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Debunked!: Conspiracy Theories, Urban Legends, and Evil Plots of the 21st Century Hardcover – June 1, 2008

3.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Newspaper columnist and TV movie reviewer Roeper takes on a variety of widely believed myths about pop culture, politics, sports, business, and even religion. He approaches his targets—whether conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Princess Diana or those mysterious faces appearing on food products—from a commonsensical point of view, asking simply, Where’s the evidence? For instance, you’ve heard that it wasn’t the airplanes crashing into the World Trade Center on 9/11 that caused the towers to fall, but rather that the collapse resulted from the towers being rigged with explosives in advance. Perfectly logical, except that the biggest piece of evidence in support of the theory (that jet fuel doesn’t burn at a temperature high enough to melt steel) is irrelevant (because the steel of the towers wouldn’t need to melt, just weaken and buckle). Along with pointing out why much-loved legends are asinine, Roeper isn’t above going for laughs (and getting most of them). Recommend this one to fans of Al Franken’s Lies (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them) or the works of noted skeptics James Randi, Robert Baker, and Michael Shermer. --David Pitt

Review

"Along with pointing out why much-loved legends are asinine, Roeper isn't above going for laughs (and getting most of them)."  —Booklist


"[Roeper's] hyped up on information and lays it all out there in easy-to-follow logic."  —Chicago Sun-Times


"Roeper injects lots of humor and fun into his dissections and isn't afraid to get on his soapbox."  —Pop Syndicate



"A very entertaining book."  —blogcritics.org
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press; 1 edition (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556527071
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556527074
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #402,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. C Sheehy on April 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have to hand it to Richard Roeper, he has taken on a task that should have been done a long time ago and achieved something worth while. Much like cleaning out an old garage, he has dared to throw down the gauntlet and show just how silly and stupid most theories are. What makes this work so entertaining is that Roeper doesn't bother to hide his contempt for the the theories themselves. He also has fun with the people who push these theories which I am sure he enjoys doing.

I read his columns and reviews and will admit I do not agree with all of his viewpoints. What makes this book enjoyable is that it is, like his columns, written in his own voice and opinion and very readable. Richard Roeper encourages debate and that makes it very enjoyable to read his work.
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By A. Sloan on October 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this when i used to read roeper every day (i find his columns lacking ever since he decided to take on 3+ jobs at once) and it is his writing at its best. so many great arguments, makes you wonder about people sometimes
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is more witty than analytical, but its a good, quick read that points out that just about every conspiracy theory is riddled with problems and errors. If you want a more analytical look at the place of conspiracy theories in contemporary American Life, I suggest Jonathan Kay's Among the Truthers.
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Format: Hardcover
So many of the articles in this book have explanations for conspiracy theories "debunked" by explanations such as "how could so many people be fooled" or "wouldn't someone have seen it". If the book had more humor (OK, 9/11 isn't a funny subject, but many of the topics are), it would have gained at least one star from me. However, I found it flat, repetitive, and generally boring. I know Roeper can do better then this.
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Format: Hardcover
The NFL is completely rigged. Princess Di was murdered, 9/11 was an inside job, Barack Obama is a radical Muslim, the Virgin Mary's face can be seen in certain frying pans and grilled cheese sandwiches, Flight 93 secretly landed in Cleveland, where the passengers were whisked off to a NASA facility. Yeah, we laughed too. Popular film critic Richard Roeper tackles some of the most outlandish conspiracy theories, urban legends and evil plots of the 21st century in a thin tome that's a hoot . . . when it's not a holler. Pithy prose may put to sleep (or at least in a deep dormant state) all these notorious scandals and notorious scams, but you will read stay awake, giggling and guffawing, at just how gullible people can be. Now about Donald Rumsfeld being the mastermind behind the bird flu . . .
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Format: Hardcover
Roeper's "Debunked" is a witty, no-holds barred look at a few of the sacred cows of conspiracy theorists and believers in urban legends. Happily, he's an equal opportunity critic, skewering the icons of the left (Rosie O'Donnell and Oprah Winfrey) with as much verve as the idols of the right (Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter). I'm delighted by his "fair and balanced treatment" of assorted conspiracy theories, urban legends and evil plots (just like on Fox "News"!). All in all, it's a pretty brave book: Roeper could have just as easily called it "Please Send Me Sackloads of Vitriolic Hate Mail," because that's what he's probably going to get.

Too bad, because "Debunked" does a nice job of explaining why 9-11 was caused by terrorists and not our government, why casinos don't cheat (your odds of winning are so low that they don't need to), why there's no good reason to think that Princess Di or JFK, Jr were murdered, why "The Secret" is hokum, and why there is no vast left-wing conspiracy. (On the last point, my own guess is that the left wing conspirators were murdered in a vast right-wing conspirancy organized by Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, and Elvis, but Roeper doesn't really mention that theory, probably because he's part of the conspiracy).

Speaking of extreme right wingers like O'Reilly and Coulter, I've always wondered why their evident love for conspiracy theories doesn't extend to traditional conservative institutions. I mean, who's to say, for instance, that the National Rifle Association isn't a front organization for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, or that the BATF hasn't by nefarious means secured access to the NRA's computerized mailing lists?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a fun informative read. It makes you shake your head to think that so many people buy into the strangest theories about how something happened rather than going to the most practical and common place. I guess people don't want simple and common place. My only complaint about the book was that some of the theories got a lot of explanation...almost too much. I was surprised to find several urban legends and conspiracy theories that I had never heard of. I guess those believers would say I had my head in the sand. Recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was possibly the easiest to read book I've ever opened. Pages just seemed to fly. It covers a lot of conspiracies and urban legends and it never ceases to entertain you. If you're a skeptic, like I am, then you'll enjoy this book. However, Roeper doesn't give the strongest debunking arguments I've ever heard. So if you're looking for a book to give you ammunition to argue with that crazy conspiracy theorist you know, this may not be the best book. But if you want an entertaining romp through some well-known and lesser-known conspiracy theories out there, and you want to hear them from a skeptical viewpoint, then this is the book for you.
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