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The New Inquisition: Irrational Rationalism and the Citadel of Science Paperback – 1 May 1988

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: New Falcon Publications,U.S.; Revised edition edition (1 May 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561840025
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561840021
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 14 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,337,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The late R. Buckminster Fuller-architect, engineer, poet, mathematician and gadfly-used to astonish audiences by remarking casually in the middle of a lecture that everything we see is inside our heads. Read the first page
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 July 1997
Format: Paperback
The New Inquistion, by Robert Anton Wilson, is one of those books that sneaks its way into your mind and turns your world upside in front of you. It's a fun and very interesting read. Wilson's style of writing makes the pages fly by like a wild conversation with an ecentric but wonderful uncle or grandfather. You find yourself wondering what kind of rabbit the man is going to pull out of his hat next. Along the way you end up learning more than you ever hoped or wanted to and by the end you end up with a slightly altered vision of the world. Like any such conversationalist however, Wilson has a tendency to prattel at points, making some of the same ones over and over again, while on more than one occasion he will only briefly touch on a topic that I found myself wishing he had gone into in more depth. But to tell you the truth, those things only serve to make you feel all the closer to the author and the writing itself. Somehow, the annoying points only serve to help the book keep that friendly, deep conversational tone that won't let you put it down. And along the way you learn so damn much about the state of modern science and our tendencies to see the world through the lenses of our individual "reality tunnels" that you find yourself wondering how you could have gone on existing in modern America without having read the book... It's an education of a read and I highly suggest that you read it and then push it on everyone that you know.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Thomas De Vries on 18 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
The book's central thesis is that there is no certainty in science, only a set of probabilities according to the model used. Therefore it is better to have a number of models available and to be agnostic as to which is best (this is actually practised in an area of modern physics, where wave and particle models of light co-exist). However, there is a group of people, called the New Fundamentalists to distinguish from the old religious ones, who are deeply unsettled by uncertainty and have set up organisations to traduce and even punish those who dare to depart from scientific orthodoxy. This constitutes the New Inquisition.

Wilson understood very quickly in the 1980's that agnosticism in the sense he used the term - i.e. a general doubt - was highly preferable to fundamentalism that stops thought and perception. Scepticism - i.e. doubt - is excellent, but when allied to a need for certitude, leads to faith rather than greater scepticism. Most of those who vocally claim to be "skeptics" are, in practice, not open to rational persuasion; they are really believers whose decision to believe was made long ago. They cannot see the limits to their own rationality. Wilson related how two of the founding members of CSICOP (the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims Of the Paranormal, now rebadged as CSI), the trusting Dennis Rawlins and the honest and charismatic Marcello Truzzi, were disabused of their ideas that it had anything to do with scientific enquiry. Although founding members, they found themselves forced to resign.

The New Inquisition notched up an early success, even before CSICOP and similar organisations were founded.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Feb. 1997
Format: Paperback
I want to put down my thoughts after reading The New Inquisition, by Robert
Anton Wilson.

Wait. Actually, you are now realizing that I am up to something else entirely. What I really am trying to do is shock your reality-tunnel, much as I might bang on a galvanized pipe with a wrench to stun the rats which live inside . You have figured out that this entire message is a contrivance: I perform detailed and ritualistic incantations on a magical device which by some arcane alchemy can form shapes on a screen attached to your magical device that you interpret as words which have metaphorical connotations in your mind and from which you decide that you understand what I am trying to communicate. And I thought I could pull the wool over your eyes! I thought I could actually get through to you! You really know that what I did actually didn't really happen, it only appeared to.

That's what reading The New Inquisition is like. Wilson spends a lot of time relating what seem like fringe news reports and ideas (Today in Duluth it rained frogs, for example, or Sheldrake's ideas on morphogenic fields) in order to "bring to full consciousness the kind of half-conscious decisions which determine, for each of us, which thoughts are 'thinkable' and which are 'unthinkable' . . . I am asking you to observe in yourself the strength and immediacy of the impulse to deny at once."

Wilson is doing this because he wishes for us to realize "that we might all become startlingly sane, or at least much less stupid, if we tried, even occasionally, to look dispassionately and without prejudice at precisely those events which do not seem to fit our own favorite reality-tunnel or tunnels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Halifax Student Account on 18 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is old now but its still worth buying. Robert Anton Wilson had charisma and his personality comes through in his writings. He talks to the reader and he isn't afraid to challenge science and her stooges.

This is a well needed antidote to the blind worship of materialism.
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