A review of Alan Cromer’s Uncommon Sense: The Heretical Nature of Science

Most people believe that science arose as a natural end-product of our innate intelligence and curiosity, as an inevitable stage in human intellectual development. But physicist and educator Alan Cromer disputes this belief.

Cromer argues that science is not the natural unfolding of human potential, but the invention of a particular culture, Greece, in a particular historical period. Indeed, far from being natural, scientific thinking goes so far against the grain of conventional human thought that if it hadn’t been discovered in Greece, it might not have been discovered at all.


In Uncommon Sense, Alan Cromer develops the argument that science represents a radically new and different way of thinking. Using Piaget’s stages of intellectual development, he shows that conventional thinking remains mired in subjective, “egocentric” ways of looking at the world–most people even today still believe in astrology, ESP, UFOs, ghosts and other paranormal phenomena–a mode of thought that science has outgrown.

He provides a fascinating explanation of why science began in Greece, contrasting the Greek practice of debate to the Judaic reliance on prophets for acquiring knowledge. Other factors, such as a maritime economy and wandering scholars (both of which prevented parochialism) and an essentially literary religion not dominated by priests, also promoted in Greece an objective, analytical way of thinking not found elsewhere in the ancient world. He examines India and China and explains why science could not develop in either country.

In China, for instance, astronomy served only the state, and the private study of astronomy was forbidden. Cromer also provides a perceptive account of science in Renaissance Europe and of figures such as Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton. Along the way, Cromer touches on many intriguing topics, arguing, for instance, that much of science is essential complete; there are no new elements yet to be discovered. He debunks the vaunted SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project, which costs taxpayers millions each year, showing that physical limits–such as the melting point of metal–put an absolute limit on the speed of space travel, making trips to even the nearest star all but impossible.

Finally, Cromer discusses the deplorable state of science education in America and suggests several provocative innovations to improve high school education, including a radical proposal to give all students an intensive eighth and ninth year program, eliminating the last two years of high school.


Uncommon Sense is an illuminating look at science, filled with provocative observations. Whether challenging Thomas Kuhn’s theory of scientific revolutions, or extolling the virtues of Euclid’s Elements, Alan Cromer is always insightful, outspoken, and refreshingly original.

The political works of Gary Saul Morson

We have previously drawn attention to Professor Gary Saul Morson’s New Criterion essay “How the great truth dawned,” Professor Morson’s New Criterion lecture “Leninthink,” Professor Morson’s New York Review of Books review “The horror, the horror,” and Professor Morson’s book Narrative and Freedom: The Shadows of Time (Steve wrote about it here).

To these I now want to add Professor Morson’s First Things essay “Suicide of the liberals.”

His Wikipedia entry.

Jack Cashill is an author you must read

The interview is with Jack Cashill, an author I read everything that he writes, both his books and every post he puts together, usually at The American Thinker. This is his website: cashill.com. Let me here discuss his latest book. Turns out that Obama is no better at writing than he was at governing. A fantastic fraud in every way, which the left insisted on electing and then re-electing. The same effort is now being made with another fraud, Kamala Harris, this time hopefully with less success. Choosing political leaders according to the colour of their skin is a very very stupid idea.

And that Obama could not write is no minor issue since he was elected more or less on his autobiography, supposedly personally detailed in his Dreams from My Father. The man who exposed all of this was Jack Cashill in his Deconstructing Obama.

How did Barack Obama, a man who had previously written little else, suddenly pen what Time magazine calls “the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician”? Here, in Deconstructing Obama, political scholar and author Jack Cashill analyzes and pieces together Obama’s statements about his life to get at the truth behind the man.

Cashill’s “eureka” moment came when he realized that the structure of Dreams of My Father loosely mirrors that of Homer’s Odyssey. From the moment of that revelation, Cashill researched, read, and examined interviews, writings, and statements about the President’s life story, focusing especially on a poem written when Obama was nineteen. According to the facts, in conjunction with Obama’s statements and writings, Cashill’s conclusion is that the stories don’t add up—and for the nearly 2 million people who read and accepted the story about Obama’s life—the truth is that it may be more myth than history.

That is putting it mildly. With Obama, there is no there there. Cashill has returned to the scene of Obama’s literary crime of the century discussing the memoir Obama is owed to his publisher, now at least three years late. This one even involves Donald Trump who apparently had seen through Obama’s literary pretensions right from the start: Why the Media Chose Not to Hear When Trump Called Obama a Literary Fraud. Here are the last paras, but read it all since it’s short.

The media wanted nothing to do with the idea that Ayers was Obama’s muse, no matter who made the claim.  At least fifty publications reviewed [Donald Trump’s] book, and not a one mentioned the six pages he spent on the book’s most newsworthy revelation.

Relentless Obama-defender Chris Matthews interviewed Andersen on MSNBC’s Hardball and did not address the authorship issue. Said Matthews at the end of the interview, “You’re amazing, successful guy.  You have a winning streak here.”  If Matthews did not read the book, which is likely, someone on his staff surely must have but chose not to notice the damning Ayers revelation.

To accuse Obama of being a literary fraud opens one up to the charge of racism. This I can verify from experience. There is only one reason, then, that the mainstream media passed on the opportunity to call out Trump: the deep-seated fear that he was right.

Trump was right. If you count on the media to understand what is going on, you will hardly know a thing about the times in which you live.

I also wrote to Cashill in 2012 in which I discusses something else I learned from reading his book:

For what it’s worth, your Deconstructing Obama was the only book I ever read on Kindle which cured me for life since you cannot go back to find annotated passages the way you can with a book.

But in which every way you can, I could not recommend reading Jack Cashill more. He gets to the heart of so much that others just leave behind and provides insights you will find nowhere else.

Obama’s literary fraud

Obama is no better at writing than he was at governing. A fantastic fraud in every way, which the left insisted on electing and then re-electing. And that he cannot write is no minor issue since he was elected more or less on his autobiography supposedly personally detailed in his Dreams from My Father. The man who exposed all of this was Jack Cashill in his Deconstructing Obama.

How did Barack Obama, a man who had previously written little else, suddenly pen what Time magazine calls “the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician”? Here, in Deconstructing Obama, political scholar and author Jack Cashill analyzes and pieces together Obama’s statements about his life to get at the truth behind the man.

Cashill’s “eureka” moment came when he realized that the structure of Dreams of My Father loosely mirrors that of Homer’s Odyssey. From the moment of that revelation, Cashill researched, read, and examined interviews, writings, and statements about the President’s life story, focusing especially on a poem written when Obama was nineteen. According to the facts, in conjunction with Obama’s statements and writings, Cashill’s conclusion is that the stories don’t add up—and for the nearly 2 million people who read and accepted the story about Obama’s life—the truth is that it may be more myth than history.

That is putting it mildly. With Obama, there is no there there. And he has returned to the scene of Obama’s literary crime of the century discussing the memoir Obama is owed to his publisher, now at least three years late. This one even involves Donald Trump who apparently had seen through Obama’s literary pretensions right from the start: Why the Media Chose Not to Hear When Trump Called Obama a Literary Fraud. Here are the last paras, but read it all since it’s short.

the media wanted nothing to do with the idea that Ayers was Obama’s muse, no matter who made the claim.  At least fifty publications reviewed his book, and not a one mentioned the six pages he spent on the book’s most newsworthy revelation.

Relentless Obama-defender Chris Matthews interviewed Andersen on MSNBC’s Hardball and did not address the authorship issue.  Said Matthews at the end of the interview, “You’re amazing, successful guy.  You have a winning streak here.”  If Matthews did not read the book, which is likely, someone on his staff surely must have but chose not to notice the damning Ayers revelation.

To accuse Obama of being a literary fraud opens one up to the charge of racism.  This I can verify from experience.  There is only one reason, then, that the mainstream media passed on the opportunity to call out Trump: the deep-seated fear that he was right.

Trump was right. If you count on the media to understand what is going on, you will hardly know a thing about the times in which you live.

Looking back at Looking Backward

If you have never read Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward: 2000-1887 you really should. There are so many ways to savour its uniqueness that it just has to be sampled on one’s own. A man, for reasons explained in the book falls into deep sleep in Boston in 1887 and wakes up in the year 2000 into a socialist utopia, or at least as much of a utopia as could be imagined in 1887.

To get some sense of the book, there is this Looking backward at Edward Bellamy’s utopia written by the incomparable Martin Gardner in 2000.

Gardner is much too kind to the book. What I find so fascinating is that our reality today has so far transcended the best imaginable socialist universe that could be conjured in the nineteenth century. No one today would swap our reality for what had been seen as the near perfect world as it had once been conceived.

Ba mir bistu sheyn

A wonderful song but now with its history which is just as wonderful. But also with this as an economic lesson. The narrator tells how the song is eventually sold by its writers for thirty 1937 US dollars as if they had been shortchanged in some way. But as you follow the story along with the various bends in the road you see that there is more luck than genius as in many (most?) such stories. And for myself, I would rather be remembered as the person who wrote the song than as someone who had been paid a lot of money for something I once did but had no such success as part of my life story.

Davy Crockett provides advice on how to be a politician

If it’s cynical, it is nevertheless just how it seems to be. He was much more than the King of the Wild Frontier. This was, of course, all I ever knew which came via Walt Disney when I was seven.

It also was the moment that something changed in my life. I was watching Davy Crockett at the Alamo in full colour on our black and white TV and then, suddenly, I realised that it wasn’t a colour TV set and ever since a B&W TV has been black and white. But until then, I imagined and saw everything in colour.

Anyway, a bit more of Davy Crockett wisdom. Shame Walt Disney didn’t focus on any of this.

The President’s Lady and the Battle of New Orleans

I have just finished a novel on Andrew Jackson’s wife, The President’s Lady written by Irving Stone in 1951:

In this acclaimed biographical novel, Irving Stone brings to life the tender and poignant love story of Rachel and Andrew Jackson. “Beyond any doubt one of the great romances of all time.” — The Saturday Review of Literature.

An incredible story of both of them, but it ends just as he becomes president and she almost exactly at the same time passes away. She never even made it to the inauguration. They both had an amazing life – he meets her when she is 16 and already married in what we would today call an abusive relationship. But in 1792 a divorce was only available at the initiative of her husband, which must go through the state legislature which her first husband, unbeknownst to her, never undertakes although she thinks he has. So beyond everything else – including a duel to the death – the marriage is a major political scandal where he is elected although she is, according to the morality of the time, an adulteress!

He arrives in Washington without his beloved wife and finds the atmosphere cold and distant. This, however, is how the book ends.

But he reckoned without the mob of his followers who had come to Washington City from ever part of the Union to witness his inauguration. They poured down Pennsylvania Avenue, streamed through the gates of the White House, found their way into the East Room, devoured the ice cream and cakes and orange punch. They climbed on the furniture to catch a glimpse of Andrew, soiling the damask chairs with their muddy boots, staining the carpets, breaking glasses and china, shouting and surging and pushing, all thousands of them, wanting to reach Andrew and embrace him.

He stood at the back of the room, imprisoned, yet feeling the first glint of happiness since Rachael’s death. These were the people; they had stood by him. They had loved Rachael, they had vindicated her. For that, he loved them, and would fight for them the rest of his days.

They were “the deplorables” of their own time. I was not the first to notice how similar Donald Trump is to Andrew Jackson, but it is more obvious to me now than it was before.

The video of the Battle of New Orleans above is all that I can find of the movie made from the book at the time. In the book, the battle is a minor moment in the story since it is mostly about her and not him. Lots about him, but almost everything is only seen through her own eyes. If she was not present, virtually all other events are only described where she is being told about them either by her husband or by others. A brilliant book and a story I had never even heard hinted at before. This, btw, is the flyer for movie that was made from the book.

General Invincible295.jpeg

Even more than before, I understand that Donald Trump is the Andrew Jackson of our own time.

And here is The Battle of New Orleans as sung by Johnny Horton:

As amazing to me as anything is that this is a compilation of the pictures with the words put together by Diana West which has had almost 18 million hits. If only American Betrayal had had as many hits and readers.

And then there is this, the story of how The Star Spangled Banner was written.

I may have been born and brought up in Canada where the War of 1812 has always had a different meaning. But I am at one with freedom and liberty and in the world today it means to side with the United States of America against its enemies both foreign and domestic.