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5 Books That Can Actually Make You Stupider

Reading brings to mind wisdom, the exchange of ideas and quiet contemplation. It does not bring to mind people who need help putting their pants on. These books change all of that.

This book contains enough compressed stupidity to erase all science as far back as the middle ages. The title alone proves the retardedness of everyone who's even touched it three times over:

1) They had to write both Lotto and Lottery on the cover, for fear of missing half their target market. "Dur, this book is for lott-e-ry, dat sounds more fancier than the lotto we simple folk play 'round these parts"

2) The use of "everyday players" make you realize that the target market for this book is a group of folks who think of themselves as mere regular players, while a secret cabal of professionals keeps scooping all the jackpots. Why, if only these everyday players had access to some kind of inside knowledge!

3) Third. Goddamn. Edition. We have no idea what possible refinements to lotto-winning technology the author could be adding each time, short of scribbling "hahaha, oh God this is working--I can't believe it's working" all over the proof copy before sending it back to the printers. A third edition of anything hasn't damaged our faith in humanity so much since the newspapers ran their "Princess Diana--still dead" memorials in 2000.

The back-cover blurb is an even richer treasure trove of anti-logic. Professor Smith proudly promises to reveal the secrets of interpreting your dreams with the end goal of predicting the winning lotto numbers. We hate to break it to you but if the best your conscious mind can come up with is "buy a book about how to win the lotto written by someone who has not done so," then we're guessing your mind is not an unharnessed money-making probability super-predictor.

This book is simply cruel. Buying a lotto ticket may be a tax on people who don't understand statistics, but it still provides that momentary hope--those few seconds where you get to picture yourself as a filthy rich hedonist. This book systematically harnesses and murders those hopes, telling the reader that playing the lotto is actually a valid financial strategy and something that can be worked at. When you're taking money AND killing the dreams of those with nothing to hope for but winning the lottery, you have officially reached the rank of King Bastard.

What You Could've Bought:

An Elementary Introduction to the Theory of Probability

Even the name of this book demonstrates that it doesn't know when to quit. "The Title: Subtitle (another bit of Title)"--You don't get up to 52 Sudoku ideas if you're even remotely prepared to cut unnecessary or pointless things. Even so they'd need to devote 10 secrets to "Picking up the pen" to get this many tips for such a mind bogglingly simple game. People like to believe that they're undiscovered super-geniuses because they can outwit the back page of a daily newspaper, which is why Sudoku are carefully crafted to:

a) Look smarty-pants because they have numbers in them.

b) Actually be about as difficult as writing down your credit card number.

They enable thousands of mobile office chair-weights to go about their day with the smug secret knowledge that they're actually pretty damn smart.

Tips include sage advice on topics such as "scanning the rows" and "filling in the gaps." Based on title alone, it's pretty clear that the author personally infiltrated the invisible floating MENSA fortress and wrestled secret Sudoku strategies out of the cold hands of dead Nobel Prize winners. The intellectual level of the average reader? Well, "scanning the rows" is split up over three separate tips. But it's not until you get to the part where two separate tips are given over to "taking a break" that you realize that the book you're reading was written after this phone conversation:

Publisher: We need a Sudoku book right now before the idiots lose interest!

Maths guy: How long have I got?

Publisher: The courier's on his way!

The fact that this book has specifically 52 great Sudoku-solving secrets is terrifying. The implication is that somebody might need to take a week to digest every tip about the secret mysteries of number writing over the course of a year, and that this person might be wandering around bookshops loose and looking for a car that looks interesting enough to walk out in front of. Nevertheless, at least this book keeps them safely occupied sucking the lead out of pencils, otherwise their stubbornness, ready cash and need for instructions for even the simplest of tasks could lead them to less benign pastimes.

What You Could've Bought:

How to Live a Life That's Not Boring

There are millions of masturbation manuals in the world, but most of them consist of pictures of girls (or guys) and a tactful understanding that the reader will just get on with it. Not many men are confident enough to interrupt another male mid-stroke with a stern cry of "You're doing it wrong!" let alone offer them instruction. But that's exactly what Dr. Litten did. Not only can he refer to masturbation as "solo sex" with a straight face, but he sold enough books to get a deal for a sequel.

Dr. Litten really set himself a challenge coming up with a sequel, considering that the final chapters of The Joy of Solo Sex included psychic masturbation and the Ultimate Orgasm (who, if memory serves, recently defeated the Hulk in a Marvel crossover). And seriously, what can you do after the Ultimate Solo Sex Orgasm, save for closing the Terminal Browser Window and shooting the Final Wadded-up Tissue into the wastebasket?

This may explain how Dr. Litten achieves the impossible halfway through his own book and fucks up masturbation (we're fairly sure fucks up masturbation is a fetish, but we're too terrified to Google it) with the chapter "Sharing Solos." We're not sure exactly how repressed the author is or how cruelly his burly father crushed his dreams of being a dancer, but once you've got two men naked, having handsex together we've got a different word for that. The ability to even write the phrase "sharing solos" and not see a problem indicates a level of psychotic self-denial that would make Nixon look like a weeping Oprah guest. The progression from "play with yourself" to "play with yourself and other naked men" puts you close to the most important naked-man-based revelation since Archimedes.

All of which is fine for Dr. Litten himself, but no use to the poor soul who's on his second "romance DIY" book and is expecting pages with titles like "Mongolian Thumb Twister" and "How to Make It Feel Like Someone Else!" to help pass the long, occasionally damp nights.

What You Could've Bought:

How to Talk to Women

Or, for one in 10 men (including Dr. Litten):

The Coming Out Guide

Supercharged quantum touch sounds like something Stephen Hawking has built into his wheelchair to disintegrate bullies who don't realize that the "Jock:Nerd" power dynamic changes radically after the first Nobel Prize. In reality it's what happens when someone sees a copy of Scientific American in the trash while trying to think up an official sounding name for 'waving your hands mystically and going ooga-booga.' "

The original quantum touch therapy consists of imagining colors and focusing on body parts. That's it. That's the entire therapy. The book jacket is lined with gushing testimonials from those who have been Quantumly touched, about how much supercharging things enhanced their incredibly gullible lives.

Considering that these are people who believed the first book which said "think about the color red and you'll feel good," a book that asks you to "think about the color red harder and you'll feel EVEN BETTER" didn't have to deliver much.

Hard scientific evidence is provided by the fact that thinking about silver can provide the same benefits as colloidal silver. Obviously the "it's the same color so it should do the same thing" school of medicine isn't very popular, but that's just because Big Pharma doesn't want the little man to know that a bag of Skittles can cure AIDS.

Add the fact that colloidal silver has slightly fewer medical benefits than punching yourself in the face and you've got a treatment so many levels removed from reality there's a genuine risk it could be run over by Superman riding a unicorn on his way to meet a reasonable political blogger.

Mr. Herriott insists on being called "Dr.", having a Ph.D. in naturopathic medicine, but is strangely reticent to mention where it comes from--possibly because the true center of naturopathy, Narnia, can only be found by those pure of heart.

What You Could've Bought:

Quacks: Fakers & Charlatans in Medicine

We do have the cover image for 'Much Ado About Nothing' as well, but this picture is much, much funnier.

Star Trek features warp drives, holodecks and the cures to all modern diseases--and the part that an army of nerds decided to spend all their time thinking about is a made-up language. Since the "fictional language" and "classical literature" markets don't actually overlap, this book is proof that a small but very profitable core of fans will buy absolutely anything connected to their chosen obsession. As soon as someone casts limited-edition Borg models out of depleted uranium rods, they'll solve the nuclear waste problem, earn a lot of money and--after a small lethal exposure period--eliminate all "Kirk Vs. Picard" arguments.

Even assuming you receive a cranial trauma serious enough to make "Shakespeare as portrayed by prune-headed aliens" seem like a good idea, why would you ever pick the goddamn romantic comedy? Of all the Bard's works, this is the one that benefits least from a warrior culture and a language that sounds like you're choking on a furball. Hamlet would work, and be 20 times shorter as it would skip directly to the final scene where everyone kills each other. Macbeth would no longer be driven mad, cursed and slaughtered for his regicide:

MhaQ'Beth: I've just killed the king!

Klingon population: Awesome! Hail King MhaQ'Beth!

Macbeth: w00t!

Or how about Othello, where things would have gone much easier for everyone:

I'agHo: My lord, I fear your wife is unfaithful with ...

OKHel'lo: How dare you, you filthy P'tagh!

If you must have Klingon romance (in which case there are a number of terrifying forums that cater to your deeply disturbing needs), at least go with Romeo and Juliet. Sure, it's an insane tale of pedophilia*, murder and suicide but since the only acceptable method of Klingon suicide is to attack a larger force, the final scene would be much less sissy as K'Romm'O and Jhilleat declare war on Europe and charge the entire German army together. Like Butch and Sundance, but with fucking.

*Juliet is 13, it's the Nurse's first line.

What You Could've Bought:

Fahrenheit 451, a wonderful manual with fascinating and useful insights on how to destroy books.

For some other things you're going to want to avoid, check out the The 6 Most Terrifying Foods in the World. Then head over to the blog to learn the difference between Europeans and Americans by way of a terrifying Irish turkey puppet.
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