Reader: We're beyond rational debate 


In his letter ("Debate our core values," Jan. 30) encouraging some sort of grand debate over climate change, Matt Werner missed the big picture. In case you haven't noticed the big orange thing that now occupies the Oval Office, we are no longer living in a period of rational debate. The fantasy of rational debate that was handed down in school books was the product of the Enlightenment. Our forefathers thought that rationality could carry this country forward into an era of human progress. Their vision was partially realized, but only to the extent that people actually listened to and took seriously the outcome of the reasoning process. They didn't always do so, but at least for a while technology was in such a nascent state that our bumbling would not destroy the world. At the present time in the West we are facing both a surge in our ability to destroy, coupled with a decline in our tendency to listen to the outcome of rational argument. This tendency has been both fed and exploited by a handful of selfish people. Some of the worst exploiters of the human susceptibility to propaganda are the oil and gas industry, the most profitable industry in the history of the world. It has long been their strategy to cast doubt upon the reasoned arguments of climate scientists by claiming that the facts are not as solid as they seem. While they prop up opposing voices to stall action, they suck the last drop of oil from the ground as the world burns. They are not interested in the Enlightenment or reasoned argument, and they have been very happy to muddy the waters. They will no doubt be pleased to hear Mr. Werner's call for more drawn-out discussion, but they aren't interested in having the debate ever come to a close. Reason is good, but let's apply our reason to the larger picture and wake up to what's going on in the world: Not everyone is being reasonable.

— John Chavis

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