Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds

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9781461078364: Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds
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EXTRAORDINARY POPULAR DELUSIONS AND THE MADNESS OF CROWDS is a popular history of popular folly in human society by Scottish journalist Charles Mackay, first published in 1841 but most of which remains incredibly relevent to this day. The book chronicles its subjects in three parts: "National Delusions", "Peculiar Follies", and "Philosophical Delusions."

The subjects of Mackay's debunking include economic bubbles, crusades & witch-hunts, fortune-telling, medical quackery in curing disease, haunted houses, popular follies of great cities, and the popular admiration of great criminals. This is a book of reason and common-sense which shows precisely how man's idiocy is destined to keep repeating itself, and it is a book which indeed even prophesied the financial crash of 1929 and the economic downturn of more recent years. In fact, important present-day writers on economics, such as Andrew Tobias and Michael Lewis, give it high praise.

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Why do otherwise intelligent individuals form seething masses of idiocy when they engage in collective action? Why do financially sensible people jump lemming-like into hare-brained speculative frenzies--only to jump broker-like out of windows when their fantasies dissolve? We may think that the Great Crash of 1929, junk bonds of the '80s, and over-valued high-tech stocks of the '90s are peculiarly 20th century aberrations, but Mackay's classic--first published in 1841--shows that the madness and confusion of crowds knows no limits, and has no temporal bounds. These are extraordinarily illuminating,and, unfortunately, entertaining tales of chicanery, greed and naivete. Essential reading for any student of human nature or the transmission of ideas.

In fact, cases such as Tulipomania in 1624--when Tulip bulbs traded at a higher price than gold--suggest the existence of what I would dub "Mackay's Law of Mass Action:" when it comes to the effect of social behavior on the intelligence of individuals, 1+1 is often less than 2, and sometimes considerably less than 0.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780486432236: Extraordinary Popular Delusions

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ISBN 10:  0486432238 ISBN 13:  9780486432236
Publisher: Dover Publications, 2003
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9781897597323: Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (Harriman House Classics)

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