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The Assault on Reason, by Al Gore

Gore makes a number of points. Basically, that TV allows undue influence to manipulate people. Visual imagery on TV activates parts of the brain that reading cannot. News programs lead with crime because that increases ratings, giving people the impression there is more crime than there is. The physical effects of watching trauma on TV - the rise in blood pressure and heart rate - are the same as experiencing it directly. TV created memories have the same effect on emotions as real memories. (p. 34). Commercial advertising techniques for manipulating mass opinions and feelings are being used for political campaigns. "The well informed citizenry" our Founding Fathers envisioned is becoming the "well- amused audience

Fear has become the most powerful political tool. There are 3 techniques for fear mongering: repetition, making the irregular seem regular, and misdirection (p. 36). He makes a rock, paper, scissors analogy - fear displaces reason, reason challenges faith, faith overcomes fear. (p. 45)

He points out a type of double speak. A bill that relaxes pollution controls is called "Clear Skies Initiative," a bill that increases clear-cutting is called the "Healthy Forests Initiative." (p. 79)

Gore discusses the rejection and distortion of science. There is a cynical use of pseudo studies known to be false for the purpose of intentionally clouding the public's ability to discern the truth. With respect to the climate crisis - right wing ideologues and energy companies contribute money to pseudo scientific front groups that sow confusion and issue misleading reports, suggesting there is significant disagreement in the scientific community, when there is actually broad consensus. This is similar to what the tobacco companies did. (p. 200).

He makes a number of other observations:

Gerrymandering means candidates need to stay on good side of those with money for TV (p. 238). 2/3 of campaign funds for 30 sec. TV ads. (p. 245)

The data to prevent 9/11 was available. When looking for a needle in a haystack, dumping more hay on the pile doesn't help. (p. 142).

Bush signing statements, won't be bound by new laws (p. 154). 1000 of them (p 224). Clinton also, Reagan started this.

There is hope in the Internet, which has potential to make people feel involved again; also has low cost barrier to get message out [people instinctively turning to this for news, watching less TV].

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