Book Review: What to Think About (2015)

Philosophy for a thoughtful younger generation
by Chris Brockman

BrockmanLet’s see it would be somewhere in the late 1970s and early 1980s, during my life in the SE Michigan general liberty movement—which at that time still had a decidedly Libertarian Party component, at least for me—Chris and his wife Julie were welcome, sane voices in that not always august milieu. In 1978, Chris wrote a short book What about gods?, which became the modern standard for helping children think intelligently about the phantasmagoric world of deities and religion. [I would like gods? to be required reading for first graders in the government schools… but of course someone on the school board would jump up to shoot down such an ‘irreverent’ book for junior and his friends. “What about moral values!?” they’d exclaim.]


What to Think About is a fertile continuation of Chris’s earlier book, moving into the more general realm of philosophy and targeting, it seems, today’s junior-high and high-school aged kids. Likewise, school districts around the country would do well to insert this new book into the curriculum—if not required then highly recommended. Why? Because the students themselves will find this little nugget a godsend as they struggle with moral values, what to make of themselves, and the enormity of what the official world is slamming down upon them these days… per John Lennon:

“The world is run by insane men for insane purposes.”

Never more true than at the present. Moreover, by many accounts the psychopath elites seem to be winning. [A prospect that Mr. Brockman wisely excludes from his Big Picture.] I like how the author refreshes my own memory of the (Ayn) Randian economy of expressing what philosophy is—metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, aesthetics— and answering the question “Who needs it?”. And he does so in a manner that will flow for most teens.

Sure, I have some minor quibbles, for example, where it’s unclear the antecedent to a “this” when discussing consciousness and mind… but I’m confident he’s on the right track. And I would appreciate a more elaborate though simple demonstration of the existence of free will, suitably defined. [It is very important in these days of the psychiatric ‘collective consensus’ model of mind control that young people in particular be able to resist sinking into a Matrix-like world of the pods. Confidently embracing freedom of choice in consciousness is an essential tool in the eternal fight of the individual vs. the collective.]

As for the discussion of reason and science, well done! Here, too, I wish the author had provided a couple of key paragraphs dealing with specific, massive threats posed by ‘authoritarian science’—a contradiction in terms if there ever was one. A frightening development: the thrusting upon us of medical fascism in the name of science, particularly the mandating of vaccines, GMO crops, psychiatric drugs, psychiatric legal coercion in general, toxic atmospheric-aerosol geoengineering, and so on: “It’s scientific, because we say so, and, besides, you have no choice.” We must remember that death camps were sold by the Nazis (and the Soviets, for that matter) as rigorously scientific.

Chris does extol one of his favorite principles per the adage “Question authority.”

The illustrative concrete behavioral scenarios posed by the book are perhaps its greatest asset. As someone much older now and well beyond that high school context I still remember vividly quite similar incidents, where it wasn’t readily apparent what I should think or what I should do. I find myself empathizing with the young person facing each of these hypothetical cases. The book is short, double-spaced, with large font size. It makes an ideal gift for your 12-to-20 year old, a book that at the younger end seems to stimulate discussing with one’s parent(s). Isn’t that a wonderful notion?!

Brighter children will appreciate What to Think About at ages younger than 12. Also, it needs to be regarded as a primer, a launchpad into the serious literature of ethics, politics, and philosophy… a stimulant to becoming conceptually independent thinkers and constructive activists for what is good and right. Nice job, Chris, I wish I’d had a little guide like this in my teenage years before reading Rand and the other libertarian writers.

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