Monday Memo: Dissuading the Dug-In | TALKERS magazine : TALKERS magazine – “The bible of talk media.”

Monday Memo: Dissuading the Dug-In

| September 13, 2021

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Argument seems to have displaced baseball as our national pastime. Polls tell us that many Republicans think Donald Trump was re-elected. Almost 60 years later, conspiracy theorists still mutter about who was lurking on the grassy knoll. And as we marked 20 years since 9/11, deniers still tell us the twin towers crashes were as fake as the moon landing.

Now anti-vaxxers are dug-in; until some beg for the jab as they’re being intubated.

Is there any hope of dissuading the misinformed?

On my TV show, I asked Nika Kabiri. She’s an attorney; and with a PhD in sociology, she teaches “Decision Science” at the University of Washington in Seattle. Her website invites your dilemma.

Many of the decisions we all make – and most of the bad ones – are made emotionally. Nika explains that “the human brain is wired to move fast and be very efficient, and sometimes we cut corners. We have biases because those are necessary to be efficient. We need to slow down to make better decisions.”

Social Media is The Swamp

Because “we’re social creatures,” Kabiri says “we are very much influenced by other people around us, and sometimes our environments pressure us without us even knowing it, to make choices that aren’t really in our best interests. If you can be aware of those influences you can probably make better decisions.”

See COVID data? The numbers, not the noise. If you LIKED April, you could LOVE October. Some did, and will. Google “cave syndrome,” and localize this unfolding story by interviewing a psych professor from a university where you are. Or a loquacious shrink.

Cable news ratings demonstrate that we choose to believe what we choose to believe

Though I’m not trying to, I often get a laugh when I am often asked to explain the success of FOX News Channel, and do so in three words: Misery loves company.

Dr. Kabiri observes that “we’re trying to persuade people we know that they’re believing misinformation and it’s just not working.” Why?

“Human beings are prone to what’s called ‘confirmation bias.’ We hold firmly to our beliefs and make decisions based on our beliefs.” We dismiss “facts that are accurate but not aligned with what you already believe.”

“To persuade others, tell more stories”

“If you already don’t believe certain facts, somebody else coming along and re-stating them isn’t going to do much good.”

But Nika calls storytelling “very powerful,” because “facts are harder to remember and harder to process, and they’re not emotionally compelling. Stories are very emotionally compelling. Stories stick with us.”

And that 9/11 Pentagon denier story? Marking the 20th on my show, I debriefed 20-year CNN senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre, now teaching J-school at The University of Maryland and senior writer on defense and national security for The Washington Examiner. In the 1980s, he worked for me at WTOP; and in between he wrote his Masters thesis (helluva read) on how those deniers distorted his reporting from the crash site, and still do. Google that too.

What story can you tell to help us through this next COVID variant now spreading?

Holland Cooke is the author of the E-book “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” which the author describes as “a riveting page-turner,” available from Talkers books (click the banner on this page). He is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet.  And HC hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT America.  Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke

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Category: Advice