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What's So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right? The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief [Paperback]

Judy J. Johnson

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Book Description

Sept. 23 2008
"Like pesky wasps buzzing circles around us, people who act as if they were the sole expert on a subject put us on edge. In halls of learning where we least expect to find it, in governments, in religious temples, in businesses, in marriages and families, dogmatism is the arrogant voice of certainty that closes the mind, damages relationships, and threatens peaceful coexistence on this planet." —From chapter 1

In this incisive analysis of an increasingly pervasive problem, clinical psychologist Dr. Judy J. Johnson presents a landmark theory that probes the psychological channels of dogmatism. While other books describe the effects of specific types of ideological extremism, a wide-angle theory of dogmatism—in all its manifestations—has been lacking until now.
Drawing from traditional and contemporary personality theories, biopsychology, social learning theory, Buddhism, and evolutionary psychology, Johnson explores major influences that shape the personality trait of dogmatism. She uses lively case studies to illustrate twelve characteristics of dogmatism, and suggests strategies for minimizing its harmful effects in our personal lives as well as our educational, political, and other social institutions.
Written in a clear, engaging style that is professional in tone yet accessible to a wide audience, Johnson’s insightful work will enlighten readers on one of the most important issues of our time.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 577 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (Sept. 23 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591026571
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591026570
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 748 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #342,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"A powerful and fascinating work that reads like a book for a general audience, but maintains all the rigor of a serious scientific publication… I urge any reader wishing to understand why so many people (many of whom you’ve met, or are perhaps related to) insist on replacing clear thinking with dogmatism. Ms. Johnson’s book is a major achievement."
--Steven Goldberg, Professor Emeritus of City College, City University of New York
and author of Fads and Fallacies in The Social Sciences

"Dr. Johnson ably confronts one of the most pressing dangers of our time, dogmatic thinking in all its forms. This important and timely examination of its roots, the processes involved, and possible societal remedies will be interest to all who value reason, and should be required reading for anyone dealing with the many enemies of reason on society's behalf."
--Professor James Alcock, PhD, Department of Psychology, Glendon College,
York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

From the Publisher

Written in a clear, engaging style that is professional in tone yet accessible to a wide audience, Johnson's insightful work will enlighten readers on one of the most important issues of our time.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Question mark or exclamtion mark? Sept. 16 2009
By A. Van Lit - Published on Amazon.com
The title caught my attention when I was walking through the old (since 1932) Harvard Bookstore on a rainy morning in May.
My first thought was, there's another catchy book title, but what will the book really entail?
The subtitle: ¡§the dangerous nature of dogmatic belief¡ intrigued me and after glancing through it I got the impression that it was a valuable piece of work. The dimensions of dogmatic behavior are explained from various angles. Judy Johnson uses the following definition of dogmatism: ¡§dogmatism is a personality trait that combines cognitive, emotional and behavioral characteristics to personify prejudicial, close-minded belief systems that are pronounced with a rigid certainty¡. She builds her thesis regarding dogmatism on 13 characteristics, divided over cognitive, emotional and behavioral traits. Using a number of cases all these characteristics are explained in-depth and her proposition is that when 6 of these 13 characteristics are present in a recognizable way in a person then dogmatic behavior is more likely.
In the second half Jonah appears and using his life, which is immersed in dogmatism, Judy Johnson approaches dogmatism from a broad variety of psychological and philosophical angles. Themes are ¡§Theories of evolution¡, ¡§Our neuronal hardware¡, ¡§Psychodynamic perspectives¡, ¡§Humanistic, existential contribution¡ and even the very interesting chapter ¡§Buddhist philosophy¡. The relation between dogmatic behavior and anxiety plays an important role. The finishing chapter ¡§Where to go from here? carries a subtitle ¡§Open-minded optimism¡ but for the real dogmatic that's easier said than done. The book however, gives a lot of clues for understanding and support. This book is not a real page turner but the many cases make it a challenging book and if you might have thought before reading that there should be a question mark behind the title, then after reading it there will probably be a big exclamation mark! If not then it is probable that you will score on at least six of the characteristics in a recognizable way º.
Published in the September 2009 newsletter of VANLIT Management Consultants, The Netherlands
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A key acquisition for any college-level social science library March 12 2009
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
WHAT'S SO WRONG WITH BEING ABSOLUTELY RIGHT: THE DANGEROUS NATURE OF DOGMATIC BELIEF uses traditional and modern personality theories, biopsychology, and social learning theories to discuss dogmatism and its traits. While this easily could have been featured in our 'Health' section, it's reviewed here for its wider importance to social science libraries as well, holding important keys linking psychology and belief systems to educational, political and social trends. A key acquisition for any college-level social science library.
1 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much color commentary July 19 2009
By J. Carbonell - Published on Amazon.com
This is a topic that interests me: why are people dogmatic about things? Dogmatism is not something specific to political creed, but to people's thoughts and actions. Sounds like a good premise for a book. Except, that there Johnson's text includes too much social commentary. She mentions that she will get this exhortation out of the way in the Introduction, but she doesn't. She's not dogmatic about it (that would be delicious irony), but there's enough of it to distract. (I read the first few chapters at a bookstore and leafed through the rest to see if it were a keeper: it wasn't.)

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