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Persuasion and politics

I’m talking about persuasion and politics in The Age of Consent on BBC Radio 4 tonight at 8pm.  If we think the authority of our governments depends in some sense on our consent, then what do we make of the manufacture of consent on the part of spin doctors and producers of fake news?  Was the US election really ‘free and fair’ if the voters were influenced by propaganda?  Is Brexit really the will of the British people if half truths swung the vote?  I have no idea, but it’s worth thinking about how democracy might be under new sorts of pressure as our powers of persuasion grow.


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Trump and persuasion

Here’s me saying Trump might get elected in April 2016 — I am not saying I told you so, but I kind of did.  From a New Humanist interview, you can find here.

Trump in front of a crowd, stoking emotions, invoking ‘us’ vs ‘them’ thinking – it’s the largest thing on the persuasive landscape anywhere at the moment. I know Clinton is ahead of Trump in almost all polls, but I think there’s a real chance of Trump being elected, just by looking at the influence he has over crowds.

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Brainwash and upcoming talks

Here’s a video of a short talk  for The Brainwash Festival in Amsterdam, on ‘The Value of Persuasion’.

I’m speaking at Inscience in Nijimen this weekend — details here, but I’m aiming to talk about persuasion in the US presidential debate, alongside nudging and all the rest of it.

Julian Baggini and I will be in Bristol on Monday, talking about reason in public life — details here — looking forward to it.



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CBC interview

There’s discussion of getting hosed and the nature of persuasion, an interview with CBC’s The Current, airing tomorrow in Canada at 9 am, but apparently you can listen to it later here:

I’m talking about persuasive language and the power of spin on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb tomorrow — not sure when it airs.

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Los Persuasores

Interview for BBC Mundo, in Spanish.  We talked about metaphor and the thoughts you might be led into if you think about a “war” on drugs.

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Review in The New Scientist

Here’s a review of The Persuaders in The New Scientist: The Persuaders: How we let the PR industry control our minds”.  The book isn’t entirely about PR — in fact that’s only a chapter — but I’m all in favour of the reviewer’s tilt in that direction.  And her suggestion that some of the anecdotes  in the book are scandalous. Just some?  I wasn’t trying hard enough.

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Trumped up persuasion

Here’s a review of The Persuaders in the Financial Times.  The reviewer is right to open the piece with a consideration of the crowds cheering Donald Trump and tie that in with some of the topics in the book.  He wraps it up nicely:

The author worries, rightly, that in losing the ability to argue and question intelligently we become more susceptible to the subtle and unseen skills of powerful persuaders. We could all fall prey to fallacies, sophistry and demagoguery . . . any day now.


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