Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Difficulty of Persuasion

Last month I read an article in the New York Times written by a columnist, Matt Miller [1]. He writes, "Is persuasion dead? ... The significance of this query goes beyond the feelings of futility I'll suffer if it turns out I've wasted my life on work that is useless."

I think of the same question when I write essays about political problems at my blog site. I seldom get a comment like this: "You have opened my eye." (I got one such from a woman. Later, I heard that she had committed suicide. Amen.) If the probability of arguing other persons into my own belief were quite low, writing my opinions in my blogs would be the waste of my time and labor.

Miller finds the death of persuasion by noting the followings: "Best-selling books reinforce what folks thought when they bought them. Talk radio and opinion journals preach to the converted." The situation seems to be the same in Japan. This trend might have not only a bad side but also a good one; people have strong belief in their own thought. However, it should be questioned if they established their thought after careful comparison of different opinions. I am afraid that the flooding of information in these days might be making such comparison rather difficult.

Miller's article is not completely pessimistic. He writes that reading Ken Pollack's book, "The Threatening Storm" [2], he was persuaded, and concludes by the words, "Like Sisyphus, those who seek a better public life have to keep rolling the rock uphill." Miller, however, does not persuade me in that Pollack's book is persuasive because I learned from the reviews of the book at Amazon Web site that Pollack favored invasion of Iraq by U.S.A. I do not think that war is good for any reason.

However low the probability of success in persuasion might be, we should continue to express our sincere opinion by expecting that the storm of good will should change the world in a better direction slowly but steadily.

  1. M. Miller, "Is Persuasion Dead?" New York Times (June 4, 2005).
  2. K. Pollack, The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq (Random House, 2002).

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