book: don’t think of an elephant

Don’t Think Of An Elephant!/ How Democrats And Progressives Can Win: Know Your Values And Frame The Debate: The Essential Guide For Progressives

A friend recommended this book, and I managed to find a library copy and work my way through. It’s an easy enough read, with some profound things to say about the way that dialogue works, especially in the US political debate.

In putting forward an idea, the framing is more important than the facts. If you disagree with someone, don’y accept a frame with which you disagree: change the frame before giving an answer. There are two ways of phrasing political ideas – the strict father, and the nurturing parent (the latter is deliberately gender-neutral).

Short, easy-to-read chapters, George Lakoff has put together a book that is straightforward for political operatives to apply: US democrats at the time of writing (2004) were at a significant disadvantage from the conservative media machinery – they have spent decades creating think tanks, research centres, and media channels that reinforce their framing of the issues.

If you want to think through the effects of language choice on persuasion, this book is well worth a look.

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