The Intersection

This op-ed in today’s New York Times, by “End of Environmentalism” prophets Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, is seriously weak. Actually, I would go so far as to call it lame. To wit:

We can agree to disagree on the causes of climate change. What we all must agree on, though, is that it poses a risk — one for which we are woefully unprepared.

Yeah, right. If what we’re seeing is natural that implies that it will go away. If what we’re seeing is human caused that means it won’t go away unless we clean up our act. The risk is therefore not the same, not by a long shot. That makes the issue of causation crucial–and it makes Nordhaus & Shellenberger’s op-ed pretty pointless.

Incidentally, and as Stoat pointed out, a similar illogic was apparent in President Bush’s recent remarks on whether GW is natural or anthro. After raising the question, Bush then said, “Put that aside” as if it doesn’t matter. Well, from the standpoint of determining what risks we’re facing in the future, it matters a very great deal indeed.


  1. #1 Corkscrew
    April 1, 2006

    It being natural doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll go away, at least not in the next few thousand years. Ice ages, for example, tend to linger.

    Personally I’d be vaguely tempted to avoid arguing with people holding to this view. The main reason for resistance to the idea of global warming is the onus it puts on us to prevent it. Folk who say that global warming is happening so we’ve gotta act, even if they don’t believe that humans have caused it, don’t have that mental barrier – they’re just trying to avoid the communal guilt that goes with acceptance of responsibility.

    By letting them get on with it, we increase the proportion of the population that’s willing to accept the need to do something about global warming. For bonus points, we also increase the pool of people who are psychologically primed to switch to an actual reality-based viewpoint.

  2. #2 Walker
    April 1, 2006

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. I have been reading you for a while, and have appreciated your efforts to highlight the abuse of science by politicians and the media. But this is the most ridiculous, illogical thing you have ever said.

    If what we’re seeing is natural that implies that it will go away.

    Under what definition of “natural” is this statement even remotely logical? Billions of years from now when the Sun expands, that will be natural. Will it go away? This is akin to the statement the homoepathic belief that everything that is natural is good for us (ignoring the fact that many of the deadliest poisons are natural).

    I am not a climate skeptic, and appreciate your efforts. However, you are not doing the scientific community any favors with statements like this.

  3. #3 Chris Mooney
    April 1, 2006

    To me, and to climate skeptics, claiming the current warming is “natural” is tantamount to claiming that it’s nothing to worry about. That’s because implicit in claiming it’s natural is the notion that there are cycles, warming trends followed by cooling trends. So I don’t see what’s unreasonable about what I said.

  4. #4 William Connolley
    April 1, 2006

    If its natural, then we don’t understand it, in which case there is no reason to believe it will continue, and we have nothing to use to predict the future. If (as seems overwhelmingly likely) its human-caused, then we understand it and have reasonable tools to predict future increases.

    Incidentally, this is a point of difference between current science and the “1970’s cooling” stuff. Then, there was a (small) downwards trend; but the important point is that it wasn’t understood, so scientists (note: I said scientists there) didn’t project it into the future.

  5. #5 Robb Heier
    April 1, 2006


    You’re right that the argument being made is “we didn’t cause GW so there’s nothing we need to change about our lifestyles”. This is the “claiming the current warming is ‘natural’ is tantamount to claiming that it’s nothing to worry about” that you stated above. However, that is clearly separate from saying that if GW is natural it will go away – that simply doesn’t make any sense (as the other commentors pointed out).

    I’m giving you the benfit of the doubt that you just mispoke but to say there is no distinction (or difference) between these arguments is just incorrect.

  6. #6 Chris Mooney
    April 1, 2006

    Let me add that, rereading this post, I find my tone overly harsh–that’s unfortunate. However, it’s out there now, so, so it goes.

  7. #7 gerald spezio
    April 1, 2006

    Amen brother, determinism is always the issue. S. & N.’s op-ed piece is not only lame – it is illustrative of their basic mentalistic muddleheadedness. Their dematerialized and sophomoric “change your values and change the world” is more linguistic subterfuge. If Nordhaus were Mordhaus, they would be S. & M. just like their so-called breakthroughs in consciousness. Take a look at their mentalistic presciptions for the future by suffering through their websites – The Breakthrough Institute and American Environics. These yuppie mentalists are full of the standard linguistic buzzwords complete with 117 critical determining values and shifting paradigms, ad nauseum. All morality, ethics, and values; but no political economy, not to mention power. More Nisbits and Lakoffs in the woodpile of social change. It’s simple; Just change your mind and – Shazam! Powerful Harvard establishment hack Talcott Parsons and his all determining VALUES lives on in system maintaining linguistic disguise.

    May I suggest that, “The ease with which mentalistic explanations can be conjured up on the spot should tell us how much attention we should pay to them. Shazam, there goes a change in consciousness and Werner Erhard with all the money. Every time I read about how jackass George Lakoff’s utter nonsense is increasingly applauded, I fear for the worst. Ditto for Nisbit.

  8. #8 Chris Mooney
    April 1, 2006

    Rob (and everyone)
    I could’ve been clearer, yes.

  9. #9 Dano
    April 1, 2006

    Spezio, I think you miss the point of S&N & Nisbet, and esp. Lakoff. Or maybe you don’t miss the point and instead want to mischaracterize.

    S&N merely wish to move the “discussion” off of attribution and on to action. No need to knee-jerk about anything else.



  10. #10 steve s
    April 1, 2006

    “If what we’re seeing is natural that implies that it will go away. If what we’re seeing is human caused that means it won’t go away unless we clean up our act.”

    Chris wins Subtlest April Fool’s Line 2006.

  11. #11 SkookumPlanet
    April 1, 2006

    Chris has picked up on something. The problem created by the meme, “What we’re seeing is natural” is precisely what he says. It carries, is being made to carry, the implication of doing nothing. In essence, “natural warming” is a lead-in to the carbon lobby’s fall-back position — it’s more cost-effective to adapt to, rather than reduce, global warming.

    You can see this, and other such memes, at work on SciAm’s George Musser’s two blogs about GW skepticism, first his solicitation of comments from skeptics then, 3 weeks and 169 comments later, a taxonomy of those comments with another open comment thread. I’ve been following this project, and posting, for 3 weeks.

    IF one ignores the GW illiteracy of most of the commenters, I’d argue one can discern various forces at work there. In the second thread, I point to, by defining, an “apparent fingerprint of an organized, professional, negative psychomarketing campaign”, in the first comment thread. [It’s present in the second also.] Another telling aspect, one that’s currently active in the second thread, is a focus/debate on an extremely narrow range of research. Again, behind this is likely a well-thought out campaign by the carbon lobby to limit public debate to grounds it finds to be most advantageous.

    My posts are observations of the activity in the threads, mostly via some science education. It’s a chance for me to do science writing without vetting the factual details to the level journalism demands. It’s quite fun, personally. But I’d reccommend a gander at the blogs if you have an interest in observing and deconstructing the “anti-global-warming” public’s “thinking”. Just don’t expect an SBer’s level of insight. In fact, if you want insight, better bring some along with you.

    [Can anyone answer my question in the second thread about potential Antarctic ice-core lengths?]

    Nordhaus’s and Shellenberger’s Op-Ed is suggesting, essentially, by-passing the GW “doubt” psychomarketing campaign so firmly implanted in the public discourse. If you analyze their suggested details, most are methods to leverage “reality-based” legal/economic tools into a de facto admission of GW’s reality. This ploy is unlikely to succeed, not because it isn’t a clever approach, but because the opposition, alert 24/7, will analyze and discount every element of it, then use their resources to obstruct those judged potentially damaging to their intersts.

    The only way to counter this type of semi-covert, “anti-PR” campaign is through counter-programming. [An NYT OpEd does not constitute a campaign.] Otherwise it romps through the public space at will.

    Even I can dream up effective, honest elements for such a campaign, which underlines the inability of many political/cultural institutions to come to grips with the technology they are up against. It takes, first, comprehension and then, coordinated, smart action to make headyway. I see little of either.

    P.S. gerald spezio voices a critical misreading of the approaches he lamblasts. “Just change your mind and – Shazam!” I’d agree with his criticism if there was such a flaky understanding underlying those he mentions. Instead, these people [I don’t know about N & S] are suggesting science-based strategies and thinking — in my mind exactly the opposite.

    The approaches he so readily discounts have been an astounding, America-altering success for the far-right, something I’ve been attempting to point out for a couple months.

  12. #12 Corkscrew
    April 1, 2006

    To me, and to climate skeptics, claiming the current warming is “natural” is tantamount to claiming that it’s nothing to worry about. That’s because implicit in claiming it’s natural is the notion that there are cycles, warming trends followed by cooling trends. So I don’t see what’s unreasonable about what I said.

    Given that their next sentence was along the lines of “so what do we do about it then?”, your inference would appear to be mistaken :-/

    I can understand why it rubs you the wrong way, and I agree that these folk are showing a nasty tendency to avoid unpleasant facts, but in many ways having a group that can advocate for things like emissions control without automatically lumping people with the guilt associated with anthropocentric climate change is a very good thing. People are more likely to actually do something about the problem if they don’t feel that in some way they’re accusing their forebears and themselves of being shortsightedly destructive.

    So yeah, these folk probably do deserve a little laying-into, but they’re a hell of a lot better than the alternative and when you get right down to it they’re on our side in this particular political row.

  13. #13 Ed
    April 2, 2006

    I don’t know, (sigh)

    Again, this is not a scientific or academic article and I can not find the logic in subjecting it to such scrutiny. The authors are not trying to push for any scientific or technical consensus, but rather a political one. And, it seems reasonable that to achieve the latter, you would be as inclusive as possible. Therefore the first sentence of that last paragraph, “We can agree to disagree on the causes of climate change.” is merely an attempt to get the attention of all involved – regardless of their opinion. The last sentence is then used to get everyone thinking of action. And I applaud their efforts and consideration.

    Such criticism is not helping the big picture, but pulls us all into a ‘paralysis by analysis’ condition that is of little, if any benefit.

  14. #14 gerald spezio
    April 2, 2006

    I beg you in the bowels of scientific scrutiny to see for yourself at American Although I would never attempt to argue science with a postmodernist professor of art history, I am willing to attempt a brief synopsis of S.& N.’s eight pages of so called social-science. It looks like pure yuppie MBA shuck and jive – more new age sorcery.

    Environics is a “science” (sic) of social values – a sociological survey (complete with tracking) “drawn from the latest peer-reviewed academic and corporate research,” in case you didn’t know. Environics science utilizes “the emergent field of ‘positive psychology’ or ‘happiness research.'” I do not know if they use a happiness meter on their cheerful subjects: but if they do, they ain’t saying. They do claim, however, to have “a measurement system” thanks to Monsieur Alexis deTocqueville (circa 1834). Herbert Spencer’s science lives! I am not making this up.

    Moving right along and trying like hell to cut through the chaff. After long suffering psychologist, M. Rokeach, toiled log and hard for “more precise and denotative scientific terms” he profoundly posited that social values are “beliefs” and “conceptions” or “sets” which cause everything (mostly). You might call it the idealist’s idea of – the rosetta stone. And you must remember this, “The Environics concept of values refers to the deeper motivations behind human behavior – both unconscious as well as conscious.” Good to know.

    Sampling from some of the cutting edge examples of the 117 values or “trends” tracked by these self professed scientists, I will focus on just three of my favorites.
    Fatalism is a trend. It is the reverse of personal control. It is “feeling unconcerned with trying to change the inevitable direction of one’s life.” Depending on how you answer, it is a possible bummer or a very bad feeling.
    Financial security is a trend too. It is “a feeling of security and optimism about one’s financial future.” Another feeling, man! How do you feel?
    “Interest in the Unexplained” is a very trendy “trend” and deserves full recognition for its trendy wisdom. It is the “tendendecy to reject the assumption that all valid knowledge must be logical, rational, or scientific in favour of an acceptance of beliefs or phenomena that remain mysterious or unexplained by modern science.” How do you feel?
    With these guys doing such cutting edge happiness research, what me worry?

  15. #15 REB 84
    April 3, 2006

    Global climate change is coming fast and furious. Do we have enough time to respond? Only time will tell. However, based upon history, we should be worried.

    For example, the USA had over 30 years to become energy independent following the Arab Oil Embargo of the 1970’s.
    In response to this threat to the long term economic health of America, Jimmy Carter implemented a far-reaching, long-term energy policydesigned to help make the USA energy independent.

    Jimmy Carter’s hopes to secure a second term in office were sunk by multiple factors including the Iranian Revolution and the seizure of the US embassy and prolonged kidnapping of US hostages in Iran. At the same time, the US economy was also strained by the devastating effects of “stagflation” (inflation coupled with a stagnant economy). A major source of this economic crisis was the OPEC oil embargoes that lead to almost instantaneous shortages of foreign oil.

    Unfortunately, Carter’s long-term plan for energy independence was discarded by first the Reagan, then Bush1, next Clinton, & now Bush2. The short term thinking of four successive presidential administrations has failed to prepare and execute long-term plans to make America energy independent. We should be leading the world in this area if we hadn’t taken our eyes off the ball. Maybe Jimmy Carter should be given more credit?

    Back in the present day, Brazil is now kicking our global ass in the area of energy independence! “A three-decade-long alternative energy campaign has outfitted Brazilian filling stations with fuel pumps that offer pure ethanol, a blend of gasoline and 20% ethanol called gasohol, or even natural gas. This year, Brazil will achieve energy independence — a goal the United States has been chasing without success since the energy crises of the 1970s.- USA Today

    Well, for “We the People” the choice seems rather clear to me. We can adapt and respond by electing & supporting people who have positive visions for the future or our country or stay stuck in the mud with the bums who have rolled up record deficits. Will America Lead?

    Pay Attention
    ask questions
    Speak Up!
    Will America Lead?

  16. #16 SkookumPlanet
    April 3, 2006


    More than half-a-year ago I reviewed Environics’ material. I was little impressed at the time, just as I was little impressed with the prescriptions presented in S & N’s Death of Environmentalism. However, in most areas of life one misbegotten iteration of an idea, theory, philosophy, or scientific finding does not negate all other ones.

    I tend to think of Environics-like practitioners as technologists, not scientists. The scientific literature is the place to find science. Psychomarketing is the place to find its applications.

    S & N want to redirect a large, diverse political movement whose membership is clueless about how others “think”. It’s extremely difficult to remove such a psychological blindfold from a single individual — doing an entire “movement” is Sisyphian. Given such difficulty, I suspect S & N’s strategy is to do it indirectly, which might result in an apparent focus on the superficial “mentalistic muddleheadedness” you describe. Their likely goal is to by-pass this profound cognitive chokepoint in the movement, essentially a larger, psychological version of their idea to “by-pass” polluted public discourse on global warming, as I outline above.

    I have so little interest in such an approach, I can’t muster the energy to peruse Environics’ website again.

    But there is a reality out there, and an increasingly nuanced, scientific understanding of it, about how humans process information. Scientific methodology is increasingly applied to manipulating this process [and monitoring such] through mass communication. Environics and S & N may not be good models for these advances.

    Personally, I find it instructive to focus on obviously successful applications. These are fairly abundant. We’re, more or less, immersed in them. Let me give one detailed example — Ed Luntz’s “Death Tax”.

    It’s a classic, instructive psychomarketing set-piece where the right won, for an important constituency, a long-sought victory by simply rebranding the issue. It worked like a charm.

    Once in control of Congress, Republicans began, in unison, referring to the `death tax’. I wondered if they were referring to the estate tax and waited for Democrats to clarify this. They never did. The reference eventually became obvious, but Democrats never attempted to counter-campaign this simple psychomarketing technique. Two years after the rebranding had begun, during the minimal legislative campaign the Republicans mounted, I heard a prominent Democrat use `death tax’. I instantly knew that the battle was lost. At even this extremely basic level of psychomarketing the Democrats reacted like deer caught in headlights.

    The “battle” was fought and won using language. The Democrats behaved as spectators at a sport they didn’t understand.

    GOP language guru Luntz said, “Look, for years . . . they couldn’t eliminate it. The public wouldn’t support it because the word “estate” sounds wealthy. Someone like me . . . realizes it’s a death tax . . . suddenly something that isn’t viable achieves the support of 75 percent . . . It’s the same tax, but nobody really knows what an estate is. But they certainly know what it means to be taxed when you die. I argue that is a clarification; that’s not an obfuscation.” [my italics]

    Luntz “certainly knows” only very wealthy paid the tax. Rebranding worked by confusing citizens [even me momentarily] who quickly became convinced the tax applied to them. Luntz’s self-serving explanation works only if the rebranding promoted debate. Instead, the campaign was designed to distort and minimize the debate. That’s my definition of “obfuscation.” A bumpersticker reading “REPUBLICANS say “ENDS JUSTIFY MEANS” would be a “clarification” using Luntz’s logic.

    I mention this long example to illustrate Democrats misthinking that language doesn’t matter. Putting aside Environics and S & N, the left clearly needs a “mind change”. Not the fru-fru, new age malarkey from which you construct a straw man. The left must face reality of how mass communication and mass decision-making actually occur, today, in the U.S. Put succinctly — people do not, generally, think, decide nor act rationally, but emotionally. After the fact they construct “rational” explanations. It’s unclear to me if you understand that or not.

    Two advantages, of many, the far right has are a constituency content with following instruction, the evangelicals, and a constituency for whom psychomarketing technology is embedded in their livelihood, the owners and managers of America’s economy. 40 years ago the radical right was a tiny, ineffectual part of the Republican party when they set out to apply the successful methods modern business develops to keep us buying so much stuff we don’t need. The American economic engine is a testimony to these methods.

    They now control the entire party and have nearly completed purging it of internal opposition. They control all three branches of the federal government and most state governments. Their entire success is founded on the insights and technology of psychomarketing. These derive from 50 years of scientific research in many fields. This is one of the few ways these idealouges can be considered “reality-based”. Up to this point I’d characterize everyone to the left of them as “fantasy-based”. It’s all about science.

    I’m uncertain of your “postmodernist professor of art history” reference, but for clarity’s sake let me assure that’s not me. Ain’t even the same hemisphere.

  17. #17 Dano
    April 3, 2006

    What Skookum said. Spezio is afraid, thus the reason for his comment.



  18. #18 Jon Winsor
    April 3, 2006

    “Natural” means not our fault. “Natural” means a nice equilibrium will be reached and we’ll do nothing. It’s a poor choice of something to concede. It’s poorly framed.

    And disingenuous too. The op-ed says nothing about the weight of evidence. Let’s pretend that the overwhelming evidence collected over the last few decades doesn’t exist.
    We shouldn’t be hiding that away in some strange, coy manner.

    “We can agree to disagree on the causes of climate change”–I don’t think we can, if our opponents can’t argue in good faith and accept reasonable premises. If we accept their bad faith and then start arguing in terms we disbelieve, that’s a degraded discourse, “psychomarketing” or no.

    The piece may have been able to rescue itself if it discussed the weight of evidence and then called the administration on its bluff. “OK, if that’s what you believe. Now what do we do now that Greenland is melting? Nothing?”

    The only thing worthwhile in this piece is the “insurance” and “preparedness” ideas, the notion that potential warming should be built into the legal/economic infrastructure. This is not particularly new. Swiss Re is already building AGW into its business. Government should be moving to do the sorts of things that the insurance industry already doing. And the “preparedness” angle is topical, potentially giving initiatives some traction if they’re done correctly (that’s a big IF these days on the left).

    Of course the right won’t want this sort of thing in any case, because that would officially acknowledge the existence of a Problem. Once you acknowledge a Problem, the issue gets sunshine. Then who knows, people might actually catch on and start exercising some control, something the right wants to avoid.

  19. #19 Mark Duigon
    April 3, 2006

    Check last week’s Science (24 March) for info on how long some of these cycles can last.
    If it’s not natural, it’s possible that human activity can “tip” the balance into a new regime, whereas mitigating that sort of activity might avoid such a change.

  20. #20 SkookumPlanet
    April 3, 2006

    Jon said

    Of course the right won’t want this sort of thing in any case, because that would officially acknowledge the existence of a Problem. Once you acknowledge a Problem, the issue gets sunshine. Then who knows, people might actually catch on and start exercising some control, something the right wants to avoid.

    Absolutely. It’s one of the right’s fundamental psychomarketing commandments –ignore, ignore, ignore, and when that stops working, deny, deny, deny.

    When those look shaky, shoot the messanger[s].

  21. #21 Dan S.
    April 3, 2006

    This is silly. At first glance it seemed entirely ridiculous, but after going and reading the op-ed – and realizing all they were advocating was a Global Warming Preparedness Act – I would have to upgrade it to only mostly ridiculous. I mean, that doesn’t sound like the worst idea, but maybe it would make sense to actually plug the hole, instead of agreeing to stop arguing and start bailing? And yes, they’re making a political case, but that’s where the debate over global warming action is. I hope that’s not the best we can do. It’s not a bad idea in itself, maybe they imagine that having to actually plan for disaster will propel people into the reality-based coalition (expecting people to think rationally, once again!), sometimes you have to go for minor pragmatic gains over principles – but I dunno.

    But all this psychomarketing excitement is beyond me. The estate tax scam was just bewildering to me, as it obviously was to many important Dems – it was like watching everybody just nod and go, why yes, what what a wonderful new pair of clothes the Emperor has! (see also: runup to Iraq War) And while there’s something slightly comforting in the fact that my party seems particularly lacking in this sort of fool-the-masses manipulation, we have to figure out how to combat it. Any tips, Skookum, besides paying attention to language? I would prefer some way to stop folks from cheating, rather than try to out-cheat them – or would you say this very over-idealistic mindset is part of the problem?

  22. #22 SkookumPlanet
    April 3, 2006


    The short answer is — Yes, absolutely it can be done. Ethically.

    The second short answer is — Yes, that “very over-idealistic mindset is part of the problem.” No doubt about it.

    The medium answer is —

    Let me rebrand that “mindset”. “Over-idealistic” is actually “uninformed” or, more bluntly, “ignorant”. Now that’s fixable. But only with personal motivation — there’s the difficulty. And it’s a serious problem. Most everyone has very negative stereotypes about this, unaware they’re incorrect, and won’t/can’t/are-unmotivated-to move beyond them, to become educated. Who said it had to be “fool-the-masses”?

    The issue is the concept of “cheating”. Instead of “cheating” think “communication’. In this post I detail why and how psychomarketing must be done and a bit later in the thread, arguing education can’t solve the political problem, I provide two [negative] examples of preconscious psychomarketing. These two posts make clear, I hope, there is no way to “non-cheat”. It’s illusion believing citizens could handle so many complex national issues like a giant “U.S. Seminar.” By neccesity our decision-making process is through media, which can, and does, overwhelm any other means of reaching people.

    The loooong answer is —

    . . . coming. At a commenter’s suggestion [end of thread above] I’m polishing a hypothetical, positive example of psychomarketing GW, from earlier writing. [Also, end of thread — my confessed mishandling of my own psychomarketing.] Lakoff makes a good case that this can be done ethically. I’ll finish in an hour or so. With commentary so the excerpt makes sense, it’s as long as my first two above combined. Maybe Chris will let it sneak it by . . . . . listening Chris?

    P.S. First link isn’t working, but both are same PZ thread.

  23. #23 SkookumPlanet
    April 4, 2006

    This is likely my swan song on the mega-posts. As of tomorrow, I have new responsibilities for my 8-year-old niece that will consume big blocks of time. It’s soccer season.

    The Evidence Project
    A psychomarketing approach to science issues.

    Psychomarketing global warming can be both ethical and effective against an unscrupulous, semi-covert, and well-financed campaign to sculpt the issue in the public’s mind. Intended as a process model only, below is a campaign/element created by analyzing reality [how people process information and their current mental landscape], using mass media’s strengths and weaknesses, and combining those with global warming science. The Evidence Project accepts the entire tableau as is, not as preferred.

    Important note. The radical right has to lie. We don’t. Most Americans would rue the right’s vision actualized. They intuitively understand that faith-derived, ideological lenses filter reality, rather than reveal it, and entire nations put on such glasses at peril of myopically walking off cliffs.

    My self-quote makes more sense with some background.

    In Oct. I read Grist’s voluminous responses to “Death of Environmentalism” by Nordhaus and Shellenberger. Reading these many professional activists was unfolding proof they misunderstood a key foundation N & S built on — the reality of how humans process information and new mass communications realities derived therefrom. These movement people misperceived the methodology behind the far right’s success, and so proposed old, failing tactics dressed-up a bit.

    Energized by frustration, I immediately [OK, it took a month] wrote an 80-page, attitude-filled, deconstruction of the environmental movement’s failure of comprehension, Clueless in the Land of the Implied Tailfin. As did Death of Environmentalism, I took global warming as a key issue, and key movement problem. Details aside, the conceptual critique applies to scientists also, I discovered when I went in search of supportive data.

    After 50 pages skewering enviros and the left came a section of 15 suggestions. Here’s an excerpt [that’s pulled from, so still is, a draft]. Luntz is GOP language guru Ed Luntz, author of “Death Tax” and much more —

    So, what do I suggest?

    Nothing, actually. My whole point is that individuals and separate polities don’t have the expertise to be suggesting psychomarketing strategies, so we shouldn’t. But I created an impromptu list of ideas to convey a sense of the approach I’m championing, to show how far off the mark the environmental movement currently is.

    1) Turn Luntz into a verb! Study how the right did-in the word “liberal”. . . “She could luntz Hell into a tropical vacation.” An ugly sounding word for a very ugly way of lying.

    Something like this needs coordination; you fail if there are a hundred ideas for new framings to apply to the right. . .

    . . . . . .

    4) The Evidence Project. My concept as a writer/artist, admittedly a “blue-sky” idea, is leveraged into ongoing, free media coverage which builds a utilitarian “frame” for global warming. It’s a hybrid of the AIDS quilt, traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and ex-Alabama Judge Roy Moore’s two-and-a-half ton, marble Ten Commandments statue touring on a flat-bed truck.

    After professional design, volunteer writers, artists, editors and scientists work on every published scientific global warming report. Each is summarized in two forms — a comprehensible, plain-English abstract, in a font legible at 3 feet, and a single graphic image of it’s gist with, perhaps, a topic color-code included. A unitary design theme will be enforced by an editorial hierarchy. Such reports easily go back through the 70s. A low estimate of 5,000 articles, assuming each is on 11″ by 17″ paper, wall-mounted, graphic above abstract, each pair an inch apart, would require a mile-long wall to display!

    Tour the original as an exhibit to art museums while sending several knock-down reproductions across the nation. Bind reduced-size copies into history’s largest coffee-table book as a fundraising tool. If it’s too expensive for that, foundation fundraise for means to discount it into people’s homes. And of course, it’s a perfect design for the web.

    Fund tour teams who set-up, knock-down, guard, pack, transport, and maintain everything, and outreach management to keep the schedules full. Tour-stop sponsors can be anyone with convenient square-footage, outdoors or inside. Churches, universities, chambers of commerce [market to them!], schools, parks, businesses, suburbanites along commuter routes, etc. Use a wall-sized index like a book index, so viewers can locate or follow specific papers/topics/researchers, then construct panels by publication date to allow continually updating with new research.

    This is psychomarketing. Everyone can “come, see for yourself” in a hour or so, right down the street, and acquire a visceral, emotional understanding of the volume of research. It provides hours of free media time, and pre-prepped video press releases, of a clear, undeniable, legendary-like message that is independent of intellectual understanding of the issue. This holy grail of psychomarketing is very difficult to achieve with issues like global warming. Constant updating provides a “news” angle — “The Global Warming Wall has now reached two miles in length.” Crossing the country for years, it becomes embedded reality in citizens’ minds, extremely expensive to dislodge or even mitigate, that trivializes arguments the science is undecided. It shows a scope and complexity that belies the carbon-lobby’s fall-back position that we can simply “adapt”. Viewers will make that conclusion on their own. This is how a psychomarketing approach works.

    And, to return to this essay’s point, I should not be the one generating ideas like this! Isn’t that obvious?

    Note to those with a knee-jerk distaste for psychomarketing technology as dishonest, manipulative, appealing to the worst in people, etc. It doesn’t have to be so! There’s nothing dishonest about the Evidence Project. I’d suggest you stop bitching, accept exigency, get off your butts, go educate yourself, and cease being headless bicyclists.

    As I said, “attitude-filled”. That last image needs explanation. Here’s the end of the essay’s introduction —

    Let me end with a grotesque metaphor that’s increasingly in my mind as I watch the political left and the environmental movement [and anti-ID/anti-anti-science scientists — me, now] flounder. Years ago, during a Memorial Day television documentary, I heard a American soldier describe a bit of combat from the D-day invasion. He told of watching several G.I.s riding liberated bicycles down a road during combat. A German 88 artillery piece fired a shell that, on it’s way to the target, decapitated one of the bike riders. The rest of the body and the bicycle continued pedaling down the road for hundreds of feet before it stopped.

    This image of a headless, mindless body continuing, mechanically and purposelessly, to pedal down the road as it had been doing seems an accurate metaphor for the state of the environmental movement today. For a writer, finding good metaphors is fun but this one I take no pleasure in.

    Finally, another example of psychomarketing intelligence, as I often called it there. This hodgepodge of research and applications needed a name. “Marketing”, “advertising” etc. are inaccurate and evoke “frames” that foster “pigeonholing” — easy dismissal or acceptance of new data. I wanted people to think. For readers outside this hidden-in-plain-sight profession, new terminology would emphasize new knowledge to discover.

    The term “psychomarketing” is itself a psychomarketing approach to framing the issue. It sounds like the type of malevolent science application it can be, sounds pejorative [psycho anything isn’t good], and is vague enough for listeners to pour their fears into. I debated whether to combine it with “intelligence” or “technology”. I decided “technology” is too connotative of hardware and so possibly confusing and, at least these days, “intelligence” has currency, implies sneakiness and subterfuge, and sounds like something the powers-that-be use. It also denotes smart.

    [Such built-in negativity can be counter-productive, I’ve since realized, a lesson in the constrained vision and unintended risks non-professionals court in this arena.] Is the word’s origin an example of “dishonest, manipulative” psychomarketing at work? Perhaps. But psychosocio-science-based marketing is the truth, and nobody’s going to say that, not even scientists. PSB marketing? Only for the tone-deaf.

    Some of you right now are thinking, “How about psychopathic marketing?” I take your point, and counter, “If so, then psychopathic political marketing is solely the domain of the psychopaths right now, so they plunder the countryside at will. Reality is what it is — human beings are primarily emotional decision-makers. We need to emotionally accept that and in so doing intellectually arm ourselves for battle — then take the field. The infidels are at the gates!”

  24. #24 llewelly
    April 4, 2006

    Skookum, is this the link you inteded for your first link?

  25. #25 SkookumPlanet
    April 4, 2006


    That’s it. I must have not copied a part of the address. Thanks.

    I hope some of this material helps someone solve problems.

  26. #26 Dano
    April 4, 2006

    To recap:

    S & N’s arguments are vastly misunderstood here. Skookum goes into detail on how this is so.

    Reading this thread I can see the misunderstanding clearly.

    Full disclosure: I did my Master’s Thesis on an extention of this argument – application of these principles on the ground.



  27. #27 SkookumPlanet
    April 4, 2006

    [in pleading tone…..]

    Ohhhh! Dano!

    Tell us more!

  28. #28 Splash
    April 4, 2006

    I know Nordhaus and Shellenberger and have worked with them in previous environmental campaigns. They, esp. Ted Nordhaus, are opportunists.

    Chris is right. What N&S are doing here will fail because it does not challenge the foundations of the argument of their opponents – but rather tries to build a solution without removing the faulty foundation. This is akin to what they did in the environmental campaigns I mentioned, where, e.g., Nordhaus founded an astroturf group to push through a deal that was opposed by all the local activists but was sought by inside-the-beltway consultants and politicos unwilling to stand up to the illegal behavior of the industrial entities in question.

    N&S are essentially about accomplishing what they perceive is realistic, whether or not what is realistic is enough. They end up challenging what they might call the sacred cows of the left rather than the misinformation propagated by the GW skeptic machine. They accept the existence of that machine as a reality rather than as the core of the problem.

    Any real solution has to be preceded by the effective countering of that machine, and in this regard Skookum Planet is right on the mark.

  29. #29 hank
    April 4, 2006

    Dano, Skookum, Splash — keep talking.
    Think about sound bytes, see if you can make podcast summaries.

    I know, it’d be like getting the Rolling Stones to write a song about the joys of understanding calculus. But getting clear on what’s being done to tweak people’s opinions without ever tickling their suspicion or curiousity is sure needed.

    I remember a 1966 college class, in which the instructor described how a couple of researchers traveled through Mexico figuring out ways to sell one-size-fits-all window curtains to people in adobe houses where every window was a different size. Then came back to the US to set up an early public relations marketing firm, having proved they could do it. That was stone age opinion tech compared to what’s being done now.

    Please keep talking. And watch your backs.

  30. #30 Dano
    April 4, 2006

    1. IMHO Splash, you are incorrect. You are describing in your second para. a short-term strategy as an ultimate goal. Challenging the sacred cows is a point as I explain below. The cows don’t come home no more.

    2. Today’s a bad day for long comments, Skookum.

    S&N are on about power relations and an admixture of framing and listening; that is: you cannot say the same phrase to a varied group of listeners. You must have empathy and understand the listener. “Joy is in the ears that hear, not in the mouth that speaks.”

    S&N present an argument that says the old tapes that we have been playing in our heads since the 70s have long ago been debunked and increasingly marginalized in mainstream society (sheesh, Prometheus even used a marginalization phrase today).

    Further, Progressive response to increasingly effective Right tactics has been more of the same. The response used in the 80s is the same response today, and that response doesn’t work because since the 70s the discourse has been influenced by language and stories from the right. Why do you think some of my comments are worded the way they are? I’m using their tactics. Why do you think that when Right complains about rational discourse isn’t used and Progressives use it that it never works? They do not influence by rational discourse so Progressives waste their time. The energy expenditure for nothing is a tactic.

    S&N argue that the argumentation has to be re-thought for a while. {oh, BTW, ‘politicization of science’ by the left is a tactic – it’s projecting.].

    Anyway, Skookum, you should be able to figger out how to contact me if you want to continue this discussion, but I can’t do it today…



  31. #31 Splash
    April 4, 2006

    Well Dano you are right on one level, but that level only goes so far as to rearrange the deck chairs. That’s because when you say “rational discourse” is not how people make their decisions, and we have to cater to emotions, you have essentially conceded the argument to those who are waging an assault not only on a scientific theory (global warming) but on the scientific method itself. I dont think that concession is wise, even if it does take you an increment ahead – that increment is as far as your stragtegy is capable of going. It doesnt get the goods.

  32. #32 llewelly
    April 5, 2006

    It’s easy to sneer,
    but it’s hard to explain.
    Should we teach the truth?
    Or insult and denigrate?

  33. #33 gerald spezio
    April 5, 2006

    Psychobabble, psychomarketing, psychofinance, psychoblogging, and psychospirituality. Five strikes, and you’re not out; you’re in. Everything is mental. Talk about Martin Short going mental. Napoleon Hill said think and grow rich. Cheney, Ed luntz, Ken Lay, & some tabacco lawyers understood. Earnest Holmes knew or at least said that he did (Science of Mind). Mary Baker Eddy really knew. George Will knows now.

    We doan need no stinkin’ material/physical world. Ideas (or sets) generate spontaneously (ex nihilo) in the minds of superior intellectuals (Yale law school is the best) and take over the world. Yuri Geller can bend spoons with his mind for chrissake. Shazam.

  34. #34 Dano
    April 5, 2006

    Splash, (I and S&N) argue that rational discourse alone is insufficient. Why do people still argue for a Saddam-9/11 link? Because it is compelling at some level that satisfies some psychological need.

    I do this every day (I did it this morning) – you have to present the information in a way that is compelling – I would never present the same information in the same way to 10 different groups. Out of the 10 groups, 7 would tune out.

    It’s human nature.



  35. #35 SkookumPlanet
    April 5, 2006

    Well I go from treatise to rant to bed [momentarily]. This was written in the impassioned, tired wee hours. I’ll let the emotion stand.


    Any day you prefer is fine with me.


    Please, stick with me through this, OK?

    You’re missing the critical point.

    You said

    when you say “rational discourse” is not how people make their decisions, and we have to cater to emotions, you have essentially conceded the argument to those who are waging an assault not only on a scientific theory

    No argument has been conceded. None. There’s been no concession. There is no catering. What Dano, and I, are saying is —

    One of the major insights that “persuasion science” provides us is that people do not, generally, think, decide nor act rationally, but emotionally. We are emotional beings even when our self-interest argues otherwise, for example, in economics. After-the-fact we lie to ourselves and say it’s rational behavior.

    This absolutely is not “waging an assault……on …..the scientific method itself.” It IS the scientific method, incarnate. Do you understand. THIS IS SCIENCE!! Sophisticated, cutting edge science from many fields. This is TODAY’S KNOWLEDGE of how humans process information.

    How human beings process information. Isn’t that your goal? How is it we are so keyed into science-driven issues and so adverse to a scientific approach to strategy and tactics and politics? Do you understand? Any other approach is “waging an assault….on …..the scientific method itself.”

    It just is.

    This is reality.

    Obviously, you don’t think you’re going to sit on someone’s chest and shove standard deviations down their throat. How are you going to get a frazzled soccer mom to even look at you, let alone listen? That’s not a rhetorical question. The answer is actually the key.

    This whole area is a huge, absolutely enormous blind spot/psychological chokepoint the left can’t get past. And it’s leading us all to perdition. This uninformed reaction against psychomarketing, especially on the part of smart, analytical, politically-oriented people is so naive and so counterproductive that its must be the result of a fundamental, unexamined emotional response to reality. It’s preventing successful approaches to many emerging political issues. The data are there, the applications are there, the results are there, the analysis of it all is there, yet it’s being ignored by virtually everyone concerned with science [and the left in general].

    Average Americans, outside their immediate social milieu, exist in a virtually 100% designed and manipulated environment. Believing, that facts or information or education or, we’ve seen recently, even reality are adequate to penetrate into this environment is highly irrational. This genie is out of the bottle permanently. The apparently widespread belief that things can be changed without getting immersed in the persuasion game is doomed, doomed, doomed.

    This is not about strategy, that’s for professionals. It’s about reality.

    Don’t take my word for it. Do research — go ask the people who know, the ones earning a living by trying to reach the 300-million-person American public. They’ll tell you the entire public space has become one vast, ongoing commercial of competing interests.

    As briefly as possible — out of necessity the only way into people’s minds is through sophisticated mass communication tools derived from 50 years of applying a growing, increasingly nuanced scientific knowledge of how humans process information. I call these tools “psychomarketing”. Psychomarketing knows something. It knows it has to be emotional, persuasion-based communication and there is immense competition to do this. There is no other alternative. Period.

    Immediately it’s about a highly specialized type of communication, through certain media with strengths and weaknesses, to huge masses of extremely distracted people, and in an HIGHLY competitive environment where many decades of research and application results are being utilized by high-stakes, big-money players whose survival depends on the results!

    There’s no other way to be heard. VOTERS must be reached, then moved. The Democratic party is standing around with their thumbs up their butts. They too are clueless. In all the resistance I’ve received in giving this message over the last 6 weeks, never once have I heard a counter proposal that deals with the real world. Not once. People carry around highly irrational, fantasylands in their minds about how human beings function. Even scientists.

    You care about global warming. I have two points to make.

    First, go the SciAm links in my first post on this thread and real all of it. Read every word. Do not stop when you get angry. The later, when you get depressed, don’t stop then. Next, when you want to scream or kick the wall or whatever you do, going ahead and do it, but don’t stop reading. Read every word. [I’ve got 6 or 7 posts in there. Do you understand what I am doing in those posts? Pay particular attention to what I’ve since titled: Recognizing Negative Pyschomarketing Campaigns. My first post in the second thread.] Finally, pay attention to the last third or so of the second thread. What’s getting accomplished?

    Second. How do you propose to fight for sanity about global warming science? The voters don’t give a shit about science, you’re delusional if you think otherwise, and it’s a complete and utter waste of your time to try to get them to care. If you think otherwise [stay with me here, this isn’t personal] then you are also attacking the scientific method itself.

    I’m very concerned, as you should be able to pick between the lines of my SciAm posts. I’ve been following the issue for 30 years. I’ve written approaching 200 posts in about two months. Looooooong posts, some. I have well over a hundred “typewritten” pages of material now, 120? 150? 80 of those pages are an unending excoriation of the environmental movement. Example after deconstructed example after deconstructed example and all this production points to the same thing.

    Earlier you said

    They end up challenging ….. the left rather than the misinformation propagated by the GW skeptic machine. They accept the existence of that machine as a reality rather than as the core of the problem

    How can you “not accept the existence” of the “GW skeptic machine”?I don’t understand. How do you dislodge Exxon? Stipulate, OK? Stipulate for discussion, that there’s nothing we can do to dismantle an operation that’s burning through $12 million/year, mostly in secret. Then what? There is a way. The other side knows how. You fight tactics like those of the “skeptic machine” by counter-campaigning, through the media. Data, science, results, thinking, do not translate through mass media, especially TV.Hence, the Evidence Project. It does translate.

    Any other approach will fail. Because you’ve misidentified the “core of the problem” in the quote. The core problem is — people do not, generally, think, decide nor act rationally, but emotionally….even when our self-interest argues otherwise…….After-the-fact we lie………it’s rational behavior. This is not my idea. It’s the experimental results of a body of work of SCIENCE. The GW skeptic machine fights based on how people really, ACTUALLY, process information. Watta we got? We got jack.

    The left needs challenging because it’s clueless about this. The left is being flushed down the toilet by the right. That’s a fact. Maybe, just maybe, that’s a clue it’s doing something wrong. Something very, very, fundamental. Wrong.

    People are what people are. I can’t change them. You can’t change them. The other side is running circles around us. They control the entire political structure of the country. Next they are going after important non-governmental institutions.

    Here’s a good way to see it, biologically. This is from Randy Olson discussing communication and scientists.

    I just don’t see the formal efforts to foster innovation (the analog to genetic variation in natural selection), and so there is no raw material with which to adapt to this new, changed media environment.

    And in sad contrast, the right wing, starting 30-40 years ago, began investing in the establishment of think tanks and forums that have fostered a great deal of innovation and creativity and could very well be the reason they now run the country and are having such success communicating circles around academia and the left. The dynamics appear fairly simple at this level.

    If you fail to innovate, you run the risk of not being able to deal with a new environment.

    He’s stating that last line as a hypothetical. That’s already occurred.

    The far right has taken a very experimental approach, their funders write block grants and say, “Go spend it on whatever.” They keep as many irons in the fire as they can. They do better than us at almost every detail possible. We, on the other hand, haven’t changed. We refuse to change. We think we’re experimental, but that’s bullshit. Everything new stays within a narrow range. Same world view, same strategies, same tactics, same old failing results. For me, personally, the strongest proof is that the resistance to messages like mine is so great that our side can’t even hear them correctly. I’ve seen this repeatedly.

    The difference is, the other side’s working with reality when it comes to political control, business, and people while they’re whacked about the natural physical world. We are just the opposite. We get the natural, physical world reality but we’re morons about political control, business, and people. We live in a democracy, so which understanding of reality will prevail? Not long-term. That’s too late. Long-term is too late!

    I can’t even get people off their butts to go check out what I’m saying — for themselves.

    Soon, if not already, the right is literally going to start laughing at us. [I’ve already seen the blog equivalent.] We’re the true idiots. We’re not progressives. That’s become an asinine word to use. We’re still stuck in the way the world was almost half a century ago. We aren’t progressing. We refuse to adapt. We resist BIG TIME. Evolve, people, evolve! Adapt! Adapt! [no response………….silence]

    My, limited, experience is that the people on our side of global warming, every day, make the choice to feed their own ignorance rather than take care of the planet. Why? Because that is what’s happening. Individual by individual, day by day, choice by choice its all business-as-usual. Business-as-usual — we’re losing on a highly ironic sucker’s bet.

    And if you don’t believe any of this? Do the research. This isn’t occult knowledge — it’s running our entire economic system. How’s that for experimental data? We’re all immersed in it yet only a tiny few see it.

    Well, did you stick with me through that? I didn’t expect there would be so much.

    These aren’t my ideas. I’m an imperfect messenger.

    What I’m selling ** IS! SCIENCE! **

    My message is very, very simple.

    First, do the research.

  36. #36 SkookumPlanet
    April 5, 2006

    Led to War by Proximity Soundbites

    Dano said

    Why do people still argue for a Saddam-9/11 link?

    That link is a construct. The creation of that link is a good, concrete example of psychomarketing’s influence on Americans’ political decisions. Going to war is about as serious as political decisions get.

    At the end of July, in-residence from Bush’s ranch, a “senior White House operative” reportedly said [paraphrased], “Don’t worry. We won’t go to war without going to the U.N. first. Besides, Americans don’t pay attention to an election campaign until after Labor Day.” I saw this reported on network news at the time.

    This slip into honesty didn’t last; the next day the White House was back on message. But the statement reveals a couple things. First, it telegraphed that the administration saw what was coming not as a debate about whether we should invade Iraq, but as an election campaign, which is a sales campaign. That means they’d already decided to invade Iraq. Second, the rest of the world doesn’t, and didn’t, think like the American electorate does.

    That fall and winter the administration ran a psychomarketing campaign. There was no debate. Here are the results. In Fall, 2002 one-third of Americans believed Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11 but by Spring 2003 that figure was more than two-thirds.

    Critics still accuse Bush and Cheney of specifically saying Saddam was involved in 9-11, but they didn’t. They left no fingerprints. Reducing a multi-faceted campaign to what the President and Vice-President did, heres’ how they convinced a third of Americans of something false which in turn led to war. They used a technique I call proximity soundbites.

    They ran a presidential campaign logging about 2-4 stump speeches a week, each producing a few 10-second soundbites on nightly news broadcasts. The speeches were carefully constructed so that, on the one hand, Saddam Hussein/evil dictator/gassed his own people/etc. and, on the other hand, Ossama bin Ladin/terrorists/9-11/etc., were physically close enough they would fit in a single soundbite. No guarantee that soundbite is broadcast, but you tailor speeches to encourage that, and play the odds. It’s 100% calculated.

    I saw these soundbites, week after week, month after month. A symbol of Saddam and a symbol of Ossama in the same soundbite. No further connection is necessary.

    The left apparently has great difficulty accepting that this is the way Americans’ political thinking works.

    This is how Americans are exposed to politics. Media content washes over people, wave after wave. Proximity” soundbites like these get heard at breakfast, during commutes, in the background of family arriving for dinner, as someone moves through an airport. These two ideas are repeatedly associated in the media environment that America lives in. People come to believe the association. It’s not something that gets reasoned out. The association becomes a fact of life that we accept as any other real-life association. I’m trained as a fiction writer, and proximity soundbites work just like fiction — they become vicarious reality. Only there is no book to alert us that it’s fiction.

    During Democratic convention analysis on Charlie Rose, one guest said Kerry’s acceptance speech was one of the best he’d ever heard. Charlie seemed surprised by the effusiveness.

    His guest elaborated, “You need to understand the purpose of an acceptance speech these days. Most Americans will only hear Kerry as tiny soundbites in the media. Kerry’s speech was superbly crafted so all his issues were there as compact, complete snippets that fully communicated after chopped into soundbites.” This is the reality of public decision-making in America today. Our feelings about it are irrelevant. It’s reality!

    This type of technology is based on scientific understanding of how human beings process information. How we would like them to process information counts for little here. This is how Americans absorb media, media is how they learn about the world beyond their personal lives, and this is psychomarketing. It works. It usually overwhelms any other approach. It’s past time we learned that.

  37. #37 gerald spezio
    April 9, 2006

    O. J. Simpson’s swing has improved as has his putting. Johnny, the gloves guy, has gone to lawyer heaven. More due process. The goddamn gloves didn’t fit , did they? Take that, racist coppers.

    Psychomarketing, psycholawyering, framing, and re-framing. No need for the old lucrative appeal scam either (legal language reframing by REALLY SMAHT lawyer/judges in black robes without any schmuck emotional jurors). Blissed out Joseph Campbell told us on the telly – “It’s all in the psyche,” as Bill Moyers nodded approvingly at the depth of it all.
    Did the “dream team” inform Lakoff; or did Lakoff inform the dream team? Damned if I know?
    It’s all in the psyche, though; and you can be sure of that. Yeah, PSYCHE! Everything is in the psyche or framed into bites or sets by the psyche. First comes the psyche; then comes food, clothing, shelter, language and litigation. But, of course.

  38. #38 SkookumPlanet
    April 11, 2006

    Who Da Foo’?
    Hey Gerald

    Yup. Luntz loves lawyers so soon lawyers love Luntz. Match made in hell. Good, bad, still going on. You know about jury consultants? Too much money is at stake to do otherwise.

    Not psyche-marketing. But as you point out it has been done.

    Campbell taught how-to-choose, nothing more, by sharing his stories. More is others about him.

    I demo how the Dem’s demos disappear.

    Pomo is a tribe in California.

    Dub and Vee-Dub. How they do it? Dub and Vee-Dub. Watch’em. Dub and Vee-Dub. In plain sight. Dub and Vee-Dub. Answers.

    Extended B-Ball Metaphor

    You ever play competitive sports, like say, basketball? Ever have Coach teaching you some technical point, correcting a weakness in your skills, like say, a lack of fingertip follow-through on your jump shot? Ever have Coach send you to a high school or college game, instructed to watch only one player the entire game, the guy Coach says has perfect fingertip follow-through? Ever go to that game and spend the whole night watching one guy’s fingers? Ever do all that because you wanted to win?

    That’s what I’m doing. I’m both the coach and kid at the same time.

    Watch Dub and Vee-Dub. Be the kid watching the older player. And learn. Fast. The Return of Dub and Vee-Dub will open soon, with new actors in the roles of Dub and Vee-Dub. Dub and Vee-Dub aren’t flukes, neither is the right’s control. It’s all programatic. Worked out. It’s the biggest political campaign ever, anywhere, anytime on the planet. 24/7/365/35-and-counting.

    Dub’s a good one though. From a guy who knows. Willy Brown, a consummate inside-player, power-broker, super-Democrat-fund-raiser, intelligent pol, called Dub the best script-following politician he’s ever seen. Don’t make jokes. That’s high, high praise from a very savvy, rabid opponent. While he hated them, screwed them up, ignored them, Willy knows it’s all about scripting.

    Psychomarketing is my word-fiction, so doesn’t exist as a word but does exist as a referent. Is it anti-fiction? Ass-backward fiction? I designed it to attract attention and find it does that well with some.

    Everyone Psychos

    Everyone psychos. The extraction business psychos. The power & rules business psychos. The stuff business psychos. The experience business psychos. The only non-psycho-ers left are the poor, the ignorant, the care-lessers, the faith-filled, and the left — the only non-civilians.

    Holdouts and proud of it, we are. Proves us moral, proves us principled, proves us failures thrice. Don’t see, don’t learn, don’t solve. These days the blind leading the blind leading the blind . . . in Homer’s voice . . . ouch. Heyyyyyy! Damn Republicans moved the furnitue again. Why those little . . Try over here . . . d’oh! . . this way . . . d’oh! . . maybe. . .

    Practical Nose Ring w/Leash

    A ring in the nose can be cut out but a ring in the mind the best neurosurgeon can’t get at.

    Lunt-Z know dat. Dat Lunt-Z score big time most time. Y’all score lately? Think Lunt-Z be ’bout psychee? Check him out.

    [Regarding consistency,] there’s a simple rule: You say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and then again and again and again and again, and about the time that you’re absolutely sick of saying it is about the time that your target audience has heard it for the first time. And it is so hard, but you’ve just got to keep repeating, because we hear so many different things — the noises from outside, the sounds, all the things that are coming into our head, the 200 cable channels and the satellite versus cable, and what we hear from our friends. We as Americans and as humans have very selective hearing and very selective memory. We only hear what we want to hear and disregard the rest.

    . . . naaahhh, dat ain’t psychee, dat psycho. Now dat’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout. Ain’t ’bout no val-yoooos. Ain’t ’bout no buzzed word. Ain’t ’bout no ee-vie-neck-nics. Ain’t ’bout no psychee foo’ shit neither man.

    Let’s be practical. Political opportunity has come to the left — the Libby trial. Dub and Vee-Dub, maybe the whole barrel of Repubs a bit, all could take serous hits. I posted how Dems could take advantage of Libby’s trial on Stranger Fruit. In this case do Lefties know their you-know-what from a you-know-what? It’s all trench warfare I discuss, no psyche to be seen.

    Saturday I posted a long lesson showing issue-detail-focus is often what the right wants of us. The example is a response to a post of mine. The left still sees issues trumping all, but this issue itself was engineered to sow opponent’s language to bloom as Americans’ thoughts. How smart is that, doing their work? Psychomarketing School Vouchers. Read it and think!

    Here’s more practicality.

    In my job I’ve done the same kind of thinking for everything from videogames to nonprofits. If you doubt that emotion comes into play when shopping for a lawnmower or an energy bar, you’re behind the times (thanks for the fantastic summary or marketing theory, SkookumPlanet). If you think that emotion isn’t a factor when comparing personal, passionately held world views, you’re crazy.

    Dan Cabacungan, brand strategist/advertising strategist.
    “Hipster Dodos”, The Loom, subject is Randy Olson’s film.

    Three You Mention

    Political economy? Archaic deadwood. It’s still needed to govern, but lefties believe it fundamental to elections. It is, it’s a fundamental obstacle to getting elected. American’s don’t give a rat’s ass — you think they want what’s coming? They’re trained to see thinking as unpleasant.

    Republicans could [and may] drive America right off an economic cliff. Afterwards, in the emergency room they’ll convince enough voters the left put the cliff there “because they hate America”, and so be more firmly installed. We’ll stand by and watch. How’s political economy working for you these days?

    Power? They’ve got it all! All 3 branches. And most states, most of them all 3 branches. They will now go after non-governmental institutions. How you gonna stop’em without understanding their methodology? It’s known as “correctly defining the problem.” The left has correctly defined squat.

    Social change? Gerald, Gerald, Gerald. Right der bro! In front yo eyes, man! We stand in witness to the dawning success of the most calculated and deliberately executed social change in U.S. HISTORY! Without course corrections the Dem Party’s headed to the ol’ dustbin of history. You seem clueless how that got done. You’ve completely mis-analyzed what I’m saying. You have to be as wide-of-the-mark with the far right too. Why assault the foe without knowing order of battle, lay of the battlefield, and minimal intelligence? We do much more of that and the remainder our forces will be left shredded on the field. Guess you don’t notice all the blood and bodies laying around.

    Ecosystems of Bites

    Cut out work and home, and Americans know everything else only as viewmaster disks seen in the viewmaster — the media. Check it out, do field ethnography, live with swing-voter families, just listen and watch. Where do they get such a distorted view of reality? Take a media exposure inventory of these families. How much, when, which, how. People no longer read — books, magazines, newspapers. Last stats I saw, 20 years ago, over 50% of adult Americans never read a book after high school! Gotta be worse now. The NPR audience is 2% of population. They no longer associate with neighbors, community groups, do politics. Only churches remain strong, another piece of data the right used expertly. The only channel, the only conduit, the only path to get a word to them is media.

    It’s media. All media, all the time. Americans live in an artificial, virtually 100% manipulated environment. Our brains don’t know any better and process the information the same way environmental information was proccessed by human brains 50,000 years ago. Only difference is our current environment is manufactured. Haven’t you noticed? They live in a forest of bites, ecosystems of bites, continents of bites, a world of bites, a universe of bites. Bites, bites, bites, bites, bites all day long. All bites. BITES.

    Perception Is Reality, Get Over It

    For Amercians, reality is mediated by media. It’s just a fact of life. And America’s media environment is full-up. There are media screens in elevators! Screens on contact lenses? Don’t bet against it — screens on flexible, clear plastic exist in labs right now.

    Americans’ media environment has become a zero sum game, so getting their attention is a zero sum game. It’s a fact of life. You must displace something, someone to even catch their glance.

    Reality doesn’t matter anymore. The perception of reality is all most Americans know today.

    Proximity soundbites are more words I made up, a descriptive label, a teaching aid, help in communicating a reality to people in a manner understandable to them. [One adapts to audiences. The other way around gets a big “f**k off!”] I have no idea what trade nomenclature is but proximity soundbites work. All the other technology works. There’s a hell of a lot more than what I know about.

    So you are up against Dub and Vee-Dub in fall 2002. How do you neutralize their campaign and keep us out of Iraq?

    You’re arguing theory/philosphy and politics at the same time, a sucker bet electorially. If you lose the politics, no one hears the philosophy. Makes you a double loser. One might expect this type of approach from “a postmodernist professor of art history”. I’m speaking about political mechanics. How to win elections. Get power. In the real world. Not in a fantasyland in someone’s head.

    Cadre Got Some Psycho Psyche Man

    Rightwing psychomarketers work for the string-pullers — The Cadre — a group so saturated with Machiavellian lying it drips black from their fingertips, their chins, and the tips of their noses.

    The Cadre moves media by clever levers — talk radio and blogs thumbscrew political coverage; lies ooze from columnists not tied to facts; ratings gag thought and trumpet screams; Dub’s and Vee-Dub’s chainsaw mayhem is whispered Fridays, late, so earfulls of weekend smother the soft news — come Monday no one heard that tree fall in the forest. All process manipulation. All unseen by the public, the media, the left.

    A Cadre’s fifth-columnist tells 30 million “Gerald is not a pedophile” and that’s bad, bad news for you. If the columnist says you’re “not a pedophile” once a day you gotta leave the country. That’s how it works. Understand?

    Not psyche, but process, process, process, process, process.

    Process is psycho. Process plays blood to The Cadre’s vampire thirst.

    We, you, I want for tools, for weapons, and want for skill in using them.

    And through all this as it’s written and read, as background, one giant emergency siren wailing away.

    Hear it now? Probably not.

  39. #39 SkookumPlanet
    April 12, 2006

    Skeptical about all this psycho and all this marketing being nothing more than a couple “buzzed words”? Or that science is actually producing research that allows nefarious manipulation of people without them realizing it? Here’s a research snippet that qualifies as potentional psychomarketing research.

    Our brains can see beautiful faces and see negative images, and respond appropriately, without us consciously realizing we’ve seen anything. It’s much more sophisticated than the old subliminal stuff. Researchers are opening fMRI windows and watching our brains react. They have neural pathways delineated.

    You need go no further than Cognitive Daily to see a tiny bit of that explained. Yesterday and the day before it’s run explanations of experiments showing how we can see things faster than we can register that we’ve seen. The first topic is about how wickedly fast we can see attractive faces and the second one shows fear bypassing our visual processing system.

    I posted on the latter about an incident when I experienced exactly what they were describing. From Cog, the first paragraph of that same topic —

    How can you be unaware of having even seen an image, and yet be able to make reliable judgments about that image? That article is just one example of a variety of situations in which people can be unaware of seeing something, even immediately after being given a quick glimpse of it, yet behave as if they have seen it. {my italics]

    Whatever you call it, psychomarketing is very real. Knowledge is protection. Knowledge is power.

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