But What If We're Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman

But What If We're Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past

We live in a culture of casual certitude. This has always been the case, no matter how often that certainty has failed. Though no generation believes there’s nothing left to learn, every generation unconsciously assumes that what has already been defined and accepted is (probably) pretty close to how reality will be viewed in perpetuity. And then, of course, time passes. Ideas shift. Opinions invert. What once seemed reasonable eventually becom...

Details But What If We're Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past

TitleBut What If We're Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past
Release DateJun 7th, 2016
PublisherBlue Rider Press
GenreNonfiction, Philosophy, Writing, Essays, History, Science

Reviews But What If We're Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past

  • Kirsty
    As the opening chapter questions whether we could be wrong about the existence of gravity, I thought this would be a book about philosophy and the nature of existence. Of course, I should have looked closely at the author's name - Chuck Klosterman writes about the arts and pop culture, so rather than questioning the nature of existence, mostly this book questions our value judgements on the arts and pop culture. The chapter on books asks just how...
  • emma
    Excuse me. I just have to go pat myself on the back for ninety minutes for having read nonfiction voluntarily. My brain is bigger than yours, and I am the greatest person alive. I don’t run, so I don’t know what a runner’s high feels like and I never will and I never want to, but I imagine it’s a lot like finishing a nonfiction book you read without anyone making you. Because, like, wow. I feel like I just won a MacArthur grant, or discov...
  • Jamie
    3.5-4 starsI loved this book up until about half way through. It was covering topics like string theory, the multiverse, and our understanding of gravity. One of my favorites- "As a species, the concept of infinity might be too much for us. I suspect the human conception of infinity is akin to a dog's conception of a clock". -love this!Discussions with Tyson and Greene-Aristotle and Galileo make appearances throughout-I also loved the chapter on ...
  • Casey
    Don't go into this book if you really expect to learn something or encounter firm opinions from Chuck Klosterman (except, of course, his wholly incorrect view on the movie Independence Day). I thought I might hate this book going by the first chapter, which seemed to talk in circles about doubt and certainty. Fortunately, subsequent sections are arranged around different themes, and the focus does Klosterman a world of good. Nobody wants to read ...
  • Sam Quixote
    In his latest book, Chuck Klosterman takes a look at the present as if it were the distant past, posing some interesting thought experiments: what will people think of the early 21st century in 500 years’ time? Will rock music still be popular and who will be remembered as the epitome of the genre? Will team sports like football still be popular? Who will be remembered as the most significant writer of this time? Has science reached an impasse ...
  • Justin
    This was my first Klosterman book and my first nonfiction book in a minute as the kids say. I really liked most of the book. It's pretty abstract, there aren't any answers to the questions he's asking since we can't see into the future, but I enjoyed the discussion and trying to gaze into the crystal ball. The premise of the book is trying to look at the present as if it were the past, basically putting ourselves into a time machine and looking b...
  • Benjamin
    I really want to give this more stars, I should have liked it- but, ugh. Yes, I'm sure lots of the things we now believe about reality may one day be proven wrong, but so what? How does that effect our lives? Well, as the author states it doesn't because most people don't care. The shepherd in 1500 A.D. who was suddenly told the earth went around the sun and not vice versa, was shocked and then went back to his sheep. We're just the same, centuri...
  • Stevie Kincade
    I don't always read non-SF/F but when I do, I like to make sure it's the kind of non-fiction that makes me incredibly annoying at parties. God, you should have seen me the year I read Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink", I could hammer the thought-candy from that book into any conversation about anything at all. Gladwell's premise is that throughout history we have been completely wrong about everything SO, what things that we accept as completely true ...
  • Katie
    This was a fun book. I received an ARC in exchange for my review, and I have to say that I would strongly recommend this to anyone who loves to ask "What if?" This is one of those books you just can't take seriously at all, but if you're willing to follow the author down the hypothetical scenario rabbit hole, it's quite amusing. You will ponder who the next Kafka will be, whether the Beatles will still be historically important in the far future,...
  • Peter Derk
    Best thing I've read this year.The premise is pretty simple. Basically, Klosterman spends most of a book...not PROVING that we're wrong about just about everything, but asking questions that make us think, "If I step outside myself for a second, I COULD be wrong."You'd be amazed the places he goes with this. He starts with fucking gravity! STARTS with. Not proving that gravity is nonexistent as we experience it, but that it may be an emergent for...
  • Eric Lin
    You may expect this book to be filled with doubt (and it is), but even more so, it advocates humility.In But What If We're Wrong?, Chuck Klosterman jumps from topic to topic, questioning some of the opinions that society has more or less reached consensus on. Some of these are objective (our understanding of gravity), and some are subjective (who will be considered the greatest writer of the 21th century?), but it's interesting to think about "Op...
  • Todd
    Every time I read an essay by Chuck Klosterman -- and, given my interest in music and pop culture, I've read a number of them -- I'm struck by his self-deprecating tone. It's the written equivalent of throat clearing and foot shuffling: parenthetical asides, wryly humorous footnotes, run-on digressions from his central point. It can be charming.But in small doses, and in the right context. In "But What If We're Wrong?" it becomes, frankly, annoyi...
  • fortuna.spinning
    “History is defined by people who don’t really understand what they are defining.”This was a really fascinating and thought-provoking read! Klosterman takes a sociological look at several cultural facets, asking sometimes bizarre, but poignant questions. I particularly liked the part about authors and writing (naturally!) and the section on the US Constitution. Overall, a great read!
  • Michael Buonagurio
    I usually love reading Klosterman, but this book was difficult to get through and on the whole not enjoyable unfortunately. It's fun to listen to him on Bill Simmons' podcast present unorthodox views on sports or cultural events, and his celebrity profiles are always fresh and have a distinct slant to them. But I felt his writing style, which was unnecessarily convoluted at times, wasn't a great fit for this subject matter. High brow writing abou...
  • Rob
    There's a subset of readers who will adore Chuck Klosterman's most recent book, But What if We're Wrong?, and a second (likely larger) subset who will view it as frustrating and pointless intellectual masturbation. I'm firmly in the first camp, and not just because my job demands I have a high tolerance for frustrating and pointless intellectual masturbation. I've been a fan of Klosterman's for years, mainly because he speaks my middle-aged pop-c...
  • James Murphy
    This is a terribly interesting book. Klosterman speculates about what in our present lives will still have significance in the far future and how it will be perceived. It's a book about perspectives and also a book of criticism. He devotes time to questions about which books of our time will still be read 200 or 300 yearss from now, what songs and artists will be perceived as epitomizing our age. What is the future of sports? What is the future o...
  • Donna
    No. No. No. I'm not sure what went wrong. I usually love books like this...really! This type of nonfiction, even the absurd, are books I enjoy. But this one....not so much. I think my main issue was that I did the audio and the author liked himself and his topics of discussion enough for both of us....way more than I ever could. He sounded like he was the greatest thing and everything was so important. Bottom line: I wasn't feeling it. He thought...
  • Trin
    A book-long pointless intellectual exercise, but a really fun and interesting one. This is my favorite Klosterman in a while: it's both more serious and thoughtful, and funnier, than his last few efforts. If you'd like the experience of a truly excellent semi-sober dinner conversation with a smart, surprising companion but in book form, well -- here it is!
  • Holly
    The questions that obsess Klosterman are not ones that keep me up at night. A few years ago I tried to read Kathryn Schulz's Being Wrong and I hadn't been compelled to finish. But this was a lot of fun to read, and it required a lot of thinking (I claim to enjoy that, but sometimes this made my head hurt. Don't know if it was the thoughts or CK's meandering writing style.) He's sort of conducting Gedankenexperments, so I thought of those terms li...
  • D.L. Morrese
    From the title and the blurb I expected this book would address basic assumptions that we, as a culture, seldom question but which are not necessarily true. It doesn't do that. Although there is a little about science and some philosophical underpinnings of the U.S. Constitution, most of the book looks at pop culture—fiction, TV, music, and sports—and asks if the assessments of contemporary critics will reflect how people of the future judge ...
  • Lorilin
    The premise: what if we're wrong about what we know "for sure" now, and how will we see our past selves in the future? Klosterman discusses (and dissects) the concepts of gravity, the NFL, TV, art, and democracy, among others. This book is well-researched and well-written...and I hated every minute of it. Klosterman comes across as self-important and arrogant. He makes his point...and then continues to explain it for another 30 pages. It's honest...
  • Dunstan McNutt
    This is my new favorite book. There are so many chapters that would work perfectly as introductory texts to so many disciplines (history, philosophy, science, philosophy of science, philosophy of history). I want everyone I know to read this book so we can talk about it. That is all.
  • Peter Tillman
    Interesting premise, shaky execution, indifferent writing. Abandoned and returned. Not for me.
  • Hannah
    This book is a collection of essays and arguments revolving around a central theme--looking into the past with eyes colored by the present. Klosterman presents arguments ranging from future cultural popularity (who will define rock music--The Sex Pistols? Bob Dylan? Chuck Berry?) to scientific theories (will our theory of gravity seem as preposterous to future humans as the geocentric model of the universe seems to us?).Klosterman's meditations k...
  • John Lamb
    If you're the type of person who gets annoyed at conversations that seem unsolvable (i.e. "What if the color red I see isn't the color red you see?"), then do not read this book. However, if you're fascinated by these philosophical quandaries (Neil deGrasse Tyson calls them "beer conversations" in the book), then this book is for you. I love his overriding concept of trying to figure out how to today will be judged by tomorrow. At first I was wor...
  • Krista
    Before we can argue that something we currently appreciate deserves inclusion in the world of tomorrow, we must build that future world within our mind. This is not easy (even with drugs). But it's not even the hardest part. The hardest part is accepting that we're building something with parts that don't yet exist. Reading But What If We're Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past is like being a fly on the wall of Chuck Klosterm...
  • Ran
    Upon finishing this book (which admittedly took me longer than I Wear the Black Hat ), I laughed to myself. Boy, wouldn't getting Klosterman in a room with Stephen Kern be interesting? In this book, Klosterman asks: "But what about the things we're all wrong about?" Klosterman asks us to consider what about our current present thinking may be possibly, completely, and utterly wrong, as all pre-1600 peoples were prior to empiricism, mathematizati...
  • Anna
    I found Klosterman’s ‘But What If We’re Wrong’ thought-provoking and unsatisfying in roughly equal measure. I haven’t read anything by him before and came across this book… somewhere. It’s another one that I can’t for the life of my remember how it ended up on my to-read list. The premise was obviously intriguing: what if we thought about the present as we do the past? This is broken down over a number of themes and tangents, incl...
  • Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
    This is a wonderfully refreshing idea for a book: how will the present look from the future? What will we think about the way we looked at sports and democracy and rock music? It's, of course, almost impossible to really imagine how things will look as we gaze back at the past from the future. It's intriguing to contemplate. Klosterman consults lots of his favorite armchair philosophers about these questions and the result is this little book. Wh...
  • Melissa
    I enjoyed the mental gymnastic and general brain trippiness of this book which looks at the present and all the things we take for granted as universally true through the lens of time and asks...In the future will we still feel the same about this as we do now, and what if a great many of the things we accept as fundamentally true at this time are looked back on as fundamentally wrong by the future. After all, every generation has felt like they ...