Benson, Ophelia

views updated

Benson, Ophelia




Home and office—Seattle, WA. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer and editor. Cofounder, Butterflies and


(With Jeremy Stangroom) The Dictionary of Fashionable Nonsense: A Guide for Edgy People, Souvenir (London, England), 2004.

(With Jeremy Stangroom) Why Truth Matters, Continuum (New York, NY), 2006.

Deputy editor, and author of monthly column "Interrogations," for Philosophers'.


Ophelia Benson is the cofounder and editor of Butterflies and Wheels, a Web site designed to inform readers of the truth behind pseudoscience. In addition, with Jeremy Stangroom she has written The Dictionary of Fashionable Nonsense: A Guide for Edgy People and Why Truth Matters. The purpose of the first volume is to debunk the plethora of myths and beliefs that are assumed to be true simply because they have gained attention or common acceptance in society. Benson and Stangroom argue that certain phrases and words in particular, such as "anything goes" and "ideology," are used in order to talk around a subject and distract listeners or readers from the truth. Phil Mole, in a review for the Skeptical Inquirer, called the book "an excellent contribution to the small but important genre of satirical dictionaries," adding that he "recommended [the book] to anyone wishing a deeper understanding of the follies of our time."

Why Truth Matters addresses what Benson and Stangroom state to be an ever-dwindling interest in getting to the truth in any given situation in favor of a more postmodern, accepting method of dealing with a problem. They provide readers with numerous examples across a spectrum of subjects, from science to politics to literature, illustrating how this new tendency is weakening the progress of humanity. Johann Hari, in a review for the London Independent on Sunday quoted on his Johann Hari Archives Web site, remarked that the book is "a defense of Enlightenment values and the pursuit of uncomfortable truths from the feminist left." Library Journal contributor Jason Moore observed: "The book's strong point is its reasonable and concise overview of the major arguments and viewpoints."

Benson told CA: "Writing is my way of arguing with the world, as well as my way of thinking about it, talking to it, considering it from new angles. I like the essay as a form, and essayists are among my favorite writers—Montaigne and William Hazlitt especially. I like essays, articles, and books to be no longer than they need to be; I don't like padding or diffuseness, although I do like complex syntax and thought. I don't like simple writing or language, but I do like concision."



Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, October 1, 2006, C.S. Seymour, review of Why Truth Matters, p. 309.

Library Journal, May 1, 2006, Jason Moore, review of Why Truth Matters, p. 89.

Reference & Research Book News, February 1, 2007, review of Why Truth Matters.

Skeptical Inquirer, May 1, 2005, Phil Mole, "Nonsense in Vogue," review of The Dictionary of Fashionable Nonsense: A Guide for Edgy People, p. 56.

Times Higher Education Supplement, December 24, 2004, "The Hip and the Dead," p. 28.

Times Literary Supplement, January 28, 2005, Toby Lichtig, review of The Dictionary of Fashionable Nonsense, p. 33; October 20, 2006, Jack Darach, review of Why Truth Matters, p. 32.


Butterflies and Wheels, (August 22, 2007), biography of Ophelia Benson.

Johann Hari Archives, (March 13, 2006), Johann Hari, review of Why Truth Matters, from the Independent on Sunday.

Third Camp, (August 21, 2007), Arash Sorx, interview with Ophelia Benson.

3:AM Magazine Online, (January 31, 2007), David Thompson, interview with Ophelia Benson.

Virtual Philosopher Blog, (January 3, 2007), Nigel Warburton, interview with Ophelia Benson.

Why Truth Matters Web site, (August 21, 2007), biography of Ophelia Benson.