Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Logrolling in our time

The sadly defunct Spy magazine used to have a feature called "Logrolling in Our Time," in which it pointed out examples of authors providing favorable cover blurbs to each other. Like this:

"Written with his customary verve and flair, The Mind of the Market is Michael Shermer at his best. Roving over the entire sweep of history, and drawing on the best of modern science, Shermer attempts a grand synthesis of research from psychology and the neurosciences to demonstrate that markets are moral and that free trade meshes well with human nature. Shermer entertains as well as informs, and in the process he deepens the argument for economic, political and social freedom." --Dinesh D’Souza, author of What’s So Great About America, on Michael Shermer's book, The Mind of the Market

"As an unbeliever I passionately disagree with Dinesh D'Souza on some of his positions. But he is a first-rate scholar whom I feel absolutely compelled to read. His thorough research and elegant prose have elevated him into the top ranks of those who champion liberty and individual responsibility. Now he adds Christianity to his formula for a good society, and although non-Christians and non-theists may disagree with some of his arguments, we ignore him at our peril. D'Souza's book takes the debate to a new level. Read it." --Michael Shermer, author of The Mind of the Market, on Dinesh D'Souza's book, What's So Great About Christianity

D'Souza is clearly not a "first-rate scholar." Neither, for that matter, is Shermer. Both are popularizers.


Hume's Ghost said...

Shermer has expertise but he doesn't seem to do all that much work in it. His book on Alfred Wallace is based on work he did for his PhD if I remember right. I haven't read that and have no idea what the quality of its scholarship is.

D'Souza on the other hand ... has Shermer not noticed his book Enemies At Home? He sounds like Qutb and talks about their being a domestic insurgency of leftists that have given terrorists a legitimate reason to be angry with America.

Jim Lippard said...

You're correct, Shermer did a Ph.D. in history of science and his Alfred Russell Wallace book is based on his doctoral dissertation. He briefly had some adjunct professorships, but now he's a professional skeptic and author of books for a popular audience, not an academic scholar.

Hume's Ghost said...

I just noticed that the current issue of Skeptic has a review of D'Souza's book by Tim Callahan. I might have to swing by a book store and skim it, as I'm guessing that Callahan is going to be a bit more critical than that Shermer blurb.

Jim Lippard said...

Yes. Tim Callahan's review in _Skeptic_ is definitely a critical review.