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This review is from: The Spirit Level Delusion: Fact-Checking the Left's New Theory of Everything (Paperback)
What motivated Christopher Snowden to turned his intelligence and skill to debunking the anti smoking lobby (earlier book) and the anti inequality movement? Perhaps his next book will debunk global warming. I am reminded of the plethora of research in the USA in the 60s which aimed to show that blacks were less intelligent than whites. For what purpose? The Education System should educate all to the best of their ability whatever this is. Similarly, smoking is bad for health, and the huge disparity in wealth and power between those who have and have not, in the UK is, to any fair minded person, unacceptable. And it needs to be addressed now, not, as and when, the free market gets around to it.
Snowden's introduction is in my view a simplistic distortion of what The Spirit Level is about and at times, reads like a rant (p10 3rd paragraph onwards) rather than a rational criticism. What Snowden demonstrates very well in his book is that where data and statistical analyses are concerned, the arguments and counter arguments can run and run. He questions the data and methodology underlying the conclusions drawn by the authors of the Spirit Level and attributes their motivations to left wing ideology. The same accusations could be made about Snowden's cherry picking of data and his obvious anti-left ideology. He is motivated to throw in anything which muddies the waters, creates a smoke screen and under minds his targets - Wilkinson, Pickett, Layard, James and Lawson. Me thinks the man protests too much.
There is much of interest in Snowden's analysis of data but this is spoilt by what he selects, says and how he says it. He uses ridicule, innuendo, personal slurs and takes points of view to the extreme and in doing so, reduces them to the absurd. Such tactics render him far from an objective reporter/analyst. By comparison The Spirit Level is a scholarly book. Snowden correctly says we should be cautious of any claim that is too neat to be true but his total dismissal of all that The Spirit Level offers, is equally suspect. Snowden doesn't have one integrated point of view he takes any point of view which is anti the ideas put forward in The Spirit Level . He says, correctly, that The Spirit Level is a political book - as if his book isn't! Arguing for the maintenance of the status quo in not apolitical it is a hugely political viewpoint.
To me Snowden's book misses the point. In the UK the prison population is rising, obesity levels are increasing, depression and anxiety levels in adults and children have skyrocketed (even if this is due to self-diagnosis, the question is, how come?) Profits from the diet and cosmetic surgery industries are rising dramatically year on year. This information hardly adds up to a contented society. Isn't it a about time we tried something else? A mistake is something hindsight reveals. Folly is when you persist with a course of action which is demonstrably failing but this can't be admitted because deeply held beliefs would be seriously challenged. So is more not less unrestrained capitalism the way forward? Folly indeed.
The most telling omission in Snowden's book is the lack of any attention to global warming, something which is mention often in the Spirit Level. So, Christopher Snowden, how is free market global capitalism going to solve this major problem? Ah, perhaps this is going to be his next book!
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 May 2012 17:43:14 BDT
Last edited by the author on 12 May 2012 17:44:21 BDT
T. S. C. says:
I haven't read this book: 'The Spirit Level Delusion: Fact-checking the Left's New Theory of Everything' but I've read 'The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone' It does seem that when anything comes along to check or even criticise the status quo, i.e. the 'fact' that unfettered free-market capitalism and all that goes with it is the only solution to human progress and human happiness and so on, that there is a groundswell of antipathy towards any sense of fairplay. It doesn't take a genius to understand or see that this really isn't working too well at all... it was the greed of unfettered capitalism that created the financial meltdown of 2008, the results of which we are still living in the midst... just look at how Greece is falling apart at the moment and how other countries like Spain and Italy are fearful of going the same way. Wouldn't it be good if we could take all the political factionalism out of this, and just be honest; for once! A little bit of honesty might take us a long way! What do I mean? Well, it's obvious that unfettered free-market capitalism works; to a point. Some people get very rich, a slightly bigger group get decent careers from it, and the rest of us sadly get low-paid jobs and feel resentful of being left out of the general wealth-creation process. This is not good for society, any society. Then, we have the left-wing model, which is super-high taxes for the rich, nationalisation of all industries and free everything for everyone; has this worked? In some cases it has, it makes things fairer at least, and in some cases it hasn't. It can stifle entrepreneurs and wealth-creators and can make a country stagnate. What's the solution? I can't fully answer this question because I'm not an economist or a genius at sorting out social problems, but surely if a number of people get together we can work out a compromise, a better deal for the majority of people, a deal that doesn't just work for the already wealthy and affluent but the majority whilst still allowing people to make money and start businesses and so on; less politics more pragmatics!
In reply to an earlier post on 13 May 2012 10:20:57 BDT
E. Braben says:
I agree fully with what you have written. I read this book because I ordered it by mistake! I meant to order the Spirit Level and must have clicked on the wrong one. I did read the Spirit Level first though. I am a supporter of The Equality Trust and hope for the less politics and more pragmatics that you do. It is always easier to hold black or white positions than occupy the more balanced grey area where we have to live with complexity, compromise and contradictions. But this is the real world - well it's certainly mine!
Posted on 17 May 2012 21:57:21 BDT
In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jan 2013 21:36:44 GMT
In reply to an earlier post on 6 Feb 2013 00:04:29 GMT
Last edited by the author on 6 Feb 2013 00:04:58 GMT
T. S. C. says:
Thank you. I just checked this recently and basically forgot I'd left a comment! Yes, the grey area is the area we mostly all live in; i.e. the real world of compromise and pragmatism. We need to come together and work together, not against each other in the end. Capitalism will survive because it is human nature to want to get on and prosper; but wouldn't it be nice if we could all consider the other guy as well?
Posted on 1 Sep 2013 02:07:12 BDT
Last edited by the author on 1 Sep 2013 02:07:52 BDT
Allen Baird says:
The quality of reasoning in this review is evident from the very first paragraph, where E Braden employs both the 'appeal to motive' and the 'association fallacy' in as many sentences. Reduction to global warming is second only to reductio ad Hitlerum these days any attempt to set aside logic and play to the galleries instead. Poor.
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