Thursday, October 2, 2008
Book of the year!
In response to the post of yesterday, I think it is even more important for all intelligent human beings to read 'The Age of America Unreason'. In this book, Susan Jacoby addresses the anti-intellectualism that is a part of the history of, and is still rampant in, this country. She points out periods of brief respite from these attitudes, when America led the way in intellectual thought and challenging ideas. But the all too brief modern renaissance was stifled and nearly quashed in the 70s when television began offering news in a much simpler and dumbed down format. Books and newspapers became passe- with newspapers capitulating to the forces at hand and dumbing down the more detailed information they offered- shortening articles and adding a sound bite quality to the articles. Couple this with deregulation of the media, allowing one corporation to own (and more importantly control!) the sources for news, public information became more and more limited. The internet has opened up some of these channels, but the anti-intellectual sentiment is strong on this venue as well. Anyone can say anything on the internet and since most have developed a lassez fair attitude toward research (which was encouraged by the influx of quick news on televison) what results is a mass of misinformation rather than a mass of information as some would claim. Anti-intellectualism also results in allowing anyone to be a so-called "expert" simply because they had an experience, read a few articles or decided to say they are. There is often no standard for showing any expertise. It is as though we have become a nation of snake oil salesmen- and for some reason we are okay with that.
It is this attitude that Jacoby reveals, analyzes brilliantly, dismantles and then moves the reader on, challenging them to pick up the gauntlet of reason and go out into the world armed with intelligence. This, she challenges, is the only way we will find our way out of this morass!