August 31, 2001
7:26 PM   Subscribe

Aren’t there some topics where the "E-Z", at-a-glance, bullet-point riddled, dummies/idiot's format seems terribly ironic, rather inappropriate, or fundamentally at odds with the subject matter? Not to mention random.
posted by katexmcfly (20 comments total)
I don't know, I found The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Middle East Peace Process rather insightul. Can't find it on Must be out of print.
posted by rschram at 7:36 PM on August 31, 2001

Not to mention, cashing in on the latest fad. I saw this at Border's, and haven't been buying books anywhere but my independent bookstore since. Welcome to MeFi, Katex.
posted by machaus at 7:36 PM on August 31, 2001

I'm not quite sure what category this one falls into.
posted by davehat at 7:44 PM on August 31, 2001

Thanks machaus! I thought that new user lockdown would never end!
posted by katexmcfly at 7:45 PM on August 31, 2001

I think their popularity stems from low self-esteem in an information-centered world. People walk around thinking "Today, you have to know a lot to succeed and be happy, but I'm stupid...!"

A lot of the titles are actually well-written, and have good information, just in that Powerpoint style which jars in some settings. I could never bear being seen reading one.
posted by rschram at 7:46 PM on August 31, 2001

Maybe a "Complete Intelligent Person's Guide to Dumb Books" should be published. Hey, looks like it's coming together here!
posted by hockeyman at 7:49 PM on August 31, 2001

I'm just curious why so many people seem willing to characterize themselves as idiots and dummies.
posted by cfj at 7:49 PM on August 31, 2001

I really do have the very first edition of this one
posted by bjgeiger at 7:55 PM on August 31, 2001

The first title that really struck me as going way beyond moronic to tactless was this one.
posted by disarray at 8:05 PM on August 31, 2001

My favorite oddly titled beginner's book: Domestic Violence for Beginners.

I'm just curious why so many people seem willing to characterize themselves as idiots and dummies.

Because computers makes most people feel stupid. When Dan Gookin started this craze with DOS for Dummies, the conventional wisdom was that readers would respond poorly to being insulted.

However, millions of people feel like idiots every time they sit down in front of a PC because they don't know how to use it. That audience wanted computer books that didn't presume they knew anything about the subject before picking up the books.

The success of the technical books with insulting names created the brand awareness that led to people buying the general-interest titles (my favorite: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Impeachment of the President).

I gave a friend two books as part of my best man toast at his wedding: Sex for Dummies, and just in case he didn't read that book, Parenting for Dummies. Sex for Dummies is also the perfect book to read on an airplane if you want the person next to you to get up and find a different seat.
posted by rcade at 8:09 PM on August 31, 2001

Hee hee: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Daytrading Like a Pro.
posted by rcade at 8:24 PM on August 31, 2001

I have a couple of them, and I don't think I'm a dummy. The good ones are well written, light introductions to otherwise smart people that are ignorant about a particular topic.

Ignorance can be cured. Stupidity is for life.
posted by djfiander at 8:26 PM on August 31, 2001

Are you sure about that, djfiander?
posted by arco at 8:59 PM on August 31, 2001

Don't get me wrong -- I built my first web site as a contractor due to the sage advice of this handy friend. But some things just don't lend themselves to such treatment.
posted by katexmcfly at 9:16 PM on August 31, 2001

Lore of Brunching Shuttlecocks rates some dummies books.
posted by marknau at 9:34 PM on August 31, 2001

Some of these books, on the other hand, are eerily appropriate.
posted by RylandDotNet at 3:36 AM on September 1, 2001

A friend of mine gets hit with requests for "galois theory for dummies" and "graph theory for dummies".

I will admit that dummies may be able to grasp elementary graph theory, like understanding what consitute a graph (a bunch of vertices, connected with a bunch of edges). However, I would =love= to see a dummy try galois theory. Yes, please, prove that quintics have no closed form solution.
posted by meep at 3:45 AM on September 1, 2001

And then there are sex books for dummies . . . so many of the worlds problems would be solved if each copy of this book came with a coupon for a free vasectomy/ tubal ligation.
posted by hipstertrash at 7:30 AM on September 1, 2001

Sewing patterns have always provided detailed instructions and illustrations (in three languages) but if that isn't enough you can always bring out the duct tape to be sure.
posted by auntbunny at 8:38 AM on September 1, 2001

Or _The Complete Idiot's Guide to Enhancing Self-Esteem_? Saw that one the other day in Borders and thought I'd bust a gasket laughing so hard.
posted by Vidiot at 11:27 PM on September 2, 2001

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