Oh, I’m sorry. I messed up that title. Gore’s newest book will be called The Assault on Reason. Here’s the book description from Amazon.com:
A visionary analysis of how the politics of fear, secrecy, cronyism, and blind faith has combined with the degration of the public sphere to create an environment dangerously hostile to reason…
…We live in an age when the thirty-second television spot is the most powerful force shaping the electorate’s thinking, and America is in the hands of an administration less interested than any previous administration in sharing the truth with the citizenry. Related to this and of even greater concern is this administration’s disinterest in the process by which the truth is ascertained, the tenets of fact-based reasoning-first among them an embrace of open inquiry in which unexpected and even inconvenient facts can lead to unexpected conclusions.
How did we get here? How much damage has been done to the functioning of our democracy and its role as steward of our security? Never has there been a worse time for us to lose the capacity to face the reality of our long-term challenges, from national security to the economy, from issues of health and social welfare to the environment. As The Assault on Reason shows us, we have precious little time to waste.
Gore’s larger goal in this book is to explain how the public sphere itself has evolved into a place hospitable to reason’s enemies, to make us more aware of the forces at work on our own minds, and to lead us to an understanding of what we can do, individually and collectively, to restore the rule of reason and safeguard our future. Drawing on a life’s work in politics as well as on the work of experts across a broad range of disciplines, Al Gore has written a farsighted and powerful manifesto for clear thinking.
Heady stuff, to be sure. Al Gore, Defender of Reason! But come now; let’s face facts. On the issue that he is best known for – climate change – Gore has done absolutely nothing to reasonably engage in debate. Quite the contrary – he denies that a legitimate debate exists, and his current popularity depends entirely on his ability frame the issue of climate change as a “crisis,” regardless of what the facts actually say.
(An aside: at the moment, I’m watching C-SPAN 3′s live coverage of the Senate hearing on climate change, and I’m pretty sure that Sen. Barbara Mikulski just credited Gore with “saving drinking water.” WOW; I never knew. And Barbara Boxer just invoked the name of Rosa Parks – they’re hauling out the moral big guns today.)
Far from being a friend to reasoned debate, Gore has a long history of ignoring facts that may be inconvenient to his predictions of global catastrophe. For instance:
…in March 1995, Gore gave his annual Earth Day address at George Washington University. ‘‘Torrential rains have increased in the summer in agricultural regions,’’ he said, referring to a yet-to-be published paper by federal climatologist Tom Karl. In fact, Karl had found no change in the frequency of daily rainfall in excess of three inches. What he did find was a tiny change in the amount of rain coming from summer storms of between two and three inches in 24 hours, but these are hardly ‘‘torrential’’ and are most often welcomed by farmers everywhere, who pray for such rains. America’s breadbasket is usually in great need of moisture come August.
In July 1998, Gore visited northeast Florida, which had experienced a series of substantial range and forest fires. He said the conflagrations ‘‘offer a glimpse of what global warming may mean for families.’’ The reason Florida went up in smoke during this normally hot season was the overabundance of vegetation that resulted from excessive rains in the previous winter. While it might be convenient to finger the 1997–98 El Nin˜o as the cause, statistical studies show El Nin˜o is in fact associated with less-than-average burned acreage in Florida.
These – and a myriad of other – inconvenient facts haven’t stopped Gore over the years, and even though the facts still dog him today, he doesn’t appear to be troubled by them one bit. (Another aside – at the moment, he’s referencing the movie 300 and the crusade against Nazism, presumably to lend the deep moral credibility of previous efforts to save civilization to his climate change efforts. Credit where credit is due: the man has some real… self confidence.) Rather, Gore’s preferred method of “debate” is to simply not acknowledge any other argument. So much for reason.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, even supporters of Gore are admitting that he takes some liberties with the facts in order to advance his argument, and here’s yet another bit of evidence that Gore will ignore in service of his Higher Truth. No doubt Gore’s new book will go over big with certain audiences; as for me, I’d say that Gore is the last person in the world who should be complaining about an assault on reason.