Over the years, I’ve been asked why I read so much and why I focus on topics like politics, history, religion, philosophy and current events. I read for various reasons including entertainment, to satisfy my curiosity and to improve my skills and talents. I also read to seek knowledge and hopefully truth.
Though I read a lot, I would not classify myself in any way as an ‘intellectual.” I basically collect information. An intellectual collects information also but uses it to generate ideas, inventions, opinions, theories, and philosophies.
I’ve read a variety of polls indicating that many Americans do not read books. Given the slow death of various publishers, many aren’t reading newspapers or magazines either. If you spend a half-hour listening to any talk show, you wonder where and how people form their opinions. (I’m not just talking about callers but the hosts and “expert” guests.)
Many people are also dreadful when it comes to the source of their information. One has to exercise reason and judgment to filter out lies, bias, spin, superstitions, gossip and drivel. Many people don't let facts, science, experience and evidence get in the way when they develop an opinion.
All this leads me to recommending The Age of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby. Jacoby writes about the dumbing down of the American culture and its disastrous national consequences. Jacoby identifies the sources of anti-intellectualism and focuses on the history of the intellectual fight between religion vs. science.
Jacoby is right on target as she describes our greatest failure as voters and citizens...
“The real problem is that we, as a people, have become too lazy to learn what we
need to know to make sound public decisions.”
How many ditto heads have ceded their thinking to Rush, Sean, Bill O' and Ann Coulter?
This is an excellent book whether you are a practicing intellectual or just a seeker of the truth.