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The Delusions Of Crowds: Why People Go Mad in Groups

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  110 ratings  ·  20 reviews
From the award-winning author of A Splendid Exchange, a fascinating new history of financial and religious mass manias over the past five centuries

“We are the apes who tell stories,” writes William Bernstein. “And no matter how misleading the narrative, if it is compelling enough it will nearly always trump the facts.” As Bernstein shows in his eloquent and persuasive new
Paperback, 576 pages
Published February 23rd 2021 by Atlantic Monthly Press
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Eric Brown
Overall, pretty good.

The middle section is significantly brought down by his sneering tone towards evangelical Protestants (and religious people in general).

I would have appreciated a section on "scientific" delusions, such as eugenics, polywater, N-rays, and so forth. It would have leavened his religious bigotry significantly.
J Earl
Feb 08, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Delusions of Crowds by William J Bernstein is in many ways an updating of Charles Mackay’s Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions. Because they resonate with people and to keep the length of the book manageable, he limited his examples to financial and religious mass manias. In other words, he avoided political, or at least overtly political, manias.

I really enjoyed learning more about these events/periods and even where I knew a little about them Bernstein's depth offered new informatio
I received an advance readers copy thinking that i would love it. Buuuuuuut - it was just too much. Way more depth and material than i was prepared for. I think this book would make a suitable textbook for a semester-long study on the topic, with a heavy leaning on finance. I made it through 13% when i gave up. I expect that some people will really appreciate the depth of study that obviously went into creating this work, but it’s more than i was prepared for.
Jun 13, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-psychology
A very disappointing book, but still possibly useful.

I am a city-dwelling American. I occasionally meet other city-dwelling Americans who said that they don't understand the often non-city-dwelling population, that is, those who support Donald Trump, refuse vaccinations, and dislike education and the educated. This book does not explain the thoughts of every member of that population, of course, but an influential sub-group are believers of, as Bernstein calls it, the "dispensationalist end-time
Mark Richards
Apr 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anyone that sees the things that are happening now will see that they happened then and again, and again

A fly over that lets you see today , through the history of yesteryear, which repeats again and again. I find this very comforting it allows me to see the arc of much of today....
Alan Fuller
The author says people don’t analyze the world but tend to rationalize how the facts conform to their emotions. We respond more to narratives than to facts and data. Bernstein combines elements of neuropsychology, social psychology, evolutionary psychology, financial economics, and history. Religion and financial manias might seem to have little in common, but the underlying need is to improve one’s well-being in this life or the next. He feels the well-educated person today has little need for ...more
The Delusions of Crowds by William J. Bernstein is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late December.

The concept of people being moved in an act of massive peer pressure and herd mentality to do weird, confusing, and awful things out of jealousy, resentment, greed, latent fear, frenzy, or divine favor. Bernstein pinpoints areas in history during biblical times, the Lutheran reformation, financial and economic busts, precursors to the Industrial Revolution, the annexation of Israel, cataclysmic
May 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
every person who's ever tried to talk to me about crypto currency should read this book and then do a 4th grade style book report on it ...more
Jun 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I hesitated between 3 starts and 5 on this one.

It's an incredibly insightful book full of fascinating new analytical perspectives on this mystery of why people behave so irrationally as crowds.

A few chapters were a bit too long and detailed which made it hard to follow and not engaging, especially the many chapters about dispensationalists (which the author is clearly not a fan of, with the minute level of detailed criticism and analysis of minor historical figures).

That's why I considered the
Scott Martin
May 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
(Audiobook) I found myself liking this book more than I initially thought. Bernstein primarily focuses on trends that have religious and financial implications. Cults/religious revivals and stock market/finanical bubbles have quite a lot of similarities, in that they resonate within the masses and will drive people to act in irrational ways. Whereas people might have reservations/concerns about various movements, if something takes off and attracts a lot of attention, then people lose that reser ...more
Paige  McLoughlin
Very much in the tradition of Mackay's original book "on extraordinary delusions and madness of crowds" focuses on mass delusions and folly mostly in religious apocalypticism and in financial foolishness in the corporate world and the stock trading world very much the focus of Mackay's original work. Unfortunately for us and unlike Mackay's time the stakes have gotten higher and the price that potentially we have to for the madness of crowds these days is tied up with human future survivability ...more
Andrew Chandler
After a few introductory chapters that focused on why some crowds are wise while others are delusional and the psychology behind this behavior, the author spends the rest of the book on examples of delusions without much deep analysis. He focuses on end-times prophecies for various religions and stock market bubbles. Lots of detail, but just a simple framework for understanding the delusions, which sometimes didn't seem sufficient. This book is also proof that, unless your are Michael Lewis, wri ...more
Apr 15, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining book full of interesting stories, though there is less of the subtitle's "Why People Go Mad in Groups" than well-written examples of that madness. Focuses on financial and religious manias and is generally solid, though I felt some of the pre-19th century history was a bit superficial. All in all great fun and some learning, too. ...more
Rayfes Mondal
Jun 13, 2021 rated it liked it
Well researched descriptions of many financial and religious manias. A bit long and more descriptive than analytical. Scary what people can do when they fall into an us vs them (good vs evil) mentality.
Andrea Hickman Walker
As far as I can tell the message seems to be a combination of: bubbles happen, don't forget, and WWIII will happen due to clashes between Christian and Muslim end-of-days madness. ...more
Mark McCormick
Mar 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
good but not an easy read. Almost academic. Lord of good stuff packed in here
The Well-Read Investor
A wonderful effort, obviously the result of serious endeavor. But the book's obsession with trivial data obscures any general takeaways and puts huge onus on the reader to sift through it all. ...more
Marjorie Hodges
May 13, 2021 rated it liked it
This is not an easy read, it is more like a text book or a book club book where it can be discussed and digested at length. There seems to be no end to the mad behavior of humans.
Prince Of Castle
May 09, 2021 rated it liked it
The first few chapters of this book is great, however it’s getting off the trail in the latter parts unfortunately.
Apr 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
Great historical read but how can he have left out Trump and QAnon? This made the book somewhat incomplete
Thomas J. Aviles
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May 15, 2021
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William J. Bernstein is an American financial theorist and neurologist. His research is in the field of modern portfolio theory and he has published books for individual investors who wish to manage their own equity portfolios. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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