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Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds

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Published on: April 30, 2019

Most people have not heard of this book written by Charles Mackay. Even better than just hearing about this book, it would be better for most people to read it. It would be even better yet if most people not only read the book but they also apply what they learn from the book to what they see today. Why? Because it shows how a large number of people believed things that were not true and how believing untrue things harmed them. Reading this book teaches you that if you blindly go along with the crowd, you are choosing to be part of the problem, instead of choosing to be part of the solution. I know in an age of the media acting like polls prove something we should believe in that people may not be able to accept that concept. However, this book proves it does not matter what the majority believes, it only matters what is true. You can either accept that or suffer the consequences of the failure to verify truth.

In the forward of the book, Andrew Tobias makes some interesting comments. One comment was about chain letters that were popular when he wrote a term paper on them when he was attending Harvard.  In November of 1979, he stated: “Virtually everyone lost his money. It had to be so; it will always be so. And if it is not one madness, it will be another.”

People would mail out letters telling the people that received them to send them $100.00. Then they were supposed to send the letter to two people who would send them to four people who would sell them to eight people and eventually everyone would be rich. The reality was almost everyone became poorer except for the crooks at the top.

That is the purpose of the book, to teach you how to spot and avoid the crooks trying to rip you off. Even if they are not crooks, and only fools, you need to learn how to avoid and protect yourself from them. The last paragraph in Tobias’s Forward makes an important comment: “Once upon a time, there was an emperor with no clothes. For the longest time, no one noticed. As you will read in this marvelous book, there have been many naked emperors since. There will doubtless be many more.”

When I was young we were taught parables like the emperor with no clothes, because the parables helped a child’s mind to learn to develop wisdom, and to learn how to do critical thinking. Today they try and corrupt the children’s thought process so they do what they are told, regardless of how ridiculous what they are told to do is.

Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds was a book published in 1841 in German. The original title was called: “Popular Delusions and the Madness of Krauts.” When Andrew Tobias was first told of the book he was a student at Harvard Business School. Besides learning about the book Mr. Tobias learned that “any business professor worth his salt would have had this book at tongue’s tip; and that it had to do with the madness of crowds.” The book was eventually translated into English so that more people could learn from it. My reason for telling you about this book is, I want you to understand the difference in the educations of the super rich and most likely of yours, and originally mine. Most of us were cheated by the public schools and colleges we attended. I have referred to one of my degrees as being more harmful to my mind than a serious brain injury. Just because we learned wrong does not mean we should stay wrong.

If you want to be happy in ignorance, my articles are probably not for you. Throughout my life, God has blessed me with many friends who were extremely brilliant in different ways. I am very grateful for the things they taught me. One of my friends died a month before he turned 90 years old. He used to tell me about running his business in the first depression. Life is a double-edged sword that cuts both ways. The blessing that comes with having wonderful friends as those is the sadness that comes from losing them to death. I appreciate my friend as much as I miss him.

Another friend of mine was a machine gunner in Vietnam. I used to tell my daughter that he was the man who would not let her daddy be stupid. When I first went to work for him I was a young kid who did not know much. He had a temper and people had a hard time understanding why he had no tolerance for stupidity. One day after I had come home from the Army he was telling me how much it bothered him watching the young guys in Vietnam get mowed down and killed. He said that some got killed because they made stupid mistakes. He told me what bothered him even worse was when the good men got killed because of the stupid men’s mistakes. I learned a lot at that moment and even more from that man. My friend not letting me be stupid was his way of hopefully keeping me alive. What he has taught me may have saved my life. Throughout the years the things he taught me has served me well. How we touch each other’s lives we may never know. My way of thanking my friends, some still alive and some long gone, is to hopefully pass on the wisdom they gave me. Hopefully, it will benefit some of you. I did not know what he did for me until many years later.

Maybe wisdom is like a seed. Trees start as seeds and can grow into marvelous, beautiful, and majestic things. Think of the redwood trees. Some trees die and never grow into much of anything. Other trees are cut down and used to make Steinway pianos that continue to make beautiful music as well as also looking beautiful. Wisdom can be like that. Some people hear it and ignore it. Some people even hate wisdom, think of the atheist who hates the bible. They hate God so much that they refuse to read the bible and refuse to believe in God. Einstein was willing to believe in God. Einstein was brilliant and yet, he was humble enough to believe in God.

The preface of the book has a fabulous statement that I have thought of a lot when I watch the world today: “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.” Charles Mackay wrote this after studying the many ways people and nations had done some very crazy things. He started the preface by stating: “In reading the history of nations, we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities; their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do.”

Can you think of anything that our country is doing that this may describe? I would say Planned Parenthood sounds like an institution that “they care not what they do.” Does a nation that kills 60 million babies before they were born, sound like a country that is thinking about the long term consequences of their actions?

If you read my article, Supreme Court Did Not Make Abortion The Law Of The Land-They Made Murdering Babies For Money The Lawlessness Of The Land, and my article Unplanned: A Story Of Redemption and think about Mackay’s quote: “they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.” Ask yourself a question, did the people in Planned Parenthood seem as if they were thinking like a herd? Where they just doing what they were told was right? Did they appear as if they were mad (insane)? Abby and the other people who left Planned Parenthood are the ones who recovered “their senses slowly, and one by one.” I pray that more people will recover their senses and preferably speedily.

Some of you may be wondering, who writes an article about a book and only ends up telling about the Forward and the Preface? Well, if you want to know for sure if I am writing folly, or planting the seed of curiosity in your mind, get a copy of the book and read it yourself.

Plant some wisdom and hope you get a forest.

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