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ClassWarrior's Journal
Posted by ClassWarrior in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Thu May 31st 2007, 09:47 PM
Not about the climate crisis, of course. I fully support President Gore’s efforts to save the planet.

But the title of his new book is “The Assault on Reason.” In recent television interviews, he’s been speaking out against the dumbing-down of the national discourse. And while I obviously agree with this point of view, I’m wondering if Gore’s thinking in this area is outdated.

To wit, political linguist George Lakoff and his colleagues state, in their powerful book “Thinking Points”:

The discovery of frames requires a reevaluation of rationalism, a 350-year-old theory of mind that arose during the Enlightenment. We say this with great admiration for the rationalist tradition. It is rationalism, after all, that provided the foundation for our democratic system. Rationalism says it is reason that makes us human, and all human beings are equally rational. That is why we can govern ourselves and do not have to rely upon a king or a pope to govern us. And since we are equally rational, the best form of government is a democracy. So far, so good.

But rationalism also comes with several false theories of mind.

• We know from cognitive science research that most thought is unconscious, but rationalism claims that all thought is conscious.

• We know that we think using mechanisms like frames and metaphors. Yet rationalism claims that all thought is literal, that it can directly fit the world; this rules out any effects of framing, metaphors, and worldviews.

• We know that people with different worldviews think differently and may reach completely different conclusions given the same facts. But rationalism claims that we all have the same universal reason. Some aspects of reason are universal, but many others are not—they differ from person to person based on their worldview and deep frames.

• We know that people reason using the logic of frames and metaphors, which falls outside of classical logic. But rationalism assumes that thought is logical and fits classical logic.

Rationalism says that people vote on the basis of their material self-interest, that they are conscious of why they voted, that they can tell a pollster what their most important concerns are, and that they will vote for the candidate who best addresses those concerns.

But we know from Wirthlin (see Chapter 1) that this is false. The rationalist theory of voters isn’t true. Yet progressive pollsters still act as if it is. And progressive candidates take their advice. They run on a laundry list of programs recommended by their pollsters and act as if Wirthlin had never made his discovery.

If you believed in rationalism, you would believe that the facts will set you free, that you just need to give people hard information, independent of any framing, and they will reason their way to the right conclusion. We know this is false, that if the facts don’t fit the frames people have, they will keep the frames (which are, after all, physically in their brains) and ignore, forget, or explain away the facts. The facts must be framed in a way to make sense in order to be accepted as a basis for further reasoning.


http://www.rockridgeinstitute.org

Is Gore wasting valuable face time condemning the “assault on reason,” when he really should be spending his airtime embracing, promoting, and using framing to promote his reasoning?

NGU.


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