Posts Tagged ‘framing’


How to argue

August 25, 2009

debateSince the launch of this blog, I’ve been thinking more than usual about opinions and beliefs—how we develop them, how we articulate them and how we persuade others of them.  Having suffered through some abysmal PowerPoint presentations lately, I’ve also been thinking about the way in which I expect information, especially inthe form of persuasive arguments, to be communicated to me.

As uncreative as it may be, I strongly prefer that “the point” be stated very early on.  The earlier the better.  It gives me a structure within which to store everything else and I’ve discovered that I’m virtually incapable of retaining any evidence if I don’t know what it’s supposedly supporting.

But a soon to be published article in Psychological Science begs to differ.  Research shows that “the brain takes a mere quarter of a second to react to statements that contradict or challenge our ethical belief system. That nearly instantaneous neural response colors the way…the rest of the thought is interpreted.”  From this finding, folks over at Miller-McCune go on to argue that when presenting a persuasive argument to a disagreeing audience, one should present the evidence first and the conclusion last, so as to delay the “instantaneous neural response” as long as possible.

I have to say that I find this ridiculous.  It extends from an understanding of persuasive argumentation in which the evidence is neutral and only the conclusion is opinionated.  But most of the time, that separation is only an illusion; the selection of evidence and the way in which it is communicated are just as opinion-based as the conclusion itself.  Furthermore, a media-literate audience knows this.  And roundabout persuasion feels disingenuous.

I’m not arguing with the findings in the article, but reading the summary did remind me that I dearly wish we’d drop the notion of objective evidence presentations.



Unfortunate framing

August 24, 2009

I promised myself I wouldn’t do this too much, but I just wanted to draw attention to this excellent post over at TAPPED, Empowering the World’s Women. In which the author rightly takes exception to the New York Times Magazine headline, “Saving the World’s Women,” and says, “Just to be clear, I am thrilled to see global women’s issues brought to the forefront. However, the way we look at these issues is just as important as the fact that we’re looking at all.”

Flying Whale


In 150 words or less: Labor

August 18, 2009

Framing matters.  A lot.  Over time, as I practice articulating the things I believe, I’ve stumbled across frames that are more and less helpful in persuading others.  My (hopefully ever expanding!) collection of useful frames will get posted here over time in a series entitled “In 150 words or less.”

Just because they made it into the “more helpful” category doesn’t mean that they can’t be improved upon (comments/challenges welcome) nor does it mean that other frames aren’t also useful for discussing the same issue (additions welcome).

So.  Without further ado: Labor

At a conceptual level, capitalism’s profit motive makes worker exploitation, in the absence of contrary incentives, a rational decision.  Given this, we have two options to protect workers.  We can, via the legislative process, regulatory agencies and the court system, create rules that we then monitor, enforce and adapt as abuses happen or loopholes surface.  Or, we can empower people to protect themselves through tools like collective bargaining that gain power by aggregating individual worker voices.  Ultimately, those two (or a combination of them) are our options.  The first expands the role of government, is reactive, and will move at bureaucracy-pace; the second contracts the role of government, is nimble, is adaptive to unique local situations, and can be proactive.

Given who is traditionally pro-labor and who is traditionally anti-labor…interesting frame, no?