Master of Arts (M.A.)
Degree Granting Department
David Payne, Ph.D.
Frederick Steier, Ph.D.
Nathan Johnson, Ph.D.
Climate Change, Science, Facts, Rhetoric, Al Gore, Scientific Persuasion
This thesis project examines how scientific authority is produced through rhetorical practices instead of the “information deficit” model of science communication. By conducting a rhetorical analysis of the science documentary An Inconvenient Truth, this project demonstrates how the documentary format itself and the film’s leading agent, former United States Vice President Al Gore, attempt to persuade audiences through building degrees of scientific authority by employing multiple rhetorics or narrative themes of science to bolster the scientific facts supporting anthropogenic climate change. Additionally, I demonstrate how these narrative themes parallel three scholarly themes within the rhetoric of science literature: science as a story of perpetual discovery, science as reference, and science as an agent of moral prosperity. I argue that scientific authority is best understood through these multiple rhetorics of science which, in the dramatic case of An Inconvenient Truth, require Gore to overcome certain social and cultural obstacles by appealing to the values and sensibilities of his audience. Successful scientific persuasion, therefore, depends more on the elements of rhetoric rather than solely relying on accurate and verifiable scientific information as the crux of successful persuasion.
Scholar Commons Citation
Morales, Alexander W., "The Rhetoric of Scientific Authority: A Rhetorical Examination of _An Inconvenient Truth_" (2017). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.