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Rational Polemics by Richard Todd Devens

Monday, May 18, 2015
Richard Todd Devens, Rational Polemics, ethics, philosophy
In Rational Polemics, Richard Todd Devens takes a look at taboo and controversial subjects in our society such as religion, evil, drugs, extramarital affairs, and racism.

I have been compensated by Bookplex for an honest review of this book. Also, this post contains affiliate links. I will receive a commission for any items that you purchase when you follow these links.

Update 8/25/15: Per Amazon's and Goodreads' TOS, paid reviewers are not allowed to post as consumers. As a result, I took down my reviews from both sites.  

It seems that Devens, who identifies himself as an Atheist, is trying to appeal to the Judeo-Christian segment of the market, and his writing reflects this. For instance, when discussing his views on Islam he uses news stories about Taliban soldiers to support his views. In another instance, somebody “evil” is accidentally killed on a highway while the “good” person remains relatively unscathed.

Similar anecdotes and generalizations are made throughout the book. I find this troubling because it is short-sighted and prejudiced to imply that all Muslims are "evil" or "bad" based on the actions of a group of Muslims. I also find that it irrational to use examples to indicate that bad things happen to bad people, rather than dealing with the reality that bad things happen to good people.

Even more troubling is the fact that Devens supports his stance on these topics with anecdotes, personal observations, and generalizations. I was surprised by this since I read several Atheist blogs, and all of them use fact and scientific evidence to support their observations; anecdotes, personal observations, and generalizations are sometimes used to clarify the authors’ perspectives, but never to support their claims.

Rational Polemics is liberally sprinkled with unsupported opinions and claims; a fact that becomes evident when Devens discusses racism and gender discrimination. Devens glosses over glaring inequalities in our system by stating “statistics show that...,” rather than delving into the reasons why the statistics show that these groups are “disadvantaged.”

Devens further demonstrates that his book is based upon opinion rather than fact in“Chapter 16: Love, Sex and Marriage” in which he discusses the concept of adultery. The Atheist community in general asserts that humans are not monogamous by nature, and uses anthropological and medical findings to prove this. Instead of supporting his opinion of adultery with this evidence, he spouts his opinion at readers and moves on.

Rational Polemics was a disappointment to me. I was hoping to read something that would change my perceptions of society, with evidence that I could not ignore. What I got were anecdotes, generalizations, and personal observations packaged as irrefutable evidence; none of which compel me to agree with most of Devens’ opinions.

If you are an Atheist, or an Atheist supporter, that follows bloggers like PZ Myers, Hemant Mehta, or Greta Christina; don't bother buying this.

If  you want to buy this book, you can get the Kindle version for $4.99. For $14.29, you can get a paperback copy of the book from Barnes and Noble, or Amazon.com.
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