Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dennis Prager speaks with George Lakoff on the Political mind

One of the reasons the wrestling analogy is apt in describing politics is because both have peripheral factors that take primacy over what is happening in the ring. Wrestlers and politicians are not judged on their wrestling abilities or stances on issues, but rather how they portray themselves and their ability to connect with the audience. Psychology, charisma and archetypes all come into play.

A large part of connecting with the audience comes down to framing and the ability to convince people of the narratives they've constructed. I'm surprised I haven't featured more linguists and framers in this blog, it's been a long time coming.

Conservative talker Dennis Prager recently had an illuminating discussion with Professor George Lakoff on his new book The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain. George Lakoff is a professor of cognitive linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. Though Dennis describes him as being a liberal, George argues that
all kinds of combinations exist so there is no simple left to right spectrum... there's not just combinations of political attitudes but combinations of modes of thinking and we have to understand what those modes of thinking are and how they work. They are not simple.

It's an awkward interview as Lakoff practices what he preaches by dominating the interview and dictating terms, host Dennis Prager submits to Lakoff allowing him to dominate air time, filibuster and generally "frame" the discussion to his favour.

This passage from Professor Lakoff might explain why some tend to view Politics as team sports or as I contend the prism of Wrestling
Brain circuitry for emotions connect with brain circuitry for semantic concepts like hero villain stories... which both have inferences and emotions at once, that they're not separable. But it's not merely emotional... we think in frames and metaphors

Download and Listen to Dennis Prager's chat with George Lakoff
Go to Dennis Prager's audio archives
Go to Dennis Prager's bio
Go to Professor George Lakoff's bio

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