Yes, I've been chickening out ...
It has been nearly a month since I finished reading Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, a book that I found very "important", and one of those "everybody should read this" titles. However, every time I've tried to sit down to write a book review, I've shied away, not wanting to have to "go to the mat" with readers whose "imaginary friends" were likely to be demanding their defense.
This has come into a clear focus over the past few days as I've been finishing up Herrnstein & Murray's The Bell Curve, a seminal and extensive statistical research into the role of IQ in American society. This, too, is an "everybody should read this" book (although, at a nominal 912 pages of statistical meta-analysis of hundreds of tests, it's hardly something that most would read), but the howls of indignation from the Left can be heard before I put a single word down in its praise.
Part of me would simply like to skip reviewing these books, despite their strengths, and despite how significant and needed both are. I, however, loathe this cowardice in me, and will (much like Arjuna at Kurukshetra, I suppose) eventually take up the battle in their support.
What I'm ultimately struggling with, though, is the "how" and the "why" otherwise very sensible, intelligent, and even rational people for whom I have various degrees of respect can be so clearly (from where I'm sitting) delusional, either in support of bronze-age tribal myths as organizing principles in their world-view, or in utter blind unwillingness to look at the facts of the human condition in favor of some newly-minted egalitarianist myth. It boggles my mind.
Really ... in either of these cases, those defending their mythos might as well insisting on the literal truth of the Easter Bunny, or pining after something as plainly idiotic as Heaven's Gate (without even the benefit of new running shoes). Between the Religionist delusion and the Egalitarianist delusion, hundreds of millions have been slaughtered over the more recent stretches of human history. One would at least hope that modern, educated, seemingly rational adults would shy away from either of these dangerous idiocies the way one would from a malodorous bum yelling about how the CIA is eating his brain ... but, rather, I find that many of these same people, on these topics, become that bum in defense of some inexplicably held mythic world view.
There are days when I fear humanity.
It is truly frightening to me to find that things that I see as plain and clear can be so alien to those immersed in the structures of either Religion or Leftism ... especially because people who believe in those things have a pretty bad track record for responding with a "live and let live" stance. As Voltaire noted: "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." ... and I suppose that I have been shying away from the reaction of either side when I laud books that point out that neither of their Emperors have any clothes, or any reality beyond "a false creation proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain".
Anyway, I'd been mentioning "skipping ahead" on my reviews, and this is why. Now I have two "contentious" books to write about, and I'm not relishing being (in the words of the classic Magazine song) "Shot By Both Sides", but I guess that's unavoidable.
What a world ... what a world ...