David Brooks is appallingly stupid by mattsteinglass
May 29, 2007, 11:56 am
Filed under: Books, Media, United States

It just needs to be repeated, from time to time, when he writes idiotic crap like this.

Addendum: it’s often hard to know where to begin refuting grade-school garbage like the piece Brooks wrote today, but here’s a try. Gore’s book analyzes a broad de-emphasis on reason in the public sphere over the past decade or two, an embrace of spin and sensationalism over dispassionate analysis of data and coherent argument.

Now, a rejoinder to Gore’s critique might argue that this isn’t really true, that reason does remain important in the public sphere. Or it might argue that reason wasn’t any more important in previous democratic epochs, that propaganda and fear-mongering played a tremendous role in American democracy in the 1940s and ’50s as well, and were often important in the victory of causes Gore himself probably supports.

But it takes a David Brooks to argue, in response to Gore’s book, that reason is bad and that, because he believes in the importance of reason, Gore is a nerdy weirdo:

He envisions a sort of Vulcan Utopia, in which dispassionate individuals exchange facts and arrive at logical conclusions…. [The horror. – ed.]

This in turn grows out of a bizarre view of human nature. Gore seems to have come up with a theory that the upper, logical mind sits on top of, and should master, the primitive and more emotional mind below. He thinks this can be done through a technical process that minimizes information flow to the lower brain and maximizes information flow to the higher brain.

The reality, of course, is there is no neat distinction between the “higher” and “lower” parts of the brain. There are no neat distinctions between the “rational” mind and the “visceral” body. The mind is a much more complex network of feedback loops than accounted for in Gore’s simplistic pseudoscience….

Some great philosopher should write a book about people — and there are many of them — who flee from discussions of substance and try to turn them into discussions of process. Utterly at a loss when asked to talk about virtue and justice, they try to shift attention to technology and methods of communication.

What unbelievable idiocy. Appalling, anti-intellectual garbage. Because Gore wants to analyze the effects of different media on political discussion, he is “at a loss” regarding virtue and justice??? Unbelievable. At least it’s clear what has led Brooks to support the Bush Administration for so long: he thinks logic is bad and fear is good. Okay then.


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