O’Handley made some pretty good design decisions. The Distraction Principle is probably the best tool for the task. Young people need to be steered away from sniffing around the scientific data and—perhaps more importantly—steered away from even considering the importance of the global climate threat. Honestly, I doubt we can stop them from seeing it in the long run, but there’s plenty of value if we can at least delay it for a few years. Directing their attention elsewhere is what O’Handley has done successfully here.
The master touch, in my opinion, was the distracting circumstantial ad hominem he developed. When you can’t beat their argument, you attack them. And one of the best attack methods is to yammer about their motives. “They” would benefit personally if there’s climate action (i.e. political power and money); therefore, their arguments are false.
Some might think, though, that he took it a little too far? It’s one thing to say environmentalists want power, but another to say “and their sole objective for gaining that power is to change the economy and transfer power to government and take over your life.” But my view is, why not? No one watching this video is going to even blink. Sure—that must be their real objective.
And the anthropomorphizing – very nicely done! Big Green, Big Goliath. Give them a sentient Big Monster to visualize and be frightened of. Excellent distractor. Again, though, saying Big Green is bigger than Big Pharma or Big Tech? Maybe going too far…Greenpeace brings in $300 million a year globally, and 350.org about $20 million. While Pfizer alone brings in $50 billion a year, and Google alone, $160 billion. Undercuts his argument?
Again, nah. A handful of irritable comments about that on the YouTube page, amidst tens of thousands of other comments. That’s all that’s going to happen, at most. We’re fine.
Reluctantly I’ll admit it was prudent for O’Handley to throw something in to pretend like he’s trying to meet in the middle. Sure, he says, “the climate is changing.” But have no fear, O’Handley never gives an inch: it appears to be “slowly” warming, “though we can’t be sure”; “if” it continues to warm, it “could” cause problems “sometime in the distant future”; industrialization “probably” plays “a role” in this warming process. See? We’re just trying to have a friendly, respectful, rational conversation here. Heh heh. Now our viewer has the right talking points. Make them feel smart.
I do wonder, though, whether they’ll ever ask about what we mean by “taking away your freedom.” We’d of course like them to visualize something Orwellian. But what happens when they realize that environmentalist power is not going to personally affect them in any meaningful way?
I also worry that it might be a loser to keep hitting on the “we’ve got it so good thanks to capitalism” theme… I fear that, with the younger generation, we’ve already lost that one. It’s not the Reagan era any more. Millennials and Gen Z-ers aren’t doing that great.
We might not, at any rate, have much luck with the fence-sitters. But this video definitely will fire up our base, getting in the key trigger words: Freedom, Nancy Pelosi, Israel, Solyndra. Truth. Some excellent, liberal-loathing community building. Applause, then, to O’Handley! I don’t see much that I would have done differently.
As an aside… fooling young people isn’t something I love doing. But in fifty years none of it is going to matter. And in the meantime, we’re not going to let those bloodsucking Washington bureaucrats tax away our wealth.
(Harold Scrutape is a fictional character.)
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