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Susan Jacoby
Susan Jacoby, photo by Robin Holland
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February 15, 2008

The notion that Americans aren't often at the top of the ladder of erudition isn't new. Every year the media points out how poorly U.S. kids perform in math and geography feats compared to many other nations' school children. Susan Jacoby follows a notable scholarly tradition with her new book, THE AGE OF ,AMERICAN UNREASON. In 1964 historian Richard Hofstadter won the Pulizter Prize with his lament — ANTI-INTELLECUTALISM IN AMERICAN LIFE: "The national distaste for the intellectual appeared to be not just a disgrace but a hazard to survival." Jacoby says of Hofstatder's work now: "It is difficult to suppress the fear that the scales of American history have shifted heavily against the vibrant and varied intellectual life so essential to functional democracy."

Are we in danger from our "addiction to infotainment" rather than a reliance on rationality? Tell us on the blog.

Biography

Susan Jacoby, who began her writing career as a reporter for THE WASHINGTON POST, is the author of five books, including WILD JUSTICE, a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Awarded fellowships by the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the New York Public Library's Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, she has been a contributor to THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE NATION, TomPaine.com and the AARP BULLETIN, among other publications. She is also director of the Center for Inquiry-Metro New York and lives in New York City.

Bill Moyers spoke with Jacoby about FREETHINKERS: A HISTORY OF AMERICAN SECULARISM in 2004, in which Jacoby offered an impassioned history that challenges the current marginalization of secular values. (Watch the interview.) Her newest book is THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON.

Guest photo by Robin Holland..

Published on February 15, 2008.

Related Media:
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Bill Bill Moyers takes on the persistent questions facing us today with some of the world's most noted authors. Watch the whole series online. Also, explore issues of faith and science.


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Bill Moyers talks with British intellectual, Jonathan Miller about his upcoming PBS series, "A Brief History of Disbelief." (May 6, 2007)

References and Reading:
Susan Jacoby
You can read an excerpt from THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON on Susan Jacoby's Web site.

OnFaith
Susan Jacoby is a frequent contributor to NEWSWEEK and THE WASHINGTON POST's OnFaith blog. Recent entries include: "It's the Theocrats, Stupid," "Secularism: The New Taboo," and "We're Electing a President, Not A Holy Fool."

Excerpt of FREETHINKERS
Read an excerpt from Jacoby's FREETHINKERS: A HISTORY OF AMERICAN SECULARISM.

"Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge?" Patricia Cohen, THE NEW YORK TIMES, February 14, 2008<
The TIMES takes a look at THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON and its author.

"The Renaissance of Anti-Intellectualism," Todd Gitlin, CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, December 8, 2000.

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Bill Moyers talks with Susan Jacoby about her new book, THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON.

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