Damon Linker reviews Jesse Bering’s The Belief Instinct in TNR:
Conservative and reactionary critics of science have often accused it of dehumanizing us. They will be delighted to learn that Bering, who clearly implies that we would be better off if we were to follow the lead of our evolutionary cousins and begin shamelessly shitting on ourselves in public, has made their case for them. . .
But what is the properly human response to our inability to exorcise our groundless moral and religious intuitions? Consoling his readers with a pep talk, Bering tells us that the collective impotence of our species “doesn’t make us weak, ridiculous, or even foolish.” I beg to differ. Repeated, sustained, ongoing, irredeemable self-deception is both ridiculous and foolish. If Bering is right, then human beings, interminably shadowboxing with self-generated delusions, deserve to be considered the laughingstock of the natural world.