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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sabotaging Capital

Thomas Piketty's massive treatise on wealth inequality is making waves all over the place.

Everyone, it seems, is discussing it. Our own serious mag, The New Zealand Listener, has produced a cover feature that discusses it in exhaustive detail. The Huffington Post has discussed it equally earnestly and impartially.  As one would expect, rightwing commentators have not been quite as even-handed.

Rush Limbaugh has had a rush of outrage, which he has shared with the usual millions who can stand his kind of rant.

And, on Amazon, there is a movement to sabotage the book's very high (#118) rating, by posting one-star reviews.

Currently, there are 161 of them.  The most helpful of these warn the reader that the following one-star reviews are not exactly reliable.

"Please read 1-star ratings carefully. Most are frauds and are on here to reduce rating of this book. hmmmmmm....makes me wonder what special-interest group is having its members throw the reviews," says the first. Interestingly, 528 people have found this helpful.

"Careful: It seems that a great number of "one star" reviewers haven't actually read this book," says Kevin McGivern. This is a comment that 707 people found helpful -- and it seems he is absolutely right.  The comments are just repetitions of what the rightwing commentators have said.

Trawling through the one-star comments, they haven't bought the book, either. There are very, very few that have "Verified Purchase" at the head of the review.  A quick scan found only three of them.

This is a blatant attempt to manipulate Amazon's ratings.  Is it time the policy was changed so that only reviews by people who have actually bought the book are eligible for publication?  

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