Why is it that the monsters that left people shivering in terror during the bronze age are so different than the monsters of the industrial revolution, which in turn are so different from the monsters today As society changes, the things that people fear change, and thus popular monsters change as well In his first solo book, science journalist Matthew Kaplan takes us on an engaging romp through the history of monsters, exploring not just what those monsters are, but what they tell us about ourselves.Kaplan is one of the top science journalists in the world, and it shows His writing is clear, lucid, and even dare I say it funny He makes complex scientific concepts accessible to non specialists, and his talent helps make this book an engaging and thought provoking read The book operates on two levels On the surface level, this book looks at a...

  3. says:

    In this entertaining look at beliefs in monsters of various sorts, as with his recent book on magical powers, Science of the Magical From the Holy Grail to Love Potions to Superpowers, Matt Kaplan explores the ways in which science and culture create the background for belief in things fantastic Kaplan s argument, that monsters serve an important purpose by representing deeply held fears and allowing people to practice facing those fears in a safe way, is hardly original, but he writes with cheerful, sometimes flippant enthusiasm, and, while bringing in plenty of real science and history, he rarely takes his imaginary subjects or his imaginative theories too seriously Kaplan s premise, that monsters are created due to specific and identifiable human fears combined with observable phenomena works better with some monsters than others The link between Old Hag Syndrome and sleep paralysis is quite convincing, while the idea that the Golem of Prague was a vigilante seems, generously, a stretch Most of Kaplan s proposed explanations for beliefs in monsters, ranging from Hercules s Nemean lion all the way to sparkly modern vampires and UFO s, fall somewhere in between these extremes of sure, that seems plausible and ha Most often his proposals seem not unreasonable, but also, often, not fully convincing either I m inclined to g...

  4. says:

    This book is amazing The author presents plausible scientific information explaining why ancient civilizations believed in different monsters as well as why the same monsters lost their ability to scare over time His wittiness breaks up the s...

  5. says:

    Some of the themes and characters in world mythology are near immortal They take a life on their own and evolve into myriad shapes and forms over the centuries A monster is one such character which has grown and metamorphosed across varied civilizations At a time when the earliest of humans regaled each other at their communal get togethers with tall tales, the monsters took the forms of hideous, frightening and incredibly dangerous entities and the dread they unleashed was only as limited as the imagination of the person telling the stories Generations were terrified and thrilled by them and myths were modelled around them Also as humanity evolved so did their heroes who could vanquish these deadly creatures The ability to defeat a monster gave the hero a certain aura of invincibility that after a while, heroes came to life with the sole purpose of being a monster hunter Imagine where would Heracles have been if he hadn t defeated the Nemean Lion Would Beowulf have attained the same popularity if there was no Grendel What of Harry Potter and Voldemort Would the boy wizard still have been as powerful without his nemesis Civilizations rose and fell and with them the forms of the monsters that they dreaded also evolved Matt Kaplan s book is an examination of various monsters across civilizations, the social scenarios in which they found their footing and what might have contributed to their wi...

  6. says:

    Matt Kaplan does a really nice job balancing the scientific fact and evidence he presents with a sociological and psychological view of how these monsters have been depicted in art, film, and literatur...

  7. says:

    An entertaining, accessible, informative read that attempts to explain the scientific and psychological foundations of our most enduring monsters I enjoyed its light tone and quick pace, found some of the history and science to be quite fascinating, and loved all of the pop cul...

  8. says:

    Teratology is an area of interest to me, but this fell into the trap of so much non fiction in that it remained largely a litany of speculation I just prefer a little of an academic tone, but maybe I m not the target demographic It is at its best when it is referencing the works of Adrien...

  9. says:

    3.5 stars The first half of this book was a bit boring, but the second half was really interesting, perhaps because the monsters in the second half were relevant to today I found the footnotes obnoxious, but the writing was otherwise fine.

  10. says:

    Medusa s Gaze and Vampire s Bite by Matt Kaplan 2012 was one of those impulse buys one makes when seeing an interesting title in a bookstore Subtitled The Science of Monsters, I flipped through it at the bookstore and thought that it would be an interesting read And in many ways, it was However, I found there were areas, sources, and promised material that were either missing entirely or only very briefly covered Because of my own hopes and subsequent disappointment, I can only recommend the book with reservations In an attempt to fully explain my reservations and what the book does cover, I will write a fuller outline of the book than I normally do.Kaplan s thesis is to attempt to explain the science, sociology, and psychology behind some of our legendary monsters In this, he not only looks at the creatures of myth and legend, but also surveys some of the modern creations of literature and film He organizes the book in two ways First, his discussions are mostly chronological from the dim past to the present Secondly, he organizes the monsters by type The reader will see what I mean by this below.He opens the book in Chapter 1 calling it Giant Animals Nemean Lion, Calydonian Boar, the Rukh, King Kong One can see this is a mixed bag The first three are from ancient legends and cultures, the last, a modern day well, 1933 fi...

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