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Notes and Reflections on Books and Media

by Hannah Leitheiser

Summary

The Assault on Reason: Our Information Ecosystem, from the Age of Print to the Age of Trump

Al Gore

2017

Link

2017-06-09

Finished Gore's book, Assault on Reason.

He points out several factors that inhibit government based on reason. Television and radio's one way nature and gatekeepers. He references the developmental theory of attachment, which predicts that an infant whose need are unmet begins to understand that they are powerless to achieve anything positive and so tends to act out frustration in violence. When citizens feel such toward government, it can begin a positive feedback loop. He makes an interesting critique of education as sometimes a system to entrench political systems (many NAZI's were well educated) or encourage a sense of superiority that can make two-way discourse difficult. And he talks about Presidential disregard for law and the advice of his authorities, with particular focus on George W. Bush's push for war in Iraq, detainment of people without due process, torture, warentless wiretapping, and general disregard for law as a crossing of the Rubicon.

On balance, the internet may re-open public debate. Gore mentions Galton's observation that the mean of guesses of an ox's weight at a fair was not off by more than a pound. Groups of people, if allowed freedom, tend toward truth and reason. He values education, at least most of the time, as a useful tool of democracy.