In modern society's pursuit of truth, there is a tension between those who are concerned with what ought to be and those who are most interested in what is.
This is a special problem in universities, where scholars increasingly must balance a fascination for advocacy, relativism, and politics against the much harder task of discovering what is real.
And although these issues are most prominent in the humanities and social sciences, they are every bit as relevant for the sciences.
Witty and philosophical, A Theory of Nothing takes an entertaining tour through modern academic life, and highlights the challenge of independent thinking when politics takes control.
Samples of commentary about the book:
“I couldn’t put it down, even though it zapped much of what I hold dear, including philosophy of science and California.” – Robert P. Crease, Professor in the Department of Philosophy, Stony Brook University.
"A gifted satirist, Barlow impressively lampoons higher education’s obsession with novelty at the expense of rigor and common sense. The dialogue is memorably funny, and the author avoids the most common trap of satire, which is to adopt a sententiously knowing tone. The story intelligently raises provocative questions about the historically stormy relationship between science and public opinion, and it wryly exposes the vanity and ideological blindness of even the most heralded intellectuals. This is a rare book—hilarious, thoughtful, and culturally relevant all at once." – Kirkus Reviews.
"Although the underlying issues of the novel are deadly serious, Barlow takes the reader on a lighthearted trek through the worlds of academia and government-sponsored research, using satire to thrust deep into the dark empty space that occupies the place where academia's soul should be." – Jay Schalin, The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.
"[This] satirical novel is more than a fun raspberry blown at the establishment of international science. Barlow has woven several important themes into a very engaging and humorous story." – Cathy Foley, The Conversation.
"A cheekily ironic takedown of academic adventures in absurdity."