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 served as a President of the Midwest Sociological Society and the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and was an editor of the journal Social Problems. When asked about his prolific output, Best responded, "If you write a page per day, or every few days, you will have a book by the end of the year."
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.