An Environmentalist's Review of Al Gore's "Assault on Reason"

It would be fitting, after just reporting on a recent appearance by Former Vice President Al Gore (ref. Al Gore and Innovation), to review his latest book “The Assault on Reason.” The premise of the book is that modern mass media constitutes a relentless march towards “one way conversations,” where money and power dictate what radio, then television, have force-fed into the minds of vulnerable and impressionable human psyches. Gore then offers hope that the internet and the Democratic party can reverse this trend.

Al Gore
Will his greentech revolution save the
earth, or merely revive socialist tyranny?

Gore’s concerns about mass media are certainly not unfounded, but what struck me again and again when reading the book was how easily you could substitute the canards he accuses his Republican political adversaries of manipulated the media into brainwashing into the body politic, with Gore’s own canards.

“Our systematic exposure to fear and other arousal stimuli on television can be exploited by the clever public relations specialist, advertiser, or politician.” – Al Gore

One of the favorite arguments of global warming alarmists is the so called “precautionary principle.” If some future scenario is sufficiently horrific, then taking steps to prevent it, even if it isn’t likely it will happen, is simply prudent and rational behavior. But Gore himself debunks the precautionary principle:

“Another psychological phenomenon that is important to understanding how fear influences our thinking [is] ‘probability neglect.’ Social scientists have found that when confronted with either an enormous threat or a huge reward, people tend to focus on the magnitude of the consequence and ignore the probability.” – Al Gore

That might be Saddam’s nukes. Then again, it might be the spectre of sea level rising 300 feet, too. Fear indeed is a powerful selling tool. Once again, to quote Gore:

In the immediate run up to the election campaign of 2002, a new product – the war against Iraq – was being launched. For everything there is a season, particularly in the politics of fear.” – Al Gore

Now we’re in the election season of 2008, and what high profile $300 million advertising campaign is about to be launched – in the “immediate run-up to the election campaign?” None other than Al Gore’s climate change advertising blitz. Look for footage of extreme storms, burning deserts, endangered mega-fauna, and starving children. Yet when it comes to co-opting media by using hype to trump logical analysis, Gore is at his outraged best:

“I don’t remember a single newspaper, commentator, or political leader ever questioning the president’s claim that our nations objective should be to ‘rid the world of evil.’ Further, I heard precious little questioning of the preposterous logic by which the president and vice president had conflated Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. It was as if the nation had decided to suspend the normal rigors of logical analysis…” – Al Gore

Well how many newspapers, commentators, or political leaders are questioning global warming alarm? How many are pointing out that the reality of climate change, the reasons for climate change, the severity of climate change, and the steps to mitigate climate change – are all worthy of vigorous debate? Gore’s propaganda machine has silenced them all, using the same tactics he deplores throughout his new book. It is as if we have “suspended the normal rigors of logical analysis.” Climate change alarm has become a secular faith. And speaking of faith, what about this?

“Bush has stolen the symbolism and body language of religion and used it to disguise the most radical effort in American history to take what belongs to the American people and give as much of it as possible to the already wealthy and privileged.” – Al Gore

If the absolute intolerance of the global warming alarmists, who dominate the media and call those of us who simply call for reasoned discussion “deniers,” isn’t evocative of religious extremists, I don’t know what is. Similarly, if making Americans pay punitive prices and endure rationing of government controlled energy, water and land – so attorneys, CPAs, Wall Street traders, huge and heavily subsidized corporations, well-heeled environmentalist nonprofits, the U.N., and academia can harvest the proceeds to enrich themselves – isn’t being seen as “the most radical effort in American history to take what belongs to the American people and give as much of it as possible to the already wealthy and privileged,” it is only because Gore’s media machine has done its work well.

These are just a few examples of how Gore’s criticisms of media and Republicans could just as easily apply to his own campaign. Indeed Gore slips at one point and pretty much admits he’s cut of the same cloth, when he writes “there are, of course, many historical examples of vivid imagery producing vicarious traumatization that has been used for positive purposes.” Such as those Polar Bears perched precariously on a rapidly melting fragment of sea ice, perhaps? Or New York City covered with mountains of glacial ice? Apparently Gore doesn’t really mind the assault on reason represented by modern media one bit. He just minds when he can’t control it.

Not to worry. Gore’s vision is on the ascendancy these days. Ever seen the bumper sticker that says “Endless War,” with a few letters crossed out so it actually reads “End This War”? That is how anyone who can see what Gore and the radical environmentalists – who now control the environmental lobby here in the USA and most other places in the world – should view the war on anthropogenic “greenhouse gas.” They won’t succeed in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to anywhere near where those supposedly accurate “general circulation models” indicate they need to go in order to avert planetary catastrophe. But that isn’t the point. The objective is to take over huge new sectors of the economy, to put America on a war footing, to ration energy, land and water, and as with all socialist totalitarian states, this will benefit the rich and hurt the poor. This is the “endless war” we should all fear. Gore’s remarks on page 143 of his new book summarize the threat of reinventing our political economy according to the gospel of global warming alarmism quite well:

“There are also reasons for concern this time around that what we are experiencing may no longer be the first half of a recurring cycle, but rather the beginning of something new. For one thing, this war is predicted by the administration to last for the rest of our lives. So we are told that the conditions of national threat that have been used by other presidents to justify arrogations of power will persist in near perpetuity…it will become a more or less permanent struggle that occupies a significant part of our law enforcement and security agenda from now on. If that is the case, then when – if ever – does this encroachment on our freedoms die a natural death?” – Al Gore

One Response to “An Environmentalist's Review of Al Gore's "Assault on Reason"”
  1. JamesG says:

    Despite some good points which I’ve noticed myself in the past, I think you’re extrapolating a bit too far with your socialist totalitarian bit. I’ve no doubt there are environmentalists like that but the official energy plan of Greenpeace, for example, is really quite reasonable and practical and not radical at all. Ok you need to read past the “we’re all going to die at 450 ppm” crap, but to be fair that part is due to the madness of the scientific crowd, rather than the environmentalists. The enviros just latched onto it to promote their clean and green energy policy. The nuclear lobby are every bit as shameless. But when you do read the rest of their energy plan (downloadable from their site) then you realize it form quite a good energy policy whether you are a warmer or not – They are probably just a bit too optimistic about nuclear not being required. I’d urge you to see for yourself.

    Somehow I don’t see Al Gore as a socialist either – he’s quite the capitalist. And despite the media messages being the same it’s a bit difficult to see how the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis can be compared to a campaign to use energy less profligately.

    One things for sure from the comparison, the media are obviously neither conservative nor liberal, they are just collectively dumb. From a sociological perspective what does it all say about the public. Does it just demonstrate Lincoln’s “you can fool some of the people….etc. What, I wonder does it say about our scientific establishment. Is it too easy to get a PhD?


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