Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds is a classic study of crowd psychology remains an extremely essential to the present day. Mackay’s central theme in this book is how easily a herd can be illogically influenced by popular opinion. Mackay warns us about this “madness” that often leads to a downward spiral with undesirable effects. His book highlights several stories from the history of various manias and three grand-scale cons that took place. Its extraordinary tales of human folly uncovers the frenzy of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the junk-bonds hysteria of the 1980s were far from the twentieth-century phenomena.
The book was published in three volumes: "National Delusions", "Peculiar Follies", and "Philosophical Delusions".
The subjects of Mackay's debunking include alchemy, crusades, duels, economic bubbles, fortune-telling, haunted houses, the Drummer of Tedworth, the influence of politics and religion on the shapes of beards and hair, magnetisers, murder through poisoning, prophecies, popular admiration of great thieves, popular follies of great cities, and relics.
Volume I: National Delusions
The Mississippi Scheme
The South Sea Bubble
The Tulip mania
Popular Admiration for Great Thieves (cf Hybristophilia)
Duels and Ordeals
The Love of the Marvellous and the Disbelief of the True
Popular Follies in Great Cities
Old Price Riots
The Thugs, or Phansigars
Volume II: Peculiar Follies
The Witch Mania
The Slow Prisoners
Volume III: Philosophical Delusions