I’m inflicting another Bobo review on your asses. This one is very good, it’s what I like to think I would have written about it if I read the book, had more time, and had some familiarity with the body of literature in the fields Bobo wanks about.
Harold and Erica go to good schools, and pass through a series of haute bourgeois jobs—museum curator, freelance consultant, corporate marketing functionary, author of mid-list historical biographies—until, finally, the hyper-achieving Erica arrives as the chief executive of a cable company, and the ponderous Harold scores a sinecure at a neocon think tank, where he pastes David Brooks opinion columns into papers on public policy.[….]
The story of Harold and Erica does not really illustrate a new, coherent, science-based theory of human nature. It is a bowl hammered from Brooks’ philosophic predilections into which a jumbled stew of scientific anecdotes is poured.
This last bit goes to my big problem with would be conservative intellectuals. They start with a premise and then they find some high-brow arguments — maybe invoking science, maybe mentioning Burke, maybe just using trendy phrases like “regulatory capture” and “confirmation bias” — in favor of the premise. This is no terrible sin when it’s done in a three-hundred word column or even in a McMegan length blog post, but it doesn’t merit a 400 page book and it doesn’t qualify as intellectual inquiry.