Beyond the evocative title, I did not find much to like in The Watchman’s Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction and I’m still a little puzzled that the venerable E.O. Wilson lent his name and credibility to the foreword. To me, the book read as a long rant, replete with way too many italicized sentences for emphasis, in case we are a little thick, and a rant about what? That we are about to expire as a civilization because, get this, we humans are evolving more slowly than the rate of societal change. I will let you ponder the silliness of the concern. If we humans are creating the changes in our society, then shouldn’t we also be able to untangle the mess we are supposedly creating? I do agree with the author that the political process makes it difficult to effect change. I do agree that the citizenry could think issues through a little more than it does. And I do agree that the preponderance of lawyers in the legislative body of the United States makes it difficult to manage technical and scientific issues. But surely she could find a better example of mayhem-to-come than a lone experiment of introducing chimps to tokens (leading to prostitution and, horror, hoarding — remove money and all our problems go away?) And her prescription for optimism: eat blueberries, to be able to think better (to be fair, she also advocates flax seeds and papayas — and sleeping enough).
Excuse me while I rustle up some flax seeds.