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The Flight from Truth: The Reign of Deceit in the Age of Information [Hardcover]

Jean-Francois Revel


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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellant - A Must read for all lovers of Democracy 17 Nov 1999
By Enigma - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Revel shows the major paradox of the 20th century. When we have a vast array of information at our fingertips, we simply overlook the truth out there and embrace the lies given. He shows that Democracies only thrive in an aura of truth but they will ultimately fail in a arena of lies. He poignantly shows how the politicians, scientists, educators and the media give up truth to follow their own agenda propagated by fallacies.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Formerly ignorance was the enemy, today it is falsehood." 28 Aug 2005
By brian komyathy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Our future depends "on the correct or incorrect, honest or dishonest use of information." "Formerly ignorance was the enemy, today it is falsehood." Communism and Nazism are both dead, hence it's an interesting point that the Left wants to keep Nazism "alive," so to speak; apparently to sustain the myth that the Right is the danger which we must remain vigilant against, as they continue to trumpet the notion of collectiveness and anti-capitalism under other guises; as well as the notion that enlightened government can transform society if given the power to do so. In a way this is to be expected: "A school of thought that knows it is in a state of decline struggles even more fiercely to preserve its identity." Revel is not at all surprised consequently that French textbooks even into 1980 continued to embellish Sovietism. (I'd add further that Hitler denunciations still out number anti-Stalin comments 1000-1. Moreover, how many films touching on Lenin or Stalin have been made? Why is nothing on film about communism/Soviet brutality in Eastern Europe and the Baltics/Soviet Gulags/Red terror wholesale murderings/show trials & Soviet anti-semitism...just to name a few subjects that are ignored while Nazi issues/characters/events feature in countless films.) But just because the French Revolution, and its communistic offspring, can be seen to have proved a failure (in Eastern Europe, the USSR, Cambodia, Vietnam, Cuba, Angola, Mozambique, North Korea, et al) doesn't mean fans of such states' 'motives' have reconsidered their inclined views. As Lauret Fabius, the former socialist prime minister of France, has put it: "Socialism is a direction." As long as it can claim anything supposedly positive (Castro's famed health system, for instance) it gets a pass on everything else. That's why Stalin always got the benefit of any possible doubts from those so inclined; and such explains the Left's silence when the Soviet Union signed a pact with Hitler, and later when it invaded Czechoslovkia, Hungary, & Afghanistan (all the while railing against the WEST over Pinochet's Chile and South African apartheid & other such states led by more Rightist governments). Last year on TV I saw a prominent author (Simon Winchester) toss an aside that "of course I have great admiration for the Rosenbergs." This notwithstanding the publication, just several years ago, of the "Venona" cables & Russian documents which conclusively prove that the Rosenbergs were traitors. Such is the epitome of Mr. Revel's point: "Arguments/discoveries are not imposed by intellectual conviction." Revel quotes Jonathan Swift in support of this notion: "You cannot reason a person out of something he has not been reasoned into." Such folks are simply going to hold onto their instinctive beliefs & society is going to simply have to wait them out. Revel compares the dynamic to the development of science. Scientific theories often do not triumph over other theories on facts, but rather by having the staying power to hold their own while the previous theories wither on the vine (and the previous theory adherents give way to a succeeding generation). In short, with all our development in education, the accessibility of travel & information, etc., we as a people are not getting any wiser. Society is getting wiser, however, but unfortunately at high cost. (The lesson of failed communism, of government not being able to transform society without recourse to terror, cost tens of millions of lives.) Things would be a lot easier, of course, if people tried using their own brains more. Once something fails over and over again it behooves us to recognize that fact and consider alternate means to achieve the goal at hand.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Flight from Truth 23 July 2011
By Jerry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Just started the book. Especially appreciate it because of the non-American perspective. Also, the relevance of media influence on public opinion, particularly, the spotlight on the deceit that misleads the gullible people who trust "talking heads" with hidden agendas. We need to develop a healthy skepticism of self-proclaimed experts who close their eyes to everything that doesn't fit their politically correct ideology. Any book that keys us to the practices that mislead us is worth our time. There is too much at stake for us to ignore the beguiling voices that conceal the truth about the evil in our world.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book by a great french writer and thinker 24 July 2012
By Domingo Soria Martin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I first read this book in the Spanish version, under the title "El Conocimiento Inutil" (The Useless Knowledge) and reread it again in English. Both times, I was amazed by the wisdom, clarity of mind and excellent writing of the author. According to Revel, we live in the age of information: never before, humanity has had such easy access to so much information. But quantity and quality are two different things. We are so buried in data, that most of the time we don't bother to check its validity. And, what is even worse: we frequently dismiss true knowledge available to us and prefer to base our beliefs and actions on false information. Twenty four years after the publication of the original version of this book, in French, Revel's quote is even more relevant and true: "The most powerful force in the world is lying".
5.0 out of 5 stars putting ideology in its place 10 Feb 2012
By Lester M. Stacey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Chapter 9 of this book is titled: "The Need for Ideology" and it explains why humans pursue ideology so passionately.

A human is after a feeling of understanding the situation it finds itself in. Ideology gives the illusion of providing exactly this kind of understandinding. So much so that the participant in ideology will deny aspects of reality that fail to support the feeling of understanding.

Ideology also provides an enemy one can commit to defeating. This gives one the illusion of participating in a kind of militant competition. It's exciting at times.

However, as soon as one perceives the illusory quality of ideology, one will work to struggle free of it.

One then considers alternatives to ideology. This introduces the need for a good, sound, comprehensive system of philosophy.

The Brain and the Meaning of Life and Foundations of Biophilosophy offer constructive alternatives to ideology.
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