Episode Two: Mind Control

Ever wonder about the neuroscience behind party politics?



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Reader Comments (9)

Thanks Andrea, I'm liking what I'm hearing, so far. The way you ended this segment was poignant, it made me think, maybe thats why "we" as everyday people are falling away from polatics, because we just stopped listening. For years I've been saying to everyone I talk polatics with, "we get the goverment we deserve" if you want a better goverment, do a better job of particapating.

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames

Great episode, but I'm pretty depressed now. This is the most demoralizing thing I've heard all year.

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Andrea--Loved the first podcast ("mis-Representatives") and the second was OK, but I thought it played to much to a party line thinking. Because of that there were some "straw-men" techniques that soured on me and some insinuations that seemed counterintuitive. For instance, if the "Republicans" techniques of "mind control" were so far ahead of the Democrats, and the average person was more susceptible to their MKTG strategy than the "Enlightenment" reasoning strategy the piece claimed the Democrats remain mired in than how did Democrats do so well in elections over the last 30+ years? It certainly begs the question? The electoral results have been a wash really over that period...so the claim that the MKTG strategy is more effective is likely inaccurate.

And at times I actually thought the pice was using the very "mind control" tactics it was supposedly exposing. Ideologically, Democrats love being told they are "rational/reasoning", and equally love to think of Republicans as manipulative which are stereotypes the story reinforced...without much proof that either side is more or less either aside from a few old academics who (I suspect) love to think of themselves in those "Enlightenment/Democratic" terms.

The piece itself seemed manipulative to me, a staunch independent progressive libertarian (lower cases used on purpose:-). It was trying to have it both ways...appeal to critical thinking/independent types while keeping the "liberal" Democrat leaning voters on the political party plantation of doom. I'll keep listening of course...but if it becomes just a more agressive (neo-progressive) "NPR" we are not gaining much if we truly want productive change. After all, morphing from a Constitutional Republic to an Authoritarian Corporatist nation (as has been the continuing agenda no matter who is elected) is still "change"...just not any I can believe in.

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack

I really admire what you're doing Andrea, please keep it up. However I must take issue with your premise that the Republicans have the market cornered on language manipulation. The first example that came to my mind was during the mid '90s when the Democrats constantly referred to the Republicans' agenda as the "Contract FOR America" or even "The Contract ON America". Also, the Clinton administration made quite extensive use of "talking points" to try to control the language of public debate. In addition, phrases like "reproductive rights" and "marriage equality" are used frequently by Democrats and various liberal groups to make unpopular ideas more palatable to a wary public.

The idea that Democrats go to Law school and study Descartes while Republicans go to business school and learn about marketing seemed like a stretch to me. Besides, I'm pretty sure lawyers have been using language to manipulate their audience at least as long as marketers have.

I myself am a conservative independent who values open, honest debate, and the use of manipulative language by both parties disgusts me. (So does Gingrich, by the way, I trust him about as far as I can throw him.) Perhaps you felt focusing on one side's faults just made for a tighter show, or perhaps your own political leanings are showing. In any case, Please don't let Democrats of the hook so easily in future episodes.

Again, I love the show, and I wish you the best of success in your new venture! Let me know how I can support your efforts.

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJosh

I have been enjoying the episodes and I believe that you have a lot of potential to show a different perspective on the political scene in the US. I hope you are very successful.

However, I must agree with both Josh and Jack above that for the issues of Washington to be fully addressed you must castigate both parties equally.

As a conservative leaning independent I hope I have some level of objectivity. In as much as I have I think that both parties have failed to truly represent the interests of their associated bases and more often then not seek to retain power and influence at the cost of genuinely democratic principles.

In conclusion the more even handed you are with the well deserved criticism both parties need the more significant your journalistic contribution will be.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark

This episode was definitely better than the first. I say this because there was some actual decoding present. I found the suggestion that Republicans use manipulative linguistic techniques that Democrats have shied away from to be a little naive. Anyone who paid close attention to the '08 election and its coverage will remember plenty of media discussion about branding and Obama's brand. Let's not forget all the sloganing (Hope, Change,etc... And very few people in the mainstream press pointing out that hope and change are just slogans, not policy.) If you want older evidence of political messaging that is manipulative on an emotional level, look at Johnson's mushroom cloud attack ads against Goldwater (so that relied on visual rheoric rather than oral, it's still using signifiers in an emotionally manipulative way). I do agree with the assertion that in recent history the Republicans have used such methods more efectively, and saying so does not make one partisan. A big part of the problem is that, in the echo chamber of the media, this sort of manipulation is rarely challenged. Lastly, I think it's important to note that simply being aware of how the brain works, the pitfalls to rational decision making, and the ways in which language can and is manipulated for emotional effect can actually prevent a person from being so easily manipulated (I don't have the data to back up that last statement, or the time to go looking for it, but its out there if you want to search for yourself). In general, untrained persons are pretty bad at detecting bias, and tend to see anything that doesn't reaffirm their beliefs as biased.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Freeman

I'd also like to point out that while both parties may be deceptive, describing them as equally so if/when they are not, is false equavilance. You see this in fact checking: whenever Romney tells a lie, the fact checkers search for an Obama lie, and hold them up as equally deceptive, even if one is a distortion of fact/half truth, and the other a patent falsehood with no basis in fact.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Freeman

seems like the article while interesting has very little to do with what I read about why this enterprise was started.

November 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Jennings


April 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMothers day 2015

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