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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

A rationale for lying

 Scott Adams often focuses on persuasion techniques. He understood back in 2016 how crucial it was for Trump (and not only Trump) to steer what the news media and hence the public feel is important; to seize control over the news agenda.

A point Adams made in this podcast a couple of days ago is interesting: it's better (for a persuader) to say something that cannot be completely true in order to fix the audience's attention, rather than make a nuanced point that will be quickly passed over. 


In this case it's a tweet by someone who says of nuclear waste that it has never hurt anyone 'and never will.' Scott observes that it's obvious no-one can be sure of the latter assertion but by that token it gets the brain working on just how far it may be true, so the reader's wandering eye has been arrested. Adams notes that our smartphones etc are shortening our attention spans, so tricks like this are needed to shepherd our wayward thoughts.

We are in a post-truth era.

1 comment:

Paddington said...

Another popular technique among con men is the 'Gish Gallop', which is to spew so many lies that the brain cannot catch up.