14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Interesting Ideas That Need More Elaboration
, March 12, 2009
This review is from: The Crime of Reason: And the Closing of the Scientific Mind (Hardcover)
THE CRIME OF REASON is about how knowledge sequestration and commoditization are destroying [or can destroy] individuals' intellectual and creative potential, thus harming society as a whole. For example, intellectual property law [i.e. knowledge restriction law] has expanded exponentially since the 1970s. More particularly, many forms of technical knowledge have actually been outlawed, with knowledge of nuclear technology being the prime example and test case. There is a very real danger, which Laughlin suggests is already manifest among young scientists today, that our most brilliant minds will be left impotent by a legal framework that disallows them from understanding the world around them, or from even attempting to understand it.
This is a strange book. Unlike some previous reviewers, I think the subject is extremely important and deep. Laughlin, a Nobel Prize winning physicist, utilizes an unforgiving sort of analytical reasoning that is often hard to follow. His logic is stated so directly, and with so little elaboration, that the ideas end up being ambiguous. He suggests thoughts and conclusions, but often fails to elaborate enough to make them clear.
Ultimately, I think the book ends up giving the subject short shrift. This is a musing book, and, probably to the author's horror, I would suggest that it is a little bit intellectually lazy. There is a sort of arm-chair philosopher's self satisfaction in the reasoning which does the reader little good and the author little credit. The sections of the book about hard sciences and technology are the most interesting and convincing, while the ones about society and economics are the least.
Laughlin is obviously brilliant, and it is fun to ride along with him, following his thought patterns, as it were. It is an intellectual adventure and there are many intriguing ideas to be found in these pages. I wish he had taken the time to expand on them a bit more.
The price of the hardcover is definitely too high for these ~ 150 large font, double spaced pages. It almost feels like textbook style pricing.
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