I just spent a couple of hours in what was probably a futile effort over at Amazon.com to write comments about dozens of glowing reviews of a really, really, really bad book about Druidism. I stopped after realizing that I was beginning to lose my temper about the gullibility of my fellow human beings. People who want to believe pleasant-sounding nonsense will do so, no matter how much science, scholarship, research, art, or spiritual experience you throw at them.
This is the flip side of good books disappearing for lack of reviews—bad books becoming big sellers because so many readers substitute personal preferences for judgment. When people who actually know what they are talking about (what we like to think of as the reality-based community) say that a book is bad and proceed to explain why, they are trashed as being ignorant, biased, or jealous of the author’s success. Celtic scholars, historians, linguists, mythology experts, botanists, priests, priestesses, magicians, etc. (in this particular case) and others, some with decades of experience, are brushed off as irrelevant.
After going through six out of seventeen pages of reviews of a work I consider utterly wretched, and commenting over and over again to correct the same factual errors from people bragging about their two or three years of experience, I finally realized that in the age of the Internet everyone’s opinions are considered of equal value and that all I was doing was planting seeds for those same people to come trash my books with bad reviews.
I know that there are many people in mainstream academia who feel somewhat the same about my books as I do about the sorts of books I’m discussing here. They consider themselves the reality-based community, because they “know” that all (or at least all competing) religions are “false,” that there “is no such thing” as magic or ESP, etc. This is the burden that a 21st century magician/psychic/priest bears: we know the stuff we do is real, because it works often enough to show patterns of behavior we can gradually depend upon. We also know that there are lots of con artists out there willing to fleece the gullible and unwary.
All this particular magician/psychic/priest can do is write and teach the truth as best I can, always studying new material and updating my views in the face of new evidence. Trying to stop either the cynics pretending to be skeptics or the true believers pretending to be experts (based on the three or four books they’ve read) is equally futile. Putting out really good books (slowly, oh so slowly), in the hopes that they will reach as many people as the mass-produced, hyped-up, heavily-marketed garbage, or at least outlast them in the marketplace of ideas, may be just as futile—but it’s all I can do.
It’s like pushing back the tide with a broom…