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20 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In Search of Proof and Logical Conclusions Amid Delusions, 18 Jun. 2004
This review is from: Idiot Proof a Short History of Modern Delusions (Hardcover)
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.
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Donald Mitchell
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