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Voodoo Histories by David Aaronovitch

Voodoo Histories (2010)

by David Aaronovitch

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3552430,716 (3.49)18
  1. 00
    Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time by Michael Shermer (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Both books go beyond debunking into trying to understand why human beings develop irrational beliefs
  2. 11
    Counterknowledge by Damian Thompson (stevepugh)

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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Disappointing. The author had a few good points, "Jews control the World" type conspiracies lead to the possibility for Hitler to be able to take over in Germany, and "There's a secret Communist Conspiracy to rule the world" lead to the Red Scare of McCarthyism, lead by a politician who likely would have lost at the polls due to he being a do nothing, worth nothing, who was in the wrong political party after Wisconsin had a shift left.

However, most of the book wasn't actually about history but about how Aaronovitch thinks conspiracies are dumb, because its too far from Occam's razor. He would ridicule conspiracy theorists for believing in ideas that had "facts" to back it up, but nothing verifiable, and then do the same thing himself in his short attempt to debunk it. Rarely actually examining any of the true "facts" the conspiracists claimed to rely on.
He tried to run through the book in a history (over the last 150 years) of various conspiracies, and as he had a British perspective the point of reference was off for me. I wanted to put the book down far before I did but I kept hoping he'd get to a point and it would make sense. For the most part it was in linear order, with the exception of 9/11. He covered this in the 8th chapter of a 9 chapter book, and in the 9th went backwards to Bill Clinton. I suspect that his editor that as I did, that many folks would be bored by the 8th chapter and have become interested in conspiracys after exporse of the "9/11 Truth" movement. I also found it odd that on that subject he cited poor excuses for "Truth" like the Scholors for 9/11 Truth, including a reference to having "only one engineer" instead of looking at the far more popular AE911 (architects and engineers for 9/11 Truth, of which I signed on as a member at one time, FYI, I'm an engineer). Now, I am not going to claim, as others may, that Aaronovitch is part of a conspiracy to make conspiracy theorists look wack-o (I assure you they do that well enough on their own). In the epilogue there were a few other good insights about conspiracies being a deeper issue. The poem of the soul, showing a deeper truth about a real issue that bothers people and they feel the need for an explanation. Like my review of "Why does a nice guy like me keep getting thrown in Jail?" lead me to add one of his references "The Nazi Persecution of the churches" by Conway to my book queue as likely closer to what I was wanting, similarly the epilogue to this lead me to add "Conspiracy Theories" by Ramsay for a look a look at the idea form a broader perspective. I try that later, in the mean time if you are looking for an objective view on something of this subject I recommend "Them" by Ronson as an alternative. ( )
  fulner | Jul 25, 2014 |
In this book, the author analyzes various conspiracy theories.

I have to admit that I found a good chunk of this book kind of dry. The chapters where I was most interested included: "Dead Deities", which investigated the deaths of JFK, Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana; and "Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Holy Shit", which focused on the people who sued Dan Brown and their theories on the bloodline of Jesus Christ. A couple of other chapters were o.k. - the one on Barack Obama/Bill Clinton and the one on 9/11. But, the others were just boring and dry, so I couldn't focus and didn't necessarily want to be reading the book. Unfortunately, I just can't bring myself to even rate it "o.k.". ( )
  LibraryCin | Jul 8, 2014 |
Ocasionally interesting but a disappointment overall. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
Aaronovitch traces various conspiracy theories throughout the 20th century, from WWI to the birther movement. He details their origins and outcomes, as well as all of the evidence from either side. Also a pretty fascinating look at the psychology behind such and why we may just NEED conspiracy theories in order to function as humans. ( )
  ScoutJ | Mar 31, 2013 |
Starts with the common characteristics of conspiracy theories. covers: Protocols of the Elders of Zion, McCarthy's Red Scare, JFK's assassination, Marilyn Monroe's death, Bill Clinton's Arkansas days, Bush and 9/11, Diana's accident, as well as others. The Round Robin of rotating citations of questionable references and resources. Downright comical evidence. ( )
  michellebarton | Mar 14, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
...a sweeping tour of the paranoid style in Western politics by David Aaronovitch, a British journalist. In his account, which runs from “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” down to the obsession over Obama’s birth certificate, the pendulum of paranoia is constantly swinging from right to left and back again, depending on which faction feels more powerless and put-upon.
added by bongiovi | editNew York Times, ROSS DOUTHAT (Mar 18, 2010)
Mr. Aaronovitch deconstructs a dizzying array of conspiracy theories in these pages with unsparing logic, common sense and at times exasperated wit.
In the book, Aaronovitch tackles the intriguing question of why well-educated, reasonable people sometimes believe "perfectly ridiculous things."
added by bongiovi | editNPR (Jan 30, 2010)
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For Sarah, Rosa, Lily, Eve, and Ruby. My girls.
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This book is the fault of a fellow named Kevin Jarivs. (Introduction)
As has already been noted, conspiracists work hard to convince people that conspiracy is everywhere (Chapter 1)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Our age is obsessed by the idea of conspiracy. We see it everywhere--from Pearl Harbor to 9/11, from the assassination of Kennedy to the death of Diana. In this age of terrorism, the idea of conspiracy can fuel radical or fringe elements to violence. Journalist David Aaronovitch sees a pattern among these inflammatory theories. They use similarly murky methods to insinuate their claims: they link themselves to the supposed conspiracies of the past; they carefully manipulate their evidence, to hide its holes; they rely on the authority of dubious academic sources. Most important, they elevate their believers to an elite--a group of people able to see beyond lies to a higher reality. In this entertaining and enlightening book, Aaronovitch carefully probes and explodes a dozen of the major conspiracy theories. He examines why people believe them, and makes an argument for a true skepticism: one based on a thorough knowledge of history and a strong dose of common sense.--From publisher description.… (more)

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