Review: Dick Taverne – The March of Unreason

317 pages. Can be found here. ETA: Apparently, that link got DMCA’d. Here is the book: The.March.of.Unreason.Science.Democracy.and.the.New.Fundamentalism

I thought it was an interesting read. It is one long rant against unreasonable people at various places in life. It has a chapter on: Alternative medicine, organic farming, GM crops, fundamentalist environmentalism, globalization, and reason and democracy. It has made me want to reconsider my views on environmentalism, Greenpeace and the like, so I’ll be doing that in the near future (in a danish essay). Sometimes it would have helped him if he knew a bit more about philosophy or science. Two examples: 1. He does not seem to know that in science the words “theory” and “fact” are used differently from their usage in ordinary english. He should have read something like this.

“There is a consensus among scientists that Darwin’s theory of

natural selection is no longer a theory (whatever the creationists

may say) but a true description of the way species evolved. But

the scientific method itself involves critical examination and test-

ing of every new hypothesis and many hypotheses will be replaced

in time.” (p. 257)

2. He should have learned about Hume, reason and emotion when a critic threw this quote at him

“The National Gallery is a monument to irrationality! Every concert hall is a monument to irrationality!—and so is a nicely kept garden, or a lover’s favour, or a home for stray dogs. You stupid woman, if rationality were the criterion for things being allowed to exist, the world would be one gigantic field of soya beans!” (p. 286)

But overall it’s a good read if you think reason is important and that people are not reaonable enough. People with alternative views will not be convinced by this book because it is pretty one-sided. But then again, not much will convince someone that believes alternative medicine works or some such.

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