Literacy 2023: Book 16: The Theory of Everything Else

Dan Schreiber’s collection of fringe science, pseudoscience, and other crackpot ideas

The Theory of Everything Else by Dan Schreiber

Schreiber, who’s one of the hosts of the QI-spinoff podcast No Such Thing as a Fish, writes about dozens of accounts of fringe science, pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, unexplained coincidences, and other crackpot ideas. He puts particular emphasis on notable or accomplished people who’ve also harbored some beliefs that he affectionately refers to as “batshit.”


  • Light and easy reading that feels humorous without being too try-hard, and earnest without losing a sense of skepticism.
  • Emphasizes that weird ideas aren’t exclusively the product of mentally unwell people, but that many of us have some bizarre beliefs to some degree or another.
  • Broad and comprehensive; it’s tough to think of a topic that’s not given at least a passing mention.
  • Mentions the theory that life on Earth sprang from microbes in visiting aliens’ waste, in a chapter titled “The Origin of Feces.”
  • Schreiber presents himself as less gullible than his “character” in the No Such Thing as a Fish podcast, but rather someone who knows all of this stuff is bullshit, but on some level wants to believe it.


  • Goes for breadth at the expense of depth. One or two sections go into detail about the subject, but much of the book feels like a lightning round, with some topics only given a paragraph or so each.
  • Light on cryptids.
  • Some overlap of material with the No Such Thing as a Fish podcast, which is probably inevitable.
  • Feels a tiny bit commercial, as if the book exists mostly just to launch his recent We Can Be Weirdos podcast.
  • Has a chapter that mentions the idea of sending plants instead of humans on long-term space missions, gathering observations from them telepathically. Inexcusably refers to them as “astreenauts.”

It’s a fun and often interesting read, with a tongue-in-cheek tone that rarely feels condescending or mocking the source material. It often feels like an episode of No Such Thing as a Fish without the other hosts to steer Dan’s tangents back to topic. I think it’s a no-brainer for fans of the podcast, and is also recommended to anyone who thinks this stuff is fascinating, even if (or especially if) they don’t believe it.