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  • Writer's pictureAJ Auld

Open Your Mind

Two people can see the same "thing" and interpret that "thing" very differently.

I recently posted on Facebook that I respected Sen. Romney for voting based on his beliefs, rather than by simply following party lines.

The vote made Romney the first senator in any of the three impeachment trials - including Bill Clinton in 1999 and Andrew Johnson in 1868 - to vote against a president who was a member of the same party. 

As I read the responses to my Facebook post - some of which were very passionate - I began to wonder if people would be so divided if they had a conscious understanding of the degree to which they had been manipulated... by the right and the left.

My favorite books cover psychology, persuasion and negotiation. I'm fascinated by why people think and act the way that they do. My current book is Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini. I've also read Cialdini's Influence.

Influence explains the 7 key influencers of persuasion (based on 35 years of evidence based research): Weapons of influence (aka reason why), Reciprocation, Commitment & Consistency, Social proof, Liking, Authority and Scarcity.

Pre-Suasion talks about specific techniques that are used to alter people's attitudes, beliefs or experiences by shifting their focus of attention before actions.

In one example in the book Pre-Suasion, 18-year old Peter Reilly confessed to brutally murdering his mother after expert interrogators dug and dug and dug into his subconscious, implanting the memory. Two years later, Peter's conviction was overturned when physical evidence (that had been withheld) placed him at a different location at the time of the murder. It's remarkable what experts in pre-suasion can get people to believe.

Now that I am equipped to look out for these tactics, I see a lot of things differently - especially the media.

To use a sports analogy, when a player becomes very skilled at their craft, the game seems to slow down. What used to feel like information overload (what I call, "drinking from a firehose" or "tunnel vision") shifts into the player seeing the entire field/court and anticipating the next moves.

Within the past few days, I watched both CNBC and Fox News. It's no wonder that our country is so passionately divided. Now that I know what to look out for, it is almost laughable to listen to each side deploy obvious influence and pre-suasion tactics that are over the top. I keep asking myself, "do people really fall for this shit?"

Unfortunately, there are far more sophisticated ways that the media attempts to influence and pre-suade us. My buddy, Destin Sandlin, recently released a video called "Why Your Newsfeed Sucks" via his YouTube channel. Check it out.

Media manipulation is everywhere. It's scary. This junk is all around us and it's not going to stop anytime soon. Click the links below to see what's happening on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

So here's the deal...

It's likely that you brought your own presuppositions into reading this post. I'd venture to guess that some may think this post is far left leaning. Others may think it's far right leaning.

Two people can see the same "thing" and interpret that "thing" very differently.

You're probably reading this post because we are friends. I have good friends on both sides of the political spectrum, and it's really unfortunately to see them act so venomously towards one another. I think this aggression is the result of the media systematically influencing and pre-suading people to feel like they are backed into a corner. Don't fall for the bullshit.

Read Influence and Pre-Suasion, watch Destin's videos on media manipulation, and be kinder to one another.

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