The book explains a half-century arc of intellectual history culminating in our current state of histrionic overreach in the name of social justice. Cynical Theories superbly exposes a history of ideas which, in challenging unifying narratives and universal values, have come to threaten free speech, honest debate, and the valuing of reason itself.
Have you heard that language is violence and that science is sexist? Have you read that certain people shouldn’t practice yoga or cook Chinese food? Or been told that being obese is healthy, that there is no such thing as biological sex, or that only white people can be racist? Are you confused by these ideas, and do you wonder how they have managed so quickly to challenge the very logic of Western society? In this probing and intrepid volume, Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay document the evolution of the dogma that informs these ideas, from its coarse origins in French postmodernism to its refinement within activist academic fields. Today this dogma is recognizable as much by its effects, such as cancel culture and social-media dogpiles, as by its tenets, which are all too often embraced as axiomatic in mainstream media: knowledge is a social construct; science and reason are tools of oppression; all human interactions are sites of oppressive power play; and language is dangerous.
Reviewed in the United States on August 25, 2020
This book gives a detailed history of the movement to destroy liberal principles and replace them with Wokeness. It makes what is happening on our streets make sense. It explains the absurdity of things like the videos going around as I write this, of restaurant patrons being harassed by thugs screaming in their faces and demanding that they make a show of obedience and fealty to the mob.
The authors are two of the trio who successfully published multiple academic papers in the various fields I’m referring to (the ones I had to take three mandatory courses in to get my degree)–the ones they call “grievance studies.” They know their stuff to the point that they successfully won awards while posing as true believers in this religion.
This book will get tons of 1 star reviews from academics who feel entitled to make up problems or write autoethnographies (that’s literally personal essays where they spout how oppressed they feel by the racial dynamics of the staff at Starbucks and other inanities) and get taxpayer-funded jobs for life. Don’t believe it. Read the book for yourself. Have the courage to examine thoughts you may not agree with and see if they hold up.