Philosopher Scientist Pens Premature Factulation Book, Probing Man’s Proclivity to “Ignorant Certain


Philip D. Hansten’s New Book, Published by Philoponus Press, Explores Premature Factulation—its Origins, Manifestations, and Prevalence—and Ways to Recognize and Avoid the Ignorance of Certainty


[USPRwire, Thu Oct 01 2009] Democratic politician William Gibbs McAdoo (1863-1941) once said, “It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.”* This is one lesson that can be learned from a new philosophical treatise entitled, Premature Factulation: The Ignorance of Certainty and the Ghost of Montaigne, authored by Professor Philip D. Hansten, and published by Philoponus Press (www.Philoponus.com). This book explains the concept of “ignorant certainty”—a phrase the author uses interchangeably with “Premature Factulation”—and provides, as prime examples, the hubris and failures of the Bush presidency.

What is Premature Factulation?
Dr. Hansten defines Premature Factulation as “the process of coming to conclusions without adequate study or contemplation; usually applied to complex concepts or situations.” Or, put simply, it is drawing conclusions and making decisions without facts and logic.

In his book, Hansten says that the early 21st century finds us “. . . in the grip of pundits and pontificators who never met a complex problem they couldn’t solve before breakfast.” He adds, “This book is meant to be an examination of Premature Factulation—what it is, why and where it exists, and how to recognize and avoid it.”

In attempt to thoroughly explain this topic, Hansten lists recent occurrences of Premature Factulation, committed by politicians and propagandists, which happen to feature conservatives more often than liberals. Hansten offers that one reason for this prevalence may simply be because, in the U.S., the conservatives have been in power for most of the past three decades. Additionally, Hansten highlights other instances of Premature Factulation to help the reader gain insight on how humans use rationalization and wishful thinking to try to make sense of situations.

Premature Factulation in George W. Bush Presidency:
Hansten claims, “With regard to politics, you will see examples of Premature Factulation primarily from certain types of conservatives,” and, “. . . conservatives (particularly in the 21st century) seem more prone to this.”

For example, Hansten indicates that a major occurrence of Premature Factulation was Bush’s decision to attack Iraq in 2003. He writes, “. . . it is hard to imagine a more classic example of Premature Factulation than the certainty with which the neoconservatives agitated for attacking Iraq after the September 11 attacks.” Many believe that the Bush presidency relied upon fiction to prove its facts in this case, which could possibly be one of the worst historical incidents of Premature Factulation.

In Premature Factulation: The Ignorance of Certainty and the Ghost of Montaigne, Hansten identifies over fifty cases of Premature Factulation -- many of which are related to the Bush presidency and conservatives -- resulting from bumper-sticker philosophy, conventional wisdom, devalued criticism, feigned piety, perspectivism, preconceptions, rationalization, scientific naïveté, and/or self-interest. The intent, according to Hansten, is to inspire the reader to think about Premature Factulation in politics and how future U.S. presidencies will fare with regards to this.

Prominence of Premature Factulation:
Indeed, Hansten points out that, although much Premature Factulation took place in the Bush presidency, conservatives are just one of many groups who commit it as a natural part of human behavior. As Hansten humbly states, “Everybody commits Premature Factulation, even people who write books about it.” In fact, ignorant certainty is evident in all societies, cultures, groups, classes, professions, and pursuits throughout the course of human history.

Hansten goes on to say that, even with ignorant certainty being so particularly obvious in politics, no one is spared from Premature Factulation. Premature Factulation: The Ignorance of Certainty and the Ghost of Montaigne illustrates how ignorant certainty applies to virtually all fields—government and law, business and economics, science and medicine, literature and more. Hansten states, “There is a natural human tendency to come to conclusions first and then try to shoehorn the evidence to fit the conclusion.”

Hansten’s Study of Premature Factulation (and Montaigne):
An expert in the science of drug interactions, Hansten repeatedly saw a gap between what people knew and what they thought they knew (a.k.a. ignorant certainty) in his field. This led to his discovery that Premature Factulation was rampant in other areas too, and he started to wonder what to do about it. Thus began Hansten’s foray into Western philosophy, studying writings of the great Greek thinkers and the famous American and European philosophers of the 16th century and beyond—whereupon Hansten discovered Montaigne.

Michel de Montaigne, a renowned 16th century French essayist and philosopher, was a central figure in arguments about ignorant certainty. Hansten found that Montaigne’s wisdom is even applicable to the Bush presidency, although he obviously was not commenting on this specifically when he wrote, “It is quite true that novices in the business of war very often hurl themselves into dangers more recklessly than they will later, after they have been scalded.”

As Hansten dissects the origins, definitions, manifestations, and consequences of ignorant certainty in Premature Factulation: The Ignorance of Certainty and the Ghost of Montaigne, he particularly cites Montaigne while investigating the many ways in which Premature Factulation is fundamental to the human condition. Hansten also refers to the opinions of classic and post-modern philosophers, writers, commentators, and even comedians to show the diverse implications of Premature Factulation.

Reading Premature Factulation: The Ignorance of Certainty and the Ghost of Montaigne:
Hansten writes, “There is no better inoculation against Premature Factulation than to understand the limits of human understanding.” Hansten’s Premature Factulation: The Ignorance of Certainty and the Ghost of Montaigne has appeal for a variety of readers, including academics, attorneys and professionals in all fields, as well as progressives, liberals, and even conservatives.

The background presented in the book’s beginning describes various types of philosophical certainty, and explains the philosophical process (with diagrams) for assessing complex issues in order to progress from ignorance to real understanding via time-intensive study and reflection, the absence of which leads to Premature Factulation. Hansten’s book goes on to portray certainty traps (e.g., illusions and erroneous thinking), and weapons of dogmatism (e.g., rhetorical thuggery and rhetorical trickery). He then provides remedies—accepting reality, cultivating humility, and contemplation.

Readers of this book will gain a better understanding of ignorant certainty—what it is and how it can be minimized. Hansten asserts that people can reduce Premature Factulation in their lives by revering objectivity and adopting a philosophical outlook that focuses on reason to understand, as Hansten states, “the importance of both heart and head for addressing the timeless questions facing humankind.”

For more information or to purchase Premature Factulation: The Ignorance of Certainty and the Ghost of Montaigne (U.S. $19.50), go to Philoponus.com or Amazon.com (soon available on Kindle).

*Source: The Week, July 17, 2009, Wit & Wisdom (page 19)

About the Author, Philip D. Hansten:
Philip D. Hansten, Pharm.D., is Professor Emeritus (since 2003) at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he teaches a class called The Nature of Scientific Truth. After receiving his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of California at San Francisco, Dr. Hansten served as Professor of Pharmacy at Washington State University and University of Washington. He also worked at Stanford University School of Medicine’s Division of Clinical Pharmacology.

A prolific writer with many published articles, Dr. Hansten’s books on drug interactions have sold more than one million copies (with translations in six languages), and his recognitions include numerous academic awards. Hansten has lectured widely in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia, and he is now increasingly immersed in studying philosophy. As a result, Hansten wrote Premature Factulation: The Ignorance of Certainty and the Ghost of Montaigne, his first philosophical book now available for $19.50 at www.Philoponus.com and www.Amazon.com (soon available on Kindle).

About Philoponus Press:
Named for brilliant Greek philosopher, scientist, and theologian John Philoponus (c. 490-570 AD), Philoponus Press is based in the Pacific Northwest and specializes in philosophically oriented publications for the general reader. Premature Factulation: The Ignorance of Certainty and the Ghost of Montaigne is the first such book published by Philoponus Press. Two additional titles are due in 2010 and 2011 – The Pujol Principle: How to Suffer Successfully; and, Ten Philosophical Ideas You Can’t Live Without. Philoponus Press will also offer philosophical cards, photos of Ancient Greeks and Romans, and more. Information is available at www.Philoponus.com.

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