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The Age of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby

The Age of American Unreason (2008)

by Susan Jacoby

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
Great insight into what has happen to our country. I believe, as the author, this country has basically gotten 'dumber' over the past 20 years. A lot has to do with the religious right and the Republican policies over these years. We do need to emphasize education and I think Obama is working on this. ( )
  camplakejewel | Sep 21, 2017 |
An excellent and timely book on the decline of intellectualism in the USA, which is also relevant to the rest of the developed world. While I personally believe that Jacoby overplays her hand in the latter chapters on the malign influence of screen culture (the ubiquity of TV and now computers), the thrust of her argument is well written and undeniable. If we do not respect intellectualism and aspire to it for ourselves and our children, if we do not educate ourselves by reading broadly rather than accepting TV soundbites and unfounded weblog and editorial opinions and if we do not insist that our schools, colleges and universities teach rigorous thinking which we back up ourselves with the examples we give our children, we risk being manipulated by advertising, pseudo-science and self-serving politicians and, in the very worst case, risk the very values and achievements of our society. ( )
  Pezski | Jun 8, 2017 |
I don't disagree with the author on most issues but she wrote this in a such a tedious way that I often lost track of the point she was trying to make. ( )
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
I loved this book: it has earned a bookplate and a permanent spot on my overly crowded shelves. That said, Jacoby writes much more persuasively when she's discussing ignorance in politics and faith than when she approaches modern culture. She has made the error of viewing her youth nostalgically; she may not have been searching for ignorance in American culture in that era, but that doesn't remove its presence. Likewise, she views Gen Y and Gen X with such withering disdain that she begins fronting anecdote as broad-sweeping fact, at one point stating that receiving a restful night's sleep as a campus speaker staying in an undergraduate dorm is a clear sign that today's college students no longer speak to each other and spend all their time with their earbuds in. That and other examples seemed so precariously slapped together that it became difficult to appreciate the deeper inquiries in her chapters: is a classical education still relevant? What place will technology play in education and intellectual discourse? Why aren't more adults reading fiction? ( )
  eaterofwords | Nov 16, 2014 |
Couldn't finish this one. I'll try picking it up later!
  goet0095 | Mar 27, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Susan Jacobyprimary authorall editionscalculated
De Wilde, BarbaraCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. Thomas Jefferson, 1816
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The word is everywhere, a plague spread by the President of the United States, television anchors, radio talk show hosts, preachers in megachurches, self-help gurus, and anyone else attempting to demonstrate his or her identification with ordinary, presumably wholesome American values.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375423745, Hardcover)

Combining historical analysis with contemporary observation, Susan Jacoby dissects a new American cultural phenomenon--one that is at odds with our heritage of Enlightenment reason and with modern, secular knowledge and science. With mordant wit, she surveys an anti-rationalist landscape extending from pop culture to a pseudo-intellectual universe of "junk thought." Disdain for logic and evidence defines a pervasive malaise fostered by the mass media, triumphalist religious fundamentalism, mediocre public education, a dearth of fair-minded public intellectuals on the right and the left, and, above all, a lazy and credulous public.

Jacoby offers an unsparing indictment of the American addiction to infotainment--from television to the Web--and cites this toxic dependency as the major element distinguishing our current age of unreason from earlier outbreaks of American anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism. With reading on the decline and scientific and historical illiteracy on the rise, an increasingly ignorant public square is dominated by debased media-driven language and received opinion.

At this critical political juncture, nothing could be more important than recognizing the "overarching crisis of memory and knowledge" described in this impassioned, tough-minded book, which challenges Americans to face the painful truth about what the flights from reason has cost us as individuals and as a nation.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:14 -0400)

Traces the current of anti-intellectualism from post-WWII to the present and argues that the nation's cult of unreason is both deadly and destructive.

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