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234 × 156 × 27 mm
304 pages
01 Mar 2009
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Invented Knowledge False History, Fake Science and Pseudo-religions Ronald H. Fritze

Invented Knowledge is an exploration of the murky world of fake science and pseudo-history: fields that generally rely on lost continents, ancient super-civilizations, conspiratorial cover-ups, preternaturally daring and undocumented discoveries, and even vast Satan-inspired plots to offer an alternative version of the past.

At once lively and authoritative, Ronald H. Fritze illuminates the phenomenon of false history by telling the story of a select group of pseudo-historical ideas. He explores legends such as the lost continent of Atlantis, and the original settlement of the Americas by a European people, who established a glorious civilization only to be supplanted by the invading ‘Red Indian’, and whose only remains are the many mounds scattered across the eastern United States. He also discusses the beliefs of more recent religious groups, such as the Nation of Islam and Christian Identity. Fritze shows that in spite of, or perhaps because of, the strongest rejections of mainstream historians, and the lack of scientific evidence, some of these ideas have proved very durable, and gained widespread acceptance in the public mind. Such ideas can also be deadly – the Nazis, for example, believed in a false version of European history in which the German people were a superior race destined to conquer the world.

With many diverting examples of spurious narrative, artificial chronology and ersatz theory, Invented Knowledge also unravels the disputes and debates surrounding controversial books such as 1421: The Year China Discovered America, Black Athena, The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail and The Da Vinci Code.

‘Lincoln rewritten: Fellow citizens, we cannot escape pseudohistory. In heroic resistance, Fritze dives into the Augean stables of popular pseudoscholarship on pseudotopics such as Atlantis, aliens who built the pyramids, ancient catastrophes caused by near-misses with Venus, or the Israelite origin of Britons . . . in his tireless analysis of the bloodlines of some of modernitys most successful claptrap from Immanuel Velikovsky to Erich von Däniken to Heavens Gate Fritze does vindicate his claim that Pseudohistory has its historiography and its genealogy of ideas. Nonsense now has its Nietzsche.’ — Steven Poole, The Guardian

‘In this new age of intellectual chaos, it looks like being a splendid self-regarding spring for hype-resistant readers. They can relish the prospect of hooting from the sofa as lean and hungry sceptics hunt down the peddlers of pseudo-history or pseudo-science and sink rhetorical incisors into the flabby flesh of their prey . . . Invented Knowledge goes in for a more forensic dissection of modern myths about the past. Fritze . . . selects a few choice myths and fads from the fringes of scholarship. He inspects enduring canards, from the Atlantis tales that took hold after the American Civil War, through the centuries-long quest for the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel, up to todays taste for Chinese eunuch admirals whose fleet toured the entire globe in 1421, or the black-African ancient Egyptians whose profound wisdom gave Greece all its glory.’ — The Independent

‘In Invented Knowledge, Ronald Fritze makes a level-headed and well-researched investigation into pseudo-knowledge, revealing the tricks used by purveyors of false and sensational ideas. He also shows how attempts to debunk the myths can add fuel to the fire.’ — New Scientist

‘Known knowns, unknown knowns and nonsense: what better time than the post-Bush era to shine a light on the murky world of the unabashedly made-up? Ronald H. Fritze brings a seriously large torch on his journey through spurious narrative, conspiracy theories and bestselling twaddle in a veritable encyclopaedia of folly, Invented Knowledge. Read it and giggle. Or weep.’ — Times Higher Education

‘[Fritze] is a careful scholar with a gift for summarizing theories, however crackpot. He takes a historians delight in uncovering connections between the various pseudo-histories he describes.’ — Times Literary Supplement

‘From blockbuster films of the Indiana Jones variety to bestsellers such as The Da Vinci Code, pseudohistory is big business. As Fritze shows in this detailed yet readable study, false history can be great fun but it also has a dark side, often becoming a tool of racism, religious fanaticism and nationalistic extremism . . . An intriguing survey of crackpot theories that shows both the power of human imagination and our gullibility.’ — PD Smith, The Guardian

‘In this enlightened diatribe, author and historian Fritze takes a hard look at pseudohistory, myths passed off as historical fact by those who confuse the distinction between possibility and probability, either through ignorance or design (usually the latter) . . . Fritze incorporates a wealth of background information and insider baseball while buttressing his own provocative contentions, making this a hearty treat for history buffs.’ — Publishers Weekly

‘analyzes pseudohistories, including the fables of Atlantis, the Kennewick skull and related stories about populating the Americas, the Christian identity movement, the separatist cosmogony of the Nation of Islam, Velikovskian (and other) theories that aliens have populated the Earth, and the Bernal Afrocentric model of transmission of classical learning to the West . . . meticulously researched. Recommended.’ — Choice

‘This is a fascinating book, full of jaw-dropping details about the extravagant claims and outrageous behaviour of pseudo-historians, scientists and religionists.’ — Metascience

‘An entertaining look at how purveyors of pseudo-knowledge of all sorts convince logical people that black is white and vice versa.’ — The Australian

‘A useful tool to aid students critical thinking, Invented Knowledge is not just for history buffs. It could also be put to effective use debunking annoying dinner-party conspiracy theorists.’ — Brisbane Courier Mail

‘A richly detailed study of pseudo-historical claims such as Atlantis, the pre-Columbian discovery/settlement of the Americas, racist-religious ideas, and ancient catastrophes and alien visitations shows how pseudo-knowledge is created, circulated, and perpetuated over time.’ — Anthropology Review Database

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Ronald H. Fritze is Professor of History and Religion at Athens State University, Alabama. His previous books include Invented Knowledge: False History, Fake Science and Pseudo-religions (Reaktion, 2009).

1. Atlantis: Mother of Psuedohistory
2. Who’s on First? The Pseudohistory of the Discovery and Settlement of Ancient America
3. Mudpeople, Satan’s Spawn and Christian Identity: Racist Cosmogonies and Pseudohistory, Part I
4. Mad Scientists, White Devils and the Nation of Islam: Racist Cosmogonies and Pseudohistory, Part II
5. Pseudohistoria Epidemica or Pseudohistorians in Collusion
6. Professors Gone Wild: The Black Athena Controversy