Skip to main content
Now building my TET.Life Store.

Book Review: A Short History of Stupid

I must admit I was expecting a much funnier book from Helen Razor and Bernard Keane given Helen's background in comedy and Bernard's background in politics (how can anyone write about politics seriously?).

Their book, A Short History of Stupid, The Decline of Reason and Why Public Debate Makes Us Want to Scream, is a collection of essays that serve as a reality check for life with an awareness that we're all being manipulated by spin to varying degrees.

For me it finally answers the question of why TV news desks cross live to a reporter who is standing nowhere of significance to the report they are about to give. Apparently it's to give the daily news report that feeling of 'things are happening now' in a world where you can follow what's happening now live on the internet. It's a desperate attempt to say TV news reports are still relevant and current - even if the live cross is actually meaningless.

On the whole this was a very good read that puts the spotlight, mostly on recent public debates that you more than likely be familiar with, and looks behind the spin to not only look at the facts but also some of the consequences of following 'Stupid'.

Personally I found the first chapter, L'Oréal and the fade-resistant rise of liberal individualism, which attempts to track some kind of history of stupid from dead philosopher, John Locke, to actress, Heather Locklear a tedious and almost off putting read. Largely because it explores the kind of knowledge and book reading that only university philosophy students and people who have an obsessive desire to sound smarter have to endure.

Dead philosophers are hard to relate to outside of Monty Python songs. I feel the chapter was put in to give the rest of the book more authority. A 'look we're smarter than you' when it comes to this subject matter. (As far as I'm concerned both authors are more well read than me but just because Helen Razor has longed to slap Heather Locklear's face doesn't mean she needs to take it out on me with how well read she is).

Unless philosophy is something you've studied, power through that chapter. I wouldn't skip it but just know the rest of the book is much more relate-able and covers many things they may even be on your radar such as religion, politics, the war on terror, global warming, eating healthy, media, Kony and more.

Everything is put under the microscope to see if what we're being told is actually accurate and/or effective in achieving the desired outcomes (usually not since the book is an examination of 'stupid').

The book does try to inject some humor into the discussion but there was nothing laugh out loud funny. If anything the humor is more cynical which is entirely appropriate. Cynicism about anything at least makes you think about what you're being told. If this book has a message it is simply that: Think.

Think for yourself and, perhaps, re-engage in facts rather than opinion. You'll learn that much stupid occurs because opinion replaces actual facts as truth, personal stories are used to represent the mass experience even if those stories actually represent the minority and that data can be skewed to the desired outcome for political purposes rather than representing anything based in reality.

Consider this book a look behind the curtain on modern public debate and why it's going off the rails in nearly every forum. If you find yourself in many public debates or are a keen observer of public discourse then this book may open your eyes to the hidden stupid that you probably know is there but just can't articulate.

Well worth a read.

Comments


Buy Gifts and Apparel featuring art by TET

Popular posts from this blog

Guest Post: MY SOOPER DOOPER NEW CONSERVATORY/ART STUDIO!

Today's guest post is by Artist, Writer, and Mental Health Advocate, Jo B Creative who writes for her blog, Creating My Oddessey.

You should see our (almost) brand new conservatory, half of which is my art studio. 'Lucky me!' I think to myself. Not every creative bod can boast that. It's HUGE! Like a giant greenhouse.

We first moved to our pleasant cul-de-sac house - great for raising kids - when our son, who's on the cusp of thirty-one, was four. One of the main reasons that we wanted it was that, apart from its location on the fringes of a historic market town in rural Hampshire, UK, it had a sizable conservatory looking onto the back garden. It was brown wood framed and had a corrugated transparent roof sloping down from downstairs ceiling height. On the face of it, it doesn't sound that glamourous, but we loved the idea of a conservatory. Luxury! I even liked the red brick walls which it was built against - the original exterior of the house - and the light …

Finding Time to Skate - Swap a Skateboard Session into Your Weekly Workout Routine

A common problem among skaters dealing with work/life commitments (typically older skaters with families, careers, or both) is finding the time to actually spend on a skateboard. In fact, life in general getting in the way of skateboarding, is what often leads so many to drop out of the sport, only to rediscover it later, once everything else starts to even out.

I'm certainly in that category. Never really giving skateboarding away altogether but only using a skateboard to get from A to B, when I didn't have a vehicle, for many years. In the last couple of years I've been trying to get back into the sport properly, i.e. building up my trick list and skating for fun and not just to get from A to B.

The problem is I have so many interests, projects, paid work, and more, that I would often leave skateboarding to the end of my day. Kind of as something to look forward to. Except I wouldn't be that motivated to really improve because my mind would be fried from everything …

Movie Review: Deadpool 2 (2018) *Spoiler Free*

Deadpool 2 is a fun black comedy on par with the first film. Right now I can't really say one is better than the other but I can say they're equally as good.

Before seeing Deadpool 2 I watched the first movie. My take is, if you do like the first one better, much of that is down to never having seen a Deadpool movie before, and then having that film just knock it right out of the park. (I feel the same about the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. The first one has the edge because I'd never seen that kind of movie before with those characters).

The Star Wars Saga: Episode II, Attack of the Clones *All Spoilers*

Continuing my series of posts, as one of my local TV stations shows every Star Wars movie in order, every Saturday, for the next six weeks leading up to the release of Star Wars, Episode VII, The Force Awakens, here is my response to and thoughts on Star Wars, Episode II, Attack of the Clones.

After The Phantom Menace I just wasn't interested in seeing Episode II in the cinema. I don't think I made any effort to see it or even had any anticipation for it's release.

Kids today are smarter than their parents?

How often have you heard it said that kids today are smarter than their parents? I’ve heard it quite frequently in the media – even Dr Phil has said it. I say speak for your self. It’s not true and don’t let the media fool you.

Today’s kids may have access to more information that may give them more choices but in my experience, they only take in what they want to hear and still make stupid, uninformed decisions. Just like we used to at their age.

Like any cross section of people there will be exceptions. There are kids that are genuinely smarter, more mature and responsible for their age. However the vast majority know everything they need to know by the time they turn fourteen. They’re ‘adult’ enough to be responsible for all their own decision making so parents should just let them do what they please…right? Just like we thought at fourteen.

Don’t be fooled. Just because your son knows how to download MP3’s onto an ipod, or your daughter can chat to five friends at the same time on he…

Movie Review: Joker (2019) *Spoiler Section*

From the moment I saw the first teaser trailer for Joker I was interested to see yet another take on, arguably, Batman's most famous villain.

It's not a movie that I ever thought we needed but I'm sure glad it exists despite it giving the Joker an unnecessary origin story. However, if the Joker was to have a definitive origin story, this one is the one I would lean towards.

Arthur Fleck is a working clown for hire and an aspiring stand up comedian.  A series of unfortunate events sets this one time dreamer down a darker path that leads to him becoming the Joker.

Much has been made of this film's influences, specifically movies like Taxi and The King of Comedy. As a source of inspiration, going outside of comic books, has really made for a more believable and less fantastical story. Some critics say it references these movies too closely but if so, I personally think that helps a lot to keep the film grounded.

As everything unwinds nothing is too far fetched beyond wha…

Movie Review: Avengers: Infinity War (2018) *Spoiler Free*

Ten years in the making and Marvel finally releases part one of the Avengers versus Thanos, A.K.A. Avengers: Infinity War.

After seeing all 18 films in the MCU prior to this, and liking most of them, I was pretty confident this movie would not disappoint.

Other than a few minor issues - that are all my personal taste and in no way reflect on the quality of the film - it really delivers. Thanos is indeed the big, bad villain of the MCU that we've been antcipating.