15 August 2011

Post 415: Fool Me Twice

Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America by Shawn Lawrence Otto. ISBN: 9781605292175 (eGalley - publishes: October 11, 2011).

I feel like there has been a distinct lack of rational thought lately. Not only in politics, but in talking to people who have very strong opinions... who do not realize that they are opinions. The usual topics involve pride of country and/or religious belief/what is or isn't moral. There are other things, sure, but these are the two big ones and they tend to be the ones people are least rational about.

Wait. Take a breath. There is no need to throw a hissy fit, I am not saying that the United States is the worst country in the world or that God doesn't exist. I am saying that those things are opinions because they have yet to be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt through the observations of everyone in the world. You can believe in God all you want, and that makes Him real for you, but for a good portion of the rest of the world that just doesn't work for us. Same thing with patriotism/nationalism (depending on how far you want to take it): you may believe that your country is the best in the world, but even your own countrymen aren't likely to agree with you because they have different experiences and knowledge on which to base their opinions.

Otto stresses this message in Fool Me Twice, particularly when discussing the harm that the postmodern theory has done. By claiming that everything is subjective, and opening a lot of windows to allow for viewpoints that were previously silenced, postmodernism has allowed for microhistories (which I love) and the inclusion of cultures that might otherwise have been ignored. However, Otto also states that postmodernism has wiped out a means of being able to agree on something regarding the way the world works. Because everything is subjective, nothing can be objective, but science is supposed to be that one thing we can all agree on. Science is the observation of nature/natural phenomenon where we are all supposed to be able to observe the same thing if we conduct the same experiment using the same measures, etc.

Unfortunately, postmodernism seems to have been internalized to the point where people can no longer follow logic. They can be presented with information that debunks their opinion, and rather than reevaluating their opinion they revert to kindergarten-esque name calling or downright ignorance and ignore it rather than change their minds. It is as if being able to change your mind is a weakness rather than a strength. Mice seem to be able to change their minds more readily than we do, and yet we think we're hot shit because we have thumbs and a 3 pound brain.

I am most startled by scenarios like the following I observed on Facebook:
Person A posted that America was better than Russia because Russia had designed dress uniforms that did not withstand the cold. Person B pointed out that the US also had a history of poorly designed uniforms. Person A, rather than taking this information in and saying, "Well, okay, but I still think America is better," went with the ad hominem argument, which only riled up Person B and the conversation degraded from there.

What is distressing about this is that Person B was not denying Person A's opinion, Person B was just trying to provide information on what s/he was a topic of interest. What could have been an interesting conversation was instead turned into something hurtful and stupid because Person A was unwilling to be proven wrong.  Even though s/he wasn't, his/her argument was just shown to be weak.

This. is. a. problem. We cannot have this. We cannot possibly sustain a country where Someone has to be right and holds out until they are. I would much rather have a country based on rational debate that leads to a rational decision. We all need to agree that the world is round, that magnets work* because of magnetic fields which create polarization, and all of the other things that science has concluded are true based on the evidence we have gathered thus far versus relying on a text produced by man, who is fallible, regardless of how involved God was in its writing.

My review can be found on Goodreads.
LibsNote: Copy won through the FirstReads program on Goodreads.
*I'm actually somewhat disappointed Otto didn't mention these clowns. Not that they need the attention.


  1. This book sounds like something I would read and love. Thanks for posting your review. I;m adding this to my to read list!

    Grace at Feeding My Book Addiction

  2. Grace,
    It was a really good read. It made sense to me how people could ignore basic scientific fact and confuse the meaning of theory, etc. It was pretty plainly written, although I recommend sandwiching it between lighter reads. When I read it I had glutted myself on several non-fiction books and ended up having to reread quite a few sections because my brain was a bit tired of non-fiction.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...