I agree with this review by Carlin Romano of Susan Jacoby's The Age of American Unreason. I saw her interviewed on Bill Moyers. I've read parts of the book.
..If Jacoby were a more nuanced thinker, she'd be less abusive and more explanatory. Many secular thinkers, after all, grasp that religious thought persists not because believers are stupid or can't reason, but because concepts like God, faith and design possess logical peculiarities that make it impossible to disprove religious beliefs without prior agreement on how one defines terms.
It's telling that Jacoby piles on The Da Vinci Code and The O'Reilly Factor while ignoring NPR and BOOK-TV. The latter play the same role in the "edifice of middlebrow culture" as many of the media for which she's nostalgic (e.g., Saturday Review), but because she insists that edifice has "collapsed," they don't exist in her inventory.
"It is possible that nothing will help," Jacoby writes ruefully in her last chapter. "The nation's memory and attention span may already have sustained so much damage that they cannot be revived. . . . "
On the contrary. Jacoby needs to get out of her apartment, stop seething about "junk," and parlay her books into a professorship. That might introduce her to students - a species with whom she seems unacquainted - who reject her senior-citizen notion that "reading for pleasure . . . is in certain respects antithetical to the whole experience of reading on computers and portable digital devices."
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