At Grist, Chris Mooney does what he says he rarely does, "gushes" over a book. It's Joe Romm's new book, Language Intelligence: Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln, and Lady Gaga. Here's what Mooney has to say:
Everybody who cares about why science doesn?t get through to the public should read it.You can also hear Mooney's interview with Romm here.
Basically, it is a powerful treatise on the neglected art of rhetoric, the technique mastered by Shakespeare, Lincoln, and the writers of the King James Bible. As an English major, I particularly delighted in Romm?s discussion of figures of speech and how they make orators persuasive by allowing them to activate people?s emotions. Indeed, as Romm writes, modern neuroscience now confirms what the poets always knew about getting to people?s heads through their hearts (that?s a metaphor, by the way ? one of the chief techniques that Romm discusses).Joe RommIf you ever want to understand why scientists fare so poorly getting their message across ? and why liberals lose policy debates and, often, presidential campaigns ? this is also the book for you. In essence: Too much higher education, too much wonk sophistication, destroys the common language simplicity of good rhetoric and makes you less persuasive.
Romm ? quite self-consciously ? uses powerful rhetoric himself to get the point across. And he shows how, slowly, climate researchers are coming to recognize the power of figures of speech ? comparing global warming?s influence on the weather to a batter on steroids who hits more home runs, for instance, or to the loading of dice.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2008:
I'm not going to link it directly, but via Boing Boing, one Michael Goldfarb is making the case that progressives who read Daily Kos are like tweeners playing Dungeons & Dragons in mom's basement. Now, the knee jerk reaction here would be to state "But I'm not playing D & D in my mother's basement!" But you know what? I'm not going to play that role and I'm not going to be nice.
Mr. Goldfarb was one of the
originalPNAC boys, the lovable neoconservative guys and gals who dreamed up and then whined for an invasion of Iraq starting in the late 1990s, claiming it would be decisive, quick, cheap, and easy. If that sounds familiar, it's because these are the very same opportunistic assholes who used a bogus WMD threat to stampede a spooked nation into their cherished war on Iraq in the traumatic aftermath of 9-11. When the wheels fell off their experiment and it ground to a brutal halt on the streets of reality, true to neocon form, they scattered and ran hitherto, pointing fingers at the CIA, the Democrats, blaming anyone and everyone else for their giant, massive, bloody Baghdad fuck-up, once it became clear what a colossal fuck up it was.
Mr. Goldfarb, please accept this with all the venom and hostility you can conceive of: D & D players don't scare me. They hang out quietly in dorm rooms and apartments playing their RP game hurting no one. You and your friends at PNAC on the other hand stand guilty of practicing gross fatal global negligence to a degree so grotesque I would not have thought it possible in this modern nation.