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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true masterpiece, showing the dangers of zealotry, 22 July 2007
M. McManus - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Intellectual Morons: How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas (Paperback)
This book is a genuine masterpiece, which explores the notion that people with strong ideological beliefs can often be very dangerous and irrational, and that even their most comical and self contradictory behaviour is missed by them in their zeal to build their heaven on earth. In order to demonstrate this, the author show cases a number of prominent individuals from the past century, each representing a particular belief system, and how the long term effects of these systems have been devastating for social cohesion, academic freedom and inter personal morality.

His central hypothesis is that ideology is similar to religious belief, in that believers rarely bother to examine the flaws in their own system, and thus regard their own system as perfect and thus incapable of backfiring. This line of thinking has proven to be catastrophic, and explains the explosive reaction of the "true believer" when confronted with opponents.

The book does have one or two weaknesses. The author's obvious contempt for the individuals he show cases and their ideology is at times quite fierce, although this will be more of a problem for some readers than others. Some chapters are also rather long, although to be charitable this is possibly because the author is trying to give us as much background as possible.

All in all, the book is a terrific read, especially at a time when ideology and fierce total belief systems are very prominent. It is meticulously referenced, and written in an easy to read and user friendly style and is thus not as "heavy" as the subject matter may suggest. The book is a must read for all those interested in politics, social trends and current affairs.
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22 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evil geniuses and moronic followers, 27 Aug 2006
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Intellectual Morons: How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas (Paperback)
In the introduction, the author states that ideology deceives and leads to fanaticism; it's like putting your brain on autopilot. Experience, facts and logic are the only reliable pathways to truth. The book investigates dishonest intellectuals and their slavish followers who champion harmful opinions, beliefs and theories. Academic degrees and high IQ are no antidotes to stupidity, a fact confirmed many years ago by Eric Hoffer in his classic work The True Believer.

The ideologies examined here include Marxism, environmentalism, postmodernism, feminism, multiculturalism, relativism and deconstruction, all of them belief systems that distort or deny the truth. In this regard, Why Truth Matters by Ophelia Benson & Jeremy Stangroom is a valuable guide that I highly recommend. The gurus are the intellectuals that mislead so many people, whilst in my opinion those that Flynn calls the "joiners" are the real morons. These are often empty-headed celebrities with no more than a superficial idea of the issues which they embrace.

The first chapter looks at the Frankfurt School that produced inter alia Herbert Marcuse, the philosopher of the The New Left that exerted such great influence in the 1960s. His followers are the intolerant leftists of today who claim to be liberals. Chapter 2 investigates the revolting Alfred Kinsey, the massive hoax of his "research" and his disgusting private life. With the help of the ignorant mass media, he managed to inflict his perversions on the world.

The next chapter explores Paul Ehrlich, the false prophet of environmentalism by Brian Sussman who has been wrong in his every prediction. There is also the animal rights guru Peter Singer and the thoroughly discredited organization PETA. In the chapter Liars And The Intellectuals Who Enable Them, Flynn reveals the case of Rigoberta Menchu and her falsified history. This is an eloquent exposé of the folly of multiculturalism.

Chapter 6: The 3 Stooges of Anti-Americanism, investigates Howard Zinn, Gore Vidal and Noam Chomsky, friend of the Khmer Rouge and lately of Hezbollah. These three are prime examples of shameless liars notorious for their staggering hypocrisy and irrational hatred of the West.

Other deceptive gurus and movements explored by Flynn include Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood, WEB du Bois, Alger Hiss and his defenders, and Betty Friedan and the Feminist Movement. The chapter on Postmodernism looks at the Sokal Hoax, Jacques Derrida, Deconstruction and Michel Foucault.

In the last chapter the author reiterates the motto that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. He points out how much intellectual morons and paranormal believers have in common; he should have also mentioned conspiracy theorists. Anyway, the difference is that whereas society ridicules obvious cranks, intellectual deceivers often retain respectability and are showered with accolades because of mass media adulation.

Flynn notes that the causes championed by the subjects of this book are often downright evil - stuff like infanticide, pedophilia and totalitarianism. Finally, Flynn reminds us that ideas have consequences and that the lies of the ideologues must be exposed relentlessly. The remarkable persistence of the utopian yearning is dissected by Jean-François Revel in Last Exit to Utopia whilst Chantal Delsol explains the reasons for the unhealthy intellectual climate in Europe in her masterpiece Icarus Fallen.

The book concludes with 34pp of bibliographic notes arranged by chapter, and an index. I also recommend The Reckless Mind by Mark Lilla, The Anti-Chomsky Reader by David Horowitz, Intellectuals by Paul Johnson and Experiments Against Reality by Roger Kimball. These works investigate numerous influential individuals and movements whilst brilliantly demonstrating how evil ideologies function like toxic religious cults. Their fruits are disease, death and suffering on a vast scale.
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