Friday 9 September 2011

The Spirit Level Delusion redux

My last book The Spirit Level Delusion is now available on the Kindle at the throughly egalitarian price of £2.99. This is a second edition with a new chapter dealing with the aftermath of the book's publication and the, ahem, mature and thoughtful response from The Spirit Level's authors ("idea wreckers", "Nazis", "merchants of doubt" etc.)

It is, if I say so myself, a must-read for anyone interested in the misuse of statistics in the modern world. It's interesting how gullible people can be when presented with 'evidence' that fits their own preconceptions. If you and I went to see a psychic perform, we would—I trust—see through the cheap tricks and cold-reading very easily. We would not be fooled, but then we would not be the target audience. The target audience is people who already believe in spiritualism and have been recently bereaved. It's so much easier to trick people when they want to be tricked.

So it is with The Spirit Level, which is much closer to good old fashioned woo than to the social science it claims to be. Just as we might admire the performance of a good cold-reader, The Spirit Level is impressive as a clever mix of fact and fiction which disorientates the reader until the illusion becomes real. Those who want to be convinced—like Ed Miliband—have been. Those who are not emotionally wedded to its political message have looked at its empirical claims and found it wanting.

You don't have to have read The Spirit Level to enjoy this book so if you've got one of those new-fangled Kindles, make your own mind up for less than the price of a pint. If you, like me, haven't got one, it's still available in trusty ink and paper. The US Kindle edition will be available shortly.

Buy it from Amazon for £2.99 

"If you haven’t read a book that made you laugh out loud on the bus or the Tube in a while, try Christopher Snowdon’s superb release, The Spirit Level Delusion. But the book’s subtle humour is not the reason I am recommending it. The Spirit Level Delusion is, above all, a book that delivers and goes well beyond the promise of its subtitle – 'fact-checking the left’s new theory of everything'... It may well be that the next big battle for a free society will be fought against the new anti-wealth egalitarianism. Christopher Snowdon has provided defenders of freedom with powerful ammunition."

"Snowdon picks so many holes in the theory that were it a building it wouldn’t be passed as structurally sound by the most crooked of third world local government surveyors... Next time someone starts spouting off about “equality” – a goal that has dug more graves than all the gods in history combined – send them a copy of Snowdon’s excellent book and make sure they read it from cover to cover."

"The Spirit Level Delusion not only successfully and dramatically undermines much of the evidence in The Spirit Level, but also takes on the other fashionable opponents of economic growth... His engaging discussion unpicks the evidence of the anti-growth brigade and demonstrates that it is selective and partial. This book is excellent “tube reading”.

"This year’s most important publication"

"Comprehensive in its demolition...well written, amusingly thorough and easy to digest...You need this book."

"As with Velvet Fist, Iron Glove, the entire volume is well-researched, very readable (I whizzed through it in one sitting) and utterly comprehensive in its demolition of The Spirit Level's data and conclusions."

"The Spirit Level Delusion is a masterful book, written in a calm fashion which is both informative and wide-ranging, whilst also being very entertaining."

"A wonderful critique"

"A well-argued, well-written and convincing rebuttal ... essential reading."

And if you don't know what I'm talking about, here's an overview I wrote for the journal Economic Affairs and another one for the Wall Street Journal.

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