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Francis Wheen

How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World

If we hear a viewpoint repeated enough then we might begin to think that there must be something in it. Well, if you find yourself being pulled in that direction then I would recommend reading How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World: A Short History of Modern Delusions by Francis Wheen

It seems to me that Wheen has two objectives in writing this book, firstly to show how the voice of unreason has increased in the last quarter century, and secondly to defend the values of the enlightenment. I feel that he doesn't really succeed in either. There may have been an increase in the number of people who aren't sure what they believe - but believe it verys strongly, but this book doesn't analyse such personal thoughts - its much more about politics. I would say that in this sphere there has always been a lot of Mumbo-Jumbo, and that current politics is more rational than that of much of the 20th century.

I still think that the book is worth reading though. It may not be particularly deep, but it has plenty to amuse you, particularly if you like to see cultural icons brought down to size. It also helps to give you a healthy degree of scepticism, to guard against the nonsense that can be served up by the media.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 336 pages  
ISBN: 158648348X
Salesrank: 394035
Weight:1.09 lbs
Published: 2005 PublicAffairs
Amazon price $11.56
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 368 pages  
ISBN: 0007140975
Salesrank: 204734
Weight:0.57 lbs
Published: 2004 Harper Perennial
Amazon price £9.99
Marketplace:New from £4.12:Used from £0.01
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 336 pages  
ISBN: 158648348X
Salesrank: 386216
Weight:1.09 lbs
Published: 2005 PublicAffairs
Amazon price CDN$ 15.14
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 9.43:Used from CDN$ 0.01
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Product Description
In 1979 two events occurred that would shape the next twenty-five years. In America and Britain, an era of weary consensus was displaced by the arrival of a political marriage of fiery idealists: Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher transformed politics with a combination of breezy charm and assertive "Victorian values." In Iran, the fundamentalist cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini set out to restore a regime that had last existed almost 1,300 years ago. Between them they succeeded in bringing the twentieth century to a premature close. By 1989, Francis Fukuyama was declaring that we had now reached the End of History.

What colonized the space recently vacated by notions of history, progress and reason? Cults, quackery, gurus, irrational panics, moral confusion and an epidemic of idiocy, the proof of which was to be found in every state, every work-place, and every library. In Idiot Proof, columnist Francis Wheen brilliantly evokes the key personalities of the post-political era—including Princess Diana and Deepak Chopra, Osama bin Laden and Nancy Reagan's astrologer—while lamenting the extraordinary rise in superstition, relativism and emotional hysteria over the past quarter of a century.

In turn comic, indignant, outraged and just plain baffled by the idiocy of it all, Idiot Proof is a masterful depiction of the daftness of our times and a plea that we might just think a little more and believe a little less.