The argument against reading books is based on the idea that they often contain unnecessary filler and can be better replaced by shorter, more concise sources of information.
Many proponents of effective altruism and rationalism argue against reading books, claiming that they often contain unnecessary padding and filler. They believe that most ideas can be effectively communicated in shorter formats such as blog posts. They criticize authors who extend their ideas into lengthy books to enhance their reputation and gain media attention. The opportunity cost of reading a book is emphasized, suggesting that time could be better spent reading articles, scientific papers, or other sources that provide more concise and valuable information. However, there are three categories of books that are considered worthwhile: history books that offer in-depth analysis, books of historical interest for cultural understanding, and books by brilliant authors who offer a unique journey and insights. The notion of “Great Books” from ancient thinkers is challenged, arguing that modern thinkers and writers have built upon their knowledge and improved ways of thinking over time. Humility lies in recognizing that no single person possesses all the knowledge and insights, and relying solely on ancient texts may limit one’s understanding of the world. Ultimately, the choice to read books, particularly old ones, should be driven by personal interest rather than the belief that they hold superior wisdom.