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Counterknowledge: How We Surrendered to Conspiracy Theories, Quack Medicine, Bogus Science and Fake Historyby Damian Thompson
Synopses & Reviews
We are being swamped with dangerous nonsense. From 9/11 conspiracy theories to Holocaust denial to alternative medicine, we are all experiencing an epidemic of demonstrably untrue descriptions of the world. For Damian Thompson, the misinformation industry is wreaking havoc on the once-lauded virtues of science and reason. Unproven theories and spurious claims are forms of "counterknowledge," and, helped by the Internet, they are creating a global generation of misguided adherents who repeat these untruths and lend them credence. Thompson explores our readiness to accept falsehoods and the viral role of technology in spreading quack remedies, pseudo-history, and creationist fanaticism. Following in the footsteps of Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion, Sam Harris's The End of Faith, and Christopher Hitchens's God Is Not Great, Counterknowledge is a brilliant defense of scientific proof in an age of fabrication.
"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.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
From conspiracy theories to alternative medicine, people are experiencing an epidemic of untrue descriptions of the world. Following in the footsteps of Richard Dawkins's "The God Delusion" and Sam Harris's "The End of Faith," this work is a defense of scientific proof in an age of fabrication.
An important and compelling book on the viral dissemination of misinformation in today's world.
About the Author
Damian Thompson is the editor in chief of The Catholic Herald. He also writes for The Daily Telegraph. Thompson is the author of The End of Time: Faith and Fear in the Shadow of the Millennium. He lives in London.
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