Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Michiko Kakutani has a review of Al Gore's new book, The Assault on Reason, in today's NYT. I'm hardly a big Gore fan, though I have voted for him, and I'm not sure quite what to make of his recent public moves. But assuming that Kakutani gets his views right, he's making a really important point:
Mr. Gore’s central argument is that “reason, logic and truth seem to play a sharply diminished role in the way America now makes important decisions” and that the country’s public discourse has become “less focused and clear, less reasoned.” This “assault on reason,” he suggests, is personified by the way the Bush White House operates. Echoing many reporters and former administration insiders, Mr. Gore says that the administration tends to ignore expert advice (be it on troop levels, global warming or the deficit), to circumvent the usual policy-making machinery of analysis and debate, and frequently to suppress or disdain the best evidence available on a given subject so it can promote predetermined, ideologically driven policies.
Pretty much sums it up, doesn't it? The role of higher education in a society being run like this, on these values, requires little additional comment, though Gore probably has plenty on that. Anybody read this book yet?


Aimee Olafson said...

In line with this, check out the stuff Chomsky has written about education; as an educator myself, it is brutal honesty at its best. Sadly, I doubt if the general public reads the stuff...

Mr. Verb said...

Yeah, Chomsky's long aimed for fundamental critiques of our society. I don't count on that from Al Gore.

It seems like at least our 'decision makers' should know about this stuff, and they generally don't, I fear.