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Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas

3.15  ·  Rating Details ·  98 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
The most controversial essays from the bestselling author once called the most dangerous man in America—collected for the first time.

The nation’s most-cited legal scholar who for decades has been at the forefront of applied behavioral economics, and the bestselling author of Nudge and Simpler, Cass Sunstein is one of the world’s most innovative thinkers in the academy and
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 18th 2014 by Simon & Schuster (first published March 1st 2014)
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Apr 11, 2014 Carly rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, netgalley
**NOTE: All quotations are taken from an uncorrected digital galley and are therefore provisional. Quotes will be corrected when the book is released.**

When I first saw the book, I was definitely intrigued. Conspiracy theories are an interesting subject with a lot of very elegant theoretical constructs behind them. Despite the "other dangerous ideas" in the tagline, after reading the blurb, I expected a variant on the pop psychology and sociology books that I tend to devour like candy. Unfortuna
Peter Mcloughlin
This book is a mixed bag. it gets four stars because most of the essays are pretty good but it has a few klunkers as well. The essays on the dangers of conspiracy thinking in politics are great. The essays on marriage same sex or otherwis are good as well. In fact the essays on social issues are good. My beef is with the essays on climate change and especially Sunstein's essay on "new progressivism". on climate change I don't think sunstein understands the dangers of climate change very well and ...more
Paul Pessolano
Feb 20, 2014 Paul Pessolano rated it it was ok
“Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas” by Cass R. Sunstein, published by Simon and Schuster.

Category – Conspiracy Publication Date – March 18, 2014

Depending on whom you are and what kind of reading you do will largely determine the popularity of this book. The book will be of major interest to those interested in politics and the law. It is definitely not a book for the casual reader.

The book is a compilation of the writings of Cass R. Sunstein. They cover subjects that range from anima
Vincent Li
Feb 19, 2017 Vincent Li rated it liked it
The title and cover are a bit misleading. The title makes it seem like the book is mostly about ideas clustered around conspiracy theories, but the book is in fact just a collection of law review articles by Sunstein that he likes. A more accurate title would be "A Collection of Law Review Articles by Cass Sunstein lead by an article about Conspiracy Theories" but that probably isn't as an exciting of title.

However, I still found the collection enlightening. For a writer as prolific as a Sunste
Luke Goldstein
Jan 24, 2014 Luke Goldstein rated it really liked it
Before this book I had never read anything by Cass Sunstein, but I knew the name. Partially it came from his time as head of the Office of Management and Budget in President Obama’s first term, but more so from his frequent mentions by Glenn Beck as a living, breathing, pillar of evil. From the tone and volume of Beck’s cries against anything Sunstein has to say I imagined the book would be filled to the brim with radical, communist, socialist agenda-promoting fantasies from the far-left, but I ...more
Robb Bridson
Feb 18, 2014 Robb Bridson rated it really liked it
This is a good book in the same way Nudge was or in the same way Freakonomics was. You can't really swear by the ideas nor by all of the analysis, but it certainly does make you think.
Overall I agree with Sunstein more than I disagree. I guess I kind of fit into his "New Progressive" paradigm, though I'd probably consider myself more of a left-libertarian with a utilitarian streak. At times Substein is a bit too kind to the neoliberal worldview, and far from being the radical some people think h
Duncan Macdonald
Mar 04, 2017 Duncan Macdonald rated it liked it
The first half of the book touched somewhat on conspiracy theories but I had hoped for pros and cons regarding same. JFK assassination? 9/11? UFOs? Not what I had hoped for when I purchased the book. Very well written, but didn't answer any of my questions re: conspiracy theories and other dangerous ideas.
Mark Lokensgard
Jan 10, 2015 Mark Lokensgard rated it did not like it
Chapter One is the only chapter I read. I cannot understand the blurbs on the back or inside cover, or in the Preface in which he recounts, ostensibly ruefully, that he was targeted by critics as being an apologist for a supposed disinformation campaign to be set up by the Obama administration; he doesn’t come off as rueful, however, but seems more smug at having gained notoriety and therefore a larger audience for his writings. If we are to judge by Chapter One, politics will turn the brain of ...more
Eustacia Tan
May 07, 2014 Eustacia Tan rated it really liked it
3.5 stars, rounding up to 3

This book is a series of essays by America's "most cited legal scholar" who has been at the "forefront of applied behavioural economics" for decades. Basically, I picked up this book because of the phrase "behavoural economics", which is a topic I'm interested in.

Basically, this book is about different issues and what the author thinks of them. These issues include:
- Animal rights
- Conspiracy theories and why people believe them
- The second bill of rights
- Climate Ch
Jun 27, 2016 Kelly rated it liked it
I came across this after reading NUDGE, and since it was relatively short, decided to give it a try. I don't agree with
Sunstein about everything, but found his ideas interesting. As I'm not a legal scholar, some of his arguments (especially in the chapters in climate change and the relations between the law and religious institutions) were pretty opaque to me. But I found his thoughts on these issues interesting at least. I thought his takes on conspiracy theories and the spread of other negativ
Feb 28, 2014 Dana rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
On the plus side, I thought the subject matter was very interesting, and informative. The author seemed very knowledgeable and gave differing perspectives while maintaining a certain level of neutrality.

On the negative side, I found the author to be repetitive at times in trying to explain a position on a certain topic, while at other times I felt he was speaking so far over my head I had to read certain parts multiple times. My enjoyment of the book would have been much higher if he had found
Jan 03, 2015 Mike rated it liked it
The title is a bit misleading, as the first chapter is really the only one that deals with conspiracy theories. Sunstein studies and teaches human political and economic behavior, and he is good at explaining complex concepts in clear, understandable language. However, his writing style is not at all compelling or enthusiastic. When I was done, I understood his ideas, but I wasn't really that interested in them. Very dry and academic, not really aimed at the casual reader.
May 01, 2014 Paul rated it it was ok
2.5 stars ironically his essays with the exception of the title one on conspiracy theories were well written and intelligent however his opening conspiracy theories was a mess. Sunstein used circular logic and the whole point of the essay seemed a desperate attempt to debunk 9/11 theories. However IMO this goal failed as the more he decries 9/11 conspiracy theorists without offering evidence for the official account made me more, not less sympathetic to said conspiracy theorists
I received this ARC through Edelweiss.

Way way way more academic than I was expecting. Not a bad book--not at all--but I did not read the description closely enough. I thought this was a book about different conspiracy theories; it's actually a very well-researched book about how they spread. Not really great lunchtime reading. :) Would be valuable for people who are interested in the mechanics and research behind conspiracy theories.
Christopher Myrick
Apr 01, 2014 Christopher Myrick rated it liked it
I enjoy Cass Sunstein, and am largely in agreement with most of his arguments. Although this is a book of solid thought - and has a few provocative essays - it quickly becomes obvious that this is a collection of academic writing. Certainly accessible for a general audience, but for the most part not particularly thrilling. Still, is book has some of the best back-cover blurbs I have ever seen.
Matt Bennett
Nov 15, 2014 Matt Bennett rated it really liked it
After a while, you get the idea with Sunstein. Cost-benefit analysis, applied writ-large. But his accounts of social science phenomena like conspiracy theories are interesting, relevant and relatable for lay-readers. Some of these essays left me a bit cold, but for the most part they are thought-provoking and smart.
Bryan Richard
What a strange book. Despite the title, Conspiracy Theories & Other Dangerous Theories, I found it really had nothing to do with either one. But it was a slightly interesting book nonetheless. However I am very much disinclined to recommend it to anybody.
Keith McGowan
Jun 29, 2015 Keith McGowan rated it did not like it
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know what law school is like.

The Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School shares his intellectual musings about a variety of topics without regard to actual human experience or the role that emotion plays in human affairs.
Joe Donohue
Another book as blog. I should really stop buying these. If the author can't make one topic into a book, he should stick to magazines.
Oct 31, 2014 Brian rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
Interesting takes on various issues of the day. I didn't always agree with the author, but he makes you think about things you take for granted.
Richard Munroe
Richard Munroe rated it liked it
Jan 27, 2015
David rated it did not like it
Jun 17, 2014
Adrian Pedersen
Adrian Pedersen rated it really liked it
Apr 14, 2015
Lucy Nathanson
Lucy Nathanson rated it really liked it
May 12, 2014
G. Peterson
G. Peterson rated it it was amazing
Jul 23, 2014
Cristiana Grigoriu
Cristiana Grigoriu rated it really liked it
Aug 02, 2014
Nick Malark
Nick Malark rated it really liked it
Jul 05, 2015
Catherine Torres
Catherine Torres rated it it was ok
Jan 30, 2016
Lindsay Noble
Lindsay Noble rated it really liked it
Mar 19, 2017
Sarah rated it did not like it
Jun 19, 2014
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Cass R. Sunstein is an American legal scholar, particularly in the fields of constitutional law, administrative law, environmental law, and law and behavioral economics, who currently is the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration. For 27 years, Sunstein taught at the University of Chicago Law School, where he continues to teach as ...more
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