Monday, November 15, 2004

Matt Stoller lashes out at George Lakoff

Matt Stoller of BOPnews, who I generally respect, lashes out at George Lakoff.

Win with Language wants a mention on BOP for a Lakoff DVD they are marketing. Grrr. Ok, so I'm annoyed at the intellectual fetishization of George Lakoff, a very brilliant professor. He's right. We need to stop talking in idiotese. I'm just concerned that the very real economic forces pushing for a full fledged city-country war are being ignored in the rush to 'reframe' everything.

Me, I think Lakoff is quite right, at least in the sense that: (1) We don't understand why George Bush didn't lose by 60 points. (2) That means we don't understand how an awful lot of people are thinking, and it likely follows that that is why our message isn't getting through to them. (3) He then proposes what is probably a good approach for getting our messages through.

The key insight, in my view, is that we can win by a lot, just by changing the minds of people who currently vote against their interest. Those people in the middle of the country? They ain't all idiots, and they ain't all racists. What they are is people who can be won over by arguments, but the arguments have to have different form than the arguments that work well in squarely Democratic circles. It should be no surprise that different groups of people are best persuaded by different types of arguments. For example, among scientists, theorists and experimentalists are persuaded by very different types of arguments, even to the point where the attitudes of each group appear to go against rationality. But scientits know that they can and must get their point across to their audience, no matter how diverse or how hostile, if they are to be successful; so they work hard until they find ways of framing and simplifying their arguments well enough to close the deal.


At 5:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ugh. I'm not lashing out against Lakoff. Reread the post.


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