Counterknowledge: How We Surrendered to Conspiracy Theories, Quack Medicine, Bogus Science and Fake History

Damian Thompson, Author . Norton $21.95 (162p) ISBN 978-0-393-06769-9

According to Thompson, we are experiencing a pandemic of “counterknowledge”: “misinformation packaged to look like fact,” but that is demonstrably false. In rapid-fire prose, Thompson, editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald , examines several cases of counterknowledge, arguing that creationism, conspiracy theories regarding 9/11 and claims linking autism to childhood vaccines have been promoted as factual by respected journalists and publishers. In one example of the power and danger of pseudohistory, Thompson devotes a great deal of effort to take down already much-debunked notions of creationism and Holy Blood, Holy Grail , and the ridicule he heaps on Mormonism explains little about why it is such a rapidly growing religion. He is scandalized that Gavin Menzies's 1421 is heavily promoted “by all of Britain's leading chains of bookshops,” though Menzies's notion that the Chinese discovered America has been widely derided by historians. Seeing the source of the spread of “counterknowledge” in the decreasing role of institutions like church and family, and the rise of postmodernism, Thompson sheds much heat but little light on the age-old phenomenon of human gullibility and its exploitation. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/14/2008
Release date: 09/01/2008
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Open Ebook - 176 pages - 978-0-393-07046-0
Hardcover - 162 pages - 978-1-84354-675-7
Paperback - 196 pages - 978-1-84354-676-4
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