Joel Gordon Best (born August 21, 1946) is a professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware. He specializes in topics such as social problems and deviance. His current research focuses on awards, prizes, and honors in American culture. He is an author of over ten books and dozens of academic articles.
Joel Best earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1971. He also earned a second M.A. degree in history from the University of Minnesota. He taught at Concordia College (Moorhead, MN--1969-70), California State University, Fresno (1970-91), and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (1991-99).
He recently was seen as a source cast member on the critically acclaimed show "Adam Ruins Everything: Halloween Special." Best provided evidence supporting the fact that strangers, contrary to popular belief, do not (with a single rare exception of an estranged father-son situation) and have never tampered with or poisoned the candy given to a trick-or-treater as far as records can provide.
- Joel Best, Threatened Children (1990); University of Chicago Press
- Joel Best, (ed. with James T. Richardson and David G. Bromley) The Satanism Scare, New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1991, ISBN 0202303780
- Joel Best, (ed.) Images of Issues (2/e--1995); Aldine de Gruyter
- Joel Best, Controlling Vice (1998); Ohio State University Press
- Joel Best, Random Violence (1999); University of California Press
- Joel Best, Damned Lies and Statistics ( 2001); University of California Press
- Joel Best, (ed.) How Claims Spread ( 2001); Aldine de Gruyter
- Joel Best, Deviance: Career of a Concept (2004); Wadsworth
- Joel Best, More Damned Lies and Statistics (2004); University of California Press.
- Joel Best, Flavor of the Month: Why Smart People Fall for Fads (2006); University of California Press.
- Joel Best, Stat-Spotting: A Field Guide to Identifying Dubious Data (2008); University of California Press
- Joel Best, Everyone's a Winner: Life in Our Congratulatory Culture (2011); University of California Press
- Joel Best, The Stupidity Epidemic: Worrying about Students, Schools, and America's Future (2011); Routledge
- Joel Best, Social Problems (2/e--2013); Norton
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