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Review: Random Rationality – Expanded Edition by Fourat Janabi

When I reviewed the first edition of this book here on SPR, I wrote,” Unassuming, universally written with sharp wit and charm, the first pages catch and you want to read on. Although Janabi never professes to be an expert… ”

In this, the special extended version of his book, I want to take that back. Janabi is something of an expert.

In this reworked version of “Random Rationality”, the book has more meat, more substance, more catch – this second edition elevates what was an interesting and entertaining read to greatness – I cannot put my finger on what I didn’t read before, but now this is a masterclass on thought in way the first edition was the thesis. This book is as good as (the oft-quoted by Janabi) Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” (For a real piece of existentialism at work, go for the “universe” section. It blew my mind a little), or Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s “The Black Swan”. This book should be up there on the shelves of every library, filed under “Epistemology”. Students and entrepreneurs should read it. Someone should vote Janabi into some kind of culture-changing council. I actually believe this kind of thinking might just save our species, might just save this planet.

The introduction, which before led nicely into the subjects now heightens the reader to receive the thoughts Janabi poses: not as a lecture, as some books of this ilk tend to churn, but as conversation: he is an accomplished thinker. It comes as no surprise that Janabi is also an experienced photographer because he really sees the world for what it is; through a macro lens not many of us have in our possession.

And now each topic shines in succinct chapters. The section on the existence of God stands out for me; the logic so circular that it feels cynical to “believe” after reading it, “Institutionalized religion, by way of the carrot-and-stick of heaven and hell (sic), simply makes it easy – or easier – for agendas of powers to manifest themselves and abuse the millions under their mental sway, “ backing this theory with great quotes, including one of my favorites, Karl Popper, “A theory that explains everything explains nothing.” Which in a way, is why this book is so clever – it doesn’t “explain” everything. Where other (lesser) authors would try to close gaps and end up conveying ineptitude and arrogance, Janabi includes only his feelings and thoughts, humbly wrapped in a simple-to-use scientific discourse. Nothing is conclusive or stopped, but instead well- traveled and fluid, using erudite musings and literary examples to fully illustrate his points, along with amusing anecdotes from his own life. I just keep agreeing with this guy over and over again, even when I didn’t want to.

Overall, “Random Rationality” has some real pearls, and despite the author’s reluctance to own up to being something of a great writer, (he calls himself an idiot) he is actually an accomplished observer and communicator, who would do well do carve himself a niche as a futures speaker. His political chapter, “Is politics relevant?”(“The human mind, which neuroscience has shown to be inherently biased, though more importantly, unable to impartially view and act upon information presented to itself, no matter the circumstance”) stands out as a potential TED talk for example. Someone give this guy a book deal already.