Review of "The Enemies of Reason"

This review by Charlie Brooker in The Guardian contains some real zingers, many of which I agree with whole-heartedly. His notion of "spirituality" seems a bit narrow, but then again the common usage of so-called "spirituality" is so thin as to be little more than linguistically cheap gossamer used to sound deep when it's often a diversion to escape probing conversation about belief.

Welcome to a dangerous new era - the Unlightenment - in which centuries of rational thought are overturned by idiots. Superstitious idiots. They're everywhere - reading horoscopes, buying homeopathic remedies, consulting psychics, babbling about "chakras" and "healing energies", praying to imaginary gods, and rejecting science in favour of soft-headed bunkum. But instead of slapping these people round the face till they behave like adults, we encourage them. We've got to respect their beliefs, apparently.

Well I don't. "Spirituality" is what cretins have in place of imagination. If you've ever described yourself as "quite spiritual", do civilisation a favour and punch yourself in the throat until you're incapable of speaking aloud ever again. Why should your outmoded codswallop be treated with anything other than the contemptuous mockery it deserves?

Maybe you've put your faith in spiritual claptrap because our random, narrative-free universe terrifies you. But that's no solution. If you want comforting, suck your thumb. Buy a pillow. Don't make up a load of floaty blah about energy or destiny. This is the real world, stupid. We should be solving problems, not sticking our fingers in our ears and singing about fairies. Everywhere you look, screaming gittery is taking root, with serious consequences. The NHS recently spent £10m refurbishing the London Homeopathic Hospital. The equivalent of 500 nurses' wages, blown on a handful of magic beans. That was your tax money. It was meant for saving lives.


How about it? Codswallop indeed! I am rather tired of having to "respect" bullshit notions about reality. Why don't the theists and supernaturalists and assorted other anti-realists respect evidence? When I teach rhetoric and composition classes I tell students at every turn: "Show. Don't tell." You want me to believe you? You want a court to accept what you think is real or likely? Pony up with the evidence kids and don't drivel on about what you would like to be true. Wish-thinking does not reality make.
That is one of the great things about the Enlightenment. It banished (I wish forever) the seriousness with which we take wish-thinking, magical thinking, irrationality, and just-so stories. Hume, Locke, Bacon, Newton, Leibniz, Kant, Descartes, d'Holbach, Paine, Jefferson, Franklin, and many others brought us to a world where rationalism could reign and the weight of evidence, deduction, induction, and inferences to the best explanation could guide us into the future and even lead us to more moral lives The reasoned moral life may not be easy for the brain to take at all times, but it is a consistent life imbued with beauty, truth, purpose, passion, and discovery because it eschews that which we think we want to be true and real.

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