on 20 July 2006
Clear thinking, well thought out and an intelligent read. The author satisfies the meaning of enlightened, clear thought and intelligence completely . I can't say that the author and I are at all alike politically etc but anyone with such a good brain is to be feted. He may have overturned somethings/everything that you have previously thought - but this is a good thing - everyone needs their brain to have a wake up call now and again. Especially people like the first reviewer (he is a good example to use to show what the author is highlighting). The way this reviewer uses the word enlightenment is rather ironic - using it for something that isn't just not enlightened, but for something that is completely unenlightened. The way he uses it and what it means ARE two mutually exclusive meanings. A bit rich and hard faced for someone like the first reviewer to use the word for something that is quite the opposite (the way he uses the word is like someone claiming that they are a maths genius when they cannot do their 2 x table). Unintelligent, irrational and making claims that have no basis in fact and yet the first reviewer is shameless enough to claim that actually this is enlightenment. It would be a risible enough claim if it wasn't enlightened, but even worse that it is completely unenlightened. This is just the sort of thing that the author shows up in this book - anyone can benefit from this book, even if one hasn't been gullible before - it is a sharp reminder that there are people out there, who may quite honestly believe what they are saying but put the gullible at risk of lapping up any claim so long as it feels good. Also a warning for the future - as it may be us emotionally vulnerable and at risk next.
If someone tried to sell you a washing machine, bike - in fact anything on the basis that the first reviewer likes to think that enlightenment means they would be prosecuted and find that the claims that have no basis in fact are not lapped up quite so easily. Sometimes previously intelligent people put their brains in a box when considering certain issues, but if you read this book you will find you are always very reluctant to switch your brain off. Woolly thinking - ie ignoring what to you is not a pretty thought & sticking with how I would like it to be as opposed to how it actually is, is just the sort of thing that the author of this book shoots down. The author is a knight in shining armour helping us to see through the crap (we might not like it though if we have to take off our rose tinted specs, but at least we would be seeing clearly). One doesn't have to agree with an opinion (evidence incontrovertible, yes) to applaud the fact of intelligent clear thought as opposed to gullibly soaking up emotional crutches and calling day night, just because that's what we like.
This book is a warning to us all - in case we are tempted to fall for a fantasy panacea - to actually switch our brains on. The people who need this book most of all are the gullible, but we can all benefit from our brains being reminded to think intelligently and clearly, so it is very worth the cover price, even if you already come equipped with a good crap filter.
It is sad that the most at risk are the gullible and vulnerable, whether for reasons of stupidity or emotional / mental health issues (I work with people with mental health issues, which is why I especially don't like the vulnerable being taken advantage of). Some people who are unable to cope with life for some reason are quite susceptible to fantasy panaceas, but instead of being encouraged in their delusions should be encouraged to seek counselling to help them discover why they need such emotional shoring up built on foundations of sand. It is sad and ironic that the ones that need to be protected most against stupid woolly theories and claims need most of all to be protected but are most at risk and the author of this book is fighting the good fight for them. Good on him! No-one should be taken advantage of, even if they are not using the brains properly that they were born with, & especially not those with coping or other mental health issues. This book is a warning and a reminder to us all that a lot of people are at risk from poorly used brains and less than rigorous thinking. Read this book as anything that strengthens your crap filter can only be a good thing.
We are indeed fortunate that we have rational minds that can help us differentiate between coincidence and cause and effect. Yet even the most rational person probably has some superstitions, some beliefs that are not scientifically proven and some gut instincts that are just plain wrong.
Harkening back to the ideals of the Enlightenment, Mr. Francis Wheen points out the nonrational follies of the powerful, the rich, the media and the ordinary person. As he suggests in the book, this will be humorous . . . when it's someone else's folly . . . and not so humorous when it is your own.
Those who do not care for Senator Hillary Clinton, Mrs. John Major and Deepak Chopra will probably find this book the most amusing. They come in for frequent ribbing about their "spiritual" beliefs.
Now that free market economics are so popular, many people will feel gored by the analyses in the book describing how free market economics aren't the solution to all world problems.
Mr. Wheen seems to be most outraged when such bad decisions are allowed to harm others (a sentiment I'm sure you share) . . . and when people make money from peddling their unproven solutions (a sentiment that you may or may not agree with).
Why, by the way, did I rate the book at 4 stars rather than 5? It's pretty simple. Mr. Wheen didn't do his homework in many areas. For example, he condemns all forms of alternative medicine . . . even though some obviously work well. For instance, in China acupuncture is used in many forms of painful surgery. Although no one has done (to my knowledge) a double-blind test costing $100+ million to prove this, I think we can safely assume that acupuncture can reduce pain. You can even do the experiment yourself for very little money by getting a treatment.
As another example, Mr. Wheen doesn't seem to like any management theory that sells a lot of books (including those by Dr. Stephen Covey and Tom Peters), yet many people will tell you they have learned important lessons from those books. I know that I have. What he seems to miss is that many of these books contain case histories of successes that we can model ourselves after. That's helpful information. I agree that it would be better if business book authors did research on which to base their findings . . . but most will not do that. They will simply repackage other resources.
At the end of the book, if you are like me, you will have had quite a few good laughs . . . and a few sobering thoughts that will serve you well in being more rational.