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Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Volume 2

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By: (1814-1889)

In "Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Volume 2," Charles Mackay provides a fascinating look at the various irrational behaviors and beliefs that have gripped society throughout history. From the tulip mania in 17th-century Holland to the witch hunts of early America, Mackay explores the ways in which groupthink and hysteria can lead to mass delusions.

Mackay's writing is both informative and engaging, weaving together historical anecdotes and psychological insights to paint a vivid picture of the power of crowd behavior. While some of the examples may seem extreme or outdated, the underlying principles remain relevant in today's world, where social media and mass communication can amplify and spread irrational beliefs with alarming speed.

Overall, "Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Volume 2" is a thought-provoking read that serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of blindly following the crowd. Mackay's timeless observations remind us to approach popular beliefs with a critical eye and to think for ourselves in the face of societal madness.

Book Description:
"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one." "In reading the history of nations, we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities; their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do. We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first." So wrote author Charles MacKay in this landmark work, which is still in print in the twenty-first century, and is considered most important for its analysis of economic "bubbles," such as the dot com bubble of 1997-2001. To a lesser degree, it was one of the first serious attempts to examine crowd psychology and is still a touchstone in that field. The history of the twentieth century suggests that as the planet has become more populated, the workings of crowd psychology have increasingly influenced everyday life, sustaining the longevity of MacKay's observations. In this volume are eight topics, four of which MacKay would classify as "Peculiar Follies:" the Crusades, the Witch Mania, the outbreak of assassination by slow poisoning, and a belief in haunted houses. The other four: Popular Admiration for Great Thieves, Popular Follies in Great Cities, Duels & Ordeals, and Relics, he classified as national delusions. Link to Volume 1

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