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Counterknowledge Hardcover – September 17, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
Not that his targets aren't worthy. They fall into three main categories: pseudoscience, pseudohistory, and what might be thought of as examples of "popular delusions and the madness of crowds". Thompson gives particular scrutiny to:
# Creation "science" , "intelligent design" and the assorted shenanigans of evolution-bashers.
# The prevalence of untested, unproven "alternative therapies" (which he refers to as "Quack remedies"), from homeopathy to reflexology to aromatherapy.
# Assorted conspiracy theories (primarily related to 9/11)
# Examples of "pseudohistory": Jesus's lovechild survives, but the Catholic Church maintains a conspiracy of silence. The Phoenicians/Israelites/Celts/Greeks/Vikings/Chinese discovered America in (choose your pre-Columbus date). Aliens (or technologically super-savvy ancient civilizations) roamed the earth, building the pyramids and Mayan temples until perishing in the lost city of Atlantis!
# Marketing phenomena such as "The Secret", dubious dietary supplements, QLink bracelets with crystal-based 'healing powers'.
All of this makes Thompson righteously indignant. And I'm certainly not going to defend any of them here - indeed, all this bogus 'knowledge', shoddy scholarship, and fuzzy thinking does deserve our skepticism, at times our condemnation.Read more ›
Thompson makes little more than a token effort at making suggestions to fight the proliferation of counterknowledge. He suggests exposing frauds through internet blogs, but this strikes me as preaching to the choir - a person reading a blog for skeptics is unlikely to believe the counterknowledge anyway.
Though portions of the book are interesting (particularly the section on alternative medicine), the writing style is very, very dry. As a result, the people who most need to hear what he has to say never will because they will never make it through this book. Although short, it is plodding.
I tend to be not so harsh about the lacunae in this book. Of course, Thompson has not produced an encyclopedic work on anti- knowledge; there are gaps, indeed. For example his chapter on "Desperate Remedies" discusses alternative medicine, homeopathy, chiropractic and nutritional therapies in a negative vein. His stand is not only supportable but also not inaccurate in general. He leaves traditional allopathic medicine broadly unassailed. This position, however, is not entirely neutral in my opinion.
We, physicians who practice traditional, not alternative, medicine, were eager to use hormone therapy. We created diseases based on trivial or incidental imaging data or social inconveniences. The harms brought about by hormone therapy, by unnecessary surgeries based on incidental MRI findings or filthy profits gained by overtreatment without strong evidence are well-known by now.Read more ›
Logic is the ideal way to unmask the bunco artists of the modern world. So, how does a modern Don Quixote challenge the windmills of superstition, nonsense and lies of zealots, crackpots, frauds and government bureaucrats?
This book is a great answer. It is a marvelous collection of fads, fallacies, farces and frauds in the name of science, religion, medicine and every other modern topic. Thompson does a masterful job in exposing the myriad phantasies of the modern world; however, even the best of logic cannot overcome the delusions of true believers.
Folly is usually the result of stupidity or cupidity.
For example: Tobacco is harmful to one's health. The British health ministry knew this by 1956; but any warning was vetoed by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan "because the Treasury believed the revenue from cigarette taxation was too important to be put at risk." (This direct quote is from John Kay, the Financial Times, June 4, 2008)
Government officials took the attitude, "We lied to you for our own good. Now trust us." President George W. Bush used a similar rationale of "lying to Americans for our own good" to generate fear about Weapons of Mass Destruction and thus justify his war on Iraq.
Since governments lie, why should people trust official government statements? Likewise, why trust an expert doctor who diagnoses cancer? This legacy of distrust by official sources is why some people trust quacks and charlatans more than experts for simple answers to complex issues.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer 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 on July 18, 2014 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 on September 19, 2013 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