Rhetoric: “the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the capability of writers or speakers that attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations.”
Being a writer, I am no stranger to rhetoric. I have spent years honing and applying rhetoric to my novels, plays, and even this blog. Rhetoric is a bewitching art that gives shape and meaning to language. However, I read an editorial today that made me think about rhetoric in a different way. If you own a TV or a radio, you are constantly hearing rhetoric. Whether it’s a politician begging for your vote or an ad convincing you that your dish soap is just not good enough, rhetoric is everywhere. When it comes to politics and policy making we, me included, tend to take in good rhetoric without thinking. Look at Obama’s speech that I blogged about. While I agree with his ideas, he uses a lot of rhetoric and not a lot of scientific facts. The article I read today focuses on this lack of hard evidence in public discourse. “To make the best policy decisions we need to start with all the evidence that we can gather. It must be presented openly and honestly, particularly recognizing any uncertainties.” This article makes a good point. I prefer the the fire and passion of rhetoric, but when is the last time you heard a politician admit uncertainties? It’s probably been awhile… I really don’t enjoy sitting down and reading a mundane and long scientific report on climate change; however, these often dull reports are the key to developing a position on issues like climate change. Whether you’re an adamant supporter of things like coal plants and GMO’s, or holding a protest sign against them, we should all take a minute to look at the boring hard evidence and leave the fiery rhetoric aside—temporarily of course.