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Never as New as You Think



Special Message to the Congress Proposing a Comprehensive Health Insurance PlanFebruary 6, 1974
To the Congress of the United States:One of the most cherished goals of our democracy is to assure every American an equal opportunity to lead a full and productive life.
In the last quarter century, we have made remarkable progress toward that goal, opening the doors to millions of our fellow countrymen who were seeking equal opportunities in education, jobs and voting.
Now it is time that we move forward again in still another critical area: health care.
Without adequate health care, no one can make full use of his or her talents and opportunities. It is thus just as important that economic, racial and social barriers not stand in the way of good health care as it is to eliminate those barriers to a good education and a good job.
Three years ago, I proposed a major health insurance program to the Congress, seeking to guarantee adequate financing of health care on a nationwide basis. That proposal generated widespread discussion and useful debate. But no legisla ...read full document
.....today is still the 6th, yes?

The good ideas are never original, but this explains why no one wanted to get behind this idea. Anything from Nixon, couldn't be good -- right? 

A Brief but Relevant  History of Propaganda 


As I have been doing so much research into the areas and technology of aggressive persuasion I've often looked at the measure of what we have today, with the thought, "this isn't your grandfather's propaganda."  It should be noted that what Granddad had was more effective than many people are capable of accepting. What we have today is -- well it scares the crap out of me sometimes -- that's what we have. 

Of course propaganda didn't suddenly burst into the world during WWII. 

Before WWI, after writing (co-authoring) a helpful anthology on Broadway plays and then a good book on Public Opinion, and how to crystalize it, Edward Bernays then came out with his book Propaganda in 1928 -- which was the same year Noam Chomsky was born. Later, while WWII was in full measure, Bernays would learn that Hitler used his book to enhance his skills as a speechwriter, and the methods of delivering public policy from Bernay's book, which upset him quite a bit.

Edward was the nephew of Sigmund Freud, who wrote many books and had a growing audience of dedicated readers. Many of those readers were interested in psychology as well.

In his 1901 book The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, Freud described and analyzed a large number of seemingly trivial, bizarre, or nonsensical errors, and slips, most notably the Signorelli parapraxis

The story goes that Freud, while writing, couldn't bring to mind the painter of the Orvieto frescos (Signorelli), and instead his mind brought up the names of two other painters: Botticelli and Boltraffio. Suddenly interested in this event, Freud attempted a self analysis, and writes out a description of the associative processes he experienced and how it had linked Signorelli to Botticelli and Boltraffio. The analysis has been criticised by linguists and others.

Linguists people are smart, but while they were criticizing, other people were paying attention, and adjusting the verbiage of the political speech they were drafting -- understanding that linguistics had very little to do with the associations Freud was attempting to diagnos. Association is a powerful tool, and from Freud's highly criticized evaluation came some major ideas.

The tactic known as Classical Conditioning, is the use of associating one idea with another. I've always enjoyed the example of the TV character Jim Rockford on the detective show, Rockford files for this one. Rockford and his little rubber stamp printing kit that he would use to produce business cards, which would say that he was a doctor or a lawyer, or a floor cleaner. Whatever he was going to use as a persona he would make a business card. Then he would present this card to whatever security person attempted to stop him from going inside the building -- who would instantly believe that Rockford was a doctor. After all, he had a card. Why would he have a card that said he was a doctor if he wasn't a doctor? 

The association of the business to identity card  was strong back then. I don't know if anyone did a study, but I doubt that 25% of the population understood that you didn't have to show proof you were a doctor in order to have business cards made. The association was simply too strong to believe someone could “just get one.” That’s changed, but it is still a great example -- if you remember who Jim Rockford was...

The best examples of DisInformation use the described associationism of the brain to push false facts through the logic gates by juxtaposing other, close but not accurate information around the spike, before shoving it in. We’ll talk about that soon. 

Labeling is the active encouragement to associate on person or thing with euphemistic or dysphemistic term. “Common Core is an Obamanation,” telling you the false information that Common Core is Federal, and that Obama had anything to do with it going out to the states. The truth is that the Governors of the States requisitioned Common Core to be developed, and brought it in themselves.

Juxtaposition of the Irrelevant uses a one-off subject matter to demonstrate the significance of the subject matter in an argument. “Common Core is a burden to your child. The States are being told to collect more and more information on your child at school for Federal usage. They now need a unique identifier, which can follow your child into college, and out into the workforce.” -- juxtaposing the Data collection demands of No Child Left Behind, and ESEA against Common Core which is an educational standard and has no requirements at all for data collection or ID. You might as well suggest that to put air in your tires, your job needs to always have an accurate inventory of what is in your trunk.

Unstated Assumption, or Implied Facts, use an expression, knowing before hand that you'll get the "real" message through that association. The Implied Fact might sound much like the others, but it isn't. Indeed it is one of the newer tactics, and by far one of the most effective we know of; this latest evolution resulting from a return to academic research, in neuropsychology, to find the twist. The difference between the Unstated Assumption of the WWII days, and the Implied Fact of today, is that back then the tactic was overt - you gave the overt idea that you weren't saying it out loud because of who you were, or how important the association was, and it could cause trouble if it were spoken about in public -- or even private.

The Implied Fact makes no attempt at such overt measures, and in fact works much better in the dark. You'll "get it" later, and by then, it will be "your idea".

Propaganda and Aggressive Persuasion didn't begin then, obviously. We can go back much further to the Reformation of the Church -- the great chasm, back to a new group of priest commissioned by papal bull to be the Propaganda. The Sacra congregatio de propaganda fide --  the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. At 1622 this is fairly far back, don't' you think?
Well, it is, but really it begs the question 'where did a bunch of young priests get the ideas, which would progress into aggressive persuasion?' After all, Jesus was basically a "follow if you want -- don't if you don't" kind of leader. He didn't use 'aggressive persuasion'. He didn't have to. The popes before Gregory XV (and many after) weren't exactly good reference material for this sort of thing, though it could have helped a few times.

Ok, I'll stop. No, the word 'propaganda' didn't' have the meaning then, that it does today, though it does appear that Gregory XV (or someone close to him) coined it the term for this new group.
A favorite website of mine, (etymonline.com) explains that "The word is properly the ablative fem. gerundive of Latin propagare (see propagation). Hence, "any movement to propagate some practice or ideology" (1790). Modern political sense dates from World War I, not originally pejorative. Meaning "material or information propagated to advance a cause, etc." is from 1929."

Google's Define, gives an interesting progression in the definition of propagate, which I'm listing here:

prop·a·gate
präpāt/
verb
1.  breed specimens of (a plant, animal, etc.) by natural processes from the parent stock.
2.  spread and promote (an idea, theory, etc.) widely.
3. (with reference to motion, light, sound, etc.) transmit or be transmitted in a particular direction or through a medium.
Middle English has it related to  propago ‘young shoot’ (from a base meaning ‘fix’).
As it begin, it is more of an agricultural term. Sowing seeds. And I can easily picture Gregory XV making that same association with the parable of of the sower from Jesus. And now it travels at great speed through light and connections -- with a very clear and decisive direction.

Still, these priests were young and given this Propaganda directive in troubled times. People were learning to read. That guy who made the printing press -- Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg -- the first thing he put together was a bible. This was a cause for concern. Understand that many local priests across Europe at that timed, didn't know how to read, or didn't know how to do it very well. So the services were done by memory and as we will discover, memory isn'ta all that accurate.

That's one situation.

The other is that even the priests who were functionally literate in Latin, who had a bible of their own and did study, were up against a population just coming into its own as far as literary -- and who were tackling some of the most difficult doctrines available. Gutenberg was being pious, printing the bible like that, and sending it out -- pious and naive. An encyclopedia would have been nice. Perhaps a few history books so these people would have a framing to work from? A bit of background perhaps?

Nope, let's start with the Bible and it will all work out, because the Bible is the Truth, right?

Well, we all know how that worked out. So, now we have a population of people who are not scholars, and with barely enough language to read the translation of the bible they own -- which might not be that accurate, and in fact it was almost assured that it was quite wrong in many areas. And the general population is teaching itself, and a great many of them, aren't all that sure they like the lessons. When they go to their local priest with these questions (sometimes these questions are in regards to parts of the bible which do not actually exist) they are often given answers, which are not persuasive, such as, "What?!"

This is a criminally shallow description of the environment the Propaganda have been thrown into -- it's actually much worse.

But you have to deal with it when you are in a group the Pope created directly, and when Gregory XV passed on, Cardinal Barberini, one of the original thirteen Propaganda, became Urban VIII. Oh, and the three year war resulted in a firm and permanently established Protestant structure across northern Europe.

No pressure.

I can not say that this next is historical fact. I find enough wisps and strings to suggest it could have happened, but just so you know, 'wisps and strings' often look exactly like we want them to, and will often change if we change what we want to see. That said, if I was one of the Propaganda, there would have been someone I would turn to at this time.

Young priests wouldn't just know who St Thomas Aquinas was, they would know his works. He was basically Rambo in any debate. Philosopher, theologian, Doctor Communis, Doctor Angelicus, the man who nearly synthesized Christianity with Aristotelian philosophy -- and every modern philosophy was judged on how well it either agreed with, or fought against his ideas -- whether the philosophy in question was religious or not. His work in the Summa Theologica and the Summa Contra were legen. His commentaries on Sacred Scripture continue to be referred to by anyone remotely interested in theology. Furthermore, Thomas composed eucharistic hymns, which form a part of the Church's liturgy. Yes, they would know and venerate St. Thomas. Which would lead them directly to Aristotle, and his Persuasions -- I mean the Art of Rhetoric, 3 B.C.

Again, I'm not saying it happened like that, but, one thing is certain -- if anyone is committed to persuasive writing or speech, a strong grip on rhetoric is absolutely required. Rhetoric is, and was, the foundation principles of engaging an audience and persuading them to act or think in the manner of your desire -- to influence and motivate them toward goals you prescribe.

David Coleman, during a speech on the Shifts, which the educational standards known as Common Core uses as pillars, said:

"Do people know the two most popular forms of writing in the American high school today? Texting someone said; I don't think that’s for credit though yet. But I would say that as someone said it is personal writing. It is either the exposition of a personal opinion or it is the presentation of a personal matter. The only problem, forgive me for saying this so bluntly, the only problem with those two forms of writing is as you grow up in this world you realize people really don't give a shit about what you feel or what you think. What they instead care about is can you make an argument with evidence, is there something verifiable behind what you’re saying or what you think or feel that you can demonstrate to me. It is rare in a working environment that someone says, "Johnson, I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.” That is rare. "-- Coleman’s April 2011 presentation of the Core to educators

Of course, what this room full of teachers and educators heard was, "I don't' give a shit about what you feel or think..."

They only walked away with that single quote, because they really didn't enjoy what he was saying before that, and they needed a way out. This is called, Cognitive Dissonance, and it is nothing to trifle with -- and Coleman ignored it completely.

What interested me the most was not that he said it, but that the speech was out of character for him professionally. No, not out of character for David Coleman, who I'm told is brilliant, and doesn't do a lot of filtering when he sees areas of a project, which need to be addressed. Professionally though, at every step of the creation of the Common Core State Standards, he gathered experts in different connected areas, and asked them questions, then researched along those lines, then wrote the standards, then went back to those experts to get their opinion. Then, he altered what they said required alteration.

That is the formula for an exceedingly successful leader. It is also the formula for engaging a project, which you feel is seriously important. And I would say that creating the educational standards for every state in the country, would be one of those projects.

While it has been studied, and shown by every possible angle that the gathering of and utilization of a team of experts, while consulting the experiences of end-users is optimal etc -- A lot of people do not engage projects in this manner. In fact I would say most don't. So, I take away from this noted, natural condition of rejection from the poplus -- that something about you must naturally value using this method of leadership if you apply it toward your life when the pressure is on.


This seems obvious to me, though I'm making many declarations.


What is equally obvious to me is that he didn't show that speech to a professional writer, or anyone that smelled like a professional writer. He certainly didn't show it to anyone in the Persuasion business. His project was complete, it was signed off and benchmarked. Nearly 500 people were involved the creation of CCSS, nearly 300 of them K-12 teachers, from start to finish. It was done. All he was doing that night was explaining to a large room of New York teachers what the Core was, and the philosophy behind it's standards.

He probably thought that line was an 'ice-breaker' since he was at a point in the speech where he drops several large fact-bombs on the state of the education system. After such a barrage, he likely imagined that a strategic bit of humor was called for...

I had an arguement with -- my girl friend at the time -- and it wasn't very long into the argument, when I realized two very important, related facts. One, I was wrong. No, it was obvious suddenly that I was not only wrong, but Two, the point of the argument was none of my business.

I dont know if you have ever been in that particular position before. There is a strong desire, that rushes you suddenly -- its blinding really -- to continue the fight at all costs and never admit defeat. But that’s not how I do things. Besides, with as much trial and error and research and study as I do, I'm sort of use to being wrong at least three times a day. So, I decided that I would say something funny, apologize once the tension of the moment had been pushed aside by the injection of a joke, and then take her to dinner. Thus I said: Don't be angry, it makes you look fat.

Aristotle’s Rhetoric is interesting to me on many levels. The primary however is his departure from the normal useage of appeals to emotion and comparisons to things which are often irrelevant -- the use of correlation being the proof of causation is maddening at times -- to a sudden use of serious logic and scientific method. There are other references to effective rhetoric that survived the ages, but a systematic and scientific approach was likely started in this book .
"All that is done on compulsion is bitterness unto the soul."

Aristotle, in the first few pages, defines rhetoric:

It is clear, then, that rhetoric is not bound up with a single definite class of subjects, but is as universal as dialectic; it is clear, also, that it is useful. It is clear, further, that its function is not simply to succeed in persuading, but rather to discover the means ..

The speech, according to Aristotle, can produce persuasion either through the character of the speaker (ethos), the emotional state of the listener (pathos) or the argument (logos) itself.

Persuasion is accomplished by character when the speech is delivered in such a way as to render the speaker worthy of credence. Further, the success of the persuasive efforts depend on the emotional dispositions of the audience. Thus, the orator has to arouse emotions because emotions have the power to modify our judgements. Finally, the rhetor persuades by the argument itself when he or she demonstrates or seems to demonstrate that something is the case.

It is a little amazing to me that at 3 B.C. Aristotle knew that it was the emotions, which were the modifiers of judgments. We’re going to discuss emotions quite a bit in this book so I won’t spend much time here.

Aside from the three means of persuasion, there are three kinds of rhetorical speeches, deliberative, forensic and epideictic.

In the deliberative kind of speech, the speaker either advises the audience to do something or warns against doing something. Accordingly, the audience has to judge things that are going to happen in the future and have to decide whether they will cause advantage or harm.

The forensic speech either accuses somebody or defends self or someone. Naturally, this kind of speech treats things that happened in the past. In the final analysis, the deliberative and forensic species have their context in a controversial situation in which the listener has to decide in favour of one or two opposing parties, the third species does not aim at such a decision.

The epideictic speech praises or blames somebody, as it tries to describe things or deeds of the respective person as honourable or shameful.

A persuasive speech, it should be emphasized, always occurs in a situation where two or more points of view exist. According to Lucas (2010): 1045, "there must be a disagreement, or else there would be no need for persuasion".

Given this viewpoint, persuasive speeches centre on four types of arguments or propositions: propositions of fact, value, policy and concern about a problem:
  • Propositions of fact assert that something is true or false. 
  • Propositions of value allege that something is or is not worthwhile; 
  • Propositions of policy recommend a course of action or policy as necessary and desirable (or unnecessary and undesirable); 
  • Illicit...the speech designed to create concern about a problem asks an audience to agree that specific conditions should be perceived as a problem requiring solution. 
Of course i should drop the hint that the classification into these categories is often eclectic; as a topic in one category could easily be made to fit into another.

Aristotle is more relevant today than most imagine. Through his clear and enjoyable deconstruction and reassembling of persuasion as science, he touches on nearly every modern or nearly modern method of aggressive persuasion we are going to cover in this book. No, he doesn't know why Implied Facts are so effective, but he knows:
Others[types of persuasions] have the essential character of Enthymemes, but are not stated as parts of Enthymemes; these latter are reckoned the best; they are those in which the reason for the view expressed is simply implied …
Which comes so close that it is a bit scary.
-- excerpt from The Weaponization of Words on the Web coming soon




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  12. Sample, Steven B, and Warren Bennis. The contrarian's guide to leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2002.
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  14.  Olaosun, Ibrahim Esan. "Two as Magic Number: Aspects of the Persuasive Style of Commercial Road Transport Advertising Discourse in South-Western Nigeria." The International Journal of Language Society and Culture 25 (2008): 73-81.
  15.  Zwaan, Rolf A, and David N Rapp. "Discourse comprehension." Handbook of psycholinguistics 2 (2006): 725-764.
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