I found Don Jacobs' book, THE BUM'S RUSH, a breath of fresh air that brings clarity out of confusion. In an admirably fair, even-handed way, Jacobs entertains, educates, and opens our eyes and minds by showing us how to recognize and rebut fallacious arguments no matter how colorful or amusing they may appear. A valuable book. --Dan Millman, author, Way of the Peaceful Warrior
At this critical moment in history, when so many people are struggling to live responsibly in relation to the Earth, Rush Limbaugh cynically sows seeds of confusion. This book will help honest individuals and organizations understand and counter Limbaugh's bullying tactics. --Steve Richardson, Executive Director, Environmental Action Coalition
The Bum's Rush: The Selling of Environmental Backlash is a 'must read' for thinking conservatives who want to find the truth behind Rush Limbaugh's distorted environmental ideology. --Jay D. Hair, President, National Wildlife Federation
I read The Bum's Rush ... . I found it to be refreshing and biting. One of my students here immediately borrowed it to read. --Michael W. Apple, John Bascom Professor of Instruction and Curriculum and Educational Policy Studies, University of Wiscosin, Madison. Author of Democratic Schools.
It sure was a nice little treat yesterday afternoon when I drove up to my mailbox and found a copy of "The Bum's Rush" waiting for me. That was just about the most fun I think I've had picking up my mail since the day I received that pair of "X-Ray Glasses" I had ordered from the back page of a comic book and heck, that was several weeks ago. This book works better than a pair of those X-Ray Glasses!
I sat down in my easy chair that night with this book and was so intrigued with Dr. Jacobs' observations and analysis of Rush Limbaugh's linguistic strategy that I read the entire book. Having been in the Radio business for many years now I am well aware of the power of Words and their effect on listeners but I've never read such a clear and scientific breakdown of word stategy. I commend Dr. Don Trent Jacobs for sharing some of his knowledge in the field of Psycholinguistics with his readers. This and the science of Neurolinguistic Programming have not been easily accessible to most Americans because it is usually found only within the pages of Academic Text. --Phil Dickerson, Texas
In order to keep up with the many issues important to Iowa and the nation, I regularly read a wide variety of publications and ask my staff to monitor many others. This is one I plan to read personally. --United States Senator Tom Harkin, Iowa
...Don Jacobs' book, The Bum's Rush, deconstructs Limbaugh's funny phrases for the fallacies they really are. A way must be found to get this book in as many hands as possible. --Kristen Quirk, E Magazine
PART ONE 7
Red Flag Terms 8
Persuasive Words 9
1. Stories and Metaphors 10
2. Double-Bind 12
3. Contingency 14
4. Rapport 14
5. Authority 19
6. Humor 20
7. Emotional Words 21
8. Pacing 23
9. Questions 26
10. Missing Words 29
11. Absolutes 30
12. Loaded Questions 42
13. Misrepresentation 44
14. After This, Because of This 46
15. Circular Reasoning 46
16. Face Value 47
17. False Cause 48
18. Personal Attack 49
19. Burden of Proof 50
20. Either-Or 52
21. Generalization 53
22. Ignoring the Issue 56
23. Contradiction 57
Intent Signals 58
24. Us vs. Them 62
25. Supremacy 68
26. Absolute Certainty 71
27. Righteous Indignation 73
28. Intimidation 75
29. Affiliations 76
PART TWO 79
Rushing the Animals 80
Primary Species 81
Only a Moron 91
High Protein Cows 97
A Foolish Notion 99
Head First 102
Doing the Limbaugh 105
Dr. Waters 106
The Cuyahoga River 115
The Best 117
Hanging in Limbaugh 121
The Biggest Threat 122
Hard Cases 124
A Moral Imperative 128
Almost Nothing 130
Dogma Food 131
Fools Rush In 133
Little Expertise 134
Their Position is Absurd 135
Powerful Forces 140
Degree of Savagery 143
We Are Only Part of It 146
References Cited 153
About the Author 165
Some Sample Chapters for your viewing.......
Throughout history influential speakers, used-car salesmen and politicians have used words to herd the unwary or unknowing. This easily-read book will help you recognize the efforts of others to herd you. By recognizing and understanding this use of language, you will become a more critical listener, and will apply this book's invaluable lessons in many areas of your life.
Divided into two parts, The Bum's Rush first describes and explains more than two dozen of the most commonly used linguistic and rhetorical tactics, explaining them in ordinary, easy-to-grasp terms.
The second part of the book examines the published statements and media pronouncements of popular talk show personality Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh's words are analyzed and deconstructed using the knowledge of the tactics learned in the first part of the book. While Limbaugh's words are excellent examples for this analysis, the book is not so much about Limbaugh and his pontificating, as it is about the use of persuasive language. The book does not "beat up" on Limbaugh, but instead challenges the reader to think independently and arrive at a personal conclusion after becoming fully aware of the multitude of propaganda techniques used in today's media-rich world.
Widely used as a textbook in college and university classes on critical thinking, linguistics, advertising, public policy, and environmental studies, this book can be an invaluable addition to many curricula. Its 165 pages read in a matter of hours, and at about $12.00 per copy it fits the budget of cost-conscious students or budget-minded individuals and organizations.
Twenty-five hundred years ago Aristotle classified fallacies to help prevent the misuse of persuasive language. Today, few of us would recognize a well-woven fallacy if it hit us in the face. It's not a subject many of us have studied. Furthermore, if we wanted to believe a particular conclusion, a fallacy might persuade us to act very foolishly.
Enter Rush Limbaugh. You don't want to feel guilty about pollution? Let Rush convince you to attack the false prophets who call themselves environmentalists. Tired of feeling helpless about crime? Follow Limbaugh's call for revenge. While Limbaugh's rhetoric provides the intellectual rationale, we can let our strong instinctive reaction to threat come forth -- the demand for punishment. This reaction is fundamental to the success of propaganda. It is no less responsible for Limbaugh's rise to fame.
In her article, Hate Radio, Patricia J. Williams says "the polemics of right-wing radio are putting nothing less than hate onto the airwaves, exalting it as freedom." Yet Limbaugh's "tell it like it is" antics merely fan the fire of an old American tradition: "if you can't control it, attack it." When humans feel helpless about environmental degradation or job security, we are susceptible to irrational beliefs. Helplessness triggers distressed feelings like anger and rage. These feelings turn us against our imagined "enemies." This cycle of inner conflict soon turns into political realities like fascism, war and pollution.
Our culture is producing a growing population of hostile children. What role does misleading commentary, contradiction, name-calling and revenge propaganda play in developing this culture? How can we expect children to disengage from punitive cycles if the wide range of "ditto-heads" cannot? How can we hope to meet the challenges of global conservation if we allow persuasive language to feed us fallacies that fuel our more primitive instincts?
It does not require extraordinary skills or understanding to take apart the illusions and deception that form our false perceptions. It requires only a willingness to apply one's analytic skills to what is communicated. This willingness comes from caring, not from reaction to fear or stress or confusion or loss of short-term profit. If we do not acquiesce to fallacy, if we are not susceptible to "the bum's rush," we can indeed chart a proper course for life on our planet.
Here is an example of Limbaugh's persuasive language, fallacious reasoning, misrepresentation of facts and false cause rhetoric.
"In fact while there were certainly atrocities against the Indians by White People, there were just as many -- and probably to a greater degree of savagery -- committed by other Indians. Also, there are more American Indians alive today than there were when Columbus arrived or at any other time in history. Does that sound like a record of genocide?" (Limbaugh 1993, p.68)
Here Limbaugh begins with a probably valid premise, then moves to a fallacious conclusion. Yes, "there were certainly atrocities against Indians by White People." Using pacing techniques, he makes this fact contingent on his next statement,
"there were just as many -- and probably to a greaterdegree of savagery -- committed by other Indians,"
which may not be valid. In other words he tells us to believe Indians murdered other Indians more often than white people did during the short 100 years in question. This conclusion is remarkably incorrect, according to texts published by National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institute on the American Indian.
Using a pacing word, "also," Limbaugh brings us back immediately to a truer statement, before we have time to question his incorrect allegation. He says,
"Also there are more Indians alive today than there were when Columbus arrived, or at any other time in history."
Then using a question we are maneuvered into accepting his second and final fallacy, specifically that white man never perpetrated genocide on the American Indian.
In fact, even if the Indian population is higher now than in 1492, the U.S. Census of 1870 indicates only 25,734 Indians were alive in the territory north of Mexico at that time.
Sample Analysis, Limbaugh's Language
''My first guest is an editorial from the Wall Street Journal. My second guest today who also agrees with our first guest, is a position paper from Science and Environmental Policies Public Project from Washington, D. C." (Limbaugh laughs loudly for about 42 seconds here) "I want you to remember you have heard this all before. You've heard most of this in philosophical form and theoretical form FROM MY MOUTH (emphasis his)."
At this point Limbaugh reads and paraphrases from the Wall Street Journal editorial.
"Dr. Joe Waters, at Cal Tech, a top scientist with NASA's Ozone research project, warns that in his view there will not be a large ozone hole this year." (Limbaugh reads "this year" softly.)
"As NASA has been the first to acknowledge, their own report is not finished. The Journal editorial goes on to say that environmental science has become an area fraught with political pressure. It is simply not clear to us that real science drives policy in the ozone area."
"NASA's Michael Kurylo himself noted that a recent "Time Magazine" cover story on the subject played on sensationalism and said that scientists have mixed feelings about press releases."
"That's from our first guest. And it can be summarized by saying that there is NO OZONE DEPLETION (Emphasis his.) No hole has been found."
Limbaugh then reads from the second article:
"Principal project scientist, James Anderson, in "Science News," of February 8th of this year, could only vaguely predict the development of a hole during some year in the near future. (Limbaugh reads "near future" quickly.) Perhaps in the decade to come." Then Limbaugh says:
"Make no mistake about it folks. Even those who want you to believe that there is an ozone hole haven't got the courage to lie about it. They are attempting to convince you that there might be, and the fact that there might be is reason enough to begin drastic measures that will have great economic harm and impact in order to fix them." (Limbaugh, Radio Broadcast, August 4, 1991)
Two fallacies that are obvious in the above statement are burden of proof and misrepresentation of reference. In the first one, Limbaugh infers, based on his interpretation of the articles, that no one has proved there is ozone depletion. Therefore, his contention that there is no such thing stands until someone proves there is.
The misrepresentation of reference signal is the most blatant fallacy, however. After listening to the above radio broadcast, I personally called Dr. Joe Waters at Cal Tech's Jet Propulsion Laboratories to get a "from the horse's mouth" clarification of the Wall Street quote -- something you would expect a broadcast journalist to do before making such emphatic claims. After introducing myself, and telling him what Limbaugh read on the air, here is what Dr. Waters told me on the phone. I quote directly:
"Our scientific work is often misrepresented by extremists on both sides. My statement about the ozone hole not getting any bigger THIS WINTER (emphasis his) was based on a variety of environmental factors that appear to be slowing down ozone depletion temporarily."
I then asked if this meant ozone depletion was not a problem. He replied:
"No, this is not a reason for any less concern. In fact, there are reasons for extreme concern for the human population."
Remember, Joe Waters was the main reference Limbaugh used to come to the conclusion that there is no ozone problem! In the following sentence, Limbaugh closes with a generalization fallacy.
"That's from our first guest and it can be summarized by saying that there is no ozone depletion."
The only thing Limbaugh quoted Michael Kurylo as saying was that "scientists have mixed emotions about press releases." How does it follow that this means there is no ozone depletion? If Limbaugh was unsure of Kurylo's stand on the ozone issue, he could have read the edition of a conservative magazine he often quotes. On April 6, 1992 "Insight" featured a story on the ozone issue that agrees with Limbaugh that the ozone scare is all hype. In it both James Anderson and Michael Kurylo were quoted as having feelings quite different than those stated above. The men were interviewed at a February 3 news conference:
"We believe now that the probability of significant ozone loss taking place in any given year is higher than we believed before. 'We're not concerned with just remote regions now,' added NASA's Michael Kurylo, program manager of the Artic expedition. 'What we're dealing with extends to very populated regions.'" (Morrison, 1992, p. 6)
"Make no mistake about it folks, even the people who want you to believe there is an ozone hole don't have the courage to lie about it."
Here we have an ambiguous (same as missing word) signal. Make no mistake about what? What kind of mistake? How does it relate to people without courage to lie? The ambiguity of the directive causes us to search for the obvious intent of the speaker. However, since we do not want to make a mistake, we might just let it pass.
As for the second half of the sentence, an either-or fallacy waves another red flag for us. Limbaugh's inference that "the people" (us vs. them?) need courage to lie (as opposed to the more common idea that it takes courage to tell the truth) is confusing. How have such people been getting us to believe that there is an ozone hole? They are either telling the truth (because they do not have the courage to lie) or they are telling a lie (which they cannot because they do not have the courage). My deduction would be that they are telling the truth to the best of their ability. As for their uncertainty about exactly how bad it is or what it will be like in the next decade, it seems they are being honest about this. What is happening in Limbaugh's attempt to make his argument stick is thus either-or logic. Either there is a provable "end of the world" ozone problem that will require using up all of our resources to fix, or there is no ozone depletion at all and we should forget entirely about the subject.
Gibran's advice is complete. We do, however, often behave contrary to what we know instinctively is right. Plato said, "When the mind is thinking, it is talking to itself." When we talk to ourselves, we use the language that surrounds us, even if it conflicts with our "better judgment." Backlash rhetoric takes advantage of this cultural dialogue. The more we are told environmentalism is "hype," the more likely the backlash words will become a part of our self-talk. Unless, of course, we remain critical of what we hear.
The language of our culture gives both purpose and momentum to the backlash movement. Burke said, "Motives cannot be separated from man's linguistic nature because motives are distinctly the products of the language." (Fisher, 1970, p.25) As we have seen, many such motives relate to interpretations of the Bible, especially concerning "guilt." Others come from human sciences that depend upon the existence of a realm in which people are entirely detached from nature.
The language of money and advertising also influences our motives to act in ways that may be deleterious to the environment. Al Gore mentions this source of motivation in Earth in the Balance:
"We have become so seduced by industrial civilization's promise to make our lives comfortable that we allow the synthetic routines of modern life soothe us into an unauthentic world of our own making." (Gore, 1991, p. 240)
Of course, Thoreau is most famous for his eloquence on this potential threat to our future. His words tell us that change toward a less consumptive style of life can have positive value for all of us, individually and collectively. As long as this idea is seen as a negative, however, there will continue to be a dispute between the environmentalists and the "backlashers."
This is not to say that commercial advertising, per se, is the cause of this war between people who disagree about who we are and how we ought to live. We do, however, let it define us more than we should. If we allow advertising to persuade us that we can and should have all pleasures at our fingertips, then we are to blame for perspectives that may ultimately cause us harm. In his book, Recapturing the Spirit of Enterprise, George Gilder says it another way:
"If the opinion leaders of society prescribe the unhindered pursuit of individual pleasures as the goal of life ... capitalists will rush forward to serve this public mood and will generate the externalities it entails." (Gilder, 1992)
Admittedly, we cannot go back to what Limbaugh calls "the stone age." But neither can we continue with the unrestrained policy of individualism, which places a priority on particular wealth rather than global health. The language of "rugged individualism" that helped inspire the American dream must be expanded. Once, it produced Daniel Boone and Henry Ford. Now it produces the Marlboro Man. The former represented vision and courage. The latter represents cancer. Rather than letting one company lure us into smoking with image of the rugged cowboy, we are wiser to heed the message of the community suggesting we stop the habit.
An emphasis on cooperation instead of individuation is neither utopian nor socialistic as the backlashers would have us believe. Alexander Solyhenitsyn said, "the salvation of humankind lies only in making everything the concern of all." Individualism demands an appreciation for objective limits that allow for the welfare of all things, "both animate and inanimate."
The environmental debate will accomplish little good until it becomes a discussion about education, not about propaganda. Educators seek to learn and teach mutual understanding that benefits everyone concerned about an issue. Propagandists advocate causes, not necessarily for the good of all. Both may use strategies of persuasion, but we can only depend on true educators to use them ethically.
As long as there are "sides" to the environmental debate, we should not anticipate that many orators who represent one side or the other will soon change into this idealistic form of information sharing. Neither will we stop advertising's powerful tactics of persuasion, no matter how misleading they may be. We are not likely to change our verbs and nouns to make them more conducive to a 'holistic and careful attitude toward the natural environment." (Chawla, 1991, p. 253). Simplifying our lives and consuming less is also not something many of us will do voluntarily. George Santayana has recognized this probability:
"To be poor in order to be simple, to produce less in order that the product may be more choice and beautiful, and may leave us less burdened with unnecessary duties and useless possessions, that is not an ideal articulate in the American mind."
What we can do, however, is influence positive change by being more careful with our language, and more attentive to the language of others. It is through language that we distort our understanding of the world. If we understand its power and remain critical of its message, we will not allow ourselves to commit the crimes against nature and humanity we have perpetrated in the past.
We can thus avoid the potential hazards of environmental backlash rhetoric if we use our understanding of persuasive language. We might begin by taking advantage of the "bright side" of the backlash movement. Its contribution is that it may help prevent us from believing in our doom. A study of psychology shows that we tend to realize what we fear. It is thus important that we not imagine those worst-case scenarios that could result from our careless regard for the world around us. If enough of us believe something strongly enough, it may come true. If environmental backlash stops a collective belief in our demise, it will be of value.
On the other hand, positive images only manifest themselves when we are on track and if we are working hard. For example, positive thinking helps prevent illness, but not if we continue to eat poorly, take drugs, avoid exercise and live with too much stress. Furthermore, we alone are ultimately responsible for choosing which course is the best one to take. If we know their intentions and techniques, fallacious persuaders cannot influence our decisions. As long as we continually look for the "red flags" of persuasion, we will not acquiesce to fallacy. Then, no longer susceptible to "the bum's rush," we can chart a proper course for life on our planet.
Now, Don Trent Jacobs is the first person to accurately expose the strategies and fallacies of Rush Limbaugh and the 'environmental backlash' movement with his book, The Bum's Rush: The Selling of Environmental Backlash, Phrases and Fallacies of Rush Limbaugh (Legendary Publishing, 1994). As with all of his books, Dr. Jacobs does not resort to emotionalism or name-calling. Just clear, objective analysis of facts, motivations and consequences.
Of course, being first is not without its repercussions. It is said you can always tell a pioneer by the arrows in his back, and Jacobs is not unfamiliar with controversy. Firefighters didn't like being told they were not fit enough to do their jobs. Advertisers didn't appreciate Jacobs telling children not to believe their Saturday morning commercials. Many physicians didn't want medical emergency personnel utilizing "body-mind" concepts. And there has been a furor regarding what Jacobs has to say about Rush Limbaugh and the backlashers in this, his eighth book. In fact, when we first sent the book out to get interested publishers, we received such remarks as" We don't want to take on Limbaugh."
But Jacobs has never been afraid to take on challenges. A collegiate wrestler and boxer, he rode rodeo broncos between college semesters. After a stint as a pilot in the Marine Corps, he sailed the Pacific in his sloop, the 7Ls. In the middle of a kayaking attempt to make the first descent of the Rio Urique River, he traversed the remote jungles and mountains of Copper Canyon to escape unexpected flood waters. Seeking the ideal mount to use in the grueling Ride and Tie race, he learned to train wild horses. He subsequently authored the book on Ride and Tie, and his training program for wild horses is used by numerous Bureau of Land Management adoption centers. Don and his wife are the 1992 World Ride and Tie Champions.
Jacobs earned his first doctorate in health psychology while working as a firefighter / EMT. This combination of experiences revealed to him the power of certain kinds of communication, and inspired him to specialize in the field of psycholinguistics. This led to Prentice-Hall's publication of his text, Patient Communication. During that time, Don was also playing ragtime piano and entertaining in night clubs. After earning his degree, he started a private hypnotherapy practice in northern California. He has been an adjunct professor at U.C. Berkeley, an advisor to the California Governor's Council on Wellness, and Vice-President of the Northern California Society of Clinical Hypnosis. He has lectured internationally on the subjects of his books and has made numerous radio and television appearances around the country. He earned his second doctorate in education renewal and curriculum development in 1996. He was the former Dean of Education at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Presently he is an associate professor at The Center for Excellence in Teaching at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff , Az.
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Copyright 1994, Don Trent Jacobs.And now a few words for our friendly, mechanized search engines: Rush Limbaugh drugs