Nothing that Rushkoff writes in this clipped, angry book should surprise most readers. Nobody who has spent any time tracking the pronouncements and feuds of the more futurist-minded tech elites would think many had a high opinion of or interest in improving the daily lot of carbon-based life forms. Though predictable and at times a bit too broadly defined, the depth of anti-humanist sentiment related by Rushkoff is still harrowing and illuminating ... Although this of-the-moment book contains little context dating back more than three decades, Rushkoff does not try to claim everything about the Mindset is new. He points instead to how illogical power fantasies have merged with an Ayn Randian cult of the solitary hero and been nurtured by the Web’s seductive capacity for self-aggrandizing mythmaking. Given how much he may have contributed to those seductions, he is the right messenger ... loses some of its impact when delivering suggestions for how to push back (don’t give in to the inevitability of doom, buy local, fight for anti-monopoly laws). That is partly because it is difficult for them to seem equal to the magnitude of the problem. But for Rushkoff, the smallness of the solutions is part of the point.
The Insulation Equation is a provocative and illuminating concept, and Rushkoff devotes much of the book to tracing the manifestations and origins of a mind-set that seduces people into believing they can insulate themselves from harms they help create ... Rushkoff provides a powerful critique of the attitudes and technologies that enable these deceptions. His arguments about their ultimate origins and his suggestions for how to improve our economy and future, however, are not persuasive ... The trouble starts with a confused and simplistic attack on empirical science and quantifications. Attempting to recast the terms 'Western' and 'empirical' as insults, he rails against a 'Western, empirical approach to science that breaks everything down into parts rather than emphasizing the connections and interactions between all these things.' This is a cartoonish portrait; many ecologists, biologists and other scientists study interactions both within and between complex systems. It’s a shame that the book stoops to such ill-considered broadsides ... Rushkoff’s proposed solutions, rehearsed in a rapid paragraph near the end of the book, focus on consuming less and regulating and taxing industries more. These are good if familiar ideas, but they cannot be implemented well without careful empirical study. How much less do we need to consume, and in what sectors of the economy, and over what time frame? What is the comparative efficacy of different potential regulations, and what green technologies are most promising? ... These sorts of questions should not be answered by scientists alone; they also have moral and political dimensions. But they are impossible to answer without careful scientific analysis. Science is necessary to creating a livable future. It’s just not sufficient.