September 13, 2005

Idiot Proof

House-sitting in Mountain View I pick up Francis Wheen's "How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered The World: A Short History Of Modern Delusions" (a.k.a. "Idiot Proof" in UnAmerica). A wasted opportunity: it isn't so much a short history as just a list. It's not even an archaeology or typology, let alone any sort of explanation. OK, it's fun reading this book, and I'm definitely not his target audience, but it's a shame that it doesn't really attempt to give you any sort of answer to why people believe this sort of stuff. It's never enough just to list beliefs and gently (or even caustically) mock them -- that way you're just preaching to the converted.

It's the need to believe, the great hunger to believe (or Believe), that's the issue, much more than the contents of those Beliefs. Wheen barely touches on this.


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