The Power of Uncertainty  by John F. Loase

The Power of Uncertainty

A Case for the Liberal Arts
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An intelligent and impassioned, albeit not quite cohesive, argument for uncertainty and a foundation in the arts.

Formally trained as a mathematician and psychologist, Loase spends a good portion of this slim volume laying the groundwork for his thesis that mathematics relies on a foundation constructed on assumptions. Along the way, he references certain principles of statistics and calculus as well as more esoteric branches of mathematics. He also touches on the work of several famous mathematicians, ranging from Bertrand Russell to Andrew Wiles, making his points without belaboring his ideas or getting bogged down in minutiae. However, once the mathematical chapters are finished, Loase’s arguments quickly begin to lose momentum. A chapter on science, for instance, veers off topic into what reads like an attack on atheists, specifically Richard Dawkins, whose name is consistently misspelled: “Richard Dawkings has made it fashionable to deify science at the expense of religion.” The following chapter on free will muddies the waters further, since the concept appears more as a statement of Loase’s faith than a reasoned argument. By the arrival of chapters extolling the importance of literature, film, art, and psychology, the overall thread of Loase’s thesis has been lost in the ether, with individual statements and assertions making sense but failing to coalesce into a logical whole. Furthermore, while Loase’s work on the concept of “sigfluence”—positive, significant, long-term interpersonal influence—is undoubtedly valuable in psychological and behavioral studies, its value to the idea of liberal arts being a useful guide to one’s life development is not made sufficiently clear; as such, the frequent references to it seem more like self-promotion than an attempt to contextualize and/or bolster his arguments. Fans of science, mathematics, the liberal arts, and the value of a well-rounded education may find themselves echoing Daniel Dennett: “There’s nothing I like less than bad arguments for a view I hold dear.”

Makes many good points and portrays a writer of intellect and compassion, but the arguments struggle to coalesce into a meaningful statement, likely leaving many readers underwhelmed.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-62006-485-6
Page count: 152pp
Publisher: Sunbury Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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