This truly sums it all up. Why, I’ve asked myself for years, don’t my fact-driven arguments get through to my right-wing father (and others of his ilk)?
Dr. Cynthia Boaz, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Sonoma State University sums up in one article, the reasons why the left can never seem to get through to the right, no matter how many facts and figures they have on their side. When it comes to the rational brain, the fearful animal wins out. Here’s a summary of her conclusions:
1. Panic Mongering. This goes one step beyond simple fear mongering. With panic mongering, there is never a break from the fear.
2. Character Assassination/Ad Hominem. Fox does not like to waste time debating the idea. Instead, they prefer a quicker route to dispensing with their opponents: go after the person’s credibility, motives, intelligence, character, or, if necessary, sanity.
3. Projection/Flipping. This one is frustrating for the viewer who is trying to actually follow the argument. It involves taking whatever underhanded tactic you’re using and then accusing your opponent of doing it to you first.
4. Rewriting History. This is another way of saying that propagandists make the facts fit their worldview.
5. Scapegoating/Othering. This works best when people feel insecure or scared. It’s technically a form of both fear mongering and diversion, but it is so pervasive that it deserves its own category.
6. Conflating Violence With Power and Opposition to Violence With Weakness. This is more of what I’d call a “meta-frame” (a deeply held belief) than a media technique, but it is manifested in the ways news is reported constantly.
7. Bullying. This is a favorite technique of several Fox commentators. That it continues to be employed demonstrates that it seems to have some efficacy. Bullying and yelling works best on people who come to the conversation with a lack of confidence, either in themselves or their grasp of the subject being discussed.
8. Confusion. As with the preceding technique, this one works best on an audience that is less confident and self-possessed.
9. Populism. This is especially popular in election years. The speakers identifies themselves as one of “the people” and the target of their ire as an enemy of the people.
10. Invoking the Christian God. This is similar to othering and populism. With morality politics, the idea is to declare yourself and your allies as patriots, Christians and “real Americans” (those are inseparable categories in this line of thinking) and anyone who challenges them as not. Basically, God loves Fox and Republicans and America.
11. Saturation. There are three components to effective saturation: being repetitive, being ubiquitous and being consistent.
12. Disparaging Education. There is an emerging and disturbing lack of reverence for education and intellectualism in many mainstream media discourses. In fact, in some circles (e.g. Fox), higher education is often disparaged as elitist.
13. Guilt by Association. This is a favorite of Glenn Beck and Andrew Breitbart, both of whom have used it to decimate the careers and lives of many good people.
14. Diversion. This is where, when on the ropes, the media commentator suddenly takes the debate in a weird but predictable direction to avoid accountability.
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