What Use Is Literature?

“Too many ?studies? and ?reports,? with tables of data in small print appended, have purported to reveal truths about welfare or policing or sex education but in fact have revealed nothing but the initial prejudices of the ?investigators.? For me, the epiphany came when I interviewed the nation‘sleading climatologists for a magazine article on acid rain (about which I knew nothing) and discovered mostly ideology, not knowledge?among scientists. When I also learned some years ago that academic paleontologists at that time couldn’t hope to get tenure if they questioned the theory that a giant meteor explosion had caused the extinction of the dinosaurs?thus providing a model of what a so-called nuclear winter would produce?my own skepticism took on a certain wryness.” Myron MagnetWhat Use Is Literature? (City Journal)

Most of the article simply praises literature, “the accumulated wisdom of the race, the sum of our reflections on our own existence. It begins with observation, with reporting, rendering the facts of our inner and outer reality with acuity sharpened by imagination.” But I was drawn to the above swipe at science, which is supposedly above the ideological baggage that burdens humanities scholarhip.