In my previous post, Alpha males act - Beta males react I described the difference between an alpha and beta. Alpha causes events which force the other person to react versus a beta is reacting to events. This means that the beta is reacting to the situation in the manner which the alpha desires. Alpha and beta are situational, a person may enter the situation as a beta. Consciously or subconsciously the alpha lays a trap to gain control. Some people refer to these traps as shit tests, I will refer to them as beta traps. This post will describe how to identify beta traps and then how to break out of them by reframing. First, you have to be able to identify frames.

Identifying frames

In Influence to change actions, not beliefs I talked about the brain’s interpreter. The interpreter subconsciously fits events or arguments into a frame.

Our understanding of the world is part of the world—a physical part of the world. Our conceptual framings exist in physical neural circuitry in our brains, largely below the level of conscious awareness, and they define and limit how we understand the world, and so they affect our actions in the world. The world is thus, in many ways, a reflection of how we frame it and act on those frames, creating a world in significant part framed by our actions. Accordingly, the frame-inherent world, structured by our framed actions, reinforces those frames and recreates those frames in others as they are born, grow, and mature in such a world.
This phenomenon is called reflexivity. The world reflects our understandings through our actions, and our understandings reflect the world shaped by the frame-informed actions of ourselves and others.
To function effectively in the world it helps to be aware of reflexivity. It helps to be aware of what frames have shaped and are still shaping reality if you are going to intervene to make the world a better place. The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate

As an exercise, let us examine the basic behind the Violence against women laws and how it is framed. The motivation behind nations implementing these laws comes from the UN. The UN has stated:

“violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women” and that “violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.” UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women


Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime with the abuser usually someone known to her. Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence

This then is justification to implement sexist domestic violence laws where the man is guilty until proven innocent. In jurisdictions where these laws have been implemented, if a man commits violence or abuse against a woman, the punishments are more severe then if a woman commits the same acts of violence or abuse against the man. From the two definitions, we see that the two statements have been framed as gender-based violence. This means the intent is more important than the actual violence. If a man punches a woman, this is a more serious crime than if the woman shoots him in the face with a gun. The reason is according to the mandate, men inherently want to dominate women.

Inherently we want to enter the other person’s frame and dispute the facts. If you argue has there been historically a disproportionate amount of violence against women, you have entered their frame. They will come back that historical records showing violence against women do not exist since history was written by men. If you argue whether or not violence against women has reached pandemic proportions, again you have entered their frame. So what do we do?

In my previous post, Alpha males act - Beta males react, I stated an alpha controls the situation versus the beta reacts to the situation. Another way is whoever is alpha is causing the beta to react. The way to do this is to reframe the situation.

Breaking out of your opponents frame.

To win one must adopt the tactics of the enemy and then improve on them. On the banks of the Volga river in what is now, Russia lived groups of Slavic people. Every few years the Mongols or Tartars would come and demand tribute, if the Slavs refused to pay tribute, the Mongols would plunder and burn their communities. The Mongols where the best light horse warriors of the time, if the Slavs attempted to fight, the Mongols resorted to hit and run tactics. The Slavs eventually clued in, the only way they could beat the Mongols was by adopting their tactics. To counter this, the Slavs learned how to ride better than the Mongols and improved upon Mongol tactics. Mongols and Tartars found out their tactics were no longer effective and decided to leave the Slavs alone. These Slavic people later became known as Cossacks, famous for their ability to fight on horseback and eventually they drove back the Mongols and Tartars.

When it comes to framing and reframing, George Lakoff the Progressive shill is the best. He is paid to advise how to come up with better tactics to push a Progressive agenda under the guise of helping the common man. I find it helpful to look at frames at the ground on which you will fight. If you fight on the ground the enemy chooses or his terms, you will lose.

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. …

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. …

That is what framing is about. Framing is about getting language that fits your worldview. It is not just language. The ideas are primary—and the language carries those ideas, evokes those ideas. The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate

In the case for Violence Against Women laws, the ground which the Progressives and Feminists want you to fight on this ground. First, there exists a patriarchy, this male organization has existed since the beginning of time, its purpose is to systematically abuse exploit women. Second, women are abused or exploited more than men as a result of this evil cabal. If you attempt to debate the existence of this patriarchy cabal, you will lose, since history has been written by men. If you cite sources which show men suffer just as much or more than women, the argument will be these sources have been created by the patriarchal cabal. Fighting on this ground inevitably means at best a stalemate, which means you have failed to achieve your objective.

Usually, I choose to fight on, equal rights and protection before the law, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.” I then state, using your argument, if there is a violent dispute between a black man and a white man, the police should automatically arrest the black man. In fact, if there is a dispute between an East Asian man and a white man, the police should arrest the white man. In court the East Asian’s testimony should take priority over the white man and the white man’s testimony should take priority over the black man’s. Statistics show, East Asian men, per capita, commit the fewest violent crimes, this means the white man probably is lying. If possible phrase this in a humorous manner.

By framing it in this manner, I have forced the Progressive to fight against racist stereotypes. The Progressive is caught in a paradox, on one hand, they are against racial stereotypes but they have no problem with sexist stereotypes. Their counter will be that I am making racial assumptions, I stick to my frame, state it doesn’t matter, blacks and whites commit more violence than East Asians. All that matters is violent men are removed from society. The Progressive will argue that you are being racist, point out they are using the same argument. All men belong to a patriarchal cabal and want to exploit women. The Progressive is now treading on dangerous ground if they state not all men are like that, then I will throw back, why does the law assume they are?

The Progressive will inherently attempt to draw you back into their frame or switch to a new frame. You must either keep your frame or generate a new frame to counter their frame. George Lakoff is an expert when it comes to framing, reframing, and metaphor. His weakness is that he doesn’t talk about frames colliding.

When two frames collide the strongest will prevail

Whether we are conscious of it or not we are always framing and reframing situations and ideas. You then have two frames, your frame, and your opponents frame.

When frames come together, the first thing they do is collide. And this isn’t a friendly competition—it’s a death match. Frames don’t merge. They don’t blend. And they don’t intermingle. They collide, and the stronger frame absorbs the weaker.

Only one frame will dominate after the exchange, and the other frames will be subordinate to the winner. This is what happens below the surface of every business meeting you attend, every sales call you make, and every person-to-person business communication you have.

The moment your frame makes contact with the frame of the person you are calling on, they clash, battle, and grapple for dominance. If your frame wins, you will enjoy frame control, where your ideas are accepted (and followed) by the others. But if your frame loses, though, you will be at the mercy of your customer, and your success will depend on that customer’s charity. Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal

Oren Klaff author of Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal describes frames as two objects which are on a collision course, the stronger frame prevails. I prefer a military analogy, it is like the opening battle scene in the movie Gladiator. The smaller but organized Roman legion is formed up waiting to meet the larger but disorganized Germanic horde.

The Roman legion’s formation is their frame, the legionaries shields are locked together, while they are waiting for the Germanic horde, the Centurions are ensuring frame is maintained. You can see the Centurions calmly walking in front of the formation, telling the legionaries to stay calm, stay steady. If one of the legionaries panics and breaks range, the formation will be broken, the horde will then be able to exploit this hole. Within the ranks, there are veteran legionaries who are telling jokes to try and calm the younger ones.

As the Germanic horde closes, the legionaries can hear the shrieks of the barbarians, their purpose is to try and cause panic and break the Roman formation. In the case of my frame against the feminist, she will be shrieking “you are a misogynist pig”,”you can’t get laid”,”you are angry” etc. The Centurions like their modern counterparts the Sergeant Major, carry large sticks. The centurion strikes legionaries who are reacting to these shrieks and drive them back into formation to maintain frame. When the Germanic horde starts to close in, the commander orders the Roman artillery to start firing. A Roman legion usually had 500 to 1000 catapults and ballistae, combined they could fire over 2000 projectiles a minute. The purpose is more psychological, to break the enemies frame. So with the feminist, I will reply, whether or not hate women is irrelevant, let us stick to the facts.

The Roman legion collides with the Germanic horde, the barbarians are unable to break Roman’s frame the result is death and destruction for the Germanic horde. When it comes to situation frames, two things usually happen. The biggest criticism Steven Pinker , another expert of the mind, has of George Lakoff, is that Lakoff implies frames have mystical abilities when it comes to influence. People never go against their own self-interests, regardless of the facts. Hardcore feminists or Progressives usually have a financial incentive to back their opinions. They work for government agencies, human resources, NGOs etc where they financially profit. Admitting they are wrong would be equivalent to you admitting to a police officer you were speeding, it won’t happen. In an attempt to counter your frame, they will start to make irrational statements, possibly resort to threats and then eventually refuse to talk to you. This is not a lose, the have been forced to reveal their true nature.

For people who do not financially gain from violence against women laws, you will have a different outcome. Initially, they will maintain the standard frame, women are an oppressed group etc. If you maintain your frame and redirect them with it is about equality before the law often they will break their frame. In one case, a single mother admitted I was right, the law is sexist. I later found out, she runs a successful business and is self-supporting. She then admitted the reason why she goes along with the feminist narrative is because she fears being accused of betraying other women.

Understanding beta traps

Beta traps are similar to what is often called shit tests. Shit tests are defined as a way to judge your frame. By incorporating shit tests as part of beta traps it expands our definition.

Because they occupy a coveted rank, alphas have to constantly fight to maintain and protect their position. As top dog, their rank is under constant threat, and alphas protect themselves by asserting their authority over their employees and coworkers. They ask subordinates to run their errands, bring them coffee, and deal with matters that are disinteresting to them or are deemed to be below their rank. These are the nicer forms of dominant turf-protecting behaviors; many who hold alpha rank behave in far worse ways.

To shield themselves from people of higher social rank who visit them in their work environment, they erect a protective ring of social barriers intended to deflect and demote any threatening alphas.

A beta trap is a subtle but effective social ritual that puts you in the low-status position and works to keep you there, beneath the decision maker you have come to visit, for the entire duration of the social interaction. Most business environments are surrounded by a moat of beta traps that you already recognize and know: the reception desk, the lobby, the conference room, and any public meeting space in or near the office. Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal

The difference between an American culture and other cultures is in an American culture the beta traps are covert. A beta trap is designed to guide your behavior in a predictable manner where you are subordinate. American culture enjoys living under the illusion social status or position doesn’t matter. By contrast, in Filipino culture and other Asian cultures, it is considered rude to question elders. When addressing an elder, one must end a statement with the word po which designates the person is a higher position than you. A person who greets an elder like an uncle or godfather, it is common that they will bless the elder. Blessing means bringing the elders hand to your forehead, it is common even if the person is middle aged.

In Asian cultures, when making major life decisions, it is customary to ask the elder for advice. If you don’t ask the elder for advice, even if they are clueless in that area, they will be insulted. An insulted elder means they will complain to your parents, complain to the rest of the community etc. Eventually, people will start to ask you, why are you so disrespectful to your grandfather? How can you be so ungrateful? Eventually due to peer pressure you will be forced to conform. Social status in both American and Asian cultures matters but in an Asian culture it is more formalized.

Regardless, social protocols, whether open or covert are designed to subordinate you to the person with a higher status. The key is to recognize a beta trap. Once you have recognized the beta trap, then you need to see if you can reframe the situation to break out of it. Breaking the frame means acting in a manner which surprises the other person.

The psychology behind breaking frames.

I had a personal problem, I was wandering around trying to think of a solution. All of a sudden, two guys stepped out then said, give us all your money. Startled, I replied back without thinking, I don’t have any. They asked, what do you mean? I looked around and then realized I had strayed into a poorer district of the city. Again without really thinking about it, I replied, look stupid, if I had any money, do you think I would be wandering around in this part of town? The two large guys then started laughing, I started laughing also. I then said goodbye and walked away. A few moments later, it dawned on me that possibly they might have wanted to mug me. The possible mugging failed because I had unintentionally broken their frame, and then took control.

When you do a certain action, subconsciously you expect a certain reaction. Most of these actions and reactions occur subconsciously, an example of this is walking. You decide to walk in a certain direction, without consciously thinking about it, you place one foot in front of the other. If you trip on a crack on the sidewalk, this interrupts this automated process, you then become aware of walking. Your frame has been broken, whatever you were currently thinking about has been forgotten, you might feel shock or surprise and then you will become aware that you have tripped. Frames are broken when the unexpected happens.

In the case of my two muggers, they expected me to feel panic, possibly reach for my wallet, run away etc. When I didn’t react the way they expected, I stated I don’t have any money, it surprised them. When a frame has been broken, move it to humor. When I sarcastically stated, if I had any money, why would I be wandering around this part of town?, possibly they realized they should move to a better part of town to mug people. Probably they were laughing at themselves, I then joined in the laughter. I imagine it’s hard to mug someone when both the muggers and potential victim are laughing. I then said goodbye, their natural reaction was to say goodbye, then I walked away. By breaking their frame, I was able to take control of the situation, granted it was unintentional.

Beta traps or shit tests are a way to break your frame. In my earlier debate with the feminists, when she throws out I am a misogynist pig, it is a beta trap. She expects that I will be offended, maybe I will apologize. Her accusations that I am angry, again the expectation Is I will attempt to defend my anger, deny being angry etc. If I fail to react, if your opponent has a weak frame, it can break it. With a strong opponent, it is a given that they will throw out these beta traps, if you do not fall for them, it doesn’t affect them.

How do I learn about framing, reframing and breaking frames?

Until a word exists for an idea or object, one can not relate to the idea or object. Inherently you are always framing, reframing and breaking frames but you are unaware of it. Once you are aware of this, then you can start putting it into practice.

In cognitive science there is a name for this phenomenon. It’s called hypocognition—the lack of the ideas you need, the lack of a relatively simple fixed frame that can be evoked by a word or two.
The idea of hypocognition comes from a study in Tahiti in the 1950s by the late anthropologist Bob Levy, who was also a therapist. Levy addressed the question of why there were so many suicides in Tahiti, and discovered that Tahitians did not have a concept of grief. They felt grief. They experienced it. But they did not have a concept for it or a name for it. They did not see it as a normal emotion. There were no rituals around grief. No grief counseling, nothing like it. They lacked a concept they needed—and wound up committing suicide all too often. The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate

Different cultures often lack words to describe certain ideas or objects. Until a word is invented for that idea or concept, even though the effects might be known, we are essentially blind to this idea or object. In my post Filipino paradox - extremely honest but extremely dishonest, I described how the Filipino value of kapwa can make Filipinos behave in what appear to be bizarre ways from my perspective. Kapwa is like a group ego, when you describe that concept to a westerner, they often believe it does not exist. Filipinos subconsciously want to frame things according to kapwa.

Start practicing, when you listen to someone speaking, read a story or a news report, watch a movie etc. consciously observe how people are framing things. Example, I was reading a Fox article on the Afghanistan conflict. The article described a day of an American infantryman, he shot at insurgents, then later in the day, helped protect some Afghan girls going to school, then they helped distribute food and medicine. The article was framed from a first-hand perspective which gave the illusion that all American soldiers in Afghanistan are heroes. These heroes are in Afghanistan bringing the benefits of American democracy, education and health care to grateful Afghans. A Progressive news source, by contrast, would frame things to describe American soldiers as homicidal, bloodthirsty maniacs. Two identical situations, but by framing it differently you can turn heroes into monsters.

One area where George Lakoff fails is he doesn’t talk about switching frames. Humor is caused by switching frames.

When I see lovers’ names carved into a tree, I don’t think it’s sweet. I just think it’s surprising how many people bring a knife on a date.

The joke starts with two lovers names carved on a tree, something we expect to be sweet. The author then breaks the frame by stating it isn’t sweet. He then switches to a frame of two lovers carving their name in a tree during a date. This frame is broken by stating it is surprising how many people bring a knife on a date. In my post Understanding metaphor to understand frame and re-framing I showed how words generate images. When the word knife is used in this context, it implies potential violence. Logically, there are many reasons why someone would bring a knife on a date. Maybe they are eating apples and need a knife to cut them.

The best way to learn how to reframe is by practicing. Initially, you should in save areas, that is places where if you fail there will be no drastic consequences. Places you can practice range from texting, social media to conversations with people. During these discussions observe how someone frames things, then try and figure out how it is possible to break the frame. One the frame has been broken attempt to reframe.

Further directions

Whether pitching a sale, debating or attempting to pick up women, the techniques are the same. You are attempting to influence. Along the way, there will be beta traps. These beta traps are either due to circumstances or your opponent has laid them down. The biggest weakness of George Lakoff is he doesn’t talk about stacking frames. Previously some of my readers mentioned OODA loop and attempted to compare it to framing and reframing. In the past, I argued that they are two different things. I then thought about it, using OODA loop could be useful in stacking frames. This will be the subject of a future post.

In the meantime start observing where people are framing and reframing, start practicing these skills. Also, see if you can locate beta traps which are designed to channel your behavior.

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