September 12, 2003

Peer review…

The more stuff like this that gets published, the more I wish the publishing industry emulated the standards of academic peer review. Okay, yes, that’s totally unrealistic. But I just hate to see our civic discourse reduced to such nonsense.

11 Responses

  1. Having read both the Franken and Coulter books, I think it’s more than a little unfair to suggest that they’re morally equivalent, or even equivalent in their distance from any ideals of civic discourse. Franken, at least, supports his arguments with facts, even if his tone frequently does cross the line into ad hominem attack as well. Coulter, on the other hand, simply lives in a parallel dimension.

    And this is a Republican talking, just for the record.

  2. I’m not suggesting moral equivalence. And I’m not saying these books fail in equal measure. What I’m lamenting is that none of them do the kind of job necessary to a fuller understanding of what is going on, although they pretend to.

    The books are ideological. So be it. And they are entertainment. But with their trappings and illusions of rigor, they attempt to fool readers with a false sense of cogency.

  3. Rebecca 

    There has been lots of attention on this very subject. The Sept. 12, 2003 issue of The Week makes this their cover story (sorry – I subscribe in print, and when I tried to get a link on their website http://www.theweekmagazine.com, I discovered I’m too stupid to navigate their website!) and offer their usual pro&con, but th last word is “It ain’t fair and balanced, but we don’t care. It’s infotainment”. “It’s like the World Wrestling Federation, only a little louder”. What depressed me, though, is when I looked through the freeby from the local Borders store – 1 l/2 pages were devoted to books of this kind:Bill O’Reilly, Al Franken, Ann Coulter, Molly Ivins, Bill Maher. Greta Van Susteren, Glenn Beck, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, plus additional dreck about how Clinton’s “failures unleashed global terror”, how Republicans “stole our country and it’s time to take it back” how going after the Taliban was “all about oil” etc. Yes, it’s a real cottage industry. I only hope that most people really do see all this as “infotainment” and do not take it seriously. BTW, you had lots of good stuff today, Doc!

  4. Rebecca…thanks for those comments. I’m planning to suggest a book on Monday that covers many of the same issues as the dreck you metnion, but it’s by a a well-known academic and very well researched and written. Not at all entertaining 🙂 I have to finish reading it first.

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  6. Alexander 

    I was in Borders today and noticed Ann’s book gets put in the “political science” section and that label must be used very loosely for what gets into that section… whereas Al’s book is in the Humor section… interesting huh?

  7. Alexander… Actually, I think “funnier’n hell” describes my thoughts on that best.

  8. JSteele 

    At my Border’s, the Bibles are right next to the “Inspirational Fiction” section. Who says they don’t have a sense of humor.

  9. The Press Effect

    Last week on Rhetorica I rather peevishly wished that popular publishers would emulate the standards of academic peer review. That’s…

  10. Rebecca 

    See what kind of people you draw when you have pictures of Michael Moore, Al Franken and Ann Coulter on your blog?

  11. Yeah…and I’m fixin’ to erase it right now…and maybe set an IP ban.