Lists of Evil Books

20 05 2008

I found a list of Books That Screwed Up The World, by some guy. It is decent, fun to compare with my own. I don’t think the Communist Manifesto by Marx & Engels belongs on the list. I also disagree with The Prince by Machiavelli. Missing from this guy’s list but present on mine are, The Bible – old testament & new -(I know it’s a collection of books), The Qur’an and The Bell Curve by Hernstein & Murray.
The bible has been used as a justification for the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch hunts, slavery, homophobic hatred, etc. The Qu’ran has been used to justify female circumcision, many a fatwa, the 9-11 attacks, suicide bombings, etc. One may make the arguement that these religious texts are responsible for much good as well. It is my contention that there are many books which do the same, with little or no negative influence, Shakespeare, Rousseau, Emerson, Thoreau, Bonhoeffer… Even ‘militant’ books like On War by Clausewitz or Autobiography of X by Malcolm X have not brought about as much harm as they have good. In fact, one may get the same morality lessons from many other sources. Religious texts certainly do not have a monopoly on morality lessons. They do, on the other hand, have a near monopoly on genocidal inspiration.
The Bell Curve uses pseudoscience and weakly supported (read one-sided) analysis to legitimate racial and class disparity. The authors start with the assumption that minorities and the underclass are less intelligent than the majority and the rich. They then set out to back up their assertion. Rather than taking the data and drawing a conclusion, they start with the conclusion and select the data they use. They do not discuss at all differences in the education recieved by the two groups as having an effect on this. They do not discuss the difference in opportunity possessed by the two groups. Their assertion reads like this- poor people and minorities are not as smart as the majority and rich people. Both groups had the opportunity to go to a free public school. Both groups do not perform the same at the schools, therefore one group must be genetically better than the other. It is a very juvenile train of logic. Are Quakers genetically inferior because they can not operate a microwave? Is it logical to blame the abused for the abuse? The Bell Curve gives these questions a resounding “YES!” So this book is one of the very few books to come out in the late 20th century that the usual suspects can appeal to and cite when making racial arguements vs the huge amount of literature one may point to when backing the idea that race has no statistical value in determining one’s cognative ability, Jonathan Kozol comes to mind.

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