Parsing Persuasion: Birthright Citizenship Edition

Students of persuasion:

Today Trump announced that he would end birthright citizenship (the conferring of US citizenship on all babies born on US soil) via an executive order.

This is wonderfully effective persuasion.

https://www.axios.com/trump-birthright-citizenship-executive-order-0cf4285a-16c6-48f2-a933-bd71fd72ea82.html

First Let’s Talk Technique

The first technique is that this is highly attention-getting. It comes one week before mid term elections when people are paying more attention. It’s also in light of the headlines of caravans from Latin America, so people are already paying attention to immigration issues.

And all those in opposition in the media will “fact check” the claim right into the first story of every news website, propagating his message far and wide.

It’s also surprising. It has been assumed for a long time that it would take a constitutional amendment to change the laws regarding citizenship of babies born in the United States.

Some more techniques:

  1. Trump uses authority: he has top men working on it, presumably experts in the law.
  2. Pacing and leading: “It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t”
  3. Imagining a future: “It’s in the process. It’ll happen”
  4. Artfully vague language: “But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”
    • Who is “they?” If you’re on the anti-anchor baby side, “they” means authoritative legal scholars.
  5. Confirmation bias: Trump says it’s possible, so when his supporters hear any evidence, they will interpret it to support that pre-existing idea.

Now Let’s Talk Strategy

With a single announcement he turned birthright citizenship from something that the public assumed would be too difficult and not worth trying into something that people now think is possible.

Overnight, Trump will have millions of Americans who want anchor baby laws to end, to newly think it’s possible to end them, and will be more motivated to vote in the mid-terms so they can make it happen.

He also gets *millions* of people to research the legal possibilities. The sides will make the arguments for him. In the first day alone we learned that prior to 1960 it was not applied to illegal aliens and that the amendment’s original author never intended it to apply to aliens.

And here’s the 3D chess: He forces Democrats to be constitutional originalists. They cannot claim the 1st and 2nd amendments require a modern interpretation but the 14th amendment must be interpreted as original text only. They have to pick one or the other. Either he gets the 14th amendment re-interpreted, or he saves the 2nd amendment.

Bonus persuasion: the liberals want the 2nd amendment repealed and the 1st amendment modified or reinterpreted. Trump wants the same for the 14th amendment (and possibly the 17th). Now both sides are interested in the possibility of altering the Constitution. This makes it much more likely to actually happen because its no longer outside the realm of possibility.


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Parsing Persuasion: International Diplomacy Edition

Yesterday, after some disruption in the denuclearization talks between North Korea and the United States, President Trump has “walked away” from the negotiations. In this blog post I parse Trump’s notification letter to North Korea for persuasion.

Others can perhaps speak better to the negotiating aspects than I can, so I‘m going to focus on the framing and the use of motivations, both pleasure-based and pain-based (the proverbial carrot and the stick). Also notice the transitions back and forth between the personal messages / feelings and the message to the international community, since he knows the entire world will be reading the letter. And finally, notice that the tone isn’t angry or hostile – it’s generally sad over missed opportunities but cordial and welcoming towards the right behavior in the future.

 

May 24, 2018

His Excellency
Kim Jong Un
Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea   [ Framing KJU as an officer of the state, not the “Supreme Leader,” his usual title. A Supreme Leader is not beholden to the state, but the Chairman of the State Affairs Committee has a responsibility on behalf of his nation. This is a powerful identity play. ]
Pyongyang

Dear Mr. Chairman:

We greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions relative to a summit long sought by both parties, which was scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore. [ 1. Pacing, 2. Starts with a compliment, which sets the tone of being cordial and non-hostile. 3. Highlights the efforts and pains taken (“time, patience, and effort” and “long sought”). This sets up the painful takeaway coming soon. ] We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant. [ Possibly taking the value of that away so NK can’t use it as a tradeable concession, or perhaps signaling toughness. ] I was very much looking forward to being there with you. [ Adds a personal touch, and shows openness to a turnaround by NK ] Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting. [ Painful takeaway tied directly to NK behavior ] Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place. [ Speaking to the international audience here. It’s good for US and NK individually to not have talks, but bad for the world, which frames having the talks as a selfless, generous, honorable act (and when the talks do happen, they will be perceived as such). This also implies that leaving negotiations is better for the US and NK than having them, so it’s a true walk-away. Great framing. ] You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used. [ Threat of pain. We don’t want to use them, but we will if we have to. ]

I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me [ Back to good feelings. Personal again, and indicates the situation is open to course correction ], and ultimately it is only that dialogue that matters [ All is not lost; you and I can still solve this. ]. Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you [ Future pace of good experience ]. In the meantime [i.e. before we meet in the future – presupposes they will meet], I want to thank you for the release of the hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated [ Internationally public praise for doing a good thing. We generously reward good behavior, and NK has shown it can be the good guy. ].

If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write [ The window is still open, but NK is at fault here and must make a change for things to continue ]. The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history [ International again. Loads of pain and takeaways here. Huge leverage. ]

Sincerely yours,

Donald J. Trump
President of the United States of America

 


 

In other news, I’m working on a method to get out of cognitive dissonance for any particular concept or idea. So far it has worked 100% of the time on myself and on others one on one. I’m currently testing it with small groups.

Negations and Reversals in Persuasion, Or, Team Trump’s Tweet Trip-up

Today, Donald Trump’s official Twitter account posted the following tweet.

Let’s unpack the persuasion in this tweet from the perspective of associations and negations (I’ll talk about the final leading question in a moment).

First, the negations and reversals. The mind processes negations by understanding the core un-negated idea first, and then negating it. Take the example, “The dog isn’t running.” You have to think of a dog running first, before you can negate it. (I thought of a dog running, and then it abruptly stopped and just sat there.)

So, looking at it that way, “tax cut” is processed as “not tax” and “end the big tax cuts” is processed as “not (not tax).” “Raise taxes” is processed as “tax” because it has no negation. So now we have:

with Nancy Pelosi wanting to not (not tax) and tax

It takes the mind a moment to sort that out.

Now let’s consider the associations. The first sentence qualifies his audience to Republicans, so let’s take that position for this exercise. Assuming they (we) have bad/negative associations to tax and to Nancy Pelosi, and good/positive associations to the rest – energy, excitement, winning, and a strong economy – the associations go like this:

Good. Good, and good. Good, and with bad wanting to not (not bad) and bad, why wouldn’t we win?

Wait, what?

The shift from good associations to bad associations is jarring, as is the shift from easily processed ideas to a complicated thing to sort out. That also muddles the pre-suasion / context for the final question.

Now, if the associations (i.e. emotional pre-suasion) up to this point had been super clear and unambiguous, the “why wouldn’t we win?” question might have been ok because it would be emotionally obvious that he meant it rhetorically. Consider this set of associations:

Good. Good, and good. Good, and with good, why wouldn’t we win?

The context is better.

That ending question is still not a great idea though, because questions demand answers and he probably didn’t want people thinking of reasons why he wouldn’t win.

The tweet is still effective overall, but the way it was structured with complicated negations and confused associations reduced its effectiveness.

The Hidden Structure Behind Kanye West’s Brilliant “Association Collapse” Persuasion

“When you embrace both sides of any polarity – bringing a positive and negative charge together – they cancel each other out. You are left with an empty space of unlimited potential.” – Paul Scheele

Kanye West unleashed a brilliant method of getting the idea of him running for President in 2024 in millions of people’s heads.

Because West is a master persuader, I can tell you how it works.

West has posted dozens of tweets over the last few days referencing such ideas as changing, being excited about the future, spreading love, unity, and rethinking perspectives. Some examples:

Reading these tweets evokes the states that Kanye wants people to experience: hope for the future, love, being willing to learn, breaking out of old thought patterns, letting go of fear, how competent Kanye is, and more.

After three days of this – building interest, positive feelings, and media attention – West introduces a powerful symbol: Trump’s red MAGA hat.

For some, that red hat symbolizes the end of American weakness and apologizing, and a return to the competitive optimistic spirit that made America the most powerful nation the world has ever seen. For others, and perhaps for the majority of West’s millions of fans, that hat symbolizes all that they are afraid of: hate, fear, oppression, and racial tensions. And many of them, thanks partially to the Clinton campaign’s persuasion work and to the mainstream media, associate those same feelings to Trump himself.

But West doesn’t just introduce the MAGA hat; he tweets a picture of himself WEARING that hat. This smashes those negative MAGA hat and Trump associations into the same time and space as all those positive states he spent the last 3 days evoking in people: love, openness to new ideas, optimism, learning, and breaking away from old mindsets. Those two sets of associations can’t exist in people’s experience at the same time, so they integrate and cancel each other out, leaving what Scheele above calls the “empty space of unlimited potential.”

And what does West do with that space of unlimited potential? He fills it with this powerful image.

West masterfully executed a classic pattern on a mass scale: he knew most of his fans had negative associations to Donald Trump and to the MAGA cause, and because of those negative associations they were unreceptive to the new ideas West wanted to spread. So West stacked a lot of newly evoked good states and integrated them with the stack of existing negative states to neutralize them, and used the resulting space to create something positive: West for president 2024.

Bonus Persuasion: West’s 2024 slogan “Keep America Great” is a persuasion play on Trump’s mission. It presupposes that Trump will “Make America Great Again,” so that West can inherit that mission and Keep America Great.

UPDATE:

Black male approval for Trump doubles in one week.

http://dailycaller.com/2018/05/02/reuters-poll-black-male-approval-for-trump-doubles-in-one-week/


I am now offering a limited number of persuasion consulting sessions if you see the value of learning how to persuade. Contact ParsingPersuasion@gmail.com.

How Not to Be Persuasive on Twitter, Part 1: What Message Are You Really Sending?

Recently, Kanye West created a stir when he retweeted several clips of one of Scott Adams’ periscope videos. This caused a huge amount of cognitive dissonance (i.e. “heads exploding”) in some circles and the anti-right twitter trolls went into overdrive attacking Adams and West.

Some of them screwed it up because they don’t understand persuasion.

For example, take this tweet by Jules Suzdaltsev:

Clearly this is an attempt to ridicule and discredit Adams. But look at the tweet and think about what you experience.

You see a 60+ man with a better physique than 90% of young men these days. Humans, like all social primates, respond unconsciously to displays of dominance because position in the social hierarchy determines mating opportunities. Alphas are particularly considered more credible and worth paying attention to than those lower in status. In the retweeted pictures Adams comes off as physically superior, one type of dominance display (others include displays of talent, wealth, wit, and authority). So by Suzdaltsev retweeting the pictures, Adams’ message of dominance and credibility has now been spread to Suzdaltsev’s 58,000+ followers.

Think about that again: Suzdaltsev got persuaded into spreading Adams’ message, while all the time, thinking that he was making Adams seem weaker.

Who was more persuasive here?

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If you came here from Twitter, feel free to go back and like the Twitter post because that lets others know what value you found here.

Why “Interface” Is A Persuasive Name For An App

Via Scott Adams I recently learned of a new smart phone app that connects experts and those seeking expertise via live video. The app is named “Interface.” Adams is an investor in the company that makes Interface, and as a master persuader, I think it makes sense that anything he is involved with should have his persuasion fingerprints on it. And it does. Here are four ways the name is persuasive.

1. The app’s name is a verb and a noun at the same time.

You can open up Interface, and you can Interface with someone. This enables the app to occupy more “semantic positions” in people’s speech and in their thoughts. They can think about it, and they can talk about doing it. You can Google at Google.com. You can tweet on Twitter. You can Interface on Interface.

2. The verb describes in one word what the app does.

Minimal description is required, because the name itself provides a summary of its function. Interfaces connect things. In contrast, does anybody know what Zelle does? Or Bebo (what is that, a jazz music app?) Or Redfin ( … tuna?). A few early apps like Google defined their industries with nonsense words, but the days where that can happen are long gone.

3. The name has an existing usage, and the app’s usage leverages the existing connotation.

Interface is a business term. It is not slang or a nonsense word, or something odd. In the corporate world, people interface with customer liaisons all the time. The app will eventually take on the additional scope of the dictionary word already in use, leading people to think of the app for any interaction that could reasonably be called interfacing.

4. The name of the app has the potential to appropriate the generic term for the entire category of similar functionality.

This works because Interface is, as far as I know, the first app to offer this function, and has the previous three boxes checked. This makes Interface the default app for its function – the one people think of first. The semantic dominance wins market share in people’s minds.

So we can see that Scott did indeed make sure the name of his app was highly persuasive.

How can we use this information? DuckDuckGo.com, if you are reading this, you need to start popularizing the term “D-Go” to refer to searching on your site.

What Exactly is a Paraliminal “Sleep Learning Track” And How Do They Work?

The Paraliminal series of personal enhancement sessions (which it’s no secret that I recommend) always consist of 4 tracks:

  1. Intro and setting intention
  2. Induction
  3. Sleep Learning Track
  4. Conclusion

Let’s walk through this format to understand better how it effectively engages our whole mind and body to make welcome changes in our lives.

Intro

To start, we bring our attention from wherever it was, to the subject at hand. The topic is introduced, with a lot of pacing, and a question is often asked to bring to mind what you want from this particular learning session. Doing so sets the intention and framing for the change work that follows, and allows a single paraliminal to be effective for many different aspects through repeated listening. Paraliminals usually take you through a process, so it is often useful to go through that process several times with different intentions. For example, the New History Generator takes you though a review of a past series of events to neutralize their negative emotions, so you could listen once for sad events, again for negative internal dialogue, a third time for when your parent did that thing that still affects you, etc. Each listen of Letting Go you can release a different burden. So each listen of a paraliminal should effect change and resolve a new aspect.

Induction

During this track we are comfortably led to a state of mind and body where our attention is highly focused, our body is relaxed, and our entire mind is engaged. This feels good!

Sleep Learning Track

Once we are experiencing a proper state, the sleep learning track uses that state to effect change. During this session, multiple voices will weave stories together. Each voice might have a complete metaphoric journey embedded with trance language, belief change work, resource gathering, positive suggestions, and other process language. One fascinating aspect is that the stories often converge and cross over, so instead of 2 sessions, we get 3 or more. The multiple voices can overload our conscious mind, which engages everything else available to us.

Here’s an example I just made up. First let’s read them one at a time.

L: “Once there was a traveler… who knew just where to go… to get the most benefit… for this time that you’ve set aside… now.”

R: “When you think about a special place… a place of relaxation… of healing and rejuvenation… a place you can go… now.”

Now let’s read them together.

Left voice Right voice
Once there was a traveler…
When you think about a special place…
who knew just where to go…
a place of relaxation…
to get the most benefit…
of healing and rejuvenation…
for this time that you’ve set aside…
a place you can go…
now. now.

Both voices say “now” at the same time, because when you give the mind instructions by this, you often need to tell them when to do it.

All of this works together, and it tends to feel fantastic!

Conclusion

This track comfortably and smoothly brings us back into a typical waking state. We integrate our new internal environment and come back “refreshed and ready to go!”

Nearly all of the paraliminals follow this structure, and by understanding the structure, we can better understand how they work to bring about changes you desire in your own life.

Now.