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THE MALTHUS FRAUD

A slim but persuasive consideration of the popularity and wrongheadedness of Malthusian population theory.

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Dees rebuts the famous population theory of Thomas Malthus in this nonfiction book.

Since his influential 1798 work Essay on the Principle of Population, Thomas Malthus has been synonymous with the concept of overpopulation. Malthus’ theory—that population grows exponentially while resources grow linearly, leading to inevitable shortages of those resources—has remained an influential concept in the fields of history and economics, used to contextualize everything from the collapse of the Roman Empire to the long-term viability of welfare programs like Social Security. In this short work, the author argues that Malthus’ theories are constructed on faulty logic: not only are they insufficient for explaining historical trends, Dees writes, but they are potentially dangerous if used to predict how trends might change in the future. The author sets out to answer the question, “[W]hy has such a patently absurd, easily refutable, plagiarized thesis become the standard, all but unique analytical tool in demographic historiography, with wide application in social policy today as well?” By looking at the original context in which Malthus was working and thinking, as well as evidence from across multiple eras, Dees reveals the underlying prejudices and misconceptions that Malthusian theory propagates. The author writes with directness and no shortage of attitude; the reader gets a healthy sense of Dees’ distaste for his subject and can’t help but partake in it. “Although Malthus may have been a master theologian-propagandist-apologist-plagiarist for the ruling elite,” deadpans the author, “he understood little about the workings of the system he was defending. His dogma claims that surplus population…is caused by the poor having too many babies. This is false.” This is an academic work rather than one for the general reader, but even those who don’t consider themselves Malthusian scholars will likely find much of Dees’ evidence to be revelatory, especially when it comes to the notion of overpopulation. Those worried about the coming demographic apocalypse can rest easier.

A slim but persuasive consideration of the popularity and wrongheadedness of Malthusian population theory.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 9781737481096

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Commons Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2023

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GREENLIGHTS

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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