Note: This review was initially rejected by Amazon with little explanation but that it violated their guidelines. It was actually not published by them until Dec. 20, 2012 link.
This book has an irrational purpose, which is spelled out in its first sentence: “The purpose of this book is to gain an understanding of our past and on that basis to predict the future.”
A rational man does not predict the future. He creates it in his own image. Or, as Alan Kay wrote: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
This book is filled with a lot of finger-pointing about bad trends. Are they bad trends? Sure. But the best way to stop a bad trend to clear a new path and just create something better. For example, Objectivists have been complaining for decades about the errors of theoretical physics. Why go on decade after decade merely complaining? Why not create a distinctively Objectivist theoretical physics? What’s stopping them from doing this? (The answer is, in part: errors in Rand’s philosophy, which they refuse to identify.) And supposing that they did, wouldn’t that be precisely the kind of thing needed in order to get the culture to start shifting exactly how they wanted? Imagine how different this book project would have been if, instead of trying to figure out how to best classify all the bad things, it looked at every field and figured out how to best rectify their various problems.
Peikoff claims that a goal of DIM is to make a prognosis. I disagree with his diagnosis. Truth is more powerful than falsehood. Where Issac Newton brilliantly succeeded in inspiring mankind to become more rational, Objectivism has failed. Peikoff looks outward for blame and finds irrationality running amok, and sure enough, it is. But the Objectivists, if they do indeed value rationality, need to learn to be more introspective and look for the errors that are the easiest to correct: their own. This is not a guarantee of success, but it is the only hope.
Some have said that this book is without precedent. That’s not quite true. There certainly is a precedent for prognostication. The Book of Revelation pretends to know what is going to happen to future societies. Nostradamus pretended to be able to predict a bleak future. Peikoff is uncomfortably close to being in the same company with a litany of scam artists of varying degrees of sophistication.