The Decline of Reason and Why Public Debate Makes Us Want to Scream
by Bernard Keane & Helen Razer
(Bernard Keane: http://www.crikey.com.au/author/bernardkeane/)
(Helen Razer: http://www.crikey.com.au/author/helenrazer/)
From the back cover:
How did everything get so dumb?
How did we become hostages to idiocy?
What must we do to be freed from a captor whose ransom note simply reads, ‘D’oh’?
The deteriorating quality of our public debate and the dwindling of common sense in media, politics and culture can drive you to despair and rage. It certainly drove writers Helen Razer and Bernard Keane to a desperate act: befriending each other for long enough to write a book.
Join forces with these uneasy allies to fight against a world that has lost its reason. Explore what’s behind the remorseless spread of idiocy, and why there’s just so much damn Stupid around you.
Stupid isn’t just ignorance; it’s not just laziness. Worse than the absence of thought, Stupid is a virus that drains our productivity and leaves us sick and diminished. And Stupid has a long, complex and terrible past, one we need to understand in order to defeat it.
A Short History of Stupid traces the origins of this maddening ill, examining the different ways in which we’ve been afflicted over the last three thousand years. It damns those who have spread Stupid and celebrated the brave few who resisted. It shows how Stupid tightens the grubby grip of the foolish around our throats.
Hilarious, smart, unpleasant, infuriating and rude, A Short History of Stupid is at once a provocation and a comfort. It will spark debate, soothe the terminally frustrated and outrage the righteously Stupid. It is a book whose Stupid time has come.
Sometimes you just want to read a book written by angry people. This (and this) is that book. Through alternating chapters, mini essays really, Keane and Razer totally obliterate some of the truly stupid political and social exaggerations that we deal with everyday, with an emphasis on Australia but with reference to the UK and the US. Topics include the ‘War on Terror’, post-modernism, paternalism, the ubiquitousness of the ‘safe space’ and the decline of quality journalism. The writing style is definitely casual, but that really does help in tackling some major issues. Personally, I struggled a little with some of the more philosophy focused chapters, particularly post-modernism (Razer acknowledges that most people do), but the authors are quick with metaphors and examples for beginners which helps.
One of my favourite quotes occurs very early on and sets the tone for how the book will proceed:
It’s perfectly fine to find yourself in the dark. It is okay to feel benighted by the bedlam moon that everyday lunatics mistake for the light of reason. So, in our look at present-day Stupid and how we got here, let’s agree that we don’t know everything.
Let’s agree that the sun of rational thought is yet to fully rise. Let’s try to bask in its first rays as we break the illusory two-watt globe of false enlightenment. In other words, let us dare to ‘shine a light’ on our most forlorn attempts to shine a light. And then, perhaps, we can stop these ceaseless and clumsy enlightenment metaphors. What is this, a book on the history of poor Western thought or a lighting catalogue? (p.3)
A good book for anyone who is frustrated by the current state of politics, journalism or political correctness.
A Short History of Stupid fulfils the #female author, #male author, #non-fiction book, #author new-to-me and #book published in 2014 or 2015 tags of the Aussie Author Challenge 2015.
So far I have read:
5 books by a female author (+1 female co-author)
1 book by a male author (+1 male co-author)
5 non-fiction books
2 fiction books
7 books by an author who is new to me
4 books published in 2014 or 2015