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A moment of truth in the State of the Union?

Mark From the Hooterville gazette has spotted a very telling moment in Obama’s speech when the crowd laughs. Watch it closely.Without being in the room it’s hard to know who was laughing, and why. A year ago we could have assumed that laughter after a line about “overwhelming evidence” was really the crowd mocking those who don’t believe. But this is different.

“I know there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change….        but….     but…      but here’s the thing, even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for clean energy and efficiency is the right thing to do.”

I watched it a few times to be sure I wasn’t misreading it. But the clues are clear. Watch Obama, he is not expecting to say a funny line. His response to the rising laugh tells us the laugh was not part of the plan. A good speaker (and he’s polished) knows intuitively that the way to kill a laugh is to speak over the top of it and interrupt the “moment”. (Professional speakers are coached to pause after delivering a scripted line that’s intended for comic effect). But tellingly, Obama tries twice to interject as the laughter slowly gathers pace, but he can’t stop it, so he concedes and briefly joins in.

Laughter is a group thing, bound up in our gregarious interactions. (Try laughing on your own, laughing is not about the joke, so much as it’s about the company.)  Obama had to join in.

Usually, also, a group laugh builds very fast. But this one develops momentum slowly across the room. It’s almost as if the audience was surprised to find it was laughing. This was The State of The Union after all.

Watch Pelosi, she beams for most of Obama’s talk, but there’s a flickering grimace as the laugh keeps building. For a second she’s worried it will become even louder. Belatedly Obama joins the laughter. There wasn’t much else he could do.

He will have noticed the effect his use of the word “overwhelming” had on the crowd.

What was unfolding is that the news of the climategate scandal, (and the seemingly endless round of other scandals) means that in the mixed audience of republicans and democrats there would be a sizeable group who would be well versed in just how corrupt the system is. For these people, it’s involuntary, it’s hard to hear the words “overwhelming evidence” and not think “let’s hide the decline”, “use some tricks” and “delete the data”.  (Once you know, you can’t help but laugh at the pretence that this is meant to persuade us).

This naked moment tells everyone in the room that the political force of fake authoritative science is spent. The tipping point has tipped in the highest of circles. Many people in the crowd may have known for a while that there is no overwhelming evidence, but now the whole crowd knows that the bombastic line about evidence has backfired.

The emperor has no clothes… and the audience is aware.

There’s a long clip on youtube here if you want more context. The action is around 4:40.

There are some truly scary video’s on the rest of this Hooterville page.  Check out the bedtime story indoctrination!

UPDATE: This post hereoffers an odd mix of real information and outright denial of what happened at the same time. It seems we can credit Barton (long time skeptic) with setting things off…

“At that moment Barton–the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee–stood up, clapped and waved at the president. Other Republicans remained seated–and silent.

Undeterred, Obama continued…”

Juliet Eilperin’s analysis of what happened pretends that outright laughter is equal to silence, (don’t believe your lying ears) and that Obama was undeterred despite being forced to join in and weakly laugh at the word “overwhelming” when he was trying to be serious. Strange how the world looks through the prism of a fake scare.

Thanks to Jerry for the link.

Thanks to Wesley #46 for his incisive observation: “Watch where Pelosi and Biden look. Its to their left [right side of the screen] <strong>Its the republicans that started laughing first.</strong> But Obama, Pelosi and Biden all know they’re on camera. Their only defence is to act as if its a bipartisan joke. So they and many in the democrats laugh belatedly.”

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