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October 03, 2012

Politics - Truth & Lies

Political lies, distortions and betrayals have been with us since the dawn of recorded history. From the time of the Caesars to today's headlines, it is a continuing challenge to...

...decipher what any given politician said - or intended to say - or thought he or she said.

In my communications classes, I remind my students of the three purposes of communication; to persuade, to inform and to entertain.

Every form of communication, from traffic sign to pop song, accomplishes at least one of these ends.

An effective message will accomplish more than one - perhaps even all three.

A political campaign in a democracy involves all of these for an extended time period - and with recurring compounding, confirming and sometimes contradictory messages.

Politicians raise, avoid and sometimes even answer direct and specific questions.

It's a very strange game, and I encourage everyone to pay attention to at least some parts of it. The stakes are always high, but consider how you would speak to a variety of different audiences on virtually every topic.

And you thought studying for a test on a single topic was difficult....

I am generally not terribly interested in how a politician might respond to any given question on a particular topic, but I am very interested in how they might respond to an unexpected thought or issue.

Politics is steeped in studies, focus groups, polls and surveys, but I want to know how someone responds to the unexpected.

The primary human response is to dodge the question, 'spin' it to confirm your own position or use it to blame your adversary.

Here's a recent NPR segment on exactly how politicians do this - http://www.npr.org/2012/10/03/162103368/how-politicians-get-away-with-dodging-the-question.

Children naturally do this, but I expect better - not worse - behavior from adults who expect us to vote for them, pay them and allow them to make decisions in our name.

As you observe issues or candidates, let us know what you think. It's always entertaining, sometimes persuasive, and might accidentally be informative - though not always in the ways intended.

Morf

Posted by mmorf at October 3, 2012 11:41 AM

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