World Audience, Inc.
303 Park Avenue South, #1440
NY, NY 10010-3675
9781934209677, $26.00, www.amazon.com
William Harwood, a prolific Australian-born Freethought writer who now lives in Canada, has made numerous admirable additions to Freethought's library. Disinformation: Bullshit The Media Encourage You To Believe proves once again his status as one of Freethought's eminent writers. It deals with troubling trends in Western culture with Harwood's typical Ecrasez l'infame! attitude.
It's very unusual for me to read a book and agree with everything, hence there are a few things in Disinformation that I object to: his disrespect of Will Durant as a historian in the Forward; the niveau of his condemnation of trade unions in chapter 13; his solution to the age-of-consent problem in chapter15; and his use of "pre-human" to describe one stage of a human life's development during pregnancy in chapter 16 (there is not a single second between conception and death when a human life is not biologically human). These objections, however, are insignificant compared to how much I agree with the rest of the book's content.
It would be surprising in a Harwood book to find no content on religionism. Like any militant nontheist (he doesn't like using "Atheist" as a personal identifier), he doesn't like religionism because it so easily exerts detrimental moral influence that causes an assortment of cultural pollutions. He is very disgusted by faith-based violence, which he makes clear on p. 196: "If the reader is getting the impression that the author feels a special hostility toward sects and fanatics who justify unspeakable atrocities by claiming to be obeying a god, he will get no argument from me."
Chapter 1 debunks supernatural possession, encounters with supernatural entities, and the pseudoscience version of demon possession known as multiple-personality disorder. Chapter 2 debunks hypnotism, which he is uniquely qualified to do since he worked for many years in touring hypnotism shows. Chapter 3 very nicely debunks the modern pseudoscience of recovered memories. Chapter 4 is the first of several condemnations of the decline of quality public school education in North America. Chapters 5, 6, 7, and 8 debunk several pseudoscience hoaxes, such as UFOs, the time travel of information (that is, supernatural or psychic prophecy), and the anthropological scam that was a big success for Carlos Castaneda.
Chapter 9 is another one about the decline of public school education. Chapter 10 debunks the kind of elaborate conspiracy theories that The X-Files exploited so well. Chapter 11 returns to pseudoscience to debunk Creationism, Atlantis, lie-detectors, and similar such nonsense that wa too many gullible people believe in. Chapter 12 focuses on the particular pseudoscience called psychiatry, which also demonstrates how terribly harmful pseudoscience can be (the Child Sexual Abuse Hysteria, which has imprisoned so many innocent people, could not have succeeded without the services of an enormous number of psychiatrists and lesser mental-healt therapists). Chapter 13 pounds on trade unions and makes many valid points, but goes too far in my opinion. Chapter 14 debunks fraudulent medicines and medical procedures and the evil of facilitated communication, a deceit that is responsible for a lot of the harm caused by the CSA Hysteria. Chapter 15 debunks sex taboos and is especially interesting because he gives the history of their evolution.
Chapter 16 condemns missionaries because of the harm they have caused throughout history. He's not talking about door-to-door missionaries, who are merely annoying. He is condemning the imperial missionary activism that doesn't exist much anymore. Those missionaries had the swords and later guns of an aggressive, pernicious government behind them to force disagreeing populations to convert and then obey purulent faith-based laws. Of these missionaries, Harwood writes on p. 140: "About the only difference between vampires and missionaries is that vampires, being mythical, are less dangerous."
An extremely brief chapter 18 offers a very pragmatic calendar that makes all the days of each month fall on the same day of the week year after year after year. Chapter 19 returns to paranormal pseudoscience and gives it some more excellent debunking. Chapter 20 presents his objections to laws that go too far to prevent wrongful convictions (I could not entirely agree with him because I live in Texas, USA, where wrongful convictions are way too easy to win despite the laws he thinks go too far). Chapters 21, 22, 23, and 24 return to the decline in public school education, this time focusing on the education future teachers get.
Chapter 25 comes down heavy on TV for doing so much to disseminate the kind of disinformation he has been debunking. Chapter 26 offers fascinating histories of several religions, showing all of them to be hoaxes even if the founders were sincere. He ends with a strong condemnation of theofascism and the fundamentalist fanaticism that fuels theofascism. Chapter 27 is a summary of the sharp, merciless blows he delivered to the disinformation he debunked. And then, as a bonus, there is a long, yet surprisingly interesting "Synopsis Of English Grammar" at the end of the book.
What I usually do with Harwood's books is highly recommend them for all Atheists, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists, and nontheists. I'm glad to continue doing that for Disinformation
G. Richard Bozarth
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|Title Annotation:||Disinformation: Bullshit the Media Encourage You to Believe|
|Author:||Bozarth, G. Richard|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2013|
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