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Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas

Overview

The nation’s most-cited legal scholar who for decades has been at the forefront of applied behavioral economics, and the bestselling author of Nudge and Simpler, Cass Sunstein is one of the world’s most innovative thinkers in the academy and the world of practical politics. In the years leading up to his confirmation as the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Sunstein published hundreds of articles on everything from same-sex marriage to cost-benefit analysis. ...

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Overview

The nation’s most-cited legal scholar who for decades has been at the forefront of applied behavioral economics, and the bestselling author of Nudge and Simpler, Cass Sunstein is one of the world’s most innovative thinkers in the academy and the world of practical politics. In the years leading up to his confirmation as the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Sunstein published hundreds of articles on everything from same-sex marriage to cost-benefit analysis. Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas is a collection of his most famous, insightful, relevant, and inflammatory pieces. Within these pages you will learn:

• Why perfectly rational people sometimes believe crazy conspiracy theories
• What wealthy countries should and should not do about climate change
• Why governments should allow same-sex marriage, and what the “right to marry” is all about
• Why animals have rights (and what that means)
• Why we “misfear,” meaning get scared when we should be unconcerned and are unconcerned when we should get scared
• What kinds of losses make us miserable, and what kinds of losses are absolutely fine
• How to find the balance between religious freedom and gender equality
• And much more . . .

Cass Sunstein is a unique, controversial, and exciting voice in the political world. A man who cuts through the fog of left vs. right arguments and offers logical, evidence-based, and often surprising solutions to today’s most challenging questions.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/20/2014
Innovative, offbeat policy proposals come wrapped in placid prose in these provocative essays. Harvard law professor and former White House regulatory czar Sunstein (Simpler) deploys the searching logic and lucid, down-to-earth style that make him one of America’s most quoted and controversial liberal commentators—Glenn Beck dubbed him “the most dangerous man in America”—on an eclectic set of political, social, and judicial problems: why sane people believe nutty conspiracy theories (Santa Claus, he points out, is “the product of a wide-spread conspiracy among parents”) and how governments could covertly defang them; why cost-benefit analysis promotes effective and humane regulation; why juries should award more compensation for lower back pain than for lost limbs; why animals should get their day in court; why gay marriage is right; and why spending to abate greenhouse emissions may be wrong. Several essays flesh out a “New Progressivism” that steers between free markets and big government, favoring nudges and incentives over regulatory mandates, and income supplements and housing subsidies over minimum wages and rent control. Sunstein will infuriate partisans on both sides with his even-handedness and his simultaneous embrace of active government and criticism of its excesses. The result is a stimulating exposition of the virtues—and dynamism—of moderation. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, the Wylie Agency. (Mar.)
Publishers Marketplace
"Sunstein will infuriate partisans on both sides with his even-handedness and his simultaneous embrace of active government and criticism of its excesses. The result is a stimulating exposition of the virtues—and dynamism—of moderation."
Boston Globe
“Glenn Beck has described Cass Sunstein as ‘the most dangerous man in America,’ but the 11 essays collected in ‘Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas’ actually reveal him to be a pretty reasonable guy. He is often provocative but never extreme, and the foaming at the mouth he induces says more about our polarized politics than it does about his ideas…Sunstein is an advocate for what works and a skeptic of grand ideologies that sound good on paper but then wreak havoc in the real world…Throughout the 11 essays in this book, Sunstein is a clear-eyed guide through some of the thornier issues of our day.”
The Atlantic
“Sunstein has done more than any other scholar to bring cognitive insights to bear on basic questions of law and public policy, and for that he deserves our thanks…He is careful, deliberative, and painstaking.”
Seattlepi.com
“A book written to make you think, not tell you what to think…. Neither the devil of Glenn Beck's nightmares nor the revolutionary of radical left, [Sunstein] uses his studies to navigate the chaos of public policy in the modern age."
Library Journal
10/15/2013
The Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School, Sunstein served as administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from 2009 to 2012. Some of the essays he wrote in the years directly beforehand sparked a firestorm of controversy. So if you want to create a conversation, grab this collection of his choicest, edgiest essays, ranging from marriage rights to animal rights and sure to give readers of every political stripe a workout.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-23
Supposedly controversial essays from an allegedly dangerous man. Harvard Law School professor Sunstein (Simpler: The Future of Government, 2013, etc.) is one of America's premier public intellectuals, a prolific writer of scholarly works as well as books and essays for a broader engaged public. His legal and political writing and his embrace of behavioral economics drew the attention of the Obama administration, which appointed him administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. It was this perch and Sunstein's visible record of publications that caused Glenn Beck to call Sunstein "the most dangerous man in America," a title that the author not only does not declaim, but embraces. This collection gathers 11 of his essays, many of which originated as articles in legal journals. Sunstein addresses a wide range of topics, including conspiracy theories ("Why do people accept conspiracy theories that turn out to be false and for which the evidence is weak or even nonexistent?"), the rights of animals, marriage rights, climate change, and legal and political theories such as minimalism and the idea of trimming, which effectively involves trying to steer clear of extremes in the shaping of policy and law. Even when the author addresses putatively liberal causes—climate change or the establishment of "a new progressivism"—he writes nothing that could be construed as dangerous. He is a careful thinker and clear writer, and even if one disagrees with his conclusions, it is difficult to categorize his writing as particularly extreme; indeed, most of his conclusions fall near the center. In another generation he would probably fit into the "Vital Center" of American history and politics. Sunstein seemingly never runs out of ideas. Many of them are solid, some of them are debatable and a few are even provocative, but calling them "dangerous" says more about the bankrupt state of our current civic dialogue than it does about the author and his ideas.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781476726625
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 3/18/2014
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 273,322
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Cass R. Sunstein is the nation’s most-cited legal scholar who, for the past fifteen years, also has been at the forefront of behavioral economics. From 2009 to 2012, he served as the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. He is the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School. His book, Nudge, coauthored with Richard Thaler, was a national bestseller.

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