Book Review: Voodoo Histories by David Aaronovitch

Book shops are saturated these days with volumes written by self-styled experts on this or that conspiracy. For some there seems to be no idea too fantastic for the incredulous and inexpert to swindle money out of the gullible.

The Times columnist David Aaronovitch is a flickering candle in a gale of crackpot theories and tackles in fine detail the fantastical conspiracies that so many people come to believe: McCarthyism, 9/11 Truth Movement, David Kelly’s death, The Da Vinci Code, the anti Obama “Birther” movement (who claim that he wasn’t born in the USA), the Diana conspiracy, Marilyn Monroe and JFK and the root of modern anti-semitism: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Though those of us who will roll their eyes at anybody spouting this stuff will take much enjoyment from Aaronovitch’s investigations, I can’t see that this will appeal to the sort of people who really ought to be reading it. Aaronovitch notes toward the end that conspiracy theorists are selective and irrational despite claiming to have a monopoly on what they call “open-minded scepticism” and will no doubt dismiss him as part of the conspiracy or having been duped by those who are at the core of each one. For the rest of us, this is an informative and often amusing annihilation by one of the country’s leading investigative journalists.

Bizarrely, the cover blurb asks ‘DID NEIL ARMSTRONG REALLY SET FOOT ON THE MOON?’ But this premise has no chapter, it has just a couple of pages in the intro. Strange considering that the other two tantalising questions in the blurb do have their own chapters.

There is no mention of the furore surrounding the non-issue of Climategate and the right wing media’s attempt to discredit climate science as a global transgovernmental conspiracy to limit our freedoms or destroy the capitalist system. Nor is there any reference to the evolutionist conspiracy, the notion that there is scientific proof of supernatural design being brutally suppressed by the “atheist agenda”.

A refreshing book for those looking for the facts behind kooky ideas but deep down we all know that this is an exercise in preaching to the converted.

4/5

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