October 27, 2005

Francis Wheen

Writing about web page http://books.guardian.co.uk/top10s/top10/0,6109,1140156,00.html

Francis Wheen is perhaps my favourite writer, broadcaster and journalist. He writes the Street of Shame column in Private Eye in which he exposes the hypocrisy and in-house scandals of stories in Britain's newspapers.

His recent book How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World makes a case for the decline of reason over the last quarter of a century. Wheen's targets include the rise of theocracy in the Middle East and, arguably, Republican America; the increasing fashionability for New-Agism in Britain, including the increase in lifestyle Gurus and alternative medicine; the sillier aspects of postmodern thinking; the unquestioning worship of lassez-faire market principles and the teaching of creation mythology as science in some British schools. The best thing about Wheen is his no-nonsense, cutting prose style – almost every sentence could act as a stand-alone quotation. It is controversial and refreshing stuff.

A brief introduction to Wheen's writing is available at the Guardian webpage Francis Wheen's top 10 modern delusions. His Radio 4 programme The History of Folly can be listened to on-line here.

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