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Eight years ago, the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was held in Washington, D.C. One of the rally’s purposes was to promote reasoned discussion as opposed to the demonization of persons with opposing views (see Vidal Buckley debates). “Fight Truth Decay” is a simple mantra taken from the rally. Unfortunately, a significant portion of humanity still prefers to accept demonization, fear mongering and one’s own personal beliefs over reason.

It should be no surprise that argumentative tactics including fallacious argument forms like demeaning opposing persons, creating a false narrative or appealing to sensationalism are very effective. A quick review of the evolution and profitability of tabloid journalism (talk radio/TV) along with “reality” TV demonstrates society’s fascination with extreme behavior, whether truly talented or grossly deviant. Include the economic profit motive (quest for power) and you get the likes of cigarette commercials glorifying smoking, DDT, Roundup, opioids as safe pain treatment, political attack ads and “clean coal.” One historic example of demonization is the chemical industry’s DDT response to whistle blower Rachel Carson.

Couple societies’ fascination with aberrant behavior and the current communication technology and it is easy to conclude we are doomed. The same is something likely said by every generation, starting with the printing press. For good or evil, the misuse of the most current “state of the art” communications for political, economic or ideological gain is undeniably a function of the human condition.

What technology cannot change is the individual’s ability to reason, to utilize the scientific method to formulate and prove hypothesis, to recognize and distinguish valid from invalid arguments, to question statistical analysis for significance, biased or neither, To Fight Truth Decay.

Nader cost Gore Florida. Use reason when voting. Think Green, but vote wisely.

Michael Stern, Queensbury

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