For decades American politics and public policy have been sliding in the direction of unreason. Thanks in large part to the growth of the religious right, the political realm has become increasingly divisive and anti-intellectual, with little rational discourse and much pandering. How can humanists and others seeking rational public policy reverse this course?
David Niose, former AHA president and current legal director, addresses this question in his new book, Fighting Back the Right: Reclaiming America from the Attack on Reason. David has often emphasized that the secular movement should be seen as a vehicle for change in America, that the visible emergence of humanists and other non-theists in public life can help push back against the dangerous agenda of the religious right. These were some of the key themes in his critically acclaimed 2012 book, Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans.
Now David connects the dots further, showing how so much of the right-wing agenda—and not just the religious right, but the corporate interests that control the system as well—relies on the suppression of reason in American society. Thus, to fight back, those seeking rational, human-centered public policy must recognize what David calls the “reason deficit” and confront it head-on.
Steven Pinker calls Fighting Back the Right “an important contribution to current debates on politics, religion, and meaning.” In this talk, David will share an overview of a prescription for long-term, fundamental change that would put human interests at the center of policymaking—a prescription that goes beyond the emergence of the secular demographic (although that’s part of it) to a broad-based reassessment of power and politics in America.
David Niose has been serving as director of the AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center since January 2014, overseeing all of the AHA’s litigation and other legal activities. He has practiced law since 1990, most of that time running his own civil litigation practice in Massachusetts. David served two terms as AHA president and served on the board of directors from 2005 to 2013. He is author of Fighting Back the Right: Reclaiming America from the Attack on Reason and Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans.