An interesting book. I was fairly convinced that there is no such thing as a labeled emotion like "anger" that is encoded and expressed in constant waAn interesting book. I was fairly convinced that there is no such thing as a labeled emotion like "anger" that is encoded and expressed in constant ways across individuals, which has consequences for how we think about what others are thinking, especially others from foreign cultures or political tribes. Barrett's ultimately inconclusive musings about what her dog is thinking, and other extensions toward the end were considerably less informative....more
Dennett is a fabulous writer and thinker. This is the first book of his I've read, and seems to be something of a summary of what he has been thinkingDennett is a fabulous writer and thinker. This is the first book of his I've read, and seems to be something of a summary of what he has been thinking about over the course of his career. A little too much of this book was spent rehashing old debates, especially with Chomsky, that weren't super useful, instead of better elucidating Dennett's major ideas. Maybe read Consciousness Explained instead....more
The similarities between modern liberal democracy and communism highlighted in this book are striking and disturbing. Both are quasi-religious projectThe similarities between modern liberal democracy and communism highlighted in this book are striking and disturbing. Both are quasi-religious projects that brook no dissent. This was a big, new and useful idea. If the ideas were presented with more clarity and less vengefulness, I would give the book a higher rating. Here's a better review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show......more
This book is about 20% right, and 80% wrong. This is a shame, because the 20% part is important and interesting, and lost amidst the neoreactionary slThis book is about 20% right, and 80% wrong. This is a shame, because the 20% part is important and interesting, and lost amidst the neoreactionary sludge of the remaining 80%. Luckily, the good 20% is concentrated in the first five chapters -- they are worth the price of the book.
The interesting 20%: cultural elites, defined by Murray as the top 1-5%, particularly those in influential jobs like media, politics, big business and academia, have become utterly segregated from the rest of America, and this is not how it was 40 years ago. Murray convincingly files fact after fact documenting this claim, and argues credibly that this phenomenon is consequential. I thought this was prescient and important. Also interesting: the cultural attitudes and family structure of the white lower class has diverged dramatically from the white upper class. Contrary to popular perception of this book, the claim is not so much about moral decay of society as a whole, but rather than the elites continue to live in traditional ways, but the lower classes do not.
The bad 80%: American people used to be married, hard-working, honest and moral, and now they are not, mostly because of liberal attitudes and the welfare state. This section is terribly argued; the extent of twisting and torturing of data makes this part difficult to listen to. One example out of many: Murray treats the unemployment rate among high school educated men as a symptom of laziness. No consideration is given to changes in the labor market and the quality of jobs available to these men. McDonald's has night shift positions open, and if these people are not working, it's because they are lazy, end of story!! Similarly bad points are made in the service of arguing that we should long for a time when everyone went to church, men worked with their hands and women kept their heads covered, and families sat around the television every week to watch I Love Lucy. Digs at atheists, working women and Europeans are liberally interspersed.
Best rhetorical device: "I am very confident that in the next 50 years, neuroscience and psychology will prove all of my claims." The next 30 pages or so repeat all of Murray's opinions, no longer as opinion but as facts-about-to-proven-by-science. I made a note to use this in my own writing.
Strangest part: the acknowledgements, in which Murray begins by effusively thanking his younger self for all his excellent work, much of which was cribbed together and repeated in this book....more
Super useful for understanding the U.S. opiate epidemic. The role of the pill mill docs is fascinating and vile -- the pharmaceutical companies only aSuper useful for understanding the U.S. opiate epidemic. The role of the pill mill docs is fascinating and vile -- the pharmaceutical companies only a little bit less so. The second half of the book is a repeat of the first half, just with the characters' names changed....more