Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody

Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody

Have you heard that language is violence and that science is sexist? Have you read that certain people shouldn’t practice yoga or cook Chinese food? Or been told that being obese is healthy, that there is no such thing as biological sex, or that only white people can be racist? Are you confused by these ideas, and do you wonder how they have managed so quickly to challenge the very logic of Western society?

In this probing and intrepid volume, Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay document the evolution of the dogma that informs these ideas, from its coarse origins in French postmodernism to its refinement within activist academic fields.

Today this dogma is recognizable as much by its effects, such as cancel culture and social-media dogpiles, as by its tenets, which are all too often embraced as axiomatic in mainstream media: knowledge is a social construct; science and reason are tools of oppression; all human interactions are sites of oppressive power play; and language is dangerous.

As Pluckrose and Lindsay warn, the unchecked proliferation of these anti-Enlightenment beliefs present a threat not only to liberal democracy but also to modernity itself. While acknowledging the need to challenge the complacency of those who think a just society has been fully achieved, Pluckrose and Lindsay break down how this often-radical activist scholarship does far more harm than good, not least to those marginalized communities it claims to champion. They also detail its alarmingly inconsistent and illiberal ethics.

Only through a proper understanding of the evolution of these ideas, they conclude, can those who value science, reason, and consistently liberal ethics successfully challenge this harmful and authoritarian orthodoxy—in the academy, in culture, and beyond.

Title:Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody
ISBN:9781634312028
Format Type:

    Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody Reviews

  • Plamen Nenchev

    It does not matter if you lean left or right, liberal or conservative. If you are any sort of a reasonable person, this book that is absolutely vital to understanding the madness and social conflict o...

  • Dan

    A book that willfully misreads and badly misrepresents both the history and overall direction of critical theory, all to make that tired old argument that postmodernism demolished that great and noble...

  • Antigone

    Now to the left; to the liberal arena, to the Democratic party, and to the current hybrid faction from which it is under assault.If you have, in your travels, chanced to hear terms like Privilege, Pat...

  • Josh K

    The book provides a good overview of the roots of activist scholarship and the contemporary culture of social justice derived from it. Should be read alongside of Rauch's Kindly Inquisitors and Sokal ...

  • George

    This book is the Rosetta Stone of woke. If you ever wondered why the New York Times prints the words “whiteness” or refers to “systemic racism” in every other story, Pluckrose and Lindsay expl...

  • Lars

    First off, I never wanted to know any of this. However, I was noticing an increased stream of vocabulary I was hearing and found myself using. These terms included White Privilege, Systemic Racism, an...

  • Jason

    A good subtitle for this book might have been Why Trump Got Elected. I'm not joking. I'm from Ohio, one of those key battleground swing states in presidential elections and have had many conversations...

  • Sarah

    This book is written by folks who need a hug. ...

  • Harald Groven

    Traces the emergence of radical left postmodern ideology the past 50 years, and explains how this ideology hurts the social justice cause the activists are supposed to help. — "Critical race Theory...

  • Someursault The Jumping Stranger

    If you think this is a well-researched book on whatever might be called postmodernism, I encourage you to read some of its sources and work out for yourself what they imply. This book is, unfortunatel...