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How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World summary

Francis Wheen

A Short History of Modern Delusions

3.3 (76 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World by Francis Wheen examines the rise and spread of irrational beliefs and postmodernist ideas in contemporary society. It delves into the harmful consequences of abandoning rational thinking and evidence-based decision-making.

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    How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World
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    The dominant economic theory of neoliberalism is bad for society at large.

    Have you ever wondered why rich people keep getting richer while the poor only fall deeper into poverty?

    The answer boils down to the fundamental philosophy that shapes most mainstream Western politics, whether on the right or left of the political spectrum: neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is a belief that free markets rather than government intervention are the path to economic prosperity.

    This belief is often associated with the “supply-side” economics that rose to popularity in the 1980s. However, supply-side economics was just a clever rebranding of the long debunked “trickle down” theories, which said the rich getting richer would allow wealth to run “downhill” within a society to lower- and middle-class people.

    The proponents of this philosophy maintain that such a system is far more effective at redistributing wealth than government. But history tells a different story. In fact, the neoliberal policies that entered the UK and US mainstream in the 1980s have proven disastrous.

    For instance, as the UK Conservative Party entered office in 1979, then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher began slowly dismantling the welfare state, a social safety net set up at the end of World War II.

    She slashed government spending in her first year in power and such policies quickly proved detrimental to the country. For instance, inflation rose by 11 percent, the manufacturing sector hit a deep recession and by the end of Thatcher’s third year, unemployment had risen from 5.7 percent to 13 percent.

    Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Ronald Reagan entered the Oval Office in 1981, cutting the top income tax rate from 70 percent to 50 percent. As a result, the national debt went from $900 billion to $3 trillion over a five-year period.

    These policies decimated the working and middle classes. Under Reagan, real wage levels dropped and jobs were offshored to cheaper labor markets such as China. The result was a ten percent unemployment rate in 1982, the highest since the Great Depression.

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    What is How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World about?

    How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World (2004) takes a detailed look at irrational tendencies and how they have come to pervade and pervert the modern world. These blinks walk you through bogus philosophies, from neoliberal political and economic dogma that predominated in the 1980s to New Age gurus peddling hollow advice and false hope.

    How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World Review

    How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World (2004) is an eye-opening exploration of the rise of irrationality and the decline of reason in modern society. Here's why this book is worth your time:

    • It offers a thought-provoking analysis of the impact of superstition and pseudo-science on contemporary culture, revealing the dangers of abandoning evidence-based thinking.
    • Through extensive research and historical references, it uncovers the origins and manifestations of irrational beliefs, presenting a compelling case for critical thinking.
    • The book's entertaining anecdotes and engaging writing style keep the reader hooked, preventing a potentially dry topic from becoming boring.

    Who should read How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World?

    • Students of history or politics
    • People who feel that there’s something amiss in the world today

    About the Author

    Francis Wheen is an award-winning author and journalist. He is a regular contributor to The Guardian and is renowned for his writings on Karl Marx.

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    How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World FAQs 

    What is the main message of How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World?

    The main message of How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World is an exploration of how irrational beliefs and pseudoscience have come to dominate our society.

    How long does it take to read How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World?

    The reading time for How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World is a thought-provoking book that sheds light on the prevalence of irrationality in our society. It is definitely worth reading for anyone interested in understanding the influence of pseudoscience.

    Who is the author of How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World?

    The author of How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World is Francis Wheen.

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