Friday, May 9, 2014

2014 Classic #6

Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds - Charles Mackay, 1841

This classic of early social science is a pioneering survey of crowd psychology. Mackay examines three historic swindles: The Mississippi Scheme, The South-Sea Bubble, and Tulipomania. Motivated by avarice among scoundrels and cads and nourished by gullibility, ignorance and desperation among the marks, these flim-flam schemes went  very wrong. For any reader interested in bubbles, crashes, pyramid scheme, scam investments. Mackay was a journalist so he writes – clearly and jauntily -  for the popular mind, ironically enough, since I’m sure he would ruefully agree with K’s observation in Men in Black, “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.”

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