Michael Shermer attempts to school Jesse Ventura on critical thinking

Governor Jesse Ventura

How could anyone think he was presenting himself as a Navy SEAL?

Remember when Jesse Ventura represented progressive values and brought hope that sanity and rationality might one day be the norm in Washington… way back around the turn of the millennium? Yeah, it’s been awhile and a lot’s changed. Particularly Jesse Ventura.

9/11 changed a lot of people. It caused many people to better appreciate what they have, grow more compassionate, and become generally better people. Though sadly, it caused at least as many people to become all-consumed by fear and retreat into darker versions of themselves. One such example of this is Comedian (or former comedian?) Dennis Miller, who has spent the last decade as an apologist for Bush-era policies and a frequent contributor on Fox News.

But perhaps no public figure has shown a more significant transformation into the heart of darkness following the events of 9/11 more than Jesse Ventura, who now hosts a television show devoted to promoting just about every popular grand conspiracy imaginable. Ventura now regularly rails against “the government” and “the media,” blaming these powers that be for every evil under the sun…and a few over it. Though I did always find it odd that as an employee of Time Warner himself, Ventura sees no plot hole in the fact that he’s literally being paid by one of the very agencies he indicts to propagate what he considers to be their sinister hidden agenda when one would think it’d be Time Warner’s goal to silence him.

In any event though, Ventura’s got a new book pushing his kooky conspiracies and he’s got to move merchandise, so he went on NPR where he briefly debates Michael Shermer on 9/11 conspiracy stuff. Unfortunately, he never gave Shermer a real chance to respond uninterrupted, so the final result is only a so-so performance from Shermer.

But of course all of Ventura’s claims are old news and have been debunked ages ago. I’ve compiled some of the best 9/11 denialist debunking resources on the web here.

Now I’d like to say he’s only recently become an embarrassment but then again, he’s been passing himself off as a former Navy SEAL for a long, long time now even though he in fact never was a Navy SEAL, as is indicated on his Wikipedia page:

From September 11, 1969, to September 10, 1975, during the Vietnam War era, Ventura served in the United States Navy. While on active duty, Ventura was part of Underwater Demolition Team 12 (UDT).[4] The UDTs were merged with the US Navy SEALs in 1983, 8 years after Ventura had left the Navy.

Bill Salisbury, an attorney in San Diego and a former Navy SEAL officer, accused Ventura of “pretending” to be a SEAL and wrote that Ventura would be blurring an important distinction by claiming to be a SEAL when he was actually a frogman with the UDT. Compared to SEAL teams, UDTs saw less combat and took fewer casualties.[5][6][7] Following that, Governor Ventura’s office confirmed that Ventura was never a member of the SEALs. His spokesman stated that Ventura has never tried to convince people otherwise.[5] Ventura stated: “Today we refer to all of us as SEALs; that’s all it is.”[7]

I beg to differ. I can’t recall a single public appearance he’s made in the last decade where he didn’t mislead the viewers into thinking he was a former Navy SEAL. And while it’s a form of ad hominem to suggest that because he’s lied about one thing that that means we should assume he’s lying about something else, but the fact that he continues to perpetuate this myth that he was a former SEAL for the express purpose of garnering greater legitimacy itself seems to me to have the opposite effect and greatly diminish his credibility as an honest agent free of bias, especially when its paired with the host of logical fallacies he presents here. Just about every question he asked Shermer was a red herring argument, an argument from final consequences, an argument from ignorance, an argument from personal incredulity, or even an ad hominem in the case where he was quick to flat-out accuse Shermer of being a government apologist despite Shermer’s very, very well-known libertarian status (to quote the final line from Some Like It Hot, “Well, nobody’s perfect”).

Listening to Ventura today makes me cringe at the fact that I actually once respected this man. He’s an ideologue and denialist of the highest order who is impervious to reason. It’s one thing to not have time to bleed, Mr. Ventura, but at least take the time to think.

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4 Responses to Michael Shermer attempts to school Jesse Ventura on critical thinking

  1. teddi says:

    Happen to like Jesse, he may not know what the hell he’s talking about, but he can make you think. Excercising the brain cells is always good, right? If anything it makes one research his “points” and learn more. Personally, would have loved to have had him around back in the early 70s for my high school debate class, would have added interesting fodder rather than the crap we were fed back then. Just take one of his theories and debate the heck out of it. Would have been fun and extremely educational.

    • mjr256 says:

      I don’t consider misleading the public with paranoid fearmongering, then disingenuously calling it simply entertainment while perpetuating it as true an example of making people think. On the contrary, it does the exact opposite. Nor is it likely to cause anyone who already believes what he believes or who is on the fence to legitimately research his arguments. I think your standard for what constitutes as “educational” is so broad as to include anything, even bald-faced lies.

  2. Bada Bing Crosby says:

    I thought Shermer’s performance was better than “so-so.” Considering the circumstances, it was like trying to make sense to a homeless man on the bus.

  3. […] Michael Shermer attempts to school Jesse Ventura on critical thinking (skepacabra.wordpress.com) […]

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