Will Byrnes's Reviews > The Assault on Reason

The Assault on Reason by Al Gore
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's review
Oct 05, 08

bookshelves: non-fiction

Al makes some very good, precise points in this work. Yet, I found it less than satisfying overall. I felt that his points were good, but that he often veered away from his central premise. For example, he includes a section on how Bush has bullied the legislative branch into a passive compliance. I see this as evil, just as Gore does, but it is not based on the absence of reason. It is based on the unimpeded exercise of political power.

Al makes his core points in the Introduction;

That democracy rests on a well-informed citizenry

That in order to ensure the free flow of information freedom of assembly was assured, as was freedom of the printing press

That the public discourse on which information exchange is based has shifted from the printed word to electronic media, particularly television, which is a one-way medium requiring vast wealth to access, wealth that is unavailable to the many

That reason is seriously hampered by fear, and that constant fear has become a feature of contemporary life

That this unreasoning fear might be resolved in a public forum open to all for the free exchange of ideas, but that this forum is no longer open to all, or to many, as it once was.

New science has given us insight into how fear works in the human brain and it shows that emotion affects reason much more than reason affects emotion

That television, by using a non-language moderated input, skips past input that is language moderated, penetrating to core emotion

He notes an “orienting response” that fixes our attention on the screen, notes how fearmongering is done, and shows how the Bushies did just that to justify the war on Iraq and their anti-freedom program at home

That faith plays a role in society as well as reason, citing the greater impulse for anti-slavery movement in religion, while the supposedly Reason-based,
like Jefferson, lagged.

Overall, I felt that it was a good read with a bunch of interesting points. I appreciated the many quotes from Founders and others, but felt that he needed to stitch his material closer to the seam of his theory. Read this for its content.
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