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

Editorial Review - Kirkus - Jane Doe

We are drowning in a sea of lies and fakery, aided and abetted by the Internet culture's anything-goes mentality, warns Thompson (Waiting for Antichrist, 2005, etc.).In this slim but tough-minded book, the editor in chief of Britain's Catholic Herald newspaper argues that the Web-enabled proliferation of alternative theories and speculations challenging orthodox beliefs on everything from ... Read full review

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The author discusses pseudohistory and pseudoscience, and how they seem to have grown in the past several decades. He attributes much of this growth to the Internet.
His points are well taken, but
just as an aside: What does he hope to gain by writing this type of debunking book? If he thinks he's going to change anyone's opinion, or prevent someone from diving off into pseudohistory or pseudoscience, I think he's going to be sadly disappointed. In fact, he does mention the futility of his aims, especially with respect to the Internet, where anything goes.
Thompson never really addresses the issue of the psychology of pseudohistory and pseudoscience: that is, why do people today find this so attractive and why is it growing?
He does mention a book by Michael Shermer that looks more at the psychology involved. Shermer attributes it to the feelings of "hope" pseudo-information gives people; for example, someone with cancer may try an herbal remedy, thinking it might work.
I think Thompson should have delved into this psychology more to give personal meaning to his book. People turn to these pseudo-sciences, such as Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, because they are looking for an escape from their own strait jackets. Usually, they have sewn these strait jackets themselves, but they don't know how to get out of them. So, just like fantasy in general, people try to escape their "desperate lives" through pseudohistory, or religious beliefs, or addictions, or whatever they find at hand.
But, says Thompson, they don't know these are fantasies, as they would, say, a comic book hero or a vampire book. I'm not so sure about that. And neither is he, because he makes many assumptions about people's motivations. His history may be factual, but his psychology is lacking.
So what type of person is going to write such a book? One for whom everything has to be correct? That seems a bit compulsive, but then total correctness, according to science, is a worthy goal, at least in some corners of the universe.

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Who are the real dons of ‘counterknowledge’?
Damian Thompson’s fiery polemic against conspiracy theories has much to recommend it. But we can’t blame the demise of Enlightenment thinking on diet
doctors and Islamists alone...
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Dare to know nothing
‘Counterknowledge’, fiction masquerading as fact on everything from 9/11 to homeopathy, is thriving thanks to today's mad mixture of postmodern political correctness and capitalist greed.
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Review: Counterknowledge

User Review  - Krishna Kumar - Goodreads

The author describes how pseudo-science is being packaged and marketed heavily today and becoming more popular than ever. He shows how professional tricksters (without any professional credentials ... Read full review

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