There are a lot of attention-getting words in the title of this book: Sex Politics Religion: How Delusional Thinking is Destroying America. Once inside the book, however, there’s maybe 54 pages of real material, one for each of the 54 subjects Siebold “covers” in 360 pages.
The premise here is that Americans need to stop thinking emotionally and start thinking critically about sex, politics, and religion. In this case, “critical thinking” seems to mean agreeing with Steve Siebold.
Don’t expect a reasoned look at all sides of any issue, from open marriage and polyamory to the federal deficit, from obesity to money and religion.
Siebold is a former athlete and motivational speaker who has written bestsellers about “mental toughness” to help businesses succeed. His customers include Proctor and Gamble and Toyota. He is far from unbiased in his opinions.
It so happens I agree with most of Siebold’s opinions. I believe that when it comes to our personal lives, what we put in our bodies, and who and how we love, the government should stay out of it. I am pro-choice (though not to the extreme of asserting that a baby is not a baby until it is actually born, as Siebold does), and agree with many of Siebold’s political views.
Thus, Sex Politics Religion is proof that you can really dislike a book while agreeing with much of what it says.
I always thought that “critical thinking,” which is a mantra throughout the book, meant taking a deep look at all the aspects of an issue and listening to all sides, and then making a decision. But Siebold deals with each issue very superficially, mainly giving his opinion and then quoting people and polls that back him up.
He also makes extreme statements that certainly don’t sound unemotional to me, asserting that all religious leaders are only interested in control and in leading through greed and fear, implying that the only reason to have a traditional marriage is either jealousy and possessiveness or religious fanaticism, and stating that opposition to abortion is never about saving babies but always about controlling women, for instance.
Everything that Siebold says in this book could be said more concisely in an article without losing anything essential. While 304 pages sounds substantial, much of it is used in repetition and the use of extreme quotes to make those who oppose Siebold’s beliefs look stupid or evil. Each chapter ends with a quote which sums it up and a so-called “critical thinking” question. This, and the use of large typefaces, also reduces the amount of actual information in the book.
There appears to be no middle ground in Siebold’s world, no shades of gray. There is no one who, right or wrong, is motivated by trying to do the right thing unless they are on Siebold’s side.
Siebold’s expertise lies in business and making money. He’s obviously not qualified to speak from his own expert knowledge on all of these subjects. Therefore, critical thinking would seem to indicate that he should have done some in-depth research and made at least some attempt to show respect to opposing opinions, while offering real facts and figures to back up his own thinking. Of course, that would require either a longer book or attempting to cover fewer subjects.
These questions cannot be settled in five- or six-page chapters, nor can delusional thinking be proven without some hard, cold facts. Most of the accusations of delusional thinking are aimed at organized religion, but simply repeating over and over that there is no proof that the Bible is true or that God exists is not substantial proof of anything. Take that out and you have about a third less book.
Perhaps Siebold should stick to his area of expertise until he is prepared to give us something more useful than Sex Politics Religion has to offer.