Skip to comments.10 Books that Screwed Up The World
Posted on 05/16/2008 10:09:27 PM PDT by Ethan Clive Osgoode
Books are one of our greatest resources, but many times in history books have been written which are misleading or untrue. In some cases this has lead to widescale death and destruction and evil governmental regimes.
This is a list of ten of the worst books of this type - books that have done more harm than good. The common thread in all of these books is deception - invariably not intentional, but the consequences are the same regardless.
10 Malleus Maleficarum
Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, 1486
On the list because: It inflamed witch hunts across Europe
Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witchraft) was a manual for witch hunters and judges to catch witches and stamp them out. It came out just prior to the protestant reformation and it was one of the most popular books amongst the reformers who were wanting to smash evil out of their countries. Between 1487 and 1520, twenty editions of the Malleus were published, and another sixteen editions were published between 1574 to 1669. This book single-handedly launched centuries of witch hunts.
9 Coming of Age in Samoa
Margaret Mead, 1928
On the list because: it turned out to be a creation of her own sexual confusions and aspirations
Margaret Mead was an American cultural anthropologist who traveled to Samoa to answer the questions on sexuality posed in America in the 1920s (particularly with reference to women). Unfortunately for Mead, the youths she interviewed in Samoa told her wild tales of sexual promiscuity and Mead reported it all as fact. One of the girls later said: She must have taken it seriously, but I was only joking. As you know, Samoan girls are terrific liars when it comes to joking. But Margaret accepted our trumped up stories as though they were true. If challenged by Mead, the girls would not have hesitated to tell the truth, but Mead never questioned their stories. According to Wikipedia: The use of cross-cultural comparison to highlight issues within Western society was highly influential, and contributed greatly to the heightened awareness of Anthropology and Ethnographic study in the USA. Interestingly, Mead was a highly regarded academic and had a large part in the formulation of the 1979 American Book of Common Prayer (Church of England).
8 The Prince
Niccolo Machiavelli, 1532
On the list because: it was the inspiration for a long list of tyrannies (Stalin had it on his nightstand)
The Prince is a treatise meant for rulers who had shed all scruples - to a point that they might see evil as potentially more beneficial to society than good. Machiavelli hoped to start a revolution in the hearts of his readers, and he certainly achieved that. He proudly stated things that others before him had only dared to whisper, and he whispered things that had not even been considered. According to Machiavelli it is not necessary for a prince to have all the above-mentioned qualities [merciful, faithful, humane, honest, and religious], but it is indeed necessary to appear to have them. Nay, I dare say this, that by having them and always observing them, they are harmful; and by appearing to have them they are useful. Some of the people inspired by this book are Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and Napoleon I of France.
7 Mein Kampf
Adolf Hitler, 1925
On the list because: it helped spread Hitlers genocidal anti-Semitism
In Mein Kampf, Hitler outlined his racist plan for a new Germany which included mass murder of Jews, and a war against France and Russia to make living space for Germans. At the time of publication the book was largely ignored, but once Hitler rose to power that changed. It is believed that over 10 million copies were in circulation in 1945. The book is largely influenced by The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind by Gustave Le Bon (1895) which suggested propaganda as a means to controlling the irrational behavior of crowds. In addition, Hitler drew on the fabricated Protocols of the Elders of Zion to give support for the need for his anti-semitic plans. Hitler speaks of The Jewish Peril which he believed was a conspiracy by Jews to take over the world. The book outlines the racial worldview in which people are classified by race as superior or inferior. In 2003 the sequel to Mein Kampf, Zweites Buch, was published in English for the first time. Zweites Buch (Second Book) expands on the original ideas of Mein Kampf and outlines further plans for a war with the United States and the British Empire for entire world domination by Germany.
6 The Pivot of Civilization
Margaret Sanger, 1922
On the list because: it preaches eugenics
Margaret Sanger is the mother of modern contraception and the founder of Planned Parenthood. In her 1922 book, The Pivot of Civilization, she outlined her theories of eugenics (control of the human race by selective breeding) and racial purity (3 years before Hitler did the same in Mein Kampf). The basis of her support of contraception was entirely due to her belief that inferior humans should be killed to enable a superior race to appear over time. Sanger did not just entertain popular ideas of her time - she was the champion of the cause. In her book she says: the most urgent problem of to-day is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective. She goes on to say: possibly drastic and Spartan methods may be forced upon American society if it continues complacently to encourage the chance and chaotic breeding that has resulted from our stupid, cruel sentimentalism. Birth control was, in her mind, the greatest and most truly eugenic method. Needless to say, Planned Parenthood today have tried very hard to distance themselves from their founder.
5 Democracy and Education
John Dewey, 1916
On the list because: it convinced the world that education is not about facts
In Democracy and Education, Dewey disparages schooling that focuses on traditional character development and endowing children with hard knowledge, and encourages the teaching of thinking skills instead. His views have had great influence on the direction of American educationparticularly in public schools. This book could be considered to be the anti-classical education manifesto. And the consequence? A generation of youths with an inferior education which lacks a founding in solid facts and knowledge. Dewey was one of the three founders of the philosophical school of Pragmatism - a school of thought which proposes that truth is made and can change. The current curriculum in New Zealand is one which would please Dewey immensely as it is largely founded on his principles.
4 Baby and Childcare
Benjamin Spock, 1946
On the list because: it caused deaths through bad advice
Regardless of whether you agree with the methodology of Spock, no one can deny that many children probably died of cot death as a result of his advice to put babies to sleep on their stomachs. This advice was extremely influential on health-care providers, with nearly unanimous support through to the 1990s. Spock believed that babies on their back can choke on their own vomit - leading to death. Scientists eventually found that Spocks advice actually lead to more deaths by suffocation. Estimates of the number of deaths caused by this bad advice are as many as 50,000. Spock also advocated a method of child raring that moved away from discipline based methods. Previously, experts had told parents that babies needed to learn to sleep on a regular schedule, and that picking them up and holding them whenever they cried would only teach them to cry more and not to sleep through the night. Spock taught the exact opposite.
3 The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
On the list because: it was a propaganda book designed to incite racial hatred
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a booklet that purports to describe a plot by world Jewry and Masonry to take over the world. Despite the fact that the booklet is a hoax, it was spread wide and far and believed by most Europeans to be true. Many people today still consider it be factual. It was instrumental to Hitlers anti-Jewish efforts in Germany and it was used after the Russian Revolution to perpetrate hatred and violence against Jews. The booklet continues to be published and disseminated in many Middle Eastern states which are political enemies of Israel.
2 The Manifesto of the Communist Party
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 1848
On the list because: it could win the award for the most malicious book ever written
This book has inspired some of the most brutal regimes in mans history. Regardless of whether there has been a state which is a true Marxist state, this book has inspired so many evil actions that it can not be left off a list of this nature. Some of the principles found in the manifesto are the abolition of private ownership of land, confiscation of property of emigrants, heavy taxes, and the abolition of inheritance.
1 Darwins Black Box
Michael Behe, 1996
On the list because: It fuels fundamentalist attacks on Science
This book has helped to fuel (through pseudo-science and untruths) the idea that evolution is false and that a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis is the only possible manner in which the earth was created. Despite much refutation from the Scientific community, many fundamentalists still use this as a source for proof that evolution is not true. The book itself was not peer reviewed as Behe claimed under oath, and the Science community has overwhelming rejected it.
Just a few comments:
John Dewey. If you want to pick up his essay The Influence of Darwinism, go to my FR homepage.
The Prince. An incredibly boring and useless book. I can't imagine anyone being influenced by Machiavelli. It must be the cool face on the cover that does it.
Margaret Mead. A complete fraud, as anyone who has travelled to lesser-trod parts of the world can know for themselves. She was awarded Unesco's Kalinga Prize. Julian Huxley, the eugenist, also got that prize. Not really surprising--Julian founded Unesco.
I can think of many books that belong on this list. Darwin's Origin and Descent. Karl Popper's Logic of Scientific Discovery, everything every written by Freud, the mendacious British histories of Hume, and, oh, so many more to choose from.
Seems like the Koran should be #1
It could even be said that it's one of the roots of a lot of the societal problems we have here in the U.S. today.
Good Hunting... from Varmint Al
Seems like “Silent Spring” should be on the list somewhere.
Imagine the protest. Imagine the murders. No way would the author put the Koran on the list.
Agreed. This was one of the most evil books ever written.
Machiavelli books should ALWAYS be read to an eye to what was going on in Italian Politics at the time.
Smallish city-states constantly at War with each other, for everything from each others lands, percieved slights, or even just to merely fight.
Much of this was ENCOURAGED by the Church, which saw the Unification of Italy under a single leadership as a threat to it’s own power and sway.
You beat me to it!
I have not read Behe's book so I didn't want to comment on the author's review. However, I have read other ID books (Phillip Johnson) and they do not advocate a literal interpretation of Genesis. So the author pulls out a "Straw Man" to knock down Behe's book......typical.
Where’s the Bible and the Koran?
Lots of blood on those two.....
The Qu’ran is apiece of shi’ite!
You Dhimmis... you!
#4 Baby Care
I remember that book. My mom said it was good for one thing and one thing only, it made a perfect paddle for spanking.
I hated that stupid book!
It's both strange and ironic that Behe's book is up there with Sanger's. Sanger was a thoroughly Darwinian persona. She was the girlfriend of H.G wells and Havelock Ellis. Both were Eugenists. H.G. Wells helped Julian Huxley write the series Science of Life, which was like the Dawkins books of that era. Sanger was a member of both the american and the british Eugenics societies. Julian Huxley was president of the british Eugenics Society. Konrad Lorenz (Nazi race hygienist and life-long friend of Huxley) won the Unesco Kalinga prize - so did Huxley and Mead. Lorenz's colleague was Richard Dawkins's Ph.D supervisor. Actually, Julian was a friend of Richard Dawkins's grandfather. The inbred nature of all this is staggering.
ping for later read
I think it is well established that the Tsar’s secret police produced the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.
I can top that.
The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand. Released a plague of Randians upon society.
Actually the largest influence on Communism was hardly The Prince whether Stalin kept it on his nightstand or not. The rejection of Christianity by some and Judaism by others in Europe was what gave rise to Collectivism and Messianic Humanism which depended on the naive notion of the new man devoid of self desire as the Godhead.
The most influential book to my mind’s eye in Machiavelli’s era was written in Paris by an Englishman named Hobbes. But to be fair, The Prince was unique at the time because it was a roadmap not so much for realpolitk but for a new ruler versus one who had inherited power....something fairly revolutionary for the time...a little nuance that makes it immune to your casual dismissal with all due respect.
Do you have proof of that?
Wow. I guess this guy must think that religious types that believe in creation are far more dangerous to society than communists that kill millions through starvation, or genocide like Hitler advocated.
Won’t argue with a few of his choices, but his number one is off base.
I would agree. We read “The Prince” in our World Lit class in H.S., and again, some parts in our Humanities class.
As far as inspiring leaders - well, some could argue that to read these books - Mein Kampf, and The Communist Manifesto for example - might give someone insight as to how to fight AGAINST such things within the world. And, perhaps also give advance warning of things to come when certain people come on the “world stage” (thinking of Chavez here...).
Anyway, interesting list. Haven’t read any of them personally though except “The Prince”.
My sister-in-law actually gave me Dr. Spock’s book when I had my first child. I think I perhaps read one or two chapters, and proceeded to throw it out! LOL “Spock is a crock!”
No prejudice in this list /sarcasm
Was that a separate book from "Baby and Child Care", #4 on the list?
“10 Lists that Screwed Up The Readers”
... by blatantly manipulating them and leading them to the new public enemy #1 !!
Hitler, Sanger, Protocols, Marx, Behe?
BEHE? Oh, please!
Putting Behe at #1 is a philosophic CRIME and a SLIGHT that should put Ethan Clive ‘Osbadde’
at the TOP of the:
“TOP 10 PROPOGANDA PRODUCERS” list! This is nonsense!
I do not believe over 10 people have died while reading that #1 book...
... and that was while they were carrying it crossing the street!... Sanger? Hitler?
The content of those books and the statistical fallout in number of deaths is staggering, UNTIL you get to the #1.
What obvious misdirection! Good show!
If Darwin is correct then primates evolved to eventualy invent God.. since no primate before homo sapiens has ever been known reverence a deity.. Therefore NOT believing in God is a devolution and a primitive throwback Apeing of evolved intellience..
Believing in "God(s)" seems to be evolutionary development.. and morphing God into an intelligent designer might be a cutting edge evolutionary value added development.. That is if Darwin is correct.. of not then his yarn is creative fiction..
Fiction MUST BE logical, reality need not be logical at all..
Absolutely. I would also nominate The Population Bomb (1968) by Paul Ehrlich, which predicted famine and food rationing in the 1970s, total depletion of oil reserves by 1980 and possible human extinction before 2000. In a later work, Ehrlich actually sugggested the forcible sterilization of men in India (but not Red China) as a possible solution to over-population. Absurd as they seem today, these predictions were vastly influential at the time and Ehrlich remains a revered figure among eco-wackies (aka the genocide lobby) to this day.
That's was my first thought. Heck you could break it down into suras and have a contest to see which ones will fill the first ten spots.
I was just coming here to say that. This season, the big charity push is fighting malaria. I’m a little cynical about the fight against something we already know how to destroy with DDT.
Looks like I gave you the wrong source. Or rather the right source to the wrong question.
Here's an article about the Okrana and the Protocols which is what I think you were asking for.
And here is a quote from the text:
Goedsche's plagiary of Joly's "Dialogues" soon found its way to Russia. It was translated into Russian in 1872, and a consolidation of the "council of representatives" under the name "Rabbi's Speech" appeared in Russian in 1891. These works no doubt furnished the Russian secret police (Okhrana) with a means with which to strengthen the position of the weak Czar Nicholas II and discredit the reforms of the liberals who sympathized with the Jews. During the Dreyfus case of 1893-1895, agents of the Okhrana in Paris redacted the earlier works of Joly and Goedsche into a new edition which they called the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion". The manuscript of the Protocols was brought to Russia in 1895 and was printed privately in 1897.
I don't think it was just the rejection of Christianity but the perversion of some aspects it. Marx's theory of history looks to me like a secularization of the Christian heresy of millennialism.
The most influential book to my minds eye in Machiavellis era was written in Paris by an Englishman named Hobbes.
I agree. But you didn't say if you thought Leviathan was a positive or negative influence. I think Hobbes book has been one of the most damaging to liberty ever written.
At least spanking was a much more acceptable form of discipline against children back then. Spanking is such a no-no today, thanks to the insanity called political correctness.
I was waiting for the “Cat in the hat” at #1.
To make some room on the list for these new titles; I suggest that John Dewey's works do not belong. Dewey has been woefully misinterpreted, or misrepresented by many “educators” with an agenda — but, that should not reflect on Dewey. The author of the article seems to be condemning those “educators” by firing on Dewey.
Dewey was a strong proponent of “learning by doing” & was consequently a major influence for generations of high-school shop teachers (of which, I was one for a few years). He stood for pragmatism, and an empirical approach — the exact opposite of the postmodern crap that the author seems to want to tag him with. The “progressive” education that Dewey promoted would lead to real progress in the real world.
Prior to Dewey students were taught largely by rote — they were required to memorize “facts”. Well, these “facts” are subject to change in the real world. The facts change whenever empirical evidence shows they were wrong. Most of the science “facts” taught in 1916 have either been proved wrong, or greatly revised. What Dewey advocated was completely different from post-modernism, which is based on the notion that there are no objective facts.
That dang book gave us all the idiotic ideas that Roosevelt and Johnson burdened this country with. Its the headwaters of all things to do with entitlement programs!
Roosevelt was said to be enamored with Keynes.
Keynes was a eugenist. He was a director of the Eugenics Society in the 1930's and 40's.
This is exactly what I was thinking. It was Machiavelli that made me put my faith in liberty, and it was Marx that made me a capitalist. I think everyone should read these books to know what they're up against in regards to the professional politician.
Missing the Koran and Al Gore’s tome that even served as inspiration for the Unabomber.
The Koran is a political tomb for theocratic rule and is still used as justification for jihad centuries later.
The Bible is a guide for living by God’s Law but does not rule out the existence of Man’s Law and governence.
Anything written by Noam Chomsky.
I swear I corrected that to tome before posting (without spell check).
Now now, how many of the people who cite Chomsky have even READ Chomsky? Are ANY of his books best sellers?
They rent the video lectures and regurgitate the talking points.
I agree. If you don't read the books written by the minds who influence society (for the good or bad), you don't really know what's going on. On my FR page there is a book by Jacques Maritain. The first essay explains that a philosopher of evil influence is like a lighthouse telling you to steer clear.
But a curious question arises. How is it that we can read Marx and recognize him for what he is, but others take him seriously? I don't think one can say that those who take dangerous crackpots seriously are simply stupid. For example, Ernst Mach was definitely not stupid, but he took Haeckel's monistic rants quite seriously and even joined Haeckel's Monist Church. Perhaps it has something to do with lack of faith, and the absence of sanity that inevitably follows.
"Devolution," aside from inspiring one of the most eccentric new-wave bands of the early 1990s, is a meaningless concept. Evolution is not a linear, goal-oriented process, and to talk of "lower" and "higher" creatures -- or to refer to evolution going "backward" -- is to introduce moral or aesthetic prejudices where they have no place.