“Addiction researchers know that legal substances (alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs) are as much a problem as illegal substances, but getting the public to recognize this fact is difficult. “


In Politics and Business – It’s All About Framing and Storytelling


What professionals and experts don’t get:

  • It’s all about the feelings your message triggers
  • The most important are moral feelings
  • And the stories you tell.

This is about political discourse but all discourse is the same.  Replace the word “voters” with “clients, in this article.  Defenders of evidence-based knowledge and policy need to learn these simple strategies and tactics – or get used to losing in public discourse and policies. (excerpts below) Our comments are in […]

Take Aways

Here’s how public intimidation by framing works.  [It’s actually simple bullying, “framing” is a polite term.]

  • The mechanism of intimidation is framing, not just the use of words or slogans, but rather the changing of what voters take as right as a matter of principle.
  • Framing is much more than mere language or messaging.  A frame is a conceptual structure used to think with.
  • Frames come in hierarchies. At the top of the hierarchies are moral frames.
  • All politics is moral. Politicians support policies because they are right, not wrong. The problem is that there is more than one conception of what is moral.
  • Moreover, voters tend to vote their morality, since it is what defines their identity. Poor conservatives vote against their material interests, but for their moral identity.

The Use of 9/11 to Consolidate Conservative Power: Intimidation via Framing by George Lakoff 

On 9/11, Cheney understood that the attack was an opportunity to take control, and take control he did.  Colin Powell recommended calling the attack a crime.  But Cheney understood that if it were framed as an act of war, then Bush and Cheney would be given war powers.  So war it was, a metaphorical “war” on terror. The American people, intimidated by the vision of the towers falling, accepted the framing. Democrats, seeing the [fear-driven emotional, reflexive] reaction of their constituents, went along with the framing.

Terror meant everyone should be afraid of terrorists. Throughout the Midwest the predictable happened.  A highly memorable event raises one’s judgment of the probability that it will happen to them.  All over America people started being afraid of terrorists. Bush asked for and got unlimited war powers and the Patriot Act.

From 9/11 on, the American people have been subject to conservative intimidation by framing.  I’ve now written five books explaining how framing works in the brain and what citizens could do about.

Knowing well that morality trumps lists of policy details, lists of facts, and logic, conservatives won that framing encounter, and have kept winning.  Why? Because people, using their real reason, normally think unconsciously in terms of morally based systems of frames, metaphors, and narratives. Continue reading

Why We Trust Common Sense and Authority, Not the Professional — We Think Like Kids


This article is about science but it also speaks to the sources of resistance to professional, evidence-based advice from doctors, other professionals, and financial advisors.

This is a growing problem as everything gets more complex and getting fact-based, professional advice and support is critical.

[excerpts below.  Emphasis added. Our comments are in [brackets]]

Bottomline: Resistance to certain scientific ideas derives in large part from assumptions and biases that can be demonstrated experimentally in young children and that may persist into adulthood. The main reason why people resist certain scientific findings, then, is that many of these findings are unnatural and unintuitive.

Take Aways

  • Both adults and children resist acquiring scientific information that clashes with common-sense intuitions about the physical and psychological domains
  • Additionally, when learning information from other people, both adults and children are sensitive to the trustworthiness [and authority] of the source of that information
  • Resistance to science, then, is particularly exaggerated in societies where nonscientific ideologies have the advantages of being both grounded in common sense and transmitted by authoritative sources.

Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Science
Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg

Scientists, educators, and policy-makers have long been concerned about American adults’ resistance to certain scientific ideas.  In a Pew Trust poll, 43% of respondents said that they believed that humans and other animals have existed in their present form since the beginning of time, a view that denies the very existence of evolution. Even among the minority who claim to accept natural selection, most misunderstand it, seeing evolution as a mysterious process causing animals to have offspring that are better adapted to their environments.

This is not the only domain where people reject science: Many believe in the efficacy of unproven medical interventions; the mystical nature of out-of-body experiences; the existence of supernatural entities such as ghosts and fairies; and the legitimacy of astrology, ESP, and divination.

This resistance to science has important social implications, because a scientifically ignorant public [and a public loyal to magical thinking] is unprepared to evaluate policies about global warming, vaccination, genetically modified organisms, stem cell research, and cloning.  Here we review evidence from developmental psychology suggesting that some resistance to scientific ideas is a human universal. Continue reading

Psychopath Characteristics


Psychopaths also have white matter disconnects between the frontal lobes and the limbic system — throwing a roadblock in the way of feeling bonded or compassion for anyone.    the psychopath algebraic equation: big striatum + white matter potholes =  high need for reward and low affective empathy (compassion)  =  power hungry

“Low resting heart rate is a strong and consistent predictor of conduct disorder and chronic aggression. Explanations such as fearlessness and low arousal-induced stimulus-seeking have been offered, assuming a causal association between the phenomena, but the origin of low heart rate and its significance for understanding aggression and violence remain obscure.”

“The universe around us is not what it appears to be. The stars make up less than 1 percent of its mass; all the loose gas and other forms of ordinary matter, less than 5 percent. The motions of this visible material reveal that it is mere flotsam on an unseen sea of unknown material. We know little about that sea. The terms we use to describe its components, “dark matter” and “dark energy,” serve mainly as expressions of our ignorance.”


Thinking Scientifically Is Different from Our Defaults


A Deathbed Story I Would Never Tell — by ROBERT KRULWICH

We all tell stories. That’s how we share. That’s how we remember. Storytelling is what humans do. It’s part of our nature — but natures, I’ve noticed, differ. I am not a scientist. I don’t have a mind for what they do, which is:

  • to stick, doggedly, to hard facts
  • keeping emotion out of the room [It’s not just emotions but all purely, personal, subjective experience  our brain’s — default preferences – at bay.]
  • It’s a discipline for them, a way of being, that makes them, well, scientists.

For example, I’m thinking about the great American physicist, Richard Feynman, sitting in New Mexico, at the bed of his dying wife. He’d been called, and told that she had only hours to live; he’d hitchhiked from Los Alamos, where he was working on the top secret atomic bomb project. It was 1945. Continue reading