Archive | March, 2011

Why David Brooks is awful

5 Mar

Were it not for laziness, I’d have long ago articulated exactly what I hate about David Brooks. Fortunately, my laziness has payed off in the form of two recent Salon takedowns of his new book, which together hit the mark close enough that I needn’t bother. The first is PZ Meyers critiquing Brooks’s clutch cargo deployment of science factoids:

The technicalities don’t illuminate the story in any way, and the story undercuts the science. Ultimately, the neuroscience in the book feels a micrometer deep and a boring lifetime long, with the fiction[...]giving the impression that it’s built on a sample size of two, and both [samples] utterly imaginary.

The second is Alyssa Battistoni critiquing Brooks’s core message, that the solution to the problems of the world lie in everyone simply being more like our current stock of super-awesome elites:

Brooks is so enamored of his vision of a new economy, driven by American middle-class values and invariably described as “creative,” “diverse” and “innovative” (because who can argue with those?) that he can’t see that this seemingly bright future is already leaving millions behind. Indeed, his vision of the future world is literally just a variation on Richard Florida’s “creative class” economy in which cities around the world compete for global elites. Brooks gets that certain people — the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world — are the “sorts of people who become stars in an information economy and a hypercompetitive, purified meritocracy.” But although he acknowledges that it will be necessary to address “human capital inequalities” to give everyone a “chance to participate,” he doesn’t seem to understand that the meritocracy he champions is anything but purified. Instead, it’s the Organization Kids, with their elite educations and global connections, who have the advantage in a competition driven by “relationships” and “charisma,” which begins to sound suspiciously like the old boys’ network of yore.