Essential Reading

Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff,  The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure: Making sense of a millennial world and beyond. While heavily US in focus this work stands at present as the best work crystallising a variety of scary trends and tendencies which are all too easy to identify with and all too tough to dismiss.

Tyler Cowan; The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream, is a good strong challenge. In some senses it lines up with his ‘average is over’ concept – the excitement has gone out of much in the current era. I am 75% convinced. it’s a great challenge to think about and more than worth the read.

Steven Pinker; Enlightenment Now:  In his new book, Pinker points out that the slow creep of progress is not as newsworthy as, say, an earthquake or an explosion. So it’s clear why we don’t always have the sense that things are getting better. But the Enlightenment—with its dedication to science, reason, humanism, and progress—has led people to live longer, healthier, freer, and happier lives. And Pinker uses charts, data, history, and a firm dedication to his cause to empirically prove that we are living in better times. It makes sense to be skeptical of a scientist arguing that that science is the answer. And his optimism won’t always jibe with your personal experience or judgement. But there’s lots to chew on here—and it’s so easy to obsess on the intrusions and negatives of technology and “advancement” that this book can serve as a kind of antidote to the darker view of life. —Chris Schluep, the Amazon Book Review


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