PanFree BeaconThe Cult of Smart is of a kind with this reputation, attacking popular progressive foils like meritocracy and capitalism by arguing from the essentially unprogressive principle that, intellectually, not everyone is naturally equal ... The Cult of Smart does eventually lay out the scientific evidence behind the cognitive inequality position, although it takes a good 100 pages to get there, stopping along the way for lots of biographical detail, a tired critique of \'liberalism,\' and anecdote-laden grousing about charter schools. These chapters feel like padding to an already slim volume. The eventually presented evidence, however, makes a solid case that education has a minimal impact on students\' abilities and that the link between school quality and life outcomes is more about top schools filtering out already smart kids than about those schools making kids smart ... While deBoer\'s research review is thorough, the reader is left wishing he had spent less time on personal asides and more time engaging with the substantive critiques of the \'hereditarian\' position, including the mutability of IQ post-birth but pre-school and the effects environmental toxins like lead can have on intellectual development ... It is hard not to conclude that deBoer\'s personal preferences, rather than his beliefs about cognitive inequality, determine the specific policies he advocates for—his discussion of a Universal Basic Income and Jobs Guarantee are particularly starry-eyed and unnuanced ... What to do about variable intelligence, and its interactions with an increasingly brain-powered economy, is a real policy challenge for the 21st century. But it is one to which deBoer\'s socialist utopia is a profoundly unserious answer.
Tara Isabella Burton
PositiveThe Washington Free Beacon...excellent ... To say that the progressive left is religious is not exactly a novel argument—anti-Communists on both sides of the Atlantic have said so for decades. It\'s not even, necessarily, a criticism. Insofar as Burton is correct that everyone still reasons supernaturally, to label something supernatural can no longer be a derogation ... But it does give us cause to worry about the power that this particular religion appears to wield in the public square ... Religion has an ineluctable place in the public square—to ask someone to check their religious commitments at the door is a meaningless request. But the American tradition of self-governance turns also upon the possibility of religious pluralism, of each person\'s right to believe, or not believe, as he sees fit ... This is but one of many takeaways from Strange Rites, well worth the read for its religious history and careful examination of pop culture. But it is perhaps the most important: If America really is as religious as ever, our political survival begins with acknowledging that fact.
PositiveThe Washington Free BeaconOccupied with a bevy of policy proposals ... The merits of these proposals are ultimately up to the discerning reader to weigh. Cass seems intent on including something for everyone to like, which means inevitably that there is something for everyone to hate. But the total purpose of the package is less important than the goal that directs them—the core idea that a man or woman with a high school education should be able to feed his or her family ... It is not obvious if changes in trade policy or environmental regulation can transform how we think about political economy. But Cass is also right that the consumptive model is likely a key part of our dissatisfaction as a country. As such, The Once and Future Worker is a vital text for those interested in undoing it.