Al Gore’s Assault
Posted: 15 June 2007 11:34 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I have started Gore’s Assault on Reason.  Al is a smart man, and most of what he says in the book so far rings true.  In chapter one however, he talks about how fear inhibits reason.  But, isn’t this kind of hypocritical?  Whether you agree that evidence shows an anthropogenic climate crisis, isn’t it obvious he used fear tactics in his film on global warming?  Somebody please tell me if I’m way off base here.

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Posted: 15 June 2007 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hmmmm, I would say he tries to evoke concern, certainly, but I’m not sure about fear. Subtle difference, but clearly pure reason is not how humans function most of the time. So how to create a sense of urgency about a problem without resorting to fear mongering? I don’t think he crosses the line in Inconvenient Truth, but it’s a thin line. I do think he oversimplifies and exaggerates a bit, but I also don’t think pure scientists are nearly a effective in communicating the problem. For better or worse, some concessions need to be made to the fact that people need an emotional connection to something before they are motivated to act on it. Climate scientistts who believe climate change is a real threat may arrive at that conclusion through intellect and evidence, but the conclusion then leads to feelings which prompt them to act. I’m not sure there’s a perfect way to get the general public behind action on a problem through pure intellect and evidence, so I think some appeal to emotion is necessary and appropriate. It is a slippery slope, but unavoidable IMHO.

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Posted: 16 June 2007 01:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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McKenzie said it very well, Gunny.  The problem is that most people are phlegmatic about almost everything.  To get them interested one has to be dramatic, and that means one has to be a polemicist and a bit extreme.  If one goes to Fox News or listens to Rush Limbaugh, Hannedy (sp) or others of that ilk in their demegoguery, you quickly realize that Gore is a rank amateur at irrational exaggeration compared them.

While we may admire ethics of the person who couches his arguments in moderate, careful and precise words including adjectives identifying every area that isn’t completely certain, however, that person just won’t win any arguments against loudmouthed attack artists.

Occam

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Posted: 20 June 2007 01:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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We will have to agree to disagree about whether he crosses the line in the film.  Not with the film itself, but there are some instances that are clearly meant to go beyond a wake-up call. 

More on the book however.  I have yet to finish it, but there is more to say.  He makes a statement that faith and reason must be balanced when making decisions.  In my opinion, faith and reason aren’t compatible in the least.  There is a good reason we use the phrase blind faith.  Faith, by its very definition as it relates to religion, assumes the absence of any reasonable basis.  Faith is only necessary when people need to advance concepts that have no evidential basis.  There is no gray area between the two ends faith and reason, and in fact oppose each other.  He attempts to appeal to any religious inclinations a reader has, which undercuts his rationality plea.

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Posted: 20 June 2007 02:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Sadly, I think you’re right here. As a practical matter, I don’t know how any significant public movement can develop that doesn’t include people with religious faith, so it makes practical sense to try and get these people on board by appealing to their beliefs or by showing oneself as in sympathy with them. But I think this undercuts reason as the best basis for rational decision making, and I think the world would be much better off if we could eliminate faith-based thinking from public policy decision-making. Ain’t gonna happen, though.

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Posted: 28 August 2007 07:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I just finished Assault on Reason and enjoyed it.  After seeing Inconvienent Truth and reading this in 2007, like alot of people are saying, if Al would have just been Al he would have won easy in 2000.  No sour grapes just my observance. 

He laid out so many facts about our current administration that it leaves one feeling pretty ill.  Paid vacations for right wing supreme court judges to attend think tanks, executive branch secrecy, trading constitutional rights for an illusion of safety, on and on. 

I believe ethics and honest public service needs to be taught in high school as a requirement using facts of life and real world examples such as those in this book.  I’m in my 40’s and I feel like I’m watching the Wizard of OZ in REAL LIFE! sheesh

Of course I’m glad he finishes with hope.  One can’t help but feel concerned about our country and it’s citizens regardless of which party you’re in.  I came away with a renewed appreciation for our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights.
I am convinced that the foundation of our democracy is definitely at risk as a result Bush’s policies and quagmire’s.  And as Al said it’s not all GW’s fault.  Our congress and we as citizens carry some responsibilty too for what has gone down.

We need to grow up…fast as a society, imo.

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