The Constitution of Knowledge A Defense of Truth - OBOC 2022-2023

One Book One College's 2022-2023 library guide for The Constitution on Knowledge A Defense of Truth

The Constitution of Knowledge A Defense of Truth by Jonathan Rauch

Jonathan Rauch

Jonathan Rauch, 2013 (cropped).jpg

Jonathan Charles Rauch (/raʊtʃ/; born April 26, 1960) is an American author, journalist, and activist. After graduating from Yale University, Rauch worked at the Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina, for National Journal, and later for The Economist and as a freelance writer. He is currently a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution and a contributing editor of The Atlantic.

He is the author of books and articles on public policy, culture, and economics. His books include The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50 (2018), Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America (2004); Government's End: Why Washington Stopped Working (2000); and Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought (1993; revised second edition in 2013). In 2015, he published a short ebook, Political Realism, arguing that overzealous efforts to clean up politics have hampered the ability of political parties and professionals to order politics and build governing coalitions. In 2021, Rauch released The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth describing the erosion of our epistemic commons, the cost to U.S. democracy, and offering solutions.

Writings and beliefs

A critic of U.S. government public policy in general, including its relation to LGBTQ+ people, Rauch has pursued gay-related topics as an openly gay author (he did not realize he was gay until after he finished college) since 1991 when he spoke out against hate crime laws in The New Republic. He is an avid proponent of same-sex marriage, which he believes improves the quality of life of both LGBTQ+ people and married heterosexuals. He co-authored an op-ed article in The New York Times that proposed the compromise of nationally recognized civil unions for gay couples, which he did with the goal of "reconciliation" with religious opponents of same-sex marriage.

Peter Wehnerconservative writer and director of the Bush-era Office of Strategic Initiatives, has called Rauch "the most formidable and persuasive voice for same-sex marriage."

Rauch is also well known for an article he wrote in The Atlantic in March 2003, entitled "Caring for Your Introvert: The habits and needs of a little-understood group". In this article, Rauch described his own experiences as an introvert, and how being an introvert has affected his own life. For many introverts, his piece became a long sought after explanation of their own personality traits. For a period of years, Rauch's original article drew more traffic to The Atlantic Monthly site than any other article.

In terms of political philosophy, Rauch has referred to himself as "an admirer of James Madison and Edmund Burke" and a "radical incrementalist," meaning one who favors "revolutionary change on a geological time scale." He has also summarized Burke's views, and his views, in that "utopianism and perfectionism, however well intended, should never displace reasonable caution in making social policy... It's much easier to damage society... than to repair it."

He has in the past described himself as "an unrepentantly atheistic Jewish homosexual". He defines his view as apatheism, in which he respects other people's choices of religiosity or absence of religion without making a big deal of them. He contrasts this with American atheists who seek to evangelize and convert people away from religion, actions that he is critical of.

In political science and economics, Rauch is known for coining and promoting the term "demosclerosis" as "government's progressive loss of the ability to adapt"—a process in which specific benefits, going to special interests, bill the common taxpayer, which uses the medical term sclerosis to apply to government drift. He is a critic of communism, calling it "the deadliest fantasy in human history".

This information was taken from Wikipedia which is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0

Ad Fontes - Static Media Bias Chart

Center for Media Literacy

How to Analyze a News Story: Eight Guidelines for Reading Between the Lines

  1. Compare headlines and story content. Headlines are probably the most important aspect of news stories. Most people "shop" headlines to determine which articles to read. After reading an article, propose alternative headlines that emphasize different facts. How accurately does the actual headline encapsulate the article? Does the headline slant one's reading of the article?
  2. Identify politically-charged labels, adjectives, and verbs. Word choices can help identify reporters' biases. Have your family or group read an article and list words that seem politically charged. For example: Are the contras called "freedom fighters?" Are those who support abortion rights called "abortion activists" or "pro-choice activists?" What connotation does the word "activist" imply? Why?
  3. Question the hidden agenda of suspicious sources. Sometimes reporters need to speak with sources "off the record." Often, however, sources use their anonymity to further their own agendas. When a reporter cites "top U.S. officials," "company informants," or other anonymous sources, whose position is left out? What ulterior motive might a source have?
  4. Consider whether the placement of ideas and sources affects story impact. Try cutting apart a newspaper article and pasting it back together in a different order. Does the tenor of the article change when dissenting opinions become the lead? Whose position is stressed by the original arrangement of the story?
  5. Look for non-white, non-male perspectives. North American media rely heavily on white, male officials for their news. How does the news change when seen from the perspective of women or other races? For a class or group project, have group members tally the sex and race of sources cited in a television, radio or print report. How many are white and male? How many are females or people of color?
  6. Compare photographs and photo captions to the news stories connected with them. Manipulation of digital images is not the only way to change the meaning of a picture. As with headlines, readers "shop" a newspaper by scanning pictures and reading captions -- whether or not they read the associated articles. Are photographs and their captions faithful to the articles connected with them? How does a picture or caption influence the meaning of an article?
  7. Compare news stories to common sense. Be aware of obvious misstatements of facts that defy common sense. In the aftermath of the Exxon oil spill, one article stated that much of the oil spill "is gone, most by natural action." So where did it go? Did it evaporate -- or is it now mixed with billions of gallons of water?
  8. Be suspicious of polls and statistics. Polling data and statistics are notoriously deceptive. Ask "which perspective does this data seem to support?" Then try rearranging the same data so that it presents a different perspective.

These steps were written for the Center for Media Literacy by J. Francis Davis, an adult educator and media education specialist, was on the staff of the Center for Media Literacy from 1989 to 1992. He holds an M.Div. from Candler School of Theology at Emory University, Atlanta where he currently works in the computer industry and lives with his wife, Elizabeth, and their children.