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Annals of Gullibility: Why We Get Duped and How to Avoid It Hardcover – December 30, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0313362163 ISBN-10: 0313362165 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Annals of Gullibility provides some interesting examples of gullibility for people looking for such anecdotes, perhaps for a lecture or colloquium. The final chapter might also be useful reading for students or others who want to increase their resistance to persuasion and would be a valuable reading assignment for classes in related topics."

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PsycCRITIQUES

Review

"Stephen Greenspan has penned the definitive book on why people are gullible. He reveals why so many people are so gullible, the psychology that drives gullible behaviors, and most importantly what we can do about it. Annals of Gullibility belongs on the bookshelves of skeptics and scientists, not to mention politicians and policy analysts, especially before they go to war." (Michael Shermer
Publisher, Skeptics Magazine)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger; 1 edition (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0313362165
  • ISBN-13: 978-0313362163
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,120,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jim Estill on April 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Most of the book is more entertaining (great dupes throughout history) than educational, but in the last chapter Greenspan outlines several rules to limit your vulnerability. Most of this review comes from Nate Collier.

Major Points

- Don't rush a big decision. Sleep on it. Life is too important not to have the benefit of reflection on the major choices of your life.

- Avoid high-pressure sales situations: The more you are pressured, the more you should be skeptical. Yes, you might, maybe, possibly, lose out on a good deal by taking your time. But it is much more likely you will avoid being duped.

- Admit your limitations. As you have your strengths, you also have your areas of vulnerability. Know them, accept them. No one can be an expert in everything. Just because you are knowledgeable in a certain area doesn't mean that you should not seek additional help and advice in that area. Remember, the saying "the lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client," has broad application.

- Learn how to say no and buy time. Learn a few polite, universal phases to disengage from a situation. By practicing a few verbal time-buying, distancing tactics in advance, you may be able to exit quickly, easily, and smoothly. My favorite is a simple but firm "Not today, thank you," accompanied by whatever physical action is appropriate. Turning and walking away if in person, or hanging up without waiting for acknowledgement if on the phone.

- Adopt a "prove it" attitude. It is only smart to demand objective, impartial proof. A polite but skeptical attitude makes a good companion in life.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Alan J. Taddiken on January 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This other Greenspan has given us a highly accessible and useful primer on how a avoid--or at least protect against, both fooling oneself and being overly prone to the latest scam in our driven market free-for-all. Greenspan tells his narrative with considerable eloquence and a disarming tone of personal experience informed by a clear and convincing scholarship: an erudite wit and gentle guide if ever there was one. His book is quickly accessible to all but the most gullible--and serves as a relief to those of us gulled (and who among us lacks that trial?)--and as a tonic to prepare against those new temptations we will surely face. Finally, we have an adviser we can trust--a true green span to better behavior. I can only say: read it soon--and reread it often!
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Philip Hine on May 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I bought and read this book thinking I would learn about a theory to explain gullibility. Instead I got a series of descriptions of people being gullible. I can think of the many times that I've been gullible. I don't need to learn that the phenomenon exists. The solutions proposed were not exciting. I did learn to be more careful when I order books.
I did not learn why I get duped and I should have avoided buying and reading this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Leon F. Seltzer, PhD on October 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Rarely can a reader find a book having so much of value to say about a vital topic be, a the same time, such a good read. Full of the most interesting, curious, and edifying facts--as well as the most compelling examples and anecdotes--this amazingly wide-ranging study illuminates its subject way beyond anything done to date. It is to me a consummate example of a work that simultaneously educates and entertains, with scores of fascinating illustrations that demonstrate the regrettable ever-presence of gullibility.

With chapters covering every imaginable aspect of deception and fraud, Greenspan explores his topic as it's revealed in literature, folklore, finance, relationships, religion, war, politics, criminal justice, science,and academia. Reading this book should increase your sophistication about the world we live in at least threefold(!). It will also help to make you more prudent, circumspect, and wary--crucial characteristics if you're going to protect yourself from all the opportunistic "operators" (or predators) who may be lying in wait to take advantage of you. Definitely worth a 5-star rating.

Finally, contrary to what at least one earlier reviewer stated, Greenspan (whether directly or by implication) discusses the many ways an individual can become more resistant to being duped. His last two chapters in particular focus on this all-important issue. In short, this book is as comprehensive as it is a delight to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tinny on July 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I don't agree with negative reviews of this book. It is clear a huge amount of work has gone into writing a really informative and all encompassing view of gullibility. I think the negative jab about the autor falling for a scam was a tad personal, no? I don't think there is anyone in this world who has not been fooled...from being certain that a guy was so into you only to never hear from him again to losing huge amount of money. I did not feel this book set out to make us less gullible, just to explain in one place what is gullibility and what leads to it. I particularly enjoyed the link to folk takes and fairytales. Gullibility is a very complex thing which can be borne out of many different reasons and I felt the book explained those reasons very well. I get the fact that examples can irritate those who write and read academic stuff but it did not bother me. There were links and stories that were very obvious and those where I was happy to read an example (such as stories about politics, army and the way legal system works behind the closed doors). I found it was written well and to be an easy read whilst heavily backed by references.
In fact it was a wonderful and enjoyable step into my own research.

To those that think this book will be self help book to make you less gullible...you will not find answers other than gain understanding how gullibility works. The rest is up to you and some will always be down to things out of your control. But if you are like me, someone who enjoys knowing how thinking things work, this will be a great book you will not be able to put down.
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