July 19, 2005

Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries

here is a list of what the religous right of america thinks are the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Voted for by a (all male) pannel of 15 judges. Some I can agree with, The Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf, and Quotations from Chairman Mao all inspired alot of death.

However at their number four spot just below these three is The Kinsey Report. a very dry but very accurate portrait of human sexuality. Apparantly he felt that the reports where written entirely to "give a scientific gloss to the normalization of promiscuity and deviancy." rather than simply showing up the massive stupidity and hypocracy on the part of the makers of the sexuality laws whereby 95% of men would have commited some kind of offence under the 1940's laws. Number of deaths inspired 0, number of lives saved by it? Unknown, but probably very high.

At number 10 is the General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by John Maynard Keynes. Again a scientific tome this time about economics rather than biology. Apparently because this book contains theory about when it is sensible to run a deficit it is entirely to blame for the massive US deficit, rather than say Evangelical Republican president George Bush under whom the US deficit has ballooned like never before.

In between are a group of feninists, humanists and philosophers. Strangely not including Darwin. But just in case anybody thought they might have evolved a clue he is in the Honorable Mentions, twice, along with John Stuart Mill (for On Liberty), Sigmund Freud, B.F. Skinner, and strangely Ralph Nader for a book about seat belts.


Blogger Serf said...

I have not read Kinsey, so I don't know who is telling the truth.

I have heard the criticism however that his work was highly unscientific making the claims he made wrong.

One famous claim was that 10% of males are Gay. Subsequent research seems to suggest less than 5%. Irelevant point I know, but it does raise questions about the way in which the book was used.

12:55 pm  
Blogger chris said...

The Kinsey report was the first ever attempt at a scientific study of human sexuality. So the numbers might have been slightly off, you expect that in a brand new field as the research methods have yet to be perfected. But that difference from reality was orders of magnitude less than before.

Compared to what was believed before it was a revalation by, for example, shifting the gay population from an infantesimal subgroup to a major part of the population. Lesbianism was barely considered to exist before Kinsey showed it was not uncommon.

Is a small statistical error really up there with genocidal tyrants like Hitler, Mao and Stalin?

10:06 am  

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