Page 417 of my copy of John Brockman's 2012 book, This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking*, contains the following brief entry:
THESE WILL MAKE YOU STUPIDER_______________
Essayist; poet; layman of science and the arts
A book that promotes concepts for improving your thinking might spend a few words to debunk certain concepts—or certain books that contain certain concepts—that tend to hold thinking back or destroy it altogether.
If the books that improve your thinking can collectively be called science, then it's fair to collect the other kind of books under the heading religion. The main books in this class are the ones that the various religions consider their holy scriptures.
It isn't so much that the "scriptural" books have worse ideas than other religious books, but that the scriptural ones come with an aura of extra authority that renders their ideas essentially above criticism and unopposable. Ideas that can't be challenged by experiment or logic are mind-numbing and deadly.
So, readers of John Brockman's excellent book—perfect for parlor or porch, or wherever you might sit long enough to take in another two- or three-page essay from the frontiers of psychology, philosophy, economics, physics, sociology—be sure not only to visit Brockman's book from time to time, but also to either avoid that other kind of book altogether or read them purely for archaeological amusement.
* This page is not included in the standard edition.
Copyright © 2013 by Morris Dean