Gore on television

July 21, 2007 | By | 1 Reply More

Television is part of the American political problem, but not only for the obvious reasons.  See Ebonmuse’s review of Al Gore’s new book, The Assault on Reason.  Here’s an excerpt:

[T]elevision is a time- and space-limited medium with high barriers to entry, making it in its essence a medium of the rich and powerful. It is not a place where people can have a two-way conversation; rather, it turns people into passive receivers of information, unable to respond as they see fit. Worse, television is not a meritocracy. One’s ability to participate in the medium is not based on the merit of one’s ideas, but rather on how much money one can afford to spend to purchase airtime for them . . . Unlike print, television can present vivid, visceral images that bypass the faculties of reasoning and trigger emotional responses – especially fearful responses – far more directly, overwhelming the faculties of deliberation.


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About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Ben says:

    "Whaddya talking about, giving up on science just because your kids have pubesced? Are you saying that's it for learning about nature? They know everything they need to know about the universe, the cell, the atom, electromagnetism, geodes, trilobites, chromosomes, and Foucault pendulums, which even Stephen Jay Gould once told me he had trouble understanding? How about those shrewdly coquettish optical illusions that will let you see either a vase or two faces in profile, but never, ever two faces and a vase, no matter how you hard you concentrate or relax or dart your eyes or squint like Humphrey Bogart or command your perceptual field to stop being so archaically serial and instead learn to multitask? Are your kids really ready to leave these great cosmic challenges and mysteries behind? I demanded. Are you?

    My voice hit a shrill note, as it does when I'm being self-righteous, and my sister is used to this and replied with her usual shrug of common sense. The membership is expensive, she said, her kids study plenty of science in school, and one of them has talked of becoming a marine biologist. As for her own needs, my sister said, there's always PBS. Why was I taking this so personally?

    Because I'm awake, I muttered. Give me a chance, and I'll take the jet stream personally.

    My bristletail notwithstanding, I couldn't fault my sister for deciding to sever one of the few connections she had to the domain of human affairs designated Science. Good though the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry may be, it is undeniably geared toward visitors young enough to appreciate such offerings as the wildly popular "Grossology" show, a tour through the wacky world of bodily fluids and functions.

    Childhood, then, is the one time of life when all members of an age cohort are expected to appreciate science. Once junior high school begins, so too does the great winnowing, the relentless tweezing away of feather, fur, fun, the hilarity of the digestive tract, until science becomes the forbidding province of a small priesthood and a poorly dressed one at that."


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