Friday, February 15, 2008

Can We Be Rational?

Click here to read an interesting review in Salon of a new work by Susan Jacoby, "The American Age of Unreason." The book examines how and why Americans have fallen prey to irrationality -- citing, for instance, the fact that a majority of Americans believe creationism should be given equal weight in education as evolution as a means of explaining how life came to be.

Money quote from the review: "The chief manifestations of this newly virulent irrationality are the rise of fundamentalist religion and the flourishing of junk science and other forms of what Jacoby calls "junk thought." The mentally enfeebled American public can now be easily manipulated by flimsy symbolism, whether it's George W. Bush's bumbling, accented speaking style (labeling him as a "regular guy" despite his highly privileged background) or the successful campaign by right-wing ideologues to smear liberals as snooty "elites." Unable to grasp even the basic principles of statistics or the scientific method, Americans gullibly buy into a cornucopia of bogus notions, from recovered memory syndrome to intelligent design to the anti-vaccination movement."

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