Episode 143 - The Age of American Unreason: Defining Dumbness Downward
September 04, 2012
An indictment of America’s intellectual decay.
On March 12, 2008, the Center for Inquiry – Michigan at Grand Rapids presented a lecture by author and independent scholar Susan Jacoby. Titled “The Age of American Unreason: Defining Dumbness Downward,” it was based on her book of the same name, a cultural history of the past four decades.
Jacoby contends that a convergence of social forces usually treated as separate trends – the rise of religious fundamentalism, the failure of public education, and the triumph of video over print culture – have created a “perfect storm” of anti-rationalism that tarnishes the national discount. Have America’s prospects been dimmed by its people’s uncontrollable addiction to “junk thinking” that makes no effort to separate fact from opinion?
Susan Jacoby is an independent scholar who now focuses on American intellectual history. She is the author of Freethinkers, a definitive history of popular religious unbelief in America, and her new biography of nineteenth century agnostic orator Robert Green Ingersoll will be published in December 2012.