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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Facts and Emotions

Thomas Sowell contends that people are not interested in factual arguments. So politicians provide them with emotive statements regarding high gas prices, for example.

A factual presentation like the following means little to people:

If corporate "greed" is the explanation for high gasoline prices, why are the government's taxes not an even bigger sign of "greed" on the part of politicians— since taxes add more to the price of gasoline than oil company profits do?

People understand the emotive message in the following:

It is clear that many people prefer to blame President Bush. Others prefer to blame the oil companies, who have long been the favorite villains of the left.

Politicians understand that. Numerous times they have summoned the heads of oil companies before Congressional committees to be denounced on nationwide television for "greed," with the politicians calling for a federal investigation to "get to the bottom of this!"

Now that is emotionally satisfying, which is the whole point. By the time yet another federal investigation is completed— and turns up nothing to substantiate the villainy that is supposed to be the reason for high gasoline prices— most people's attention will have turned to something else.

Read his commentary. How will we ever have good government when people act on emotion and not fact?



Sowell has more in the series:
Too ‘Complex’?, Part II
Too ‘Complex’?, Part III

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