Quote of the day: Sam Harris on “Big Lies”

Thanks to the wonders of the Kindle for iPad I’ve been able to download a plethora of books and materials otherwise too expensive or unavailble in Australia.

For the researcher, such technology is a real boon. Texts that would be probibitively expensive can be brought for a fraction of the price and delivered to my iPad in seconds.

OK, I admit I’m a little addicted.

Recently I bought Sam Harris’s brilliant little easy “Lying” of the Amazon store.

One quote struck me as particularly memorable:

“Most of us are now painfully aware that our trusting government, corporations, and other public institions has been undermined by lies.

Lying has precipitated or prolonged wars: The Gulf of Tonkin incident in Vietnam and false reports of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in which lying (at some level) led to armed conflict that might otherwise not have occured. When the truth finally emerged, vast numbers of people grew more cynical about US foreign policy – and many have come to doubt the legitimacy of any miliatry intervention, whatever the stated motive.

Big lies have led many people to relexively distrust those in positions of authority. As a consequence, it is now impossible to say anything of substance on climate change, environmental pollution, human nutrition, economic policy, foreign conflicts, pharmaceuticals, and dozens of other subjects without a significant percentage of one’s audience expressing paralyszing doubts about even tghe most reputable sources of informatino. Our public discourse appears permanently riven by conspiracy theories…”

Harris neatly summeries the dilemna we face: public discouse on climate change effectively “broken”. Several factors have contributed to this:

  • The mistrust of elites has been growing for several decades, and we can perhaps trace this back to the Watergate era.
  • The electorates cynicism of the political process and elites has been powefully co-opted by the deneirs
  • News Limited newspapers have also thrown their weight behind the deneirs , while actively campaigning against the carbon “tax” (and by extenstion the science supporting cliamte change).

This three factors alone have been a reciepe for disaster, and has almost fatally killed off sensible discussion and action on climate change.

3 thoughts on “Quote of the day: Sam Harris on “Big Lies”

  1. klem says:

    “(and by extenstion the science supporting cliamte change).”

    Ok this is too weird for me, I mispell ‘cliamte’ the same way all the time.

    What is it about that word which makes folks spell it cliamte?

  2. iPAS says:

    The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn’t fail me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, nonetheless I truly thought you’d have something useful to say. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something that you could possibly fix if you weren’t too busy seeking attention.

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