The Delusions of Crowds: Why People Go Mad in Groups, by William J. Bernstein
‘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 book, The Delusions of Crowds, throughout human history compelling stories have catalyzed the spread of contagious narratives through susceptible groups - with enormous, often disastrous, consequences.
Inspired by Charles Mackay’s 19th-century classic Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Bernstein engages with mass delusion with the same curiosity and passion, but armed with the latest scientific research that explains the biological, evolutionary, and psychosocial roots of human irrationality.
Bernstein tells the stories of dramatic religious and financial mania in western society over the last 500 years - from the Anabaptist Madness that afflicted the Low Countries in the 1530s to the dangerous End-Times beliefs that animate ISIS and pervade today’s polarized America; and from the South Sea Bubble to the Enron scandal and dot com bubbles of recent years.
“Bernstein’s lucid and entertaining history is a warning that the primitive mind lurks under the sheen of alleged rationality, and that a departure into the comforting certainties of groupthink is closer than we may realize.” - Los Angeles Review of Books
“Fascinating . . . Bernstein is an entertaining chronicler and analyst of these human failings.” - The Times