There are few subjects more timely than the one tackled by Susan Jacoby in her new book, The Age of American Unreason, in which she asserts that America is now ill with a powerful mutant strain of intertwined ignorance, anti-rationalism and anti-intellectualism. For more than a decade there have been growing symptoms of this affliction, from fundamentalist assaults on the teaching of evolution to the Bush administrations willful disavowal of expert opinion on global warming and strategies for prosecuting the war in Iraq. Conservatives have turned the term intellectual, like the term liberal, into a dirty word in politics (even though neo-conservative intellectuals played a formative role in making the case for war against Iraq); policy positions tend to get less attention than personality and tactics in the current presidential campaign; and the democratizing influence of the Internet is working to banish expertise altogether, making everyone an authority on everything. Traditional policy channels involving careful analysis and debate have been circumvented by the Bush White House in favor of bold, gut-level calls, and reasoned public discussions have increasingly given way to noisy partisan warfare among politicians, commentators and bloggers alike. The Age of American Unreason - Book - Review - New York Times America was founded on the basis of several strands of European intellectualism: the Enlightenment, rationalism, Deism, and republican democracy among others. How can this America survive if the very notion of intellectualism itself is dismissed, never mind actual intellectual pursuits themselves? Thomas Jefferson pointed out that "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Americans, unfortunately are very ignorant and worse yet, proud of their ignorance. They know little and want to know less; in the process they are likely to lose much of what they have. Book Review - The Age of American Unreason, by Susan Jacoby ------------------------------------------- I'm pretty sure Jethro and Ellie Mae aren't interested. And to think, this was written three years ago. Not, "Will it get worse before it gets better?", but, "How much worse will it get before it gets better?"