"But What If We're Wrong?" by Chuck Klosterman


| 📖 # 77 |


Title: But What If We're Wrong?
Author: Chuck Klosterman
Start Date: 9/2/17
End Date: 9/17/17
# of Pages: 288
Edition: Blue Rider Press Reprint paperback (2017)
ISBN: 9780399184130
Purchase: Amazon

Quick Take: thought provoking

Source: Nate Peterson

Why I Chose It: My friend Nate finished this book on a trip we were on and suggested I read it because he thought I would find it intriguing, and he was right!

Quotes: (1) "'If what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I'll have failed completely.' -Arthur C. Clarke, speaking in the year 1964, attempting to explain what the world might be like in the year 2000" (2) "It is impossible to examine the questions we refuse to ask." (3) "Which statement is more reasonable to make: 'I believe gravity exists' or 'I'm 99.9 percent certain that gravity exists'? Certainly, the second statement is safer. But if we're going to acknowledge even the slightest possibility of being wrong about gravity, we're pretty much giving up on the possibility of being right about anything at all." (4) "For lack of a better term, we'll just have to call it Klosterman's Razor: the philosophical belief that the best hypothesis is the one that reflexively accepts its potential wrongness to begin with" (5) "This is just realpolitik reality: The reason something becomes retrospectively significant in a far-flung future is detached from the reason it was significant at the time of its creation - and that's almost always due to a recalibration of social ideologies that future generations will accept as normative." (6) "History is defined by people who don't really understand what they are defining." (7) "Arguing with a Phantom Time advocate is a little like arguing with someone who insists that your life is not really happening, and that you're actually asleep right now, and that everything you assume to be reality is just a dream that will disappear when you awake. How does one dispute such an accusation? It can't be done (unless you consider 'scoffing' to be a valid forensic technique)." (8) "So while it's absurd to think that all of history never really happened, it's almost as absurd to think that everything we know about history is real. All of which demands a predictable question: What significant historical event is most likely wrong? And not because of things we know to contradict it, but because of the way wrongness works." (9) "We now have immediate access to all possible facts. Which is almost the same as having none at all."

Other Notes: The premise is interesting - how can we try and think so far outside our context and using information and history we can't possibly know to predict how the future will look at the now? How will the Rock music be remembered in hundreds of years? Will it be represented by The Beatles or Dylan or Elvis, or by someone who dies in obscurity only to be discovered and re-evaluated by a future culture with different criteria? Those are the kind of questions Klosterman asks, and he does it in a preposterous, but engaging way. 

BooksKarl Magnuson