Reacting to the Fool and the Heretic

Reactions to my new book with Darrel Falk are starting to trickle out.  You can read Joel Duff's initial review of The Fool and the Heretic, and there's a brief summary in Publisher's Weekly.  There are also sporadic comment threads on some discussion boards and on Facebook, if you care to hunt for them.

Before we see many more, I wanted to make a few observations, mostly because I want to say these things before they happen (which they will).  Perhaps this is an egotistical exercise of pre-emptive I told you so, but I've been thinking a LOT about reviews and rebuttals lately, as I've written and considered writing at least four.  In this entire process, I've noticed some things I'd like to avoid about reaction writing.

First, I expect there will be a number of reviews that will focus on the content of the arguments and critique our claims.  I'm certain that some of these will try to persuade Darrel and me (or the review readers) that some other option is correct and that Darrel and/or I have made some profound mistake in overlooking something.  So basically, assume we're actual fools or actual heretics.  If you want to disagree with us, feel free, but don't make assumptions about what you think we know.  The book is about dispelling assumptions about people by personal interaction.  If you review it by assuming things about people you have not personally interacted with, that would be rather awkwardly ironic, don't you think?

Another thing I want to point out is that Darrel and I have had hours and hours of interaction.  It's been deeply personal, frequently difficult, but always rewarding in ways you can't even imagine.  So don't assume that those 200 pages is the sum total of our entire relationship.  The book was written for a specific purpose, and like all books, the details included are highly selective.  Please don't assume just because it's not in the book that some important aspect of our discussion or relationship is absent.  Again, that comes back to making assumptions about people you haven't met, and that could be awkward.

Finally, if you just read this book because you're looking for an argument, and you only want to assess the argument, then you have missed the point and you are the main person who needs to read the book.  The point is that this isn't just some argument.  There are real people in this debate with hopes, desires, loves, and fears.  If you don't care about all that, that's the problem.

Thanks for reading!  I'm going to get back to writing my rebuttals now, and I hope I will be able to practice what I preach.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com. If you enjoyed this article, please consider a contribution to Core Academy of Science. Thank you.

Have you read my book?  You should check that out too!