Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Don't Think of an Elephant

There is an interesting PDF download of an excerpt from George Lakoff's book Don't Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate at http://www.changethis.com/5.GeorgeLakoff

"Framing is the conservatives' most important weapon. Framing is critical because a frame, once established in the mind of the reader (or listener, viewer, etc.) leads that person almost inevitably to the conclusion desired by the framer, and it blocks consideration of other possible facts and interpretations."

"Remember, don't just negate the other person's claims; reframe. The facts unframed will not set you free. You cannot win just be stating the true facts and showing that they contradict your opponent's claims. Frames trump facts. His frames will stay and the facts will bounce off. Always reframe.

If you remember nothing else about framing, remember this: Once your frame is accepted into the discourse, everything you say is just common sense. Why? Because that's what common sense is: reasoning within a commonplace, accepted frame.

Never answer a question framed from your opponent's point of view. Always reframe the question to fit your values and your frames. This may make you uncomfortable, since normal discourse styles require you to directly answer questions posed. That is trap. Practice changing frames."

Sounds like an application of General Semantics (http://www.general-semantics.org/)to me. There is a good bit in Korzybski's The Effect on Perceptual Processes of the Language System:

"Perhaps a story from the European underground under Hitler would be a good illustration. In a railroad compartment an American grandmother with her young and attractive granddaughter, a Romanian officer, and a Nazi officer were the only occupants. The train was passing through a dark tunnel, and all that was heard was a loud kiss and a vigorous slap. After the train emerged from the tunnel, nobody spoke, but the grandmother was saying to herself, “What a fine girl I have raised. She will take care of herself. I am proud of her.” The granddaughter was saying to herself, “Well, grandmother is old enough not to mind a little kiss. Besides, the fellows are nice. I am surprised what a hard wallop grandmother has.” The Nazi officer was meditating, “How clever those Romanians are! They steal a kiss and have the other fellow slapped.” The Romanian officer was chuckling to himself, “How smart I am! I kissed my own hand and slapped the Nazi.”

Obviously it was a problem of limited “perception,” where mainly “hearing” was involved, with different interpretations."

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