Modern Delusions and Crowd Madness

Modern Delusions and Crowd Madness by Peter Burrows, 10/21/19 –

“Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds,” published way back in 1841, is a classic book on crowd psychology, still in print today.  Here is a blurb from a review found on

“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…” Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds is the original guide to behavioural psychology – and how manias, follies and superstitions begin, spread and (eventually) pass. —the book is as insightful and memorable today as when it was first published almost 180 years ago.

Some of the popular follies of the day were trivial, such as fortune telling, some tragic, such as believing in witches and then burning them at the stake. You’re probably thinking that we aren’t nearly so gullible today. Not only are we more educated, we have access to the Internet for in-depth information on virtually any topic.

True, but if my experience is any indication, people use the Internet and associated sources such as You Tube to reinforce what they already “know.”  This is called confirmation bias, and it’s the rare person who isn’t prone to it.

Plus, we must recognize that when our emotions are involved, sometimes FACTS DON’T MATTER. For example, my wife is allergic to cats, yet we have five cats. Sometimes, people simply refuse to believe facts that refute their cherished beliefs, e.g., carbon dating that shows The Shroud of Turin does not date to Christ’s time is simply not believed by many Christians.

Politically, the delusion that socialism is a superior economic system endures in spite of overwhelming real-world evidence to the contrary. For example, East vs. West Germany and North vs. South Korea are virtual laboratory experiments, side-by-side comparisons that prove state-run economies are total failures vs. free economies.

No one can dispute this, yet I once casually asked a “progressive” acquaintance if there had ever been a case where people had tried to break INTO a socialist nation. The question, which was strictly rhetorical, upset him so much that he emailed me that he didn’t want to socialize with me because his therapist had told him not to engage with people who used “power” arguments.  I guess a “power” argument is one based on facts.

(I’m not creative enough to have made that up. If anybody wants the name of that individual, I will email it to you.)

The socialist delusion has been around a long time. A more recent delusion is that wind and solar electricity are cheaper than coal or nuclear electricity, in spite of the fact that real-world evidence shows just the opposite.

Those facts don’t matter, you see, because reducing carbon dioxide emissions has become a holy crusade and a modern “madness” almost as dangerous as socialism.  Richard Lindzen, professor emeritus of atmospheric physics at MIT, once said:

It will be remembered as the greatest mass delusion in the history of the world that CO2, the life of plants, was considered for a time to be a deadly poison.”  

Well, “deadly poison” is a bit hyperbolic, but no more so than some of the predictions made in the last 30 years about climate change, none of which have yet to be realized. The one prediction that I’ve closely followed is that climate change will cause sea levels to rise. I recently wrote that the worldwide market for oceanfront properties doesn’t support that claim, at least not yet. (See ‘Zillow’s White House Crony,’ 7/28/19 at or, Libertarian Leanings column)

Some of you may think that the continued rise in oceanfront property prices is itself an example of a modern delusion, one that will be soon be shattered by the reality of salt water lapping at the doorstep of beachfront properties. Maybe, but that was supposed to have happened by now and it hasn’t.

If you think otherwise, please explain why Fort Denison, located on an island in Australia’s Sydney harbor, has escaped the predicted sea level rise for over a hundred years. In fact, measurements there could be interpreted to show a decline of 6 millimeters in ocean levels since 1914.  Watch this six-minute interview of somebody from Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology:  If the link doesn’t work, go to You Tube and search for “Fort Denison.”

Here’s another video questioning sea level rise:

If the link doesn’t work, go to You Tube and search for: Tony Heller, “Lies, Damned Lies and NASA Sea Level Graphs.” It’s dated Sept. 6, 2019 and is 18 minutes long.

Tony Heller has a number of videos challenging climate change “facts.”  Will any of you who “believe” in catastrophic climate change watch any of those videos? Of course not! Heller is one of those “power argument” people. Mustn’t have any contact with people like him! Wouldn’t be good for your delusions.


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