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’.
This book is an elongated newspaper column – an angry polemic directed at information age hucksterism. But why so angry? People have always believed strange things and, usually, such beliefs are harmless. If, now, these tales told by idiots reach us via television, the Internet, newspapers and publishers, then that