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HOW MUMBO-JUMBO CONQUERED THE WORLD: A SHORT HISTORY OF MODERN DELUSIONS Paperback – 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HARPERPERENNIAL (2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007140975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007140978
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,392,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3.8 out of 5 stars
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42 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Ian Muldoon on November 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
Casting an erudite eye over a variety of sources Mr Wheen (born 1957) has written an informative and entertaining book which sets out to examine the evidence of the statement by British Philosopher Roger Scruton that reason is now on the retreat both as an ideal and as a reality (P.7) In my own experience in my own country (Australia) I note that the third most popular course (after mandatory English, and Maths) for the High School Certificate in NSW is Business Studies. I note also that Australian Universities seem to have an orientation towards vocational or "practical courses" and that subjects such as philosophy and other "soft" subjects appear to have a shrinking student base. Philosophy, among other things, is concerned with thinking about thinking, validity, the role of a premise, evidence, logic and so on, but as H.L. Mencken noted "every man prefers what he can understand to what puzzles and dismays him" (p.111) and the acquisition of knowledge is a hard incremental slog compared to switching on the tv. Hence, it is argued, the rise of evangelical fundamentalism. In America religious superstition is about the same per capita as Bangladesh, which is surprising for an advanced industrialized country. Mr Wheen argues that it is far better for the powerless to seek solace in crystals, ley-lines, and the myth of Abraham than in actually challenging the rulers, or the social and economic systemn over which they preside (p. 193). What is revealing and alarming is the seepage that occurs between business, religion, cultish mumbo jumbo, government and educational institutions. The Clintons, the Blairs, The Reagans have all been involved in mumbo jumbo including consulting astrologers.Read more ›
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Al Coholic on October 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
Mumbo-Jumbo is that specious sounding article you read the other day by that new-ager who tempts you with a re-birthing to 'let go' of the bad karma....it's the economic bastardry of the 'trickle down' effect where only those at the top of the economic pile improve their situation.

Importantly, you don't come away from this book feeling angry, cheated or alarmed - just more aware. Too many publications are out there to get 'them' - this book is out there to get 'us' - make us think and challenge us to questioin the mumbo-jumbo that pervades and sometimes becomes THE established way of thinking.

An extremely worthwhile way to spend some reading time.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Adam Rutkowski on November 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be a fairly enjoyable read, which showed quite well how so many people jump on the latest mind-set bandwagon without really stopping to develop their own critical opinions. Social opinion can often be like science without peer review, and a critical (perhaps even cynical) mind is often the only real defense.

Some parts of this book flow quite nicely, where the author has a clear point to make and sticks with it, but other parts feel a bit more rambling, and seem to lack focus. Also, sometimes it feels as though the author's opinions are being presented as facts, without really being backed up. This should not be taken as too heavy a criticism, as the book still contains lots of great food for thought, and I think most critical thinkers would find a lot of valuable content here, but the negatives are enough that I wouldn't put this one on my 'must-read' list.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on September 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
If you get your news from the talking (and cutesy) heads of most of today's news, this book is NOT for you. If you want to learn -- or be reminded of how our recent political history affects today, and the "why" of it, read How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World.

As the Boston Globe said, "A very well-written rant against all the baloney that people seem increasingly to believe."

Reading aloud at the dinner table, the content provoked some yes's, boos, laughter and table pounding from my husband and me. Author Francis Wheen covers it all in detail so even those of us who can't remember a historical fact from high school will get it.

For example did you know what caused this to happen?

- 1973 the average American had 26.2 hours of 'leisure time' every week ... and by 1984 the figure had fallen to 16.6 hours -- almost 10 fewer hours a week.

The author explains in relative terms which President or world leader and their beliefs and policies caused what to happen at the time, and how it all fit together. Some facts shocked me at how often policies he described were "developed for the common man," but actually benefited the rich. What's wrong with this picture?

No one, no party, no belief is left alone -- he bashes everyone equally. This book is for the cynic -- and fodder for an astute stand-up comic.

Here's my fist on the table. I'm outraged, indignant, baffled -- then on a new page, I'm laughing. So that's "history," according to author Wheen.

Armchair Interviews says: Nothing is scared so get your drink of choice and flop into your own favorite armchair for a great read. You will be there a long time reading and reacting and wondering whether what you believe is true.
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