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Benjamin Radford’s “Tracking the Chupacabra” Nominated for Book of the Year

April 6, 2012

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Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore by Benjamin Radford has been nominated as a finalist for ForeWord Reviews’ 2011 Book of the Year Award in the social science category. Radford is deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer and a research fellow with the nonprofit educational organization the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI).

The chupacabra is the world’s third best-known monster (after Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster), and the world’s second best-known vampire (after Dracula). The mysterious creature, said to suck the blood of goats and other small animals, has been reported throughout North and South America and as far away as Russia.

Tracking the Chupacabra was the product of five years of research and investigation into the mythical creature. Radford traveled to Texas, Puerto Rico, and the jungles of Nicaragua in search of the bloodthirsty beast. Interviewing eyewitnesses, forensics experts, and folklorists, he traced its origins to both European vampire folklore and to one key eyewitness in 1995 in Puerto Rico.

“I’m honored by these award nominations,” said Radford, “and I’m pleased to be able to bring some real scholarship and science to a topic like this. Too often when the public hears of mysterious phenomena such as miracles or ghosts—or chupacabras—they assume they must be paranormal or unexplainable. I hope I’ve shown that mysteries can be solved through the application of science, skepticism, and good old-fashioned hard work and investigation.”

Published last year from the University of New Mexico Press, Tracking the Chupacabra was also selected as a finalist for the 2011 New Mexico Book Awards.

Radford, one of the world’s few science-based paranormal investigators, has done first-hand research into mysterious phenomena, including psychics, ghosts and haunted houses, exorcisms, miracles, Bigfoot, stigmata, lake monsters, UFO sightings, reincarnation, and crop circles, and many other topics.

In addition to his roles with CSI, Radford has written over a thousand articles on a wide variety of topics, including urban legends, the paranormal, critical thinking, and science literacy as a regular columnist for LiveScience.com, Discovery News, and Skeptical Inquirer magazine. He is author or coauthor of six books on media literacy, critical thinking, and the paranormal, including Media Mythmakers: How Journalists, Activists, and Advertisers Mislead Us (Prometheus Books); Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries (Rhombus Books) and The Martians Have Landed! A History of Media-Driven Panics and Hoaxes (McFarland).

Radford has appeared on the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, the Learning Channel, CBC, CBS, BBC, CNN, and many other networks. Radford has also appeared in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Wired, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and USA Today.

The Book of the Year Awards, created by the journal ForeWord Reviews, were established to bring increased attention to librarians and booksellers of the literary and graphic achievements of independent publishers and their authors. The awards will take place at the American Library Association conference in June.