(92 - 94) A little-recognized truth I often try to convey to various audeinces is that, in contests of persuasion, counterarguments are typically more powerful than arguments. This superiority emerges especially when a counterclaim does more than refute a rival’s claim by showing it to be mistaken or misdirected in the particular instance, but does so instead by showing the rival communicator to be an untrustworthy source of information, generally. Issuing a counterargument demonstrateing that an opponent’s argument is not to be believed because its maker is misinformed on the topic will usually succeed on that singular issue. But a counterargument that undermines an opponent’s argument by showing him or her to be dishonest in the matter will normally win that battle plus future battles with the opponent.
1. Pose the Mystery
2. Deepen the Mustery
3. Home In on the Proper Explanation by Considering (and Offering Evidence Against) Alternative Explanations
4. Provide a Clue to the Proper Explanation
5. Resolve the Mystery
(94) When the logic of the situation hit them, the tobacco companies worked politically to ban their own ads, but solely on the air where the fairness doctrine applied - thereby ensuring that the anti-tobacco forces would no longer get free airtime to amke their counterargument.
(95) Drive the Implication for the Phenomenon Under Study
One of the best ways to enhace audience acceptance of one’s message is to reduce the availability of strong counterarguments to it - because counterarguments are typically more powerful than arguments.
(100) We convince others by using language that manages their mental associations to our message.
…Nowhere are the implications for effective messaging so stark than in a relatively recent research program designed to answer the question “What is language principally for?” The leader among the group of researchers pursuing this line of inquiry is the renowned psycholinguist Gün Semin, whose conclusion, in my view, comes down to this: the main purpose of speech is to direct listeners’ attention to a selected sector of reality. Once that is accomplished, the listeners’ existing associations to the now-spotlighted sector will take over to determien the reaction.
… Especially interesting are the linguistic devices that researchers have identified for driving attention to one or another aspect of reality. They include verbs that draw attention to concrete features of a situation, adjectives that pull one’s focus onto the traits (versus behaviors) of others, personal pronouns that highlight existing relationships, metaphors that frame a state of aFfairs so that it is interpreted in a singular way or just particUlar wordings that link to targeted thoughts. We’ll benefit by considering the last, and simplest, of these devices first.