Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
Between the three of them, these historic episodes ...more
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First published in 1841, I think it has been in print continually ever since. Rare for a non fiction book.
I read it about once every 10 years to remind myself of mob psychology.
One of my favorite genres.
Also the author has a gift for storytelling.
About a dozen chapters, each one about a different set of events.
All examples of mob behavior.
How people can abandon critical analysis when "everyone else is doing it".
About the balance between Fear an ...more
By Charles Mackay 1814-1889)
Charles Mackay was a Scottish poet, journalist, author, anthologist, novelist, and songwriter remembered mainly for his book 'Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds'.
The themes of the madness of the crowds are mostly situated in the eighteenth to the nineteenth century.
The Mississippi scheme:
Louis XIV died in 1715. The heir to the throne is an infant of only seven years of age,
The Duke of ...more
I will list a few a few of the stories I liked best.
The first chapter teaches us about a Scottish character named ...more
And I see it is now available through Project Gutenberg and for free for one's Kindle, so Amazon will be my next stop tonight.
I am a little disappointed after reading Charles Mackay’s book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds, for the title promised (to me, at least) so much! I was sure to find an extensive psychological study on the subject of crowds’ psychology, but what I found is only a (true, pretty impressive) collection of many follies crowds had been prey of over time, accompanied by some candid comments from a bewildered author, usually in the spirit of the following:
When the world begins...more
We see in this volume echoes of the enthusiasms that prop ...more
Chapters on Relics, Haunted Houses, Fortune Telling, Witch Mania, The Crusades, etc. show how this nonsense was already debunked almost 200 years ago.
Mackay is mainly a chronicler and rarely comments or offers solutions. The folly of his narr ...more
I understand completely why this text was reissued: the parallels to contemporary events (like the dot-com bubble, the housing bubble, the crash of 2007 and frenzied investment in Iraqi infrastructure and petroleum projects) are so striking as to almost seem contrived. It's like history has conspired to bear out MacKay's thesis to perfection: you could hardly hope for better validation outisde of a laboratory!
The illumination cast by his thesis itself is probably worthy of a five-star rating, bu...more
"Let us not, in the pride of our superior knowledge, turn with contempt from the follies of our predecessors. The study of errors into which great minds have fallen in the pursuit of truth can never be uninstructive. As the man looks back to the days of his childhood and youth, and recalls to his mind the strange notions and false opinions tha
Most bub ...more
Anyway, it was fascinating to read this. The author did a great job with it. The cases are rather horrifying and I thought it was interesting that the author wrote on the subject. This seems to be one of those things that the Church is determined to forget so you never really see much on the su ...more
South Sea Bubble
Written in 1841, "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" by Charles Mackay, the book is a great fun to read. Let me just quote wikipedia, "The subjects of Mackay's debunking include economic bubbles, alchemy, crusades, witch-hunts, prophecies, fortune-telling, magnetisers (influence of imagination in curing disease), shape of hai ...more
Originally written in the mid-19th century, Mackay was a Scottish writer who dabbled in poetry, journalism and even songs, but is primarily remembered these days for this massive look at the ways people get sucked into scams and hoaxes. His book covers a wide range of these, from money bubbles to witchcraft trials ...more
It was good after hearing about tulips for so many years to finally read a detailed report, and to learn about parallels in England, France, and so on. But I also liked ...more
So far I managed to work through the first volume and believe me, it's amazing. Mackay is an accomplished chronicler and his simple narration of events creates some subtle irony. He does make a personal comment once in a while, none of it amiss.
Things I learnt so far:
1) Futures Cont ...more
Mackay became a journalist in London: in 1834 he was an occasional contributor to The Sun. From the spring of 1835 till 1844 he was assistant sub-editor of the Morning Chronicle. In the autumn of 1839 he spent a mont ...more