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Debunked!: Conspiracy Theories, Urban…

Debunked!: Conspiracy Theories, Urban Legends, and Evil Plots of the 21st…

by Richard Roeper

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I didn't know Roeper was a film critic at the start of the book, now that he played on the professional poker tour, but I did by the end of the book. Some of the contents, like that on 9/11, were interesting, but a lot of it seemed like he was name dropping or telling us he was famous.

I had pencilled in to read some of his other books, but if this book is symptomatic of his writing style, I won't bother. ( )
  MiaCulpa | Nov 16, 2013 |

The subtitle of this moderately slender volume gives a fairly clear idea of its subject matter. The book's problem is that it is a moderately slender volume, and it's attempting to cover an extraordinarily broad field. The result is that we find here just a few conspiracy theories and a few urban legends (for argument's sake I assume "evil plots" are conspiracy theories), a high proportion of which the author has room to treat only cursorily. He further reduces his available space by devoting a longish (and to this reader pretty boring) section to sports and gambling, three of whose chapters can be summed up as "Some crazies think these things are rigged, but usually they're not" -- a theme that returns a few chapters later when he talks (yawn) about people thinking the American Idol votes are rigged. To give some idea of the infuriating almost-goodness of this book, in between the above chapters come (a) a very interesting discussion of Curt Schilling's legendary baseball deed of pitching with a disintegrating ankle, (b) an incredibly tedious waffle about the last episode of The Sopranos, and (c) an extremely fine chapter about The Secret whose only flaw is that it could well have been longer.

The final section of the book is another unnecessary add-on, a purported survey of Conspiracy Theory movies which includes Men in Black (aliens are operating among us without us knowing) but ignores all the versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and about a million other cinematic works of aliens-among-us paranoia like The Puppet Masters, I Married a Monster from Outer Space, Invaders from Mars, They Live, This Island Earth . . . the list could become a very long one! Several of the other choices seem similarly random, and I wondered if the only reason for including this section at all was that Roeper is well known for his movie criticism on the telly.

There's no denying I found a lot to enjoy in this book, and a few nuggets I hadn't known before; overall, though, the sense I had as I closed it was one of frustration that it had been such a thrown-together ragbag collection of often only vaguely related materials.
( )
  JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
A fun read... However, debunking an argument by repeatedly stating: "do you really think that [xyz] was orchestrated by the government?" does not make for a good counter argument. ( )
  Livana | May 25, 2009 |
This is a fun little book that goes over some of the dumb-ass things people think (and yes, the language is like that through the book). It's light reading-easier to read than Snopes.com, and certainly easier than Factcheck.org. This is just a fun read about how people can believe everything from seeing the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich to news stories blown out of proportion (a la bird flu and murders after Hurricane Katrina). ( )
  kaelirenee | May 17, 2009 |
About: Roeper debunks popular conspiracy theories such as those surrounding Princess Di's death. 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, sports, casinos and rigged American Idol voting.

Pros: Covers some conspiracies I had no idea existed. I thought the line "More horseshit than Seabiscuit's stall" was amusing.

Cons: Roeper is very opinionated. As with all other conspiracy books, this one will not change any believer's mind. Even though the book is written by Richard "At The Movies" Roeper, the chapter on the best and worst conspiracy movies just seems tacked on. ( )
1 vote charlierb3 | Sep 10, 2008 |
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A breezy but fact-filled dissection of more than two dozen of the most popular urban legends and conspiracy theories of the 21st century.

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