Book Review: Science of Discworld III: Darwin’s Watch

2008-10-25

If you’re looking for preachy evangelical atheism, this book is for you. When I grab a Terry Pratchett book, I expect an multi-level fantasy escape – something that can be read for pure enjoyment on one level and have interesting commentary on the human condition on another level. I really don’t want to be preached at by someone trying to show how their world view is right and everyone else is a nut job.

Unfortunately, the hammer beating for evangelical atheism is not disguised under an amusing story that is pleasant to read. The disc world characters are are ancillary and appear to be thrown in as an after thought.

I note that there are three authors and I am willing to bet that one can pick out which pieces were written by Terry Pratchett and which pieces were written by people who don’t appear to be able to soft sell their position (to be fair, I’ve never heard of Jack Cohen or Ian Stewart before, but after this book I’ll only pay attention to them to avoid their writings).

To be clear, I personally want my pharmaceutical research scientist to have a firm grasp of genetics, mutations, microbiology, and the evolutionary process. However, I completely fail to see the value of ensuring that the Wal-Mart greeter professes a belief or understanding of evolutionary atheism.

If those of us with a scientific bent were honest and examined the implications of a complete acceptance of the evolutionary atheistic position, we would realize that there are basically two rational positions that a person could hold: the vegan starving under the tree for the fruit to fall before they will eat it because all genetic material is of equal value or the national socialist’s practicing active eugenics to ensure that their genetic material is given preferential treatment. Neither of these positions would create a society that I would want to live in.

Bottom line, if you are looking for heavy handed preaching for evolutionary atheism this is the book for you. If you’re looking for one of Terry Pratchett’s wonderful disc world novels, keep looking.


The New Thought Police: Inside the Left’s Assault on Free Speech and Free Minds

2008-06-21

Inside the Left\'s Assault on Free Speech and Free MindsI just finished Tammy Bruce’s The New Thought Police: Inside the Left’s Assault on Free Speech and Free Minds. Ms Bruce has an interesting collection of positions and beliefs that sounds completely contradictory. She opens her book with

I am an openly gay, pro-choice, gun-owning, pro-death penalty, liberal, voted-for-Reagan feminist.

She is also a past president of the Los Angeles chapter of NOW (National Organization for Women).

Is she an inconsistent schizophrenic … or is society? The common theme in her positions is individual freedom coupled with individual responsibility. There is more internal consistency within Ms Bruce’s positions than there is in either the Democratic [sic] or Republican parties.

The Democrats want you to be able to smoke drugs but not tobacco; oppose censorship in schools, but ban books; support freedom of speech in flag burning and obscene art but oppose freedom of speech at colleges with speech codes. They claim your body is your own when it comes to abortion, but claim your body is the state’s when it comes to eating fast food. They oppose going to war when women are abused, treated like chattel and there’s a national interest, but advocate war when women are abused, treated like chattel, and there’s no national interest.

The Republicans on the other hand, do the exact opposite. It is almost as if both parties look to the other and choose a position that is the exact opposite. On the plus side, such a method saves one from having to think, but it does lead to ridiculous inconsistencies.

Throughout her book, Tammy Bruce exhibits a consistent philosophy, a consistent mind-set, a consistent belief in individual freedom coupled with individual responsibility. It is perhaps most unfortunate that we are so used to the contradictory schizophrenia of what passes for modern thought that we perceive a consistency of thought as a set of contradictory positions.

The New Thought Police is an easy read and an excellent exposé on how our freedom of speech – and ultimately our freedom to think for ourselves – are under active assault and have been for some time. The book also highlights how one can take action, and how to exercise one’s own freedom of speech without deliberately trampling on another’s.