Bryan Appleyard

The New Hucksterism

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

By

Atlantic Books 165pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

We are facing, says Damian Thompson, ‘a pandemic of credulous thinking’. Apparently sane people believe 9/11 was an American plot, that the Chinese circumnavigated the globe in 1421, that Aids was invented by the CIA and that MI5 killed Diana. The ever gullible middle classes resort to ‘alternative’ quackery to live longer and become thinner, and the ever shameless working classes go on TV shows to be intimately bossed around by the likes of Gillian McKeith. It’s all either lies, snake oil or, occasionally, honest stupidity. It’s all, to use Thompson’s coinage, ‘counterknowledge’.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Since Dylan’s commercial and ideological heyday, the intrusion of sociology, semiology and post-structuralist thou… ,
    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,