Cultural Insanity, the Key to Understanding Our World and Ourselves by Jeffrey Wynter Koon is a non-fiction work of primarily expository writing in a persuasive format. Koon's theory on why civilizations derail into frenzied, insane reasoning when absolutely no reason for these beliefs exist is broken down into four parts. The first part is a detailed, foundational explanation and a look at contemporary examples of cultural insanity following an intensive examination of the whys and hows. Part two leans into witchcraft and centuries of insanity through vessels of faith as a means of power, control, subjugation, and continuity of all. Part three pinpoints the churning out of flagrant misinformation as a means of advancing the bedrock of the authority of the Church over science. Part four transitions through the historical development of evolution and time as it applies to terrestrial evidence, contradicting long-standing proclamations and belief systems that limit the earth to an age of just a few thousand years.
Jeffrey Wynter Koon takes his time peeling back layers of theoretical structure, employing in-depth case studies and other applications of empirical support where they exist. The part that I found to be most interesting in Cultural Insanity, the Key to Understanding Our World and Ourselves was in part four, chapter 35's The Challenges Diversify and Extinctions Confirmed. I loved reading about early attempts to explain away an emergence of fossils that directly contradict archaic beliefs of the age of the earth and its inhabitants over millions of years to a devout populace who deemed extinction events impossible, but Noah's flood to be fact. This is a heavy read with a lot to offer and the research to back it up. I have no doubt it will be embraced by those who appreciate a thorough analytical construct of cultural insanity.
A balanced and wide-ranging history. ~Steve in Japan
The framework used by Koon, defining cultural insanity as aspects of society that unnecessarily inhibit human development, allows for a wide sweep of human culture. Certainly, this definition is relatable by any American who has been conscious for the last few years, but it requires rather more detail and a bit of spin to see the phenomenon through all of known history and in all current economic and social activity. In this project, Koon is an intellectual successor to Howard Zinn, Steven Pinker, and even old Karl Marx. And detail is forthcoming in this book, perhaps too much to digest in a comfortable allocation of time for a reader like me with only a finite amount left. But if your knowledge of classical literature or medieval history has a few holes, jump in and fill them with this encyclopedic work. I’d love to see the book published as a series of essays, or better yet (I can dream!) as a documentary series.
We Are All In This For Better Or For Worse. Why is Worse Still An Option? ~Allen Davenport
If sometime in the twentieth century was the last time you looked at Will & Ariel Durant, or if you’re a high school or undergraduate student who has discovered things aren’t quite right in the world around you, you should read Jeff Koon's "Cultural Insanity." All three authors have explanations of how civilizations go insane. Koon discusses three modern examples of wide-spread human ignorance that have contributed to long lasting mental breakdowns in western civilization : the overwhelming ego of the medieval Christian church, the witchcraft explanation for every local catastrophe that can’t otherwise be explained, and the incredible revival of creationism in the 20th Century. He meticulously examines why each of these fallacies has led us to an unsustainable conclusion for the human race. And, being an educator, he provides a remedy for recognizing and curing these and future factious fallacies. Suffering or the End of Suffering? If you think an earthly choice to be smarter human beings is worth the effort, this book will help you along.
Making Sense of Civilized Madness ~Rodney Jones
At age 35, my world view was radically shifted by Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi film, a Hopi native American word meaning "life out of balance," a 1984 environmental art film that a reviewer said, "says a mouthful with no words." Now at 75, I find myself still being moved by works with words like Yuval Noah Harari's 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.
Cultural Insanity fits the genre of our times, seeking to find sense among utter nonsense and possibly a way out of the downward spiral of our civilization. It is a tome. Not for the weak at heart or those wanting simply a literary sketch. But an immersion pays off. And much can be gotten even from the first 180 pages of Part One. Part Two is the backup treatment for the premises in the first part.
In this weird age of Trumpism and foolish QAnon-ists, this is a must-read. No Xanex is prescribed for our cultural insanity but the author offers some useful suggested antidotes, especially an admonishment about the need to re-evaluate all our basic assumptions, values, beliefs, and feelings. Koon draws together various strains of thinking and facets of knowledge to identity our weak spots, failings, and disasters over the past millennia, documenting our repetitive refusal to absorb, lean, study, experiment and - aptly for today's Covid crisis - to follow science.
George Gregg, retired information systems manager (in an email to me while reading Part I, after having been sworn to secrecy)
"I am truly knocked out by it"..."I am writing to ask if I can share some of this with my [early teen] grandchildren. They are both very intelligent and are aware that their generation is facing major issues, but your exposition of it is so clear and all-encompassing..."
Lee Shilman, widely-read carpenter and building contractor, after reading Parts 3 & 4 and then Part 1
"I immediately began to see evidence of the concept everywhere--in the news, of course, and in everything I know about history."