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Op Ed: Historic U.S. Facts Reflect Continued Writer-CamouflageOp-Ed by Henry Clay Ruark for Salem-News.com
Pundit-Palaver Illuminated by Detailed National Record.
(SEASIDE, Ore.) - Introduction & Content: For many readers, much if not most of the blog-work on Internet channels comes in quasi-understandable form, due in large part to unfamiliarity with some of the many techniques used in persuasion and message-manipulation.
This three-part Op Ed series is meant to explore, outline, define and summarize a few of the multiplicies of such techniques, used ever since early research in World War I showed their devastating, destructive impacts. (See Part Two upcoming; One mainly sets the stage.)
The challenge to write thus was motivated by the intense, deeply-researched, competent professional reporting by Daniel Johnson, recently featured in S-N columns for some months now. Appearance now of this additional view in no way discredits his work nor assumes any intentional or other manipulation of the language used in that report --only to supply information to those serious readers seeking further understandings of a widespread trend in all of our communications channels.
The intent here is to call attention to the multiple techniques themselves, often occurring in many current published reports simply due to process and procedures clearly demanded, thus creating the necessity for full understandings on the part of our many serious readers.
“What are your intentions, sir ?” demanded the traditional Victorian virgin when confronted by her canny and contriving seducer. In a second “joke” often used in psychiatry, the judge demands a “Yes or No” answer from an accused: “Have you stopped beating your wife?”
These both demonstrate language --intentionally or NOT-- cutting off the known strong rational, reasonable functions of the left-hemisphere within our two-hemi brain-- often by professional intent; sometimes by sheer ignorance and intensities of other writers. The consequence is now seen --by both critics and cognitive scientists-- as among major causes for the confusion and contradictions NOW found so massively in Internet responses directly defying public interests -- whether “intentional” or simple process-deflections.
The intent --by canny skilled writers well-paid for the purpose--is to force unaware reader reliance on the right-hemisphere of our two-hemi brain. The right-side is well-known as far more vulnerable to both manipulative language and even to its strongly “suggested” action --OR lack of it-- than is the left hemisphere.
This phenomenon is physical/psychiatric fact, well verified by tons of research; and long-known to many psychiatrists of all schools; but far too often either unknown or ignored --at peril of reader understanding-- by many would/be “persuasive” writers.
It is “heart-of-the-matter” psychological/approach within and across the entire advertising and “public relations” world, one of the major tools used to create their massive impacts --both “positive” and “malign”-- on our culture, society, and even our economy. That’s the domain of those well-paid “persuaders” putting this treasury of communications knowledge to what many consider “malign” and “political” purposes.
NOW, increasingly, the trends is directed to our governance system, as massive main-story involvement via many published pundits surely makes wholesomely clear. It is this widely-observed trend, deeply concerning many serious citizens enmeshed in community action driven by fear for our faltering American“experiment in democracy”, that occasions this report --perhaps as help to identify and understand subtle and not-so/subtle impacts from any and all channels encountered.
Recent research has verified and strengthened this particular, “not-really-peculiar” characteristic of some print-and-verbal propaganda/attacks on various ongoing political and governance issues.
Some “peculiarized pundits” make very strong usage of the phenomenon by distorted/perverted presentation of ostensible “fact” --both for this affect and because it provides a very comfortable saddle and huge dollar return when they ride that perverted hobby-horse hard. Familiar names will spring to mind, unmentioned here since mine may not be same-image as yours !! --With all good reasons for both, too...
But we can share proven process-and-techniques to both identify and offset the damage/done by intentional distortion/perversion --common component of them all. These “persuasive” writers wrap their stuff in oneor- more of many well-known psychiatric understandings on HOW to shape, influence, and pervert “the change process” itself.
That basic language-shaping techniques-treatment has accumulated from decades of dialog directed to producing therapeutic change in the dire denigration of patient lives and livelihood --in both psychiatry itself and its language-specializing hypnotherapy outgrowth.
Most of these techniques are but little understood among too many writers, especially if their world-view has not demanded close relation to effectively strong generation-of-change in broad public discursive and “development”-producing action; OR if they themselves have been able to avoid the necessity of personalized experience with them. Even well-experienced professionals fall into this trap needlessly, by ignorance or by over/eager intent since honest intent is the other driver of all manipulative actions.
BOTH demonstrate decisively the close relation to psychiatric impacts of skilled persuasion sometimes found in the strongly-structured “intentions” of writers, where language cannily so employed can have similar consequences to that professionally applied clinically, across the entire broad fields of psychotherapy. Ethical (and other !) producers of language-driven formats have been making skilled use of incontrovertible fact, carefully and cannily presented, for centuries -as the worldwide advertising industry and ostensibly-”free trade” advocates, among many others, surely does demonstrate.
Decades of research show clearly that, for far too many persons, intense use of such contrived language can affect which side of the brain takes charge for any and all responses, either via language or other actions. That consequence can, does and will continue to occur whether “intentional” or simply happenstance -- which is WHY it is of such immediately pressing concern to “persuasive” writers today, at any level, producing copy for any legitimate purpose.
Most professional writers soon learn to avoid those traps tending towards this well-known psychic brainaffect --OR they no longer continue professionally, since inevitably some sharp reader will question their true “intent”, with background and examples. (Disclosure: My own interests stem from work begun 50 years ago, starting continuing explorations in broad based communications research and its always-demanded application to produce measurable “positive” (!) change.)
The first example (our “virgin”) was cited by the acknowledged mastermind of full-bore persuasion principles, George N. Gordon: The Theory and Practice of Manipulative Communication; Hastings, 1971. (ISBN: 8038-5774-8; or LCCCN 78-163-184, helpful since this is “classic” now difficult to locate;try nearest university sporting School of Journalism !)
Its reputation (the book, NOT the example !) has grown steadily ever since pubication among those who purport use of “persuasive writing” as a professional product. It anchors the famous Studies in Communications from Syracuse University, edited by Dr. A. William Bluem, a series seen as foundation by many journalists.
His example makes massive and conclusive the intimately close relation between “intention” --stated or covert !-- and almost all possible persuasive palaver further-produced to accomplish manipulative purpose, whatever it may truly be.
Its probing examination (of “intention”) rapidly explodes a whole series of too-familiar articles and many books publiished for many decades, attacking the United States, from both “established” and new pundits.
Most are published to provide the writers an easyriding, rapidly dollar/padded hobby/horse, all too easily acceptable for those too-many American ignorant of our real history. That’s especially true for those paid-”persuasive’ writers refusing to consult serious historians, “on the record” with literally tons of published pages reviewing deeply-detailed “telling incidents”; and ignoring the many contemporary sources distilling the experience and the events-involved NOW.
Even some others, whose facts-on-hand from easily-accessed secondary sources present a truly devastating image of this nation, sometimes err by their actions in avoiding both historic and current dissenting primary sources --both historic and timely NOW. Current works like THE PRODUCER (2010), popular biography of famed Henry Luce, originating publisher of TIME, LIFE, and FORTUNE; and the 2005-published THE GREAT UNRAVELLING, by noted economist Paul Krugman, make easily available the many offsetting facts demnded for ethical and cogitative study of both realities and current actualities.
The professional pundit-works mentioned previously cite scads of scandalous --but mainly accurate-- single, multiple and massive declarations of despicable and democracy/damaging depredations, fiscal/financial and other economic and fully cultural components, all so conceived and considered as to provide a potential very frightening formulation of the American nation.
Since these many so-described nationally-committed despotic deprivations and demeaning actions are shown committed by some few potently and peculiarly powerful American classes, groups --and even some cabals and canny political groups-- these contrived accusations tend to pile up precariously around well-known and widely recognized situations and trends underway in this nation over many decades. That lends them a seeming substance and certifies, for some unthinking recipients, their ostensible accuracy and authority of interpretation --when any true-test reading against recorded history will simply drop them into proper perspective regarding clearly ongoing trend and historic events.
Reader’s Note: Second and Third Parts will specify in some detail these manipuative techniques used by paid-”persuasive” writers, and outline some of many situations in which they contribute to public misunderstandings, multiplied by the massive --sometimes malign-- “intents” of their perpetrators and those procuring their work. Perhaps such identifying detail can assist our many serious readers in their essential citizen responsibilities to be well-informed when building bases for any opinion.
At 21, Henry Clay Ruark was Aroostook Editor for the Bangor, Maine DAILY NEWS, covering the upper 1/4 of the state. In the ‘40s, he was Staff Correspondent, then New England Wires Editor at United Press-Boston; later Editor for the Burlington, Vermont 3-daily group owned by Wm. Loeb, later notorious at Manchester, New Hampshire UNION LEADER for attacks on Democratic Presidential candidates.
Hank returned to Oregon to complete M. Ed. degree at OSU, went on to Indiana University for Ed.D. (abd) and special other course-work; was selected as first Information Director for NAVA in Washington, D.C.; helped write sections of NDEA, first Act to supply math, science, foreign language consultants to state depts. of education; joined Oregon Dept. of Education, where he served as NDEA administrator/Learning Media Consultant for ten years.
He joined Dr. Amo DeBernardis at PCC, helping establish, extend programs, facilities, Oregon/national public relations; moved to Chicago as Editor/Publisher of oldest educational-AV journal, reformed as AV GUIDE Magazine; then established and operated Learning Media Associates as general communications consultant group. Due to wife’s illness, he returned to Oregon in 1981, semi-retired, and has continued writing intermittently ever since, joining S-N in 2004. His Op Eds now total over 560 written since then.
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