Professor Stephen Greenspan's Annals of Gullibility: Why We Get Duped and How to Avoid It (2009) explores many sides to gullibility. Donald S. Connery, author and former foreign correspondent for Time and Life magazines says in the books' foreword that gullibility
can do us terrible harm: losing our life savings to a swindler . . . We are all at daily risk . . . (p. xiii)
Greenspan goes into causes of gullibility, forms of it, developmental factors, gullibility in science, academia and in religion, military deception, gullibility of lawyers, scholars and juries, vacation purchases, in sexual relationships, exploitation of people with disabilities, believing rumours, and asks, "Should gullible people be blamed for being gullible?" and "Is gullibility a personality trait?".
He offers advice on how to get less gullible (chap. 10). Among the means are disengagement tactics, cultivated sceptisism, and getting older and wiser. Some Greenspan quotes:
We all know people whose extreme gullibility has gotten them into serious difficulty. - Stephen Greenspan 2006, 2
Two peeks beneath the surfaces
The lack of empirical validity for the effectiveness of Christian Science healing can be found in a number of studies. For example, it has been found that the death rate from cancer of church members is twice that for the general population, that the life expectancy of church members is significantly lower than for non-church members, and that nearly 20% of deaths of church members are preventable. - Stephen Greenspan 2006, 50
20 residents of Salem, Massachusetts, were condemned to death on the basis of testimony by a group of children, aged 5 to 12 years . . . The Massachusetts Bay Colony was a place where fear of witches was rampant and the vicar's wife, a woman who was obsessed with sorcery and witchcraft, had influenced these girls. The girls began to accuse some of the townspeople of being witches and told fantastic stories about various feats of magic. Children of accused parents were brought in and interrogated for hours, by interrogators who believed their parents were guilty and who asked many leading questions. Eventually, some of these children began to confirm that the accused parent was, indeed, a witch. - Stephen Greenspan 2006, 89-90
Gullibility and credulity are intertwined. Credulity is a state of willingness to believe in one or many people or things in the absence of reasonable proof or knowledge. A credulous person will believe this statement without good evidence . . .
A human who lives fully is hardly prepared to tackle gullibility at any time.
A life well spent could in part stem from happily resolved gullibility. Story-telling often offers help with that.
Credulity's happiness may be dangerous.
Fame is proof that people are gullible. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Gullibility is part of so many lives, although its consequences vary.
Happy the man who does not fall for tricks of gullibility.
If elephants didn't exist, you couldn't invent one. They belong to a small group of living things so unlikely they challenge credulity and common sense. - Lyall Watson
If you spend all your time worrying about gullibility, living may not be much fun any more.
Credulity does not die; it rather retires a little from sight and later comes to the fore again. It is easy to be fooled.
No one can confidently say that he'll not be gulled tomorrow. [With Euripides]
People with a psychological need to believe in marvels are no more prejudiced and gullible than people with a psychological need not to believe in marvels. - Charles Fort
There's a gullible side to the American people. They can be easily misled. - Michael Moore
We must not demean life by wronging the gullible around.
When we look over the fields we are not saddened because of withered gullibility, for in autumn frosts one's long-range health weighs more.
You can count on gullibility for much mischief.
Young gullibility! You are not dead when it is no longer possible to live proudly.
Youth is easily deceived because it is quick to hope. - Aristotle
Greenspan, Stephen. Annals of Gullibility: Why We Get Duped and How to Avoid It. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2009.
Harvesting the hay
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