Throughout history, humans have always indulged in certain irrationalities and held some fairly wrong-headed beliefs. But in his newest book, philosopher Lee McIntyre shows how we've now reached a watershed moment for ignorance in the modern era, due to the volume of misinformation, the speed with which it can be digitally disseminated, and the savvy exploitation of our cognitive weaknesses by those who wish to advance their ideological agendas. In Respecting Truth: Willful Ignorance in the Internet Age, McIntyre issues a call to fight back against this slide into the witless abyss. In the tradition of Galileo, the author champions the importance of using tested scientific methods for arriving at true beliefs, and shows how our future survival is dependent on a more widespread, reasonable world.
Table of Contents
Preface. Chapter 1. Attitudes Toward Truth: Willful Ignorance and the Last Glimpse of Shoreline. Chapter 2. The Value of Truth: Should My Genes Care Whether I Can Justify My Belief That A Tiger Is Coming Toward Me? Chapter 3. The Roots of Human Irrationality: Behavioral Economics, Self-Deception, and Lawn Chair Larry. Chapter 4. The Assault on Truth and the Triump of Ideology: The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Climate Change, and the "Myth" of Race. Chapter 5. Sources of (Mis)Information: Why the Media Worship Objectivity But the Ivory Tower Rejects Truth. Chapter 6. Sources of Hope: The Wisdom of Crowds, Group Benefits, and Why Wikipedia Is More Reliable Than You Think. Chapter 7. A More Reasonable World: Better Living Through Empirical Social Science. Bibliography.
Lee McIntyre is a Research Fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University and author of Dark Ages: The Case for a Science of Human Behavior (MIT Press, 2006). He is co-editor (with Alex Rosenberg) of the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Social Science.
"Lee McIntyre identifies the central problem of truth claims today—from global warming and GMOs to evolution and vaccinations—'willful ignorance.' Respecting Truth should be read by every member of Congress before voting on legislation, and they should do so based on the facts instead of party line. The problem is group think. The solution is having a ‘designated skeptic’. I nominate Lee McIntyre."
Michael Shermer, Skeptic Magazine, USA
"This is a compellingly written book that addresses a timely issue. It is well researched, tightly constructed, and insightful. It makes for an engaging, informative and eye-opening read. The prose is light and winning, and it provides an expertly guided tour of an issue of profound importance to us all."
Andrew Norman, Carnegie Mellon University, USA
"McIntyre is very clear about the overall argumentative structure, and he provides excellent examples for each topic under discussion. Although the ideas being discussed are sometimes rather sophisticated, his exposition is very relaxed and casual."
Noretta Koertge, Indiana University, USA
"I've read Respecting Truth--it is excellent!"
Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University, USA