The progressives, as liberals or leftists prefer to call themselves nowadays, started as the underdogs. Women and minorities originally had limited rights despite men and whites being in power they managed to gain equal rights. The regardless whether a liberal or conservative government was in power they managing to gain even more privileges. Even when caught in scandals, leftist politicians get away with it unscathed. Sarah Champion, the leftist shadow minister for domestic violence, was caught physically abusing her husband. Instead of the public demanding she resign, she managed to keep her position. Do the progressives have some secret weapon ? Something that can shift perceptions of reality ?

Yes. I talked about it before Control the frame and you control the discussion. What many do not know is the progressives played an early role in researching framing and then later putting it into practice. One of these pioneers is George Lakoff a Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics who advised progressive politicians. Besides his extensive academic publications he published The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate explains to Progressives how to target their opponents. Let us look at an example of reframing and then dissect it.

Admit you are a manipulator and then reframe

The best way to learn is to find an example of what you want to learn about and then take it apart. Poke at all of the pieces, see how it works. As an experiment, I posted my previous post The Female Brain - a manipulation machine to the feminist subreddit Gender Critical to see how they would react.

If you want to find out how your argument is flawed ask an enemy, they will find all your weak points. My post showed that gender isn’t a social construct, that women are often not the victims they claim due to their ability to manipulate and I had it backed up with scientific studies. I thought I had an iron clad argument. Before I my post got banned, I received an amazing example of reframing from Reddwollff. Reddwollff might be a he,she,it etc for simplicity I will refer to them as she.

Edna, rather than being manipulative is a master at managing the threat of male violence. All women live with this, and it’s a skill all women learn. What this male also fails to realize is the bind she is in, Edna is and will be abused irrespective of what she does or doesn’t do and she better make sure she sorts the curtains because sooner or later he will notice.

This ruling from below idea, with males at the mercy of female wiles completely fails in the face of the issues facing women and the rule of male violence ensuring things are kept in line. It’s always that way with men, they refuse to acknowledge they are the problem.

The logical thing to do is attack the scientific studies or debate that I misinterpreted them. Instead, she admits that Edna is manipulative but reframes that to master at managing the threat of male violence. She then frames everything around Edna lives with the wild beast, despite living with a wild beast, Edna takes control.

The next thing you notice is Edna is referred to by name. While Charles is never referred to by name. This dehumanizes Charles and it allows her to say that Edna isn’t fighting just Charles, she is fighting all men. Inherently people dislike an unfair fight, Edna is a lone hero fighting off herds of ravenous men beasts.

That Charles might be in a wheelchair, pose no threat of physical violence to Edna is irrelevant because of her reframe. It isn’t Charles that Edna is up against it is all men. With Charles and Edna, Edna had a job which paid almost as well as Charles. Edna could have purchased the curtains herself. She now reframes who wanted the curtains with she better make sure she sorts the curtains because sooner or later he will notice.

To conclude, she reframes that Edna’s female wiles are no match for the herd of ravenous men beasts. She then brings up the male violence again and then twists it around that Charles being manipulated is actually his fault.

Frames are created by language

When I teach the study of framing at Berkeley, in Cognitive Science 101, the first thing I do is I give my students an exercise. The exercise is: Don’t think of an elephant! Whatever you do, do not think of an elephant. I’ve never found a student who is able to do this. Every word, like elephant, evokes a frame, which can be an image or other kinds of knowledge: Elephants are large, have floppy ears, tusks, and a trunk, live naturally in jungles, are associated with circuses, and so on. The word is defined relative to that frame. When we negate a frame, we evoke the frame.
Richard Nixon found that out the hard way. While under pressure to resign during the Watergate scandal, Nixon addressed the nation on TV. He stood before the nation and said, “I am not a crook.” And everybody thought about him as a crook.
This gives us a basic principle of framing: When you are arguing against the other side, do not use their language. Their language picks out a frame—and it won’t be the frame you want. The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate

Here George Lakoff has described the theory of framing. In this post Understanding metaphor to understand frame and re-framing metaphor is extremely important because words which mean the same thing can generate different images. How things are phrased can have unintended consequences. Tell a child Don’t drop the glass** the word drop will stick in his head. He will have a greater tendency to drop the glass when carrying it. While if you say Carry the glass carefully the word carefully* will stick in the child’s head, they are less likely to drop the glass.

Framing requires you understand the other person’s language and belief systems

Since I am a history buff, historical and military analogies work well with me. I often compare frame to the ground. I then can use a Sun Tzu quote.

Next is the terrain. it can be distant or near. It can be difficult or easy. It can be open or narrow. It also determines your life or death.

Sun Tzu is saying that the ground decides the battle. When great Generals lost battles the cause was unfavorable ground as opposed to flawed tactics.

If the person is a pacifist or ignorant about history, the military analogy will fail. The pacifist might feel revulsion talking about war, this will prevent him from understanding.

How Lakoff defines Conservatives

Remember the purpose of his book is to educate progressives to silence conservatives and push a liberal agenda. The term progressive was popularized by George Lakoff to replace liberal, since it has negative connotations. The entire book itself is one reframe. Conservatives are greedy,self-interested people who are opposed to increased taxation to support a progressive agenda. At the start of his book, he mentions government spending on programs he considers important and how conservatives are attempting to prevent budget increases in these programs.

Progressives have values, conservatives have morals. Both words describe belief systems but the second implies they are irrational and based on religion.

He then breaks down conservatives into four major categories coupled with their interests.

  • Libertarian - Individual liberty
  • Neocon - World Power
  • Wall Street - Business
  • Tea Party - Society and Religion

He then states that conservatives are united by these common beliefs.

At the heart of conservatism is strict father morality, as we have seen. But strict father morality has complexities and natural variations. What liberals don’t see is that the diversity can give conservatism as a whole considerable strength.

The term strict father morality to describe conservative belief systems brings up the image of a tyrannical, violent man who is beating his children to enforce his will.

Preserving and extending the conservative moral system (strict father morality) is the highest priority. Morality comes in the form of rules, or commandments, made by a moral authority. To be moral is to be obedient to that authority. It requires internal discipline to control one’s natural desires and instead follow a moral authority. What that authority depends on your domain of interest: the individual, governing institutions—both public and private, Wall Street, conservative society. Discipline is learned in childhood primarily through punishment for wrongdoing. Morality can be maintained only through a system of rewards and punishments.

This is an accurate definition of the conservative belief system. Possibly you might be saying to yourself, that means I am a greedy, self-centered psychopath. Rest assured you are not. He doesn’t mention what exactly is this belief. He also neglects to mention whether or not the belief is accurate.

Father morality could be natural laws. Example. A person who exercises regularly and eats a healthy diet will become more attractive. Versus a person who sits on the couch and stuff, his face full of pork rinds will become overweight and unattractive. Controlling my natural desires, I will be rewarded by being more attractive. Not controlling my natural desires means I will be punished by being overweight, unhealthy and unattractive. According to George Lakoff teaching my children this is wrong. This probably explains why the western world has an obesity problem.

Suckers try to win arguments, nonsuckers try to win

Frame and reframing can help change people’s actions but they can not change reality. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb said Suckers try to win arguments, nonsuckers try to win in the past I often would try and win arguments when they were unwinnable. It is difficult to win an argument against someone if it inherently is against his best interest.

Let me first define a fraudulent opinion. It is simply one with vested interests generalized to the public good—in which, say a hairdresser recommends haircuts “for the health of people,” or a gun lobbyist claims gun ownership is “good for America,” simply making statements that benefit him personally, while the statements are dressed up to look as if they were made for the benefit of the collective. … Likewise, Alan Blinder wrote that he opposed generalized deposit insurance, not because his company would lose business, but because of the public good. Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

The biggest sucker’s game is for the interest of the public good. You are exchanging definite benefits for implied benefits. Your tax dollars for social programs that defy science and do not provide evidence that they work. The difference between gun lobbyist’s and progressives is they do not use the tyranny of the collective. A gun lobbyist isn’t attempting to pass laws which force everyone to purchase a gun. By contrast, progressives lobby to pass laws which fund their social programs which defy scientific evidence but the results of these laws are not evident until years or decades have passed.

The strongest proponents of these social programs are people who are directly or indirectly financially benefit. In the case of gun control laws, studies show that the cost of implementing them out-weights the benefits. That means these tax dollars are being wasted. I got into a debate with a Professor about this, I showed him the overwhelming evidence. Despite this he refused to acknowledge my evidence, the reason being his entire existence is based on tax dollars to push certain agendas.

What is in it for them ?

Correct framing can increase the odds a person will change their views but if the person doesn’t stand to gain something from your idea they will reject it. George Lakoff fails to understand this basic principle. When people find out they have been hoodwinked they become angry.

Equal rights mean equal responsibility. Studies have shown that physical violence in relationships is instigated equally by both genders. Is your taxpayer money being spent effectively when it funds only women’s shelters ? Shouldn’t women be accountable for their actions ? The argument has been framed in terms of responsibility. Professions like business owners, independent consultants and contractors and jobs where one can see the direct consequences of their action understand responsibility. Therefore they are more amiable to this frame.

My post started off with asking the question how come the progressives are able to advance their agenda. I will finish with one must always be aware of frames. This when both presenting and receiving points. Even on a personal level, be aware of your own internal frame. You arrange to meet up with a friend for an evening of fun. Your friend fails to show up. There are two ways in which you can frame this. The first is my entire evening has been wasted. The second is things don’t aways work according to plan, this is an opportunity to have an adventure by myself.

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