Adam Bradley's Reviews > The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas

The Tyranny of Clichés by Jonah Goldberg
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's review
Jun 12, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: politics

My guess is this book will be treated in much the same way as Jonah's previous one: those who find themselves on the unfavorable side of his arguments will either misunderstand or willfully misconstrue his actual thesis and then go about setting that strawman ablaze.

I vividly recall a political light bulb switching on for me when I read Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" in my freshman year of college: neither scientists nor politicians are ever free from prior philosophical commitments, and the ones who claim they are tend to be the most dangerous. The dogmatic anti-dogmatist, the creedal unideologue; their insistence that they are "simply following the facts to what works" is a smokescreen covering up a long list if ideologically prior commitments to which questions should and should not be asked, which outcomes are preferable and which are not, in short to which highly selective subset of "facts" and whose very particular concept of "working" will be presumed.

I found myself disappointed that the chapter on "Science" failed to mention C. S. Lewis's insightful comments on what he called "Bulverism": the belief that you can ignore a man's argument if you can simply explain why he made it, the assumption which seems to undergird much of the popularization of "conservatism as mental disorder" research. I was similarly let down when the chapter on "Understanding" failed to offer up Douglas Adams' keen insight into the power of mutual comprehension: that the babelfish, by removing all barriers to clear communication, was responsible for more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.
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Brian As much as I like this book, you make very compelling arguments, vis-a-vis C.S Lewis and Douglas Adams!

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