How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World – Francis Wheen

August 6, 2010 at 19:22 | Posted in books | Leave a comment
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In this marvellous book, Francis Wheen takes aim at all the various flavours of ideology, delusion and snake oil that have come to characterise so much decision making in the modern world. He exposes just how much of the way the world is governed and controlled rests not on factual analysis and critical thinking, but on hunches, balmy theories and mumbo-jumbo.

Of course, the obvious targets are in there – Creationism, astrology, homoeopathy. However, Wheen also sets his sights on some more sacred cows of all political flavours – from the ‘voodoo economics’ of Reaganism to the ideological responses to 9-11 from left-wing thinkers such as Noam Chomsky.

The whole thing is served up with a degree of flair and wit that disguises the seriousness of the arguments; each chapter is carefully researched with copious references in the end notes. It’s not an academic treatise, but it’s more than journalistic puffery.

You may not agree with every argument Wheen makes, but it’s hard to avoid the overall conclusion that we live in a world that has abandoned critical thinking and sound epistemology, where emoting is more valuable than thinking. Hardly a recipe for success…

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