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
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