[Paleopsych] Michael's rhetoric question

Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. ljohnson at solution-consulting.com
Sun Nov 21 04:30:59 UTC 2004

Michael, this is a fascinating question. I wish we were better at it. I 
will address it from the POV of American's interest in influencing the 
Arab street, the context of the thread.

The major problem I see is that capitalism / liberal democracy has no 
natural constitutancy, as socialism (or, welfare state politics) does. 
Eric Hoffer illustrated that forty or so years ago in The True Believer 
and The Ordeal of Change. The natural constitutancy of socialism is the 
university and the intellectuals. Since journalists are trained in the 
university, they tend to support the socialistic world view. So it is an 
uphill battle to influence the Arab street, since the official 
government line is socialistic (Baathist) and the journalists are 
writing from that POV.  BTW, see Unholy Alliance for an argument that 
there is a de facto alliance between the Left and Islamofascism.
(C.f., http://www.thefire.org/  for illustrations of the lack of 
diversity on university campuses)

So persuasion would be very difficult since we (Americans) have no 
natural allies in the media, especially middle east media.

OK, I will take a stab at Michael's powerful question. Look to social 
psychologist Robert Cialdini for some insights. His tools of persuasion are:
    - Reciprocation: speak of the great sacrifices America has made 
(standing against the whole world, shedding our blood . . .) to free 
Afghanistan and Iraq of vicious dictators. Appeal to the Arab sense of 
fair play. We don't want your oil, we want you as partners in freedom. 
We have sacrificed for you; lift your eyes and help us.
    - Consistency: find times when the Arab world supported freedom and 
persuade the Arab street that they should return to their roots and be 
consistent with the 'better angels of our nature.'
    - Social proof: Produce vignettes of the many people in Afghanistan 
and Iraq that are better off. Put a human face on the notion the 
Americans - unique in all the world - fight not for dominance or empire, 
but because it is the right thing to do. Small shopkeepers saying how 
they are able to freely enjoy the fruits of their labors; women saying 
they can now vote.
    - Liking: Emphasize enterprises like "Operation Iraqi Children" 
showing how we like Arabs and sacrifice for their benefit.
    - Authority: Find Imams who will speak up for our efforts. (Well, I 
didn't say it was practical, I just said these are the keys to influence).
    - Scarcity: stories on how rare a possession true freedom is, and 
how difficult it is to hold.

I would love to hear others on the same topic.
Salt Lake City
Home of the 11-0 University of Utah football team, ranked 6th in the BCS.

Michael Christopher wrote:

>>>No amount of explanation will ever overwrite that 
>--This leads to a good topic: how do you use rhetoric
>to override an image, in general? How would you use
>facts to override a repetitive, auditory diatribe or
>talk radio belief system? Are images or words
>incongruent with the other channel ignored or
>filtered? When everyone sticks to a propaganda
>channel, believing all other channels are poison, do
>they tend to pick a channel that is either visual or
>auditory, or is it a complex chemistry between images
>and words?
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