Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Unkind Juxtaposition Backfires

I stumbled onto this entertaining little quiz (hold on! don't click through yet) being promoted by anti-Gore nuclear power advocates. The challenge is to distinguish between the writings of Al Gore and the writings of the Unabomber. Interesting. Can you do it? Well, you might respond, it would be easy to cherry pick the most rational statements made by the Unabomber and the most controversial statements made by Gore. I think that's exactly what they did, but it still leaves me thinking that I should probably read the Unabomber's work.

The deck is stacked, but nevertheless, I think I can help you get a good grade! Here's the trick. When you read the item, evaluate it on this basis. Is it an inconvenient truth? If not, give it to the Unabomber. Do you find yourself in grudging agreement with the statement, or asking yourself what the relevance is? Then give it to the Unabomber. Is it more than a complaint? Does it have any aspect of hope? Then give it to Gore.

One irony in all this is that the people who are pro-nuclear are mostly environmental skeptics, anti-Gore types, and the people who fear for the environment are generally opposed to the most likely remedy, which would be, that's right, nuclear power.

Let me know how well you do.

5/30/2006 10:32 PM

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At Wednesday, May 31, 2006 7:38:00 AM, Blogger Steve said...


At Wednesday, May 31, 2006 9:22:00 AM, Blogger jj mollo said...

Oh, well. Now I guess you'll have to admit that there's no difference between Al Gore and the Unabomber.

At Wednesday, May 31, 2006 11:35:00 AM, Blogger anchovy said...

50% and I attributed them all to the Unabomber. My stategy was to look for "buzz words," reasoning that extremist-types often gravitate toward the use of them as a sort of shorthand for concepts that are either too difficult to express clearly or, more likely, cannot be expressed clearly because they make no sense in the first place. (As opposed to teenagers who gravitate toward slang "shorthand" because they can't express a coherent thought!)

Your last sentence was interesting. There are plenty of examples where where ideology circles back on itself. But I'll resist the temptation to digress....

At Wednesday, May 31, 2006 2:49:00 PM, Blogger jj mollo said...

You guys are making me feel bad! I had hoped my instructions would have been enough to turn you into geniuses. BTW, I got 50% when I took it too.

I'm not giving up, though. I'm not sure which ones you think are buzz words, but one of the reasons you might use buzz words is to facilitate communication. A buzzword is a processed concept with a lot of connotational baggage. If you want your interlocutor to carry the baggage too, just slap on the buzzword. It's true that it allows you to cover your ignorance, but it also helps when you're trying to communicate a point of view to a mass audience.

******* Spoiler Alert --- Read no further if you plan to take the test ********

"Again, we must not forget the lessons of World War II. The Resistance slowed the advance of fascism and scored important victories, but fascism continued its relentless march to domination until the rest of the world finally awoke and made the difference and made the defeat of fascism its central organizing principle from 1941 through 1945."

To me this statement describes a national, transnational rather, challenge that faced us. Many people think we foolishly procrastinated in waiting for Pearl Harbor. But in either case, we were able to focus our efforts on a grand scale and overcome a very daunting foe. Is that not hopeful?

"It is not necessary for the sake of nature to set up some chimerical utopia or any new kind of social order. Nature takes care of itself: It was a spontaneous creation that existed long before any human society, and for countless centuries, many different kinds of human societies coexisted with nature without doing it an excessive amount of damage. Only with the Industrial Revolution did the effect of human society on nature become really devastating."

In this statement the word chimerical is probably used for purposes of showing off. But the statement as a whole only serves to diminish. Humans, it seems, are bad for the Earth and should be mitigated. No hope or kindness in that statement. It's not necessarily noxious, but I'll bet the following sentence in the original text is more unpleasant.

At Wednesday, May 31, 2006 3:14:00 PM, Blogger jj mollo said...

By the way Anchovy, I'm willing to admit that I have great difficulties expressing coherent thoughts. Most of my thoughts are not coherent at all, so it takes a lot of work to wring any sense from them.

Yeah, the thing about engineers who are GW skeptics, vs. enviros who think engineers are all Dr. Strangelove. Both groups denigrate any argument coming from the other side. Why is tht? Or is it just my imagination?

At Thursday, June 01, 2006 12:42:00 PM, Blogger Useless Man said...

Great thoughts here. It is too true about fearing the reality of fixing things like that.

Off to try the quiz. I'm not good at quizzes.

Wasn't Al Gore the Unabomber?

At Thursday, June 01, 2006 5:34:00 PM, Blogger jj mollo said...

LOL, I give up.


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