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Danger Zone

Books are not harmful. (Human Events Online list of the most harmful books written)

What's more harmful or dangerous is people who are afraid to let others read ideas that are opposed to theirs.

The list is full of the usual suspects. Everything you think will be there, is.

I'm not at all surprised that the Kinsey Report made the list. Everyone knows that sex, when not used for procreation and performed between a man and woman in the missionary position, is DANGEROUS! Sex leads to pleasure! Pleasure leads to the dark side!

Look at the runner ups. Silent Spring. Coming of Age in Samoa. Introduction to Psychoanalysis. Unsafe at Any Speed. I'm starting to understand Human Events Online's meaning of DANGEROUS.

But my favorite honorable mention is Origin of Species. Science is DANGEROUS! Evolution is scary!

Do not attempt to think for yourselves. Do not attempt to learn about views apart from your own. Do not attempt to see two sides of a story. Do not attempt understand how other people think. These things are EVIL. And any books about them are HARMFUL.

Books are not dangerous. People with narrow views who fear people learning about things outside that view are incredibly harmful.

/via Rox

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Comments

I disagree. I think these books are mighty dangerous.

You could get a paper cut turning the pages.

Won't someone think of the children?

I dunno Michele, Mills strongly argues the merits of individual liberty. Thoughts like those have resulted in dangerous experiments such as, say, America.

As further proof that books can be dangerous, I present Judy Blume's Freckle Juice. It encourages children to disfigure their faces with ingredients found in their own kitchens (and I'm fairly sure there's a subtextual endorsement of cunnilingus).

I think the list is silly (what good does it do?). However -

Devils advocate (what else?):

If we can agree that many countries banned DDT as a result of the furor over Silent Spring (and that is well documented), then a straight line can be drawn to this:

(Dr Dixie Lee Ray) : "In 1970, of two billion people living in malarial regions, 79 percent were protected and the expectation was that malaria would be eradicated. Six years after the United States banned DDT, there were 800 million cases of malaria and 8.2 million deaths per year. Even worse, because eradication programs were halted at a critical time, resistant malaria is now widespread and travelers could take it home. Much of the southern United States is favorable to the malarial mosquito," and "mosquitoes have recently undergone an explosive population growth since their breeding grounds are now 'protected' under federal law."

That book, when acted upon (ala Uncle Tom's Cabin) was quite hazardous for millions around the globe.

If course, in the strictest sense you are correct. Words don't harm anyone. However, just as books can inspire mankind to rise up and be noble (Uncle TOm's Cabin) ,they can also cause people to panic and do the wrong things. (Ban DDT).

Now, granted, the ill effects that came from most of these books was unintentional (although I'm not so sure about Marx). That's why discernment is the key. Always ask yourself, "what would happen if I took this author's ideas to their logical conclusion?).

Isn't it "Origin of Species" and not "Origin of the Species"?

Subtle distinction, but an important one.

Man, is it ever good to be a liberal.

Conservatives, while they have some good ideas, step back 3 steps for every step forward. Being seen with them is embarrassing.

Vince, I would suggest that a liberal should avoid stereotyping and overgeneralizations.

Man, is it ever good to be a liberal.

What's a liberal?

Listen you jokers, I'm not going to bite. When the article in question is from "The National Conservative Weekly" and it's one of the more ridiculous things I've read in a while, it and it's ilk will be mocked. I knew the L-word would bring out the bashing.

Hey look, over there! It's Bill Clinton! Run aarfhabvgsgujbjkh!

Strange. I didn't see the Koran in the list. Or the Bible. Not even a Talmud.

Note to self: when challenging political identity, expect fireworks.

Back on topic: I read The Communist Manifesto (in high school, along with Ten Days That Shook the World). It was interesting in that "so this is what caused that Cold War" sort of ruckus. But it never made me want to give up capitalism.

No bashing here, Vince, just a sincere suggestion. I'm not a big fan of either "conservatives are like X" or "liberals are like Y" statements.

Nice strawman, though.

I read the Communist Manifesto in college. It made me think that Marx was a guy who had a lot of ideas that were good in theory, but not in practice. And I remained a capitalist pig.

Did you notice that the books are linked to Amazon with Human Events associate code. So the books are dangerous and shouldn't be read - but if you happen to buy they'll happily take their cut.

Makes me question if they sincerely believe any of it or if its just a marketing angle to sell books.

I read the Communist Manifesto in college too. I had a Philosophy of Mgmt professor that was a full blown commie.

That's when I read it, too - during the course of a management class.

Actually, it's "On the Origin of Species"

Quite different when you look at it that way!

But my favorite honorable mention is Origin of Species. Science is DANGEROUS! Evolution is scary!

Ok, scientifically I don't have a problem with Darwin and you have a point.

However when you look at the social impact of Darwinism, there is some awfully scary stuff that happened. It was used to empower and justify class warfare and racism. There were some awfully dark reactions to Darwin's work which Darwin himself regreted.

who had a lot of ideas that were good in theory, but not in practice

I can't remember who it was, maybe Balko, who pointed out that a theory that isn't good in practice isn't a good theory. :)

Marxism works beautifully if one completely denies the existence of human nature. Quibbles, quibbles...

However when you look at the social impact of Darwinism, there is some awfully scary stuff that happened.

Wow, kind of like the social impact of religious texts, except in Darwin's case it was people extrapolating erroneously rather than following the "revealed word" of some deity.

I think the conservatives in question would not much like my bookshelves... from Atheism: The Case Against God to Mein Kampf to On The Origin of Species, I'm one dangerous reader!

No wonder the chicks dig me.

I believe it was just books of the 20th century (hence no Koran, etc.)

Your commenters might want to check out Tim Lambert's discussion of DDT and, indirectly, Rachel Carson. (I can't vouch for all of it, but he makes a strong case.) http://cgi.cse.unsw.edu.au/~lambert/cgi-bin/blog/science/DDT/

You have an interesting blog, which I stumbled across for the first time today. I also liked your Boycott the Boycotts post. I wish the Republican party had way more like you and far fewer like the bozos in power.

"Books are not harmful."

Oh yeah? Have you ever dropped a copy of War and Peace on your big toe?

And it was the paperback.

I don't see anything in that list advocating censorship of those works, by the way. As a matter of fact, the article could be seen as promoting study of these works and discussion of the ideas they contain and promote therein so that people may be brought to understand just why they are thought to be harmful. But, if people would rather run about shrieking like the sky is falling because some group of conservatives somewhere made a list of books of whose influence on human society they don't approve, go for it. It won't change facts -- such as, for instance, the ideas in Marx's pair of doorstoppers led people somewhat less mentally insulated by a wealthy, secure, capitalist society than we are to cause the deaths of millions of their own people.

Coupled with the fact that they have their Amazon IDs in the links, it could be reverse psychology. But, to me, the tone was "we rather you didn't read these" instead of "we want you to read these so we can formulate rebuttals."

Andrea,

I would find just as silly a list that included the Bible.

It's not the book, it's what people do with it, that is harmful.

Good Point Andrea,
There are a lot of dangerous things that I don't want banned. Guns for example. Weapons are, by design, dangerous. If they were completely safe they'd be pretty damn useless as weapons wouldn't they. But, I certainly want people to be able to own one if they so choose.

So what that conservatives have an opinion on some books? If their voicing of it constitutes a desire to ban those books ("What's more harmful or dangerous is people who are afraid to let others read ideas that are opposed to theirs.") then does your opinion that they are full of crap constitute a desire to ban them?

Of course not.

You disagree with their opinion, Great! I disagree with some of their choices. The world would be damned boring if everyone had the same opinion.

But please don't equate a negative opinion and censorship. It a far cry from saying Marxism is dangerous (the millions killed by it I think would agree) to saying that "Do not attempt to think for yourselves. Do not attempt to learn about views apart from your own. Do not attempt to see two sides of a story. Do not attempt understand how other people think."

Let's suppose the Father Geoghan Press decided to print a book called "How to Rape Children and Get Away With It". Would anybody care to deny that was a dangerous book?

My point was that it's not a book about the origins of a specific species (such as homo sapiens), but about natural selection in general. Thus the "the" becomes important.

And somebody needs to tell Amazon about the "On" bit.

Darwin's book doesn't belong on the list, and whoever voted for it probably shouldn't have been allowed to vote on any of the others, either. Still, it's one thing to say some books are on the list that don't belong, and quite another to attack the very idea that books can be dangerous. Of course they can be. So Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto failed to convince you to become a Nazi or a commie. Great. That doesn't mean that these books didn't influence others to adopt these dangerous ideologies, resulting in untold death and suffering among countless victims whom they also didn't convince.

They say the pen is mightier than the sword. They're right. It's also more dangerous, for the same reason.

Sorry, I have to disagree. Darwin does belong on the list.....not because of the basic theory of evolution, but because social Darwinism was not a good thing. People of that era used his book to justify treating the poor and unfortunate very badly, not to mention justification for the class system. Read some 19th century history for some examples of what Darwin caused.

Should those books be banned? Of course not. But that doesn't mean one should ignore all the evil that arose from them.

Have all of you read the entries? They don't even talk about the books in half of them. They talk about the authors. I get the distinct impression that, to the people at Human Events Online, free thinkers are dangerous.

Since I just spent the past week doing inventory in my library and have counted something just over 12,000 books, I have to argue that some books are very dangerous. My back is killing me!

sorry, not getting into the censorship fracas ... I spend my days arguing the merits of this book as compared to that book and, frankly, that list is ridiculous. Michele makes a good point, they do not comment on the books themselves so much as the authors. If I had my druthers, I would put Nicholas Sparks on that list for being overly sentimental.

Yep, Marx, Mao, who's ideas killed millions, just some harmless free thinkers.

And what about the rest? Kinsey, Friedan, Dewey, Keynes, Skinner, Nader, Freud...? Everyone is addressing the obvious and skipping over the real questionable books on the list.

I'm not saying there aren't stupid choices up there, because there are. I'm just not going to accuse someone of censorship because they voice an opinion I disagree with. I'm not going to equate an opinion that an idea is dangerous to saying that you can't or even shouldn't learn about it.

Putting your hand on a hot stove is dangerous. People should learn about that.

Communism is dangerous and the only way to understand how dangerous it is, is to study it. We have a large group of people that put communism on an equal footing as democracy because they don't know the horror it caused. They need to learn.

When did I accuse them of censorship? I just said they don't want you to think outside their little box.

When did they say you shouldn't learn about those ideas?

The implication is they DON"T WANT YOU TO.

Now answer MY question. When did I bring up censorship?

You implied it the same way you say they implied their desire for you not to learn.

Just as you will likely say I am putting words in your mouth that you never said, I am claiming that you are putting words in their mouth that they never said.

I think I have more of a leg to stand on here than you do. They're calling the books harmful and dangerous. Did you read the entries?

In what way did I imply censorship. Give me one example as to how my post can be construed in this manner.

What's more harmful or dangerous is people who are afraid to let others read ideas that are opposed to theirs.

Seems to be saying that you are claiming they don't want you to be allowed to read the material. If you are not allowed, then I would call that censorship.

Being afraid to let others read it and actually doing something about it are two different things. One is an idea, a thought. The other is an act.

censor - to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable

I never said they were trying to supress or delete material, just that they are afraid when people actually use books like these to seek out ideas different than their own, or to find out about people and ideas different than their own. I never accused them of physically trying to take the book away from anyone or have any portions of any books deleted, or taken off library shelves.

Try again.

No, you didn't accuse them of the act, you accused them of the desire.

I'm saying the desire isn't even there.

As stated before, there are lots of things I consider dangerous that I don't desire to ban.

The antonym of "let" is prevent. If they don't desire to let, then they do desire to prevent.

You're really going a long way to try to prove your point.

And I did not accuse them of the desire to ban. Banning a lot different than saying "oh, please don't read that, it will harm your mind and soul!"

Is the © on your nickname really necessary, by the way?

The © is a joke from my usual haunts. I'll remove it when posting here if you prefer.

In any case, my real point I suppose is that you can infer "oh, please don't read that, it will harm your mind and soul!" just as easily as I can infer your post to claim their desire for censorship.

I just don't see how calling something dangerous even implies a desire not to expose yourself or others to something. I'll say it again, I think guns are dangerous, after all, their entire reason for being is to destroy things. That doesn't mean I don't want people to be exposed to them, use them, learn about them, etc. I'm a big second amendment guy. It's just my opinion that caution should be used around them.

What's so bad about that?

I'm not sure I get the joke. Is the idea to make fun of people who don't know the difference between trademarks and copyrights?

It's started on Scrappleface a while back. Several of the commenters ran across "l33t 5p34k".

Much hilarity ensued as hieroglyphs (sp?) popped up in nicknames everywhere. Some of the more artistic ones were "Copyrighted", "Trademarked" or "Registered" with complete disregard to what any of that meant. The © is just the last straggler to be removed from mine.

Anyone who considers John Stuart Mill "dangerous" deserves nothing but scorn, except for maybe a beating around the head and neck with a stout stick. Fuck them; fuck them to heck.

I read that article and one book is GLARINGLY absent from the list....that book is the protocols of the elders of zion. YOu would think they would have at least included that book on their runner up list!!! Geez!

Kinsey, Friedan, Dewey, Keynes, Skinner, Nader, Freud...? Everyone is addressing the obvious and skipping over the real questionable books on the list.
This is of course "Human Events" but according to them regarding the Kinsey report
The 1953 book also included reports of sexual activity involving girls younger than age 4, and suggested that sex between adults and children could be beneficial.”

If this is accurate, I don't find it objectionable to learn of this book appearing on such a list.

I'd think the Anarchist's cookbook, because it might give dumbasses ideas on how to blow themselves up, might belong on the list as well.

Ph34r m4 l337 5c13nc3 5k1llZ, l|_|dd1735!!

Masked Menace, I really just asked about that out of plain curiousity.

Yes, Adil. I phear your mad skillz.

michele,

I suggest that you should stay away from movie review sites for you'll be railing at them when they give a movie a bad review as book burning fascists, no doubt.

I have read many of the books on that list and I agree that many of them are dangerous. Some are not, in my opinion. Much worse than most of those on the list, for example, is "Johnny Got His Gun" by Dalton Trumbo or just about anything by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Also missing from the list is "My Life" by Slick Willie.

I'm not gonna defend all the entries on the list, since I haven't read them, and some seem like books that led to good results that got taken too far, like Nader's (I suspect Keynes and Dewey fall in this category as well). But obviously, a book can be dangerous and harmful, if it consists of lies or bad or dangerous ideas; I'm a big free speech guy, but I just can't accept the categorical statement that "books are not dangerous."

I'd definitely concur with including Silent Spring on the list, for the reasons mentioned. And they should have added Protocols of the Elders of Zion and some of the main Islamist texts; without them, this list looks very dated (not that the Protocols didn't do plenty of harm in the last century as well).

Then again, Mein Kampf probably did more good than harm, in terms of alerting people to what Hitler was all about; the book is just on there as a proxy for Hitler himself.

Then again, Mein Kampf probably did more good than harm, in terms of alerting people to what Hitler was all about; the book is just on there as a proxy for Hitler himself.

BINGO.

Much worse than most of those on the list, for example, is "Johnny Got His Gun" by Dalton Trumbo or just about anything by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

What do you have against Vonnegut?

"Then again, Mein Kampf probably did more good than harm, in terms of alerting people to what Hitler was all about; the book is just on there as a proxy for Hitler himself."

Yes, and fortunately having been alerted in time, his rise to power was stopped. Errrr.

Good thing Karl Marx published The Communist Manifesto when he did, so everyone could see what his bankrupt ideology was all about. If that book hadn't been published, there's no telling how many countries might have actually tried implementing his ideas, resulting in the deaths of millions and the suffering of billions. Oh, wait, that happened, too, didn't it. Never mind!

don't look for meaning, look for use...

While not commenting on the stupidity or lack thereof of this specific list, I have no inherent problem with a list of "The World's Most Dangerous Books" or "Books That Have Caused the Most Harm", etc. Simply saying "Books are not dangerous" strikes me as being way off the mark.

I'm a big believer in free speech because I do believe that books, words, ideas have power and are too important to allow anyone to dictate what I can and cannot read. Guttenberg isn't famous because his invention allowed the cheap production of romance novels after all. Books can change things, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. What's wrong with someone saying these were the worst?

Or am I just stating the obvious here and completely missing your point?

However when you look at the social impact of Darwinism, there is some awfully scary stuff that happened. It was used to empower and justify class warfare and racism.

Lots of things were used to justify class warfare and racism. What is relevant is that there is nothing in Darwin's theory that legitimately justifies class warfare and racism.

If you want to cite the fact that Darwin's work was wrongly used by racists and class warriors as evidence that the book can legitimately be called "evil", then why isn't the Bible -- which was, and is, used to justify racism and class warfare to a far greater extent than Darwin was -- at the top of the list of evil books?

Just wondering, but here Keynes was labelled as harmful, and Keynes is the thinker who came up with deficit spending as a solution to economic problems.

Besides FDR, and Clinton, isn't Bush, in more recent history, also a deficit spender, with such things as his tax cuts in the middle of recession? Does this mean that the conservatives there disapprove of Bush's actions? Or do they only disapprove when Dem presidents apply this philosophy?

Believe it or not, conservatives are actually quite peeved about Bush's spending.

The problem I have with Keynes being on the list is that you can run deficits without increasing spending. You can decrease spending, but cut taxes more than the the spending decrease, thereby running a deficit. This would, according to Keynes, help the economy. So the claim that the ideas in his book inspire ever increasing gov't is incorrect.