978-0-934405-00-3 / 093440500X

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

by MacKay, Charles

Publisher:Templeton Foundation Pr



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About the book:

Written by Charles Mackay in the 1840's, this landmark study of crowd psychology and mass mania throughout history includes accounts of classic scams, grand-scale madnesses and deceptions such as the Mississippi Scheme that swept France in 1720; the South Sea Bubble that ruined thousands in England at the same time; the Tulipmania of Holland, when fortunes were made and lost on single tulip bulbs. Other chapters deal with fads and delusions that often spring from valid ideas or causes - many of which still have their followers today: Alchemy and the Philosopher's Stone, the Prophecies of Nostraddamus, the Coming of Comets and Judgement Day, the Rosecrucians and Astrology. Our past also includes highly consequential movements such as Necromancy, Father Hell and Magnetism, Anthony Mesmer and Mesmerism, the Crusades, the Influence of Politics and Religion on the Hair and Beard, Sorcery and the Burning of Witches, the Traffic in Relics, the Popularity of Murder by Slow Poisoning and the Hero-Worship of Common Thieves. Today, as in the time of the South Sea Bubble, human nature is drawn like a moth to flame by the speculative fads of the marketplace. The excitement of new glamour issues in electronics or medical technology, the general euphoria over a rising market; these lure even many experienced investors. Their optimism overcomes their better judgment. They abandon critical analysis of the investment's fundamental value. Like gamblers in a casino they play against the odds, paying inflated prices and dreaming of quick profit. Time and again we can avoid disastrous pitfalls and learn to profit by seeing the ways that history repeats istself. Fascinating, mesmerizing, strikingly strange and amazingly shrewd, this book will never be forgotten and cannot be ignored.

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