Book Review: “The Age of American Unreason”

My review of Susan Jacoby’s new book is in the San Diego Union-Tribune today.

7 Responses to “”

  1. Sean C. Ledig Says:

    Great review. Yes indeed, these are hard times for sentient beings.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Great review.

    I was just listening to Jello Biafra’s In the Grip of Official Treason, and he had a great phrase for describing this new virulent strain of American anti-intellectualism.

    “Militantly stupid.”

    I have had a number of arguments with people in recent years, when after reciting facts in support of my argument, I would get a response along the lines of: “It’s scary that you would even know that.”

    Not “I like to see a reference”; not “I don’t buy that”; not “Well, I heard different”; but in essence, “knowing what’s going on in the world is weird and geeky, thus your knowledge is suspect and trumped by my fervent ignorance.”

    I doubt you could turn a nominally democratic society into an empire without this kind of “thinking” being prevalent.

  3. Matt P Says:

    From personal experience, I’d place the blame not on the amount of money spent on education, but on the culture of the students themselves. I was born in Europe, grew up in Alabama, and spent time in both poor, ghetto as well as rich, private schools. My achievement wasn’t affected by the wealth of the school, and I saw plenty of ignorance in both places.

    While I would like to see federal standards applied to K-12 education, it all boils down to the individual. I can’t help but feel that the home life, especially the first 5 years prior to schooling, is the critical factor. I suppose that is depressing, since it means that little can be done on the part of the government/schools to intervene and reduce the level of ignorance in this country.

  4. Aggie Dude Says:

    Seymour Lipset’s “American Exceptionalism” is also a good reference for a sociological evaluation of this phenomenon.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I’ve often felt like I was living in Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”, except that instead of burning the books, people ignore them.

    – Strelnikov

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I didn’t read her book but I read her piece in the Washington Post. Her argument was vague and unsupported. Her implication of some golden intellectual past where the government was unable to goad the public into unnecessary war reflects a deep ignorance of history. If creeping stupidity exists, she is clearly a victim.

    She is another print journalist who is upset that her medium of choice is becoming obsolete.

  7. AltWorlder Says:

    That’s a good point. She’s mining the past for some mythical golden age of reason just like conservatives mine the ’50s as if it was a time of paragon morality.

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