Bo Fowler: Scepticism, Inc.
by Frederik Ramm
Editor's note: After this book was recommended by David Kelly, we obtained permission from Frederik Ramm to reprint this review originally published on his web site.
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Ever thought by yourself, "My! These religious nuts are so stupid, I guess I could extract cash from them big time if I just knew how to exploit their beliefs..."?
The book "Scepticism Inc." by Bo Fowler is about someone who does just that. Edgar Malroy is our hero, opening the first of what would become an empire of "Metaphysical Betting Shops". He convinces all the religious people that they have to prove they believe by "putting their money where their metaphysics are". He only accepts bets which are entirely about the metaphysical and thus can never be "won" since nothing can be proved. And sure enough, they all want to place bets with him - after all, what good is your belief in God if you're not willing to bet a few bucks on being right?
The book is really fun to read, in part because Edgar Malroy is not only an agnostic, but also a good guy, using the money he makes for purposes which are more humanitarian than anything any major religious organization has done. Sometimes the story seems to make fun of such aid (like in "he used heilcopters and parachutes to drop 80 complete schools, with teachers already strapped to the chairs, above the poorest regions of Africa..."), but one has to consider that the whole story is told by an intelligent supermarket trolley who only recently acquired his diploma in agnosticism. In fact, the trolley originally believed in God because of a device planted in his chip controller by Jehova's Witnesses... but I'm already giving away too much.
The book actually got reviewed in the "Guardian", which wasn't too happy: "... Scepticism Inc. is a kind of Nietzsche for beginners, ... much fun is had at the expense of organized religion - its pettiness, its hypocrisy and, in Nietzschean terms, its amorality. Like all crib notes, the book lacks substance, but it does engage in interesting debates and cracks some good jokes en route ..."
But anyway: Read it. And if you're thinking about setting up some metaphysical betting shops afterwards, contact me, perhaps we can open up a joint venture :-)
How to get itScepticism Inc.,
- English paperback, 246 pp, Jonathan Cape, GBP 9.99, ISBN 0-224-05124-5, at amazon.co.uk
- English paperback, Vintage, from Apr 1999, GBP 5.99 ISBN 0-099-27468-X, at amazon.co.uk
- Paperback, Rh Canada UK Dist., CDN$13.56, ISBN: 009927468X, at amazon.ca
- Paperback: 256 pp, Bloomsbury USA; $11.16, ISBN: 1582340722, at amazon.com
- German hardcover, 336 pp, DVA, ca. EUR 20,-, ISBN 3-421-05130-5