Cynical Theories Cynical Theories

Cynical Theories

How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody

    • 4.7 • 49 Ratings
    • $13.99
    • $13.99

Publisher Description

Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly Bestseller!

Times, Sunday Times, and Financial Times Book-of-the-Year Selection!

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. As Pluckrose and Lindsay warn, the unchecked proliferation of these anti-Enlightenment beliefs present a threat not only to liberal democracy but also to modernity itself.

While acknowledging the need to challenge the complacency of those who think a just society has been fully achieved, Pluckrose and Lindsay break down how this often-radical activist scholarship does far more harm than good, not least to those marginalized communities it claims to champion. They also detail its alarmingly inconsistent and illiberal ethics. Only through a proper understanding of the evolution of these ideas, they conclude, can those who value science, reason, and consistently liberal ethics successfully challenge this harmful and authoritarian orthodoxy—in the academy, in culture, and beyond.

May 5
Pitchstone Publishing
Chicago Review Press, Inc. DBA Independent Publishers Group

Customer Reviews

Mb6294 ,

Eye opening

My “white fragility” led me in this direction. I never felt receptive to the idea of absolute white privilege, but a lot of my friends do. When all of these narratives came to a fever pitch in 2020, I wondered where it all came from. I never knew anything about postmodernism, so this book was definitely eye opening! James and Helen are leaps and bounds more intelligent than me, but they made this book easy enough to understand on an introductory level.

Topher0809 ,

Combat CT

Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Gave very practical steps on how to combat this Theory/postmodernism culture and focusing more so on being liberal minded. I’m very fond of books that aren’t only opinionated, but includes resources to show proof of research.

Muttonface ,

Best explanation of the nonsensical roots of social justice in existence

A grand explanation of what occurs when one attempts to replace logic with spoon-fed self contradictory and irrational philosophy offered up by classist, over-educated, privileged elites.

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