Posts Tagged ‘Morano’
We interrupt this program…. For a brief mention of Esquire’s profile on Marc Morano.
I spend most of my time looking at what people have said. Every so often, though, it’s possible to get a glimpse of the “backstage” process through which the public speech was designed. In a previous post on Morano’s techniques, and in my summary of lessons learned, I stressed that advocates need to rely on their opponents’ commitments as starting points for their own arguments. Here’s the man himself saying the same thing to his colleagues, to a planning meeting at Copenhagen last year:
“Don’t quote the skeptics,” he begins. “Use the words of their fellow scientists.”
He pushes a key on his laptop and a slide appears on the screen behind him: COPENHAGEN CLIMATE CHANGE TALKS MUST FAIL.
“Let’s play a little game. Who said this? Was it Sarah Palin? Was it Senator Inhofe?”
A familiar voice calls out: “James Hansen, hahahahaha.“
“James Hansen! James Hansen said this conference must fail! So if anyone asks you this week, How can you be against this? say, We stand shoulder to shoulder with NASA’s James Hansen!”
Morano stands at the podium grinning. The joke, of course, is that Hansen opposed the conference because it didn’t go nearly far enough to solve the problem, which is the opposite of Morano’s distorted meaning.
He triggers another slide. It’s a prominent scientist saying the Climate-gate scientists should be barred from the United Nations climate process. “This is not a skeptic,” he crows. “This is a UN scientist!”
Next is a leading British science journalist saying that most of his environmentalist friends have gone into denial about Climate-gate, hoping the crisis will go away.
“Again, you don’t have to quote a skeptic. Use their words.“
Let’s return one last time to the Morano v. Maslin debate. I’ve been saying some favorable things about Marc Morano’s skill as an advocate. But what about the fact that he–and in fact this whole debate–is boring? Haven’t we heard all these arguments before, over and over again? Yes–and it’s a good thing, too.
Read the rest of this entry »
As a second way in to assessing the arguments in this debate, let’s examine how the two debaters deal with one bit of testimonial evidence they actually share.
I’ve been looking at the verbal work that’s occurring in this small transaction–the work of construing the relationship between the speakers as a relationship of a certain type (for Maslin, attacker/victim), the work of framing the topic they will mutually address (anthropogenic global warming, AGW). All this work is supposed to be aimed at allowing the two men to debate–that is, it’s supposed to make room for them to exchange arguments. Now that’s they’ve gotten their debate well underway, can Maslin the scientist use his expertise to craft arguments that will stand up to Morano’s expected attacks? No.
Democracy thrives on debate, but even a committed debateologist like myself might think that our democracy doesn’t need another go-round over whether humans have or will cause significant changes in the climate (AGW). Maslin agrees; he protests against plodding through yet again a debate he’s “been having … for the last twenty years.” How did he, and we, get stuck on that issue? By his choice.
I closed the first post by noting that Maslin seems to feel that Morano is attacking him–specifically, that Morano has accused scientists (including, presumably, him) of lying. There are a variety of other linguistic markers in this brief exchange that reinforce this picture of Maslin as the weak victim responding to another’s aggression: the hedges with which Maslin prefaces many of his remarks.
Let’s start by examining how the two debaters interact with each other–how they address each other and how they characterize each other’s speech. The moral of the story: Morano, and not Maslin, manages to maintain the appearance of civility necessary for a debate.