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A Short History of Stupid
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A Short History of Stupid

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  184 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Alain de Botton meets Russell Brand in this glorious rant about everything that drives you mad about the modern world.

How did everything get so dumb?

How did we become hostages to idiocy?

What must we do to be freed from a captor whose ransom note simply reads, 'D'oh'?

The deteriorating quality of our public debate and the dwindling of common sense in media, politics and cult
Paperback, 336 pages
Published December 1st 2014 by Allen Unwin
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Contrary to what you might think, A Short History of Stupid is unlikely to make you feel smarter. Despite the introduction, in which Razer and Keane make it clear that they aren’t experts and don’t have any consistent truths to offer the reader—A Short History of Stupid isn’t a self-help book after all—their rather smart arguments bust a few sacred cows, shine a light on publically accepted stupidities, and make our extensive foibles all too obvious. You may well, like me, recognise yourself in ...more
Usman Chohan
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
"In 2012, fifteen-year-old education advocate and student Malala Yousafzai was shot three times on her way to school in Pakistan. Her assailants were Taliban and so this extraordinary young woman was quickly pressed by propagandists in to the service of justifying US military interests. This might sound like a paranoid view until you follow the less 'teachable' moments of Yousafzai's real story.
Hailed by President Obama for her bravery, she was welcomed to the White House. The Western world had
Matt John
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Essays on how stupidity has always and does now drive the popularist agenda and conversation.

Should be read by anyone before making comment on anything in the public sphere, basically saying get your facts before entering debate.

You might not agree with everything that that is written, but it still does make you think... And I love Razer's writing.
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am sure that there will be many detractors of this book but hopefully it made them think. I agree, the book won't make you smarter but it will hopefully lead you to the path of Less Stupid. All keyboard warriors should read this book - actually, they probably won't see the need to because the irony lies in the fact that the people who are mired in the Stupid are the least likely to read it. I suspect that this book has saved my 'thinking life' - because it is important to question and we seem ...more
Charlotte Nash
Couldn't get into this at all. I liked the blurb and the introduction when I read it in the bookstore, which is why I bought it. But it didn't take too long for the style to dominate the substance. I found it hard to process the argument (and there seemed too little of it) underneath the jaded conversational style. Might be some people's cup of tea, but it's not mine. Disappointed as I had high hopes and thought I was cynical enough to enjoy it. Sadly, maybe not enough.
Steve Learmonth
May 26, 2015 rated it did not like it
An almost unreadable whinge-fest focusing more on the authors pet-peeves.
Sarah Walsh
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I'm surprised in that I didn't hate-fart its contents around home and garden despite one of its authors not so much kind in offering nice wise rather brutal in cut-throat determination and sub-tweet of me as Stupid. It's true, I am but with potential to not be but given lack of work experience of twenty years, writing and reading think-tank before supporting the system and all about the mind-num
Andrew Pople
Dec 29, 2014 rated it liked it
An engaging, thought provoking look at the way public debate pulls us in, pays our heads and sends us on our way none the wiser.
Razed and Keane are not known for being bashful and confront the notion societal 'Stupid' with knives sharpened.
Don't read it to agree blindly with their propositions, but approach with scepticism and an enquiring mind. That's really all they're asking...

Look out for my interview with Bernard Keane on 2SER 107.3 FM's Final Draft program...
Al Bità
Feb 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
There was a time when I was quite convinced that the whole world had, in a single instance, moved completely into a totally insane universe of incomprehensible madness; that, since this had happened all at once, no one noticed any difference; and that people then continued to live and work as if nothing had happened. This weird feeling was, in a sense, electrifying and terrifying at the same time: one could devote oneself to remedying the insanity by constantly pointing out the madness (an elect ...more
Jan 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Reviewing this book was more complicated than I thought. This is because its central premise, which is quite reasonable, might not stand up with its evidence. The book is written in an appealing way and the authors do not beat around the bush in their presentation.

I happen to agree that reason has been lacking in public debate. But it lost two stars for a reason.
The content of this book panders to the political predispositions of the authors, which in itself is no sin. But if you happen to disa
Alex Turner
Feb 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An enjoyable read, some interesting and detailed views on a number of subjects that come up frequently in today's world. They do have some great points backed up with good references and gave me plenty to think about in-between chapters.

Recommend it for anyone who finds themselves getting frustrated by the world around them on a regular basis.
Feb 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
A fun and challenging read - enjoyable even if you don't agree with everything being said. Occasionally the style can grate - but that's to be expected. Still worth the read as semi-concise summary of all that is wrong with our modern world.
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not at all stupid from the authors
Heather Iveson
I found several of the chapters in this book very interesting food for thought, well written and well worth the time.

A few others just didn't do it for me.
Arthur Banos
Dec 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Not a stupid book. Well written and introduces you to a lot of the ideas underpinning Western thought and actions
Mitchell Meek
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Critical thinking. This book made me both happy and angry as I saw my own frustration with the modern world spilled across the pages of this book. Infuriating/inspiring/defeating/un-put-downable.
Mar 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Brutally funny, A Short History of Stupid reminds us to check our facts/egos/everything at the door and look for rationality in the face of an epidemic of stupid.
Stan Fleetwood
Nov 21, 2014 rated it liked it
An interesting and, sometimes, even fun, read. I might have given it 4 stars, but unfortunately, for me it didn't live up to it's over-blown back cover blurb.
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Insightful book that reminds one to question the motives of the media, mainstream and misogyny and many other forces in our everyday lives. I found Helen a little easier to digest than Bernard.
Dec 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
I so wanted to love this book as the premise is engaging and so very relevant in this Trumpian era. Yet I found it arduous, pompous, and simply not engaging. So much so, I couldn't finish it--and I like to finish things.

I hadn't heard of Bernard Keane but Helen Razer is known for her wit, yet I just didn't find it witty. Which is not to say the book had no attributes; on the contrary, it was intelligent, thoughtful, and attempted a discourse on a much-needed subject. But oh my, just engage me!
Malcolm Frawley
Dec 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
Considering the title of this book I expected it to be funny, or at least satirical (Razer is not unknown as a humourist). For me, it was neither. I actually struggled to work out what point it was trying to make because, by the time it got to the chapter on Jacques Derrida (didn't know about him, couldn't care less), it seemed as if the authors were doing all they could to make me feel stupid. Which I'm not. To prove it, I stopped reading.
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good place to start when trying to understand the Stupid in this world today

I can't recommend too highly. The authors have had to report on a lot of Stupid over the years, so this is a good starting point to helping to understand the possible reasons for how historically politics and public policy has favoured the Stupid. Good one Helen and Bernard.
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
I don't deny that stupid exists in this world, but I found it hard to read this without getting bogged down in rampant cynicism that was more unashamedly hostile than witty or insightful. I don't know that this would help anyone fix their own stupid, or anybody else's, which is a shame as that was exactly what I was hoping for.
Melanie Brown
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
It is itself - stupid
Penfold Hamster
I try with Helen. I really try with Helen. I thought Bernard could save it. But everything she writes - she comes off as some female neckbeard. She has so many opinions, ooh and aren't they edgy. She is that annoying edgelord (or lady) everyone suffers on their facebook feed. They like to use a thesaurus to seem smarter than they are. They sit on the sidelines (and I get it - paid commentator for a living) but just nitpick at everything and try to seem smarter than everyone else but offer nothin ...more
Nov 26, 2016 rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book. The blurb had promised a "hilarious" and "smart" book which would examine the reasons why public debate has deteriorated to the point where people no longer question the media or the status quo.

Keane and Razer set themselves up as experts on a number of controversial issues such as global warming, vaccination programmes, alternative medicine, religion, terrorism, etc. etc. Yet, as another reviewer has commented, this isn't so much an essay into why people have
Judy Woodling Dent
Mar 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Too many sentences with qualifiers and comments within comments make the book slightly annoying and difficult for a reader to enjoy a 'flow' experience
May 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
I started reading this book with a lot of expectation and hope that I would find the opinion of like minds about the Stupid of the anti-science movement. And I did find it for 30 odd pages. However, I found the book to be a generalization of different subject, and most subjects were of no interest to me or I was already aware of this Stupid.
I found one of the authors to be super organized but quite boring and the other one a bit more fun but quite disorganized and honestly she had an annoying w
Jan 26, 2017 rated it liked it
It is interesting to see a number of reviewers favour one or other of the two authors' contributions. My vote goes to Helen Razer -witty and insightful. Although Bernard Keane ironically strays into the style of argument that the book sets out to criticize, he also provides some thought-provoking material. His commentary on Abbott and the 'Assertion Based Community' is prescient given that the book was published two years before the Trump presidency. And his reference to the old white male demog ...more
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Bernard Keane is the politics editor for Crikey and is a former senior public servant.
“Climate change denialists are therefore engaged in intergenerational economic warfare on their own societies. They won’t witness the worst aspects of climate change—luckily for them they’ll die before they occur. But their children and grandchildren will be affected by them. The refusal of older people, and particularly old white males, to accept the need for climate action shifts costs that they themselves are causing onto their descendants, all of whom will pay higher prices, higher taxes and higher insurance premiums and enjoy poorer health, lower economic growth and fewer jobs because of climate change. Denialists are a form of economic parasite preying on their own offspring, running up a bill they’ll die before having to pay. And every year of delay increases the costs that future generations will have to bear.” 1 likes
“and his ‘cross of gold’ speech against the gold standard that secured him the Democratic nomination in 1896 remains the, um, gold standard of US political oratory.” 0 likes
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