There is a review of Al Gore’s latest book, “The Assault on Reason“, in the latest issue of New Scientist.
Although it seems to be mostly concerned with American politics (and Dubya in particular), his main point seems valid over here too, namely that the media are becoming more and more show-oriented and providing less and less serious information, thus leading to voters making their decisions on a less and less rational basis. Gore seems to think this is due in part to the decline of print media and the rise of TV, and he hopes the internet will remedy the situation to a certain extent.
While I’m also concerned about the current situation, I’m not so sure he’s right about why it used to work better. Sure, before the tabloids, and when there were only very few TV channels (one in Denmark, three in the UK and Germany), obviously some people found it hard to escape the serious stuff they didn’t really want to hear.
However, I think another change has been the declining status of politicians and similar figures. In the old days, a worker would read a Labour paper, but more importantly, they’d listen to the local union bosses and party bosses and believe them when they said Labour was the party to vote for. These days, many people don’t trust such figures, and they figure there’s no real difference between parties, so they treat elections as beauty competitions, or listen to the spin rather that the analysis of what was really meant. Since there actually are real differences, the result is people end up with decisions that they don’t actually support.
Perhaps blogging will solve this…? What I mean is that perhaps people will find a blog they like and then vote as it suggests. Is this unrealistic, and would it lead to undesirable results, too?