Annals of Gullibility
Gullibility, namely being duped or manipulated by one or more other people, is a very common form of social incompetence, and one that can have very serious consequences for the victim. Yet this phenomenon has been very much ignored by psychologists and other scholars. ANNALS OF GULLIBILITY (publisher: Praeger / Greenwood) is the first of several books that I hope will contribute to the development of an interdisciplinary field of "Gullibility Studies". This book, aimed at a general audience, explores a variety of stories, taken from world literature or from real life. These stories detail the many ways in which overly-trusting people (or puppets, in the case of Pinocchio) have been duped. My hope is that these stories will contribute to an understanding of a puzzling phenomenon, namely why people, sometimes of high intelligence and education, are duped.
Gullibility is a topic to which most people can relate. All of us have been duped on occasion by someone whom we trusted, and we all know people whose extreme gullibility has gotten them into serious difficulty. Yet the small scholarly literature on gullibility exists mostly in professional journals. Attention to gullibility has been mainly by writers of fiction, where a number of great plays (e.g., Othello) and novels (e.g., the works of Mark Twain) have taken gullibility as a central theme.
The bulk of the book, specifically chapters two through eight, is taken up with stories depicting various forms of gullibility: religious, political, financial, etc. This accounts for the book´s title, Annals of Gullibility. Theoretical and conceptual issues are discussed in the introductory chapter and in the two concluding chapters. The next to last chapter discusses the various factors that contribute to gullibility, while the concluding chapter discusses things that people can do to protect themselves and others from being duped and victimized socially.
Believe it or not, this book is the first comprehensive book in English (and possibly other languages) that addresses this important, universal and overlooked aspect of human incompetence. Here is what one very distinguished author, Michael Shermer (publisher of SKEPTICS magazine and author of WHY PEOPLE BELIEVE WEIRD THINGS) had to say about this book:
"Stephen Greenspan has penned the definitive book on why people are gullible. He reveals why so many people are so gullible, the psychology that drives gullible behaviors, and most importantly what we can do about it. Annals of Gullibility belongs on the bookshelf of skeptics and scientists, not to mention politicians and policy analysts, especially before they go to war."