The Age of American Unreason

The Age of American Unreason - Susan Jacoby, Cassandra Campbell It's hard for me to dislike a book that says George Bush is one of the worst presidents ever, David Brooks is easy to mock for his faux intellectualism, Bill O'Reilly is a boor and contributes negatively to thought in the USA, and other such items I whole heartily agree with, but the book is an anachronism from today's perspective.

She gives the typical curmudgeon argument against new things, "e-books will never catch on". In 2008 that might have made sense with the data available, but even if it had become true why are e-books bad? She makes the categorical mistake often, she'll state Television is bad, but forgetting that television shows can be good. ("math is true, therefore Truth exist", is a categorical fallacy. while she doesn't say that about math but she makes that kind of error multiple times in the book).

She gave the most succinct explanation for why Alan Bloom and his "Closing of the American Mind" was one of the worst books ever, but than she slips into a faux intellectual superiority which imitates the book she has criticized.

She incorrectly speaks about "the scientific method". While I'll say 'the' instead of 'a' too, I'm not writing a book. There is no one road to understanding nature. She seems to think there is, but never really uses science (mixing reason with the empirical and giving consistency, coherence and non-contradictory narratives) when she tells her story from the frustrations she feels.

She doesn't like the revolution happening in journalism. She would think only real intellectuals like her can write nuanced detailed articles or book reviews.

She misses the reality that was happening at the time she wrote the book and what has happened up to today. There are people like me who had barely read any books before 2009, but discovered the wonders of science and philosophy because of the growth of the internet. (You try to read a book about quantum physics or the multiverse without using google to understand what was really being said). The kindle makes it easy to read. The internet makes it easy to understand.

I've read most of Will Durant's "Story of Civilization" which she seems to mock because the Book of the Month Club had it! Because she mocks H. G. Wells "Outline of History" I plan to read it and suspect I will love it.

Her take on the evils of the interenet is an argument I've continuously have had with people. They think pre-internet days with hard copy books, one way broadcasting of news, with Tom Friedman saying absurd things and never being challenged (I love the net created FU (Friedman Unit) which mocks him without mercy) , and people talking face to face or writing letters, and all the old ways were superior to today.

I disagree. I really wish I got to grow up now days, because there is so much to know and so many better ways to learn. Gatekeepers be damned!