Et tu quoque, Gore?

The argumentum ad hominem is cool. Rather than address the salient points of your claim, I just attack you and declare your claim false on those grounds. QED. Such is the case with the “Al Gore’s an energy-hogging hypocrite” thematic. It’s a pitiful attempt to argue against global warming by proxy. Today, Dr. Henry I. Miller (not to be confused with Ana?s Nin’s lover) of the Hoover Institution joins the fray: >Perhaps I can offer a medical explanation for why Al Gore simply doesn't feel that he should be judged by standards of behavior applicable to everyone else. On the basis of his actions and writings over many years my guess is that Mr. Gore suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard? Paging Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard. Now, Dr. Miller holds both an M.S. and an M.D., but no mention of a PsyD. However, he has read a book: >The criteria for this diagnosis, as described in the psychiatrist's bible, the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders," include a "pervasive pattern of grandiosity [in fantasy or behavior], need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts," as indicated by the following: >"A grandiose sense of self-importance [e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements]." Ah, I see: Al Gore is a self-aggrandizing narcissist (read: politician). So, that’s his problem. My problem is that I fail to see how his hypocrisy is germane to the issues of global warming. That Mr. Gore has, in his official function, wrapped himself in contradictions to appease constituents may be true. Yet, it has no bearing on the facts of global warming. That’s the funny thing about science: the facts speak for themselves, regardless of the apparent hypocrisies of the orator. Nevertheless, Dr. Miller has more important fish to fry, like this one:. >Mr. Gore regularly demonstrates his grandiosity. Who can forget his notorious claim that he had been instrumental in creating the Internet? Indeed–especially not when your ilk will not let it go away. Moreover, this entire “Gore thinks he invented the internet” meme is pure fiction, just ask Bob Somerby. But Wait! Not only is the former VP a deceitful hypocrite, he’s a big meanie in committee, as well: >While a senator, Mr. Gore was notorious for his rudeness and insolence during hearings. A favorite trick–which I experienced first-hand–was to pose a question and as the witness began to answer, Gore would begin a whispered conversation with another committee member or a staffer. If the witness paused in order that the senator not miss the response, Mr. Gore would instruct him to continue, then resume his private conversation, leaving no ambiguity: Not only is your testimony unimportant, I won't even pay you the courtesy of pretending to listen to it. Dr. Miller treats this as some sort of coup de grâce, but there’s one problem here: suppose everything Dr. Miller has accused the former VP of is true—the facts of global warming remain the case. Even if Mr. Gore is a hypocrite, a liar, a Senate bully, and a narcissist possessed of egregious delusions of grandeur, the temperature of the earth is rising, the hole in the ozone layer is still there, the polar ice cap continues to melt, sea levels continue to rise, and our increasing carbon emissions continue to contribute to the problem. –pm

7 thoughts on “Et tu quoque, Gore?”

  1. This is certainly an ad hominem against Gore. However, Dr. Miller doesn’t even use the proper method for diagnosis of a personality disorder. If he truly read the DSM – IV he would know that he attempted to diagnose Gore on the basis of only one element of the general description of what a typical person suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder would exhibit. The DSM – IV has a set of criteria, typically eight or nine descriptions, for each personality disorder and states that a person needs to clearly meet at least five of these criteria (for NPD) in order to be considered to have the disorder. The DSM – IV then gives a general description of what characteristics a person who suffers from the disorder will typically exhibit. The problem is that someone can meet certain elements of the general description and not have the disorder and another person could not meet certain elements of the description and still have the disorder.

    I would list the set of criteria used for actual diagnosis, but those who publish and sponsor the DSM – IV have made it clear that they do not want them published openly on the net so people will not be tempted to make an arm-chair diagnosis of themselves or others (exactly what Dr. Miller is guilty of). However, a quick search of the internet will turn them up.

  2. i kind of sensed a misdiagnosis here, as well, but (aside from the fact that i am definitely not a doctor) i wonder if going that route might teeter on the edge of an ad hominem itself. the logical flaw here isn’t the (obvious) malapropos psychiatry, but the fact that dr. miller seems to imply that al gore’s apparent hypocrisy somehow portends the failure of the claims of global warming.

  3. Right, the unjustified diagnosis of NPD is just a factual problem. The logical problem is Miller rasing the issue of a personality disorder when he is attempting to discuss the merits of Gore’s claims about global warming. Even if Gore is a hypocrite and even if he does have NPD this does not in any way speak to the quality of Gore’s arguments about the problems of global warming.

  4. exactly. sadly enough, dr. miller was not riding solo in this endeavour. this is the fourth or fifth op-ed i’ve seen this week arguing the same point.

  5. Don’t forget the ubiquitous Straw Man:

    In it [Gore’s Book] Gore trashes the empirical nature of science for disconnecting man from nature. “But for the separation of science and religion,” he laments, “we might not be pumping so much gaseous chemical waste into the atmosphere and threatening the destruction of the Earth’s climate balance.” But for the separation of science and religion, we would still be burdened with the notion that the sun and the planets revolve around the Earth. It is with good reason historians call the last epoch when religion dominated science the Dark Ages.

    Um, I don’t think Gore is advocating the return of a religious state. And I don’t think that the appellation “Dark Ages” is defined by religious domination over scientific inquiry.

    Now I have to get back to that pile of tires I’ve been burning.

  6. i think that’s more of red herring, or perhaps a “straw-herring.” this is maybe an attempt to link gore’s global warming campaign with the “scientific attack on religion” dr. casey wrote about on monday. at any rate, it’s got nothing to do with dr. miller’s previous line of argument–that gore is a hypocrite and a big meanie–nor with anything gore has said. bob somerby over at the daily howler has touched on this before: and here: and here: and here:

    in fact, there’s over 30 entries since 2002 where somerby has noted the intentions of the right to paint gore as a sort of anti-religion crusader. the pastor of the southern baptist church he attends might say differently.

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