• By: OLM Staff

John Scott Cowan Exposes the Absurdities of Dogmatic Thinking Using Wit

In a world polarized by conflicting ideologies and steadfast convictions, Dr. John Scott Cowan’s latest work, The Opinionated Middle Ground, is a breath of fresh air of intellectual exploration and moderation. Published at a time when the echo chambers of extremism seem to drown out the nuanced voices of reason, Cowan’s book invites readers to journey through the uncharted territory of the middle ground—a place where thoughtful discourse and compromise can thrive.

Cowan brings a wealth of experience and insight to the table. He is a physiologist, professor, and university administrator who has also worked extensively in labour relations and has written widely on society, public policy, defence, and international tensions. A VP at the University of Ottawa and later Queens’ University, he was principal at the Royal Military College of Canada from 1999-2008 and has led more than a few distinguished organizations over an illustrious career.

Cowan is also a very witty satirist, and in The Opinionated Middle Ground, his writing is a masterclass in the strategic use of dry humour—a potent force that not only entertains but disarms, offering readers a refreshing perspective on divisive issues while proving that laughter, even in the face of serious discourse, can be a catalyst for change. Cowan navigates complex subjects with clarity and wit, making even the most intricate ideas accessible to a broad audience. He weaves together theory and practice by drawing on his own encounters with differing opinions to illustrate the real-world implications of adopting a more centrist stance. Cowan acknowledges the allure of absolutism and the comfort it brings in its simplicity. However, he persuasively argues that the true essence of democracy lies in the messy, sometimes uncomfortable space where ideas collide and compromise is forged.

The book’s structure reflects Cowan’s commitment to balance. Each chapter delves into a specific aspect of the middle ground, from the historical roots of moderate thought to the practical applications in today’s divisive political landscape. Cowan examines the contributions of key moderate figures throughout history, emphasizing the importance of their legacies in shaping societies that value pluralism and cooperation.

A notable feature of The Opinionated Middle Ground is Cowan’s emphasis on active citizenship. He challenges readers not only to adopt a moderate mindset but to actively participate in fostering dialogue and understanding within their communities. Drawing on case studies from various regions and cultural contexts, Cowan demonstrates how individuals can be catalysts for change when armed with the tools of moderation and compromise.

While the book champions the middle ground, it does not romanticize it. Cowan acknowledges the challenges of navigating a space often perceived as wishy-washy or indecisive. Yet, he makes a compelling case that the middle ground is not a compromise of principles but a principled stand against the tyranny of absolutes.

The Opinionated Middle Ground is a timely and thought-provoking exploration of the role moderation plays in the pursuit of a more just and inclusive society. Cowan’s eloquent prose, coupled with his pragmatic approach, makes this book an important contribution for those seeking to understand the complexity of contemporary discourse and the consequences of extremism.

Cowan demonstrates the power of satire as a surgical tool for dissecting extremism, wielding wit as a scalpel to expose the absurdities that often hide in the shadows of dogma. The Opinionated Middle Ground is a testament to the idea that laughter can be a bridge between opposing viewpoints, making the journey toward understanding a little less daunting.

The Opinionated Middle Ground is available online from Sutherland House Books or amazon.ca.

334 pages
Published by: Sutherland House Books
ISBN: 978-1-990823-53-4