The Science of Liberty Democracy, Reason, and the Laws of Nature

Review From User :

I hesitate to recommend any book as a "must read," because, if you're like me, hearing a book described as such makes me want to avoid reading it.

But I've gotta take the risk. "The Science of Liberty" is a must read.

Timothy Ferris's argument is that science tends to debunk received authority, making the world freer (Ferris would say more liberal); at the same time, in a more liberal atmosphere, science flourishes. These things seemed self-evident to me, but Ferris, as a science enthusiast, takes the trouble to gather the empirical evidence to back them up.

I was a little nervous when Ferris defined his own liberalism as "classical liberalism," which includes a dedication to "small government," since I always describe myself as left of center. But Ferris is no Libertarian: the government has a place in fostering fairness in people's dealings in the free market. And some government spending is helpful. What government ought not do is top-down planning of the economy (note the dismal failure of communism). And the government ought to try to stay out of the way of the scientific enterprise as much as possible, rather than deciding what science should be pursued at the service of the state.

Dogma is the enemy of science, and of freedom, and "The Science of Liberty" has a chapter each on religious, political (both left and right), and even academic dogmas that have attacked science over the years.

"The Science of Liberty" didn't so much recalibrate my politics as clarify to me what I value. It actually has rather a calming effect in this time of political polarization. I can actually imagine liberals and conservatives finding some common ground in its contents.

If you don't appreciate my characterization of this book as a must read, let me say that the book shouldn't be missed.


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