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An Inconvenient Context

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Did Al Gore justify lying about global warming? Here's a quote:

"I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis."

That's from an interview in Grist Magazine. Is Al saying that environmentalists should lie about global warming to get a reaction?

It seems that the first person to make a big deal out of this quote was a professional spinmeister, Patrick Michaels, who appeared on Hannity and Colmes on May 16. to talke about Gore's new movie, An Inconvenient Truth. (source)

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It took about a week, but the right wing blogosphere soon picked up the story. May 25 was a big day, with the quote appearing in The New Republic. It also appeared on the Free Republic Discussion group and at Libertypost.org. It quickly spread from blog to blog, appearing at Say Anything, Rightwingnation, Bureacrash.com, and Annavenger, among many others.

It moved well beyond Rightwingerland (see Life in the Banana Patch). A poll on Bestandworse.com asks: "Do you agree with his [Al Gore's] sentiment, that it's ok to knowingly decieve the public as to the extent of the problem if it means that more people will come to your side? Do the ends justify the means?"

But is that what Al really said?

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I won't reprint the question because of copyright concerns, but you should go and read the entire interview.

When you read it, note that the question is: "Do you scare people or give them hope?" Gore was responding to the question of how best to approach the issue of global warming, and he answered that it's best, depending on your audience, to focus on the dangers before talking about solutions.

It's an interesting case study in the exceptional aptitude of humans to deceive themselves. Right wing bloggers seized on this quote because it justified their beliefs. Those in the middle saw it and questioned Gore's reliability as a source. The speed of the Information Autobahn just perpetuated this misinformation.

Now, the damage is done.

 

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William Wilson is a writer and activist living in the American midwest. He blogs at http://naturematters.wordpress.com.

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