According to Thompson, we are experiencing a pandemic of counterknowledge: misinformation packaged to look like fact, but that is demonstrably false. In rapid-fire prose, Thompson, editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald, examines several cases of counterknowledge, arguing that creationism, conspiracy theories regarding 9/11 and claims linking autism to childhood vaccines have been promoted as factual by respected journalists and publishers. In one example of the power and danger of pseudohistory, Thompson devotes a great deal of effort to take down already much-debunked notions of creationism and Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and the ridicule he heaps on Mormonism explains little about why it is such a rapidly growing religion. He is scandalized that Gavin Menzies's 1421 is heavily promoted by all of Britain's leading chains of bookshops, though Menzies's notion that the Chinese discovered America has been widely derided by historians. Seeing the source of the spread of counterknowledge in the decreasing role of institutions like church and family, and the rise of postmodernism, Thompson sheds much heat but little light on the age-old phenomenon of human gullibility and its exploitation. (Sept.)
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In the genre of skeptical literature, there are books like Richard Roeper’s recent Debunked! (2008), or the writings of James Randi: books that debunk pseudoscience, bogus history, charlatans, and the like. There are also books like Michael Shermer’s Why People Believe Weird Things (1997), and this one, which explore why so many seemingly bright individuals buy into so much rank idiocy. Thompson tackles such notorious foolishness as 9/11 conspiracy theories, satanic ritual abuse, the bafflingly widespread belief that the Chinese discovered America, and other abundantly debunked nonsense, but he tackles it from the point of view of a sociologist. Why do people persist in believing outrageous things when the evidence of their invalidity is so easy to find? Why do people so readily fall for counterknowledge—defined as misinformation packaged to look as fact—when the actual facts are readily available? And why do people who should know better (in particular, book publishers) treat this garbage as though it didn’t stink to high heaven? An important, impassioned addition to the skeptical literature, and a book that makes a significant contribution to the art of critical thinking. --David PittSee all Editorial Reviews
This is a truly great work that begs to have a new edition with updated examples (since they've gotten more expansive & deeply embedded). Thompson is a b.s. Read morePublished 13 months ago by John Cavallo
Damien Thompson can be forgiven if this book feels at times like an angry rant. After all, there is plenty to be upset about. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Guy P. Harrison
Counterknowledge by Damian Thompson counters Intelligent Design (ID), creationism and other controversial viewpoints such as those of Dan Brown. Read morePublished on June 28, 2012 by Ned - Origins Activist ("NOA")
While some of the material presented in this book is both fascinating and disturbing (such as the statistics regarding the prevalence of creationists and holocaust deniers... Read morePublished on July 5, 2011 by sibolek
So disappointing it's not funny. So close-minded it's a locked door designed to trap you into believing the party line this author is trotting out. Read morePublished on April 29, 2011 by Aurora
Two quotes spring to mind here:
"You can fool some of the people all of the time; and those are the ones you have to concentrate on." -- George W. Read more
Damion Thompson comes off sound like as much of a quack as the quacks he is trying to debunk. He is just full of piss and vinegar, lives in a small and dull world and wants us all... Read morePublished on September 19, 2010 by J. B Roberson
I retract it all! The book is just fabulous!
"If there's one thing I really get off on,
It's a nun suit painted on some old boxes
Gets me hot. Read more