🎧 George Lakoff on How Trump uses words to con the public | Reliable Sources podcast

Listened George Lakoff on how Trump uses words to con the public by Brian Stelter from Reliable Sources | CNN

President Donald Trump has "turned words into weapons" -- and journalists are providing additional ammunition.

That's according to Trump critic George Lakoff, a renowned linguist and professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley. Lakoff wrote in a recent article for the Guardian that the president manipulates language to control the public narrative. The press, he said, functions as a sort of "marketing agency for [Trump's] ideas" by repeating his claims, even when trying to fact-check or debunk his statements.

"By faithfully transmitting Trump's words and ideas, the press helps him to attack, and thereby control, the press itself," he writes.

As the guest on this week's Reliable Sources podcast, Lakoff spoke to Brian Stelter about Trump's linguistic frames, what the press should do differently, and why journalists need to tackle Trump's words like a "truth sandwich."

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👓 What English Would Sound Like If It Was Pronounced Phonetically | Open Culture

Read What English Would Sound Like If It Was Pronounced Phonetically (Open Culture)
The English language presents itself to students and non-native speakers as an almost cruelly capricious entity, its irregularities of spelling and conjugation impossible to explain without an advanced degree.
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👓 The Hobo Code: An Introduction to the Hieroglyphic Language of Early 1900s Train-Hoppers | Open Culture

Read The Hobo Code: An Introduction to the Hieroglyphic Language of Early 1900s Train-Hoppers (Open Culture)
Many of us now use the word hobo to refer to any homeless individual, but back in the America of the late 19th and early 20th century, to be a hobo meant something more.
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❤️ tkasasagi tweet

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Liked a tweet by Sarah Osment Sarah Osment (Twitter)
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👓 Francis Fukuyama Postpones the End of History | The New Yorker

Read Francis Fukuyama Postpones the End of History by Louis MenandLouis Menand (The New Yorker)
The political scientist argues that the desire of identity groups for recognition is a key threat to liberalism.

I can’t help but wonder what Jonah Goldberg’s review of this book will be given his prior effort earlier this year?

I’m also reminded here of Mark Granovetter’s ideas that getting a job is more closely tied to who you know. One’s job is often very closely tied to their identity, and even more so when the link that got them their job was through a friend or acquaintance.

I suspect that Fukuyama has a relatively useful thesis, but perhaps it’s not tied together as logically and historically as Menand would prefer. The difficult thing here is that levels of personal identity on large scales is relatively unknown for most of human history. Tribalism and individuality are certainly pulling at the threads of liberal democracy lately. Perhaps it’s because of unfulfilled promises (in America at least) of the two party system? Now that we’ve reached a summit of economic plenty much quicker than the rest of the world (and they’re usurping some of our stability as the rest of the world tries to equilibrate), we need to add some additional security nets for the lesser advantaged. It really doesn’t cost very much and in turn does so much more for the greater good of the broader society.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

Fukuyama’s argument was that, with the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union, the last ideological alternative to liberalism had been eliminated.  

“Last” in the sense of a big, modern threat. We’re still facing the threats of tribalism, which apparently have a strong pull.
August 27, 2018 at 10:26AM

There would be a “Common Marketization” of international relations and the world would achieve homeostasis.  

Famous last words, right?!

These are the types of statements one must try very hard not to make unless there is 100% certainty.

I find myself wondering how can liberal democracy and capitalism manage to fight and make the case the the small tribes (everywhere, including within the US) that it can, could and should be doing more for them.
August 27, 2018 at 10:29AM

But events in Europe unfolded more or less according to Fukuyama’s prediction, and, on December 26, 1991, the Soviet Union voted itself out of existence. The Cold War really was over.  

Or ostensibly, until a strong man came to power in Russia and began its downturn into something else. It definitely doesn’t seem to be a liberal democracy, so we’re still fighting against it.
August 27, 2018 at 10:32AM

This speculative flourish recalled the famous question that John Stuart Mill said he asked himself as a young man: If all the political and social reforms you believe in came to pass, would it make you a happier human being? That is always an interesting question.  

August 27, 2018 at 10:33AM

George Kennan, who was its first chief. In July of that year, Kennan published the so-called X article, “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” in Foreign Affairs. It appeared anonymously—signed with an “X”—but once the press learned his identity the article was received as an official statement of American Cold War policy.  

August 27, 2018 at 10:33AM

Fukuyama’s article could thus be seen as a bookend to Kennan’s.  

August 27, 2018 at 10:36AM

The National Interest, as the name proclaims, is a realist foreign-policy journal. But Fukuyama’s premise was that nations do share a harmony of interests, and that their convergence on liberal political and economic models was mutually beneficial. Realism imagines nations to be in perpetual competition with one another; Fukuyama was saying that this was no longer going to be the case.  

And here is a bit of the flaw. Countries are still at least in competition with each other economically, at least until they’re all on equal footing from a modernity perspective.

We are definitely still in completion with China and large parts of Europe.
August 27, 2018 at 10:38AM

Fukuyama thinks he knows what that something is, and his answer is summed up in the title of his new book, “Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).  

Get a copy of this to read.
August 27, 2018 at 10:39AM

The demand for recognition, Fukuyama says, is the “master concept”  

August 27, 2018 at 10:40AM

Fukuyama covers all of this in less than two hundred pages. How does he do it? Not well.  

Scathing!

Now I have to read it.
August 27, 2018 at 10:41AM

Fukuyama gives this desire for recognition a Greek name, taken from Plato’s Republic: thymos. He says that thymos is “a universal aspect of human nature that has always existed.”  

August 27, 2018 at 10:43AM

To say, as Fukuyama does, that “the desire for status—megalothymia—is rooted in human biology” is the academic equivalent of palmistry. You’re just making it up.  

August 27, 2018 at 10:45AM

Rationality and transparency are the values of classical liberalism. Rationality and transparency are supposed to be what make free markets and democratic elections work. People understand how the system functions, and that allows them to make rational choices.  

But economically, we know there isn’t perfect knowledge or perfect rationality (see Tversky and Khaneman). There is rarely even perfect transparency either which makes things much harder, especially in a post-truth society apparenlty.
August 27, 2018 at 10:48AM

Liberalism remains the ideal political and economic system, but it needs to find ways to accommodate and neutralize this pesky desire for recognition.   

August 27, 2018 at 10:50AM

Enrollment was small, around twenty, but a number of future intellectual luminaries, like Hannah Arendt and Jacques Lacan, either took the class or sat in on it.  

August 27, 2018 at 10:52AM

For Kojève, the key concept in Hegel’s “Phenomenology” was recognition. Human beings want the recognition of other human beings in order to become self-conscious—to know themselves as autonomous individuals.  

This is very reminiscent of Valerie Alexander’s talk last week about recognizing employees at work. How can liberal democracy take advantage of this?
August 27, 2018 at 10:53AM

Kojève thought that the other way was through labor. The slave achieves his sense of self by work that transforms the natural world into a human world. But the slave is driven to labor in the first place because of the master’s refusal to recognize him. This “master-slave dialectic” is the motor of human history, and human history comes to an end when there are no more masters or slaves, and all are recognized equally.  

August 27, 2018 at 10:55AM

Kojève’s lectures were published as “Introduction to the Reading of Hegel,” a book that went through many printings in France.  

Maybe it was Kojève and not Covfefe that Trump was referencing?! 😛
August 27, 2018 at 10:56AM

Encouraged by his friend Saul Bellow, he decided to turn the article into a book. “The Closing of the American Mind,” which Simon & Schuster brought out in February, 1987, launched a campaign of criticism of American higher education that has taken little time off since.  

August 27, 2018 at 11:00AM

In 1992, in the essay “The Politics of Recognition,” Taylor analyzed the advent of multiculturalism in terms similar to the ones Fukuyama uses in “Identity.”  

August 27, 2018 at 11:03AM

Fukuyama acknowledges that identity politics has done some good, and he says that people on the right exaggerate the prevalence of political correctness and the effects of affirmative action.  

There’s a reference to voting theory about people not voting their particular views, but that they’re asking themselves, “Who would someone like me vote for?” Perhaps it’s George Lakoff? I should look this up and tie it in here somewhere.
August 27, 2018 at 11:05AM

He has no interest in the solution that liberals typically adopt to accommodate diversity: pluralism and multiculturalism.  

Interesting to see an IndieWeb principle pop up here! How do other parts dovetail perhaps? What about other movements?
August 27, 2018 at 11:06AM

Fukuyama concedes that people need a sense of national identity, whether ethnic or creedal, but otherwise he remains an assimilationist and a universalist.  

Is it a “national” identity they need? Why not a cultural one, or a personal one? Why not all the identities? What about the broader idea of many publics? Recognition and identity touch on many of these publics for a variety of reasons.
August 27, 2018 at 11:08AM

He wants to iron out differences, not protect them. He suggests measures like a mandatory national-service requirement and a more meaningful path to citizenship for immigrants.  

What if we look at the shrinking number of languages as a microcosm of identity. Are people forced to lose language? Do they not care? What are the other similarities and differences.

Cross reference: https://boffosocko.com/2015/06/08/a-world-of-languages-and-how-many-speak-them-infographic/
August 27, 2018 at 11:10AM

Wouldn’t it be important to distinguish people who ultimately don’t want differences to matter, like the people involved in #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, from people who ultimately do want them to matter, like ISIS militants, Brexit voters, or separatist nationalists? And what about people who are neither Mexican nor immigrants and who feel indignation at the treatment of Mexican immigrants? Black Americans risked their lives for civil rights, but so did white Americans. How would Socrates classify that behavior? Borrowed thymos?  

Some importatnt questions here. They give me some ideas…
August 27, 2018 at 11:12AM

History is somersaults all the way to the end. That’s why it’s so hard to write, and so hard to predict. Unless you’re lucky. ♦  

This is definitely more of a Big History approach…
August 27, 2018 at 11:12AM

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Following Julia Strand

Followed Julia Strand (juliastrand.com)

Julia Strand is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Carleton College.  She holds a B.A. in Psychology & English from Tufts University, an M.A. and PhD. from Washington University in St. Louis, program Brain, Behavior, & Cognition, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Laboratory of Sensory Neuroscience and Neuroengineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis.

She teaches courses including Introduction to Psychology, the Psychology of Spoken Words, Sensation & Perception, and Perceptual & Cognitive Expertise. Her research focuses on how humans are able to turn sensory information about speech into meaningful representations. Topics of research include how cognitive abilities influence language perception, what traits of words promote easy recognition, how word recognition abilities change with age, and how visual information (seeing the talker) influences language processing.

Julia Strand
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👓 Portmanteau | Wikipedia

Read Portmanteau (Wikipedia)
portmanteau or portmanteau word is a linguistic blend of words, in which parts of multiple words or their phones (sounds) are combined into a new word, as in smog, coined by blending smoke and fog, or motel, from motor and hotel. In linguistics, a portmanteau is defined as a single morph that represents two or more morphemes.
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📑 Cantinflas | Wikipedia

Annotated Cantiflas (Wikipedia)
Among the things that endeared him to his public was his comic use of language in his films; his characters (all of which were really variations of the main "Cantinflas" persona but cast in different social roles and circumstances) would strike up a normal conversation and then complicate it to the point where no one understood what they were talking about. The Cantinflas character was particularly adept at obfuscating the conversation when he owed somebody money, was courting an attractive young woman, or was trying to talk his way out of trouble with authorities, whom he managed to humiliate without their even being able to tell. This manner of talking became known as Cantinflear, and it became common parlance for Spanish speakers to say "¡estás cantinfleando!" (loosely translated as you're pulling a "Cantinflas!" or you're "Cantinflassing!") whenever someone became hard to understand in conversation.

Similar to doubletalk, technobabble, and other varieties of speech.

See also: https://boffosocko.com/2016/09/30/complexity-isnt-a-vice-10-word-answers-and-doubletalk-in-election-2016/

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👓 That Meme You’re Sharing Is Probably Bogus | The Atlantic

Read That Meme You’re Sharing Is Probably Bogus (The Atlantic)
Why linguistic urban legends go viral online

I can’t wait to have not only salmentions, but saltruths as a thing. This way when people spread bogus information online and it gets shared, then potentially one (or a few posts) could travel back upstream and to debunk the whole thing.

Of course, how are we to architect such a thing?!

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👓 If You Say Something Is “Likely,” How Likely Do People Think It Is? | Harvard Business Review

Read If You Say Something Is “Likely,” How Likely Do People Think It Is? (Harvard Business Review)
Why you should use percentages, not words, to express probabilities.

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

Phil Tetlock, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, who has studied forecasting in depth, suggests that “vague verbiage gives you political safety.”  

This result is consistent with analysis by the data science team at Quora, a site where users ask and answer questions. That team found that women use uncertain words and phrases more often than men do, even when they are just as confident.  

A large literature shows that we tend to be overconfident in our judgments.  

The best forecasters make lots of precise forecasts and keep track of their performance with a metric such as a Brier score.  

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👓 Koko The Gorilla Dies; Redrew The Lines Of Animal-Human Communication | NPR

Read Koko The Gorilla Dies; Redrew The Lines Of Animal-Human Communication (NPR.org)
Koko fascinated and elated millions of people with her facility for language and her ability to interact with humans. She also gave people a glimpse of her emotions.
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👓 Why Did I Teach My Son to Speak Russian? | New Yorker

Read Why Did I Teach My Son to Speak Russian? (The New Yorker)
When bilingualism isn’t obviously valuable, you have to decide what you think of the language.

A nice essay that focuses on the personal side of raising bilingual children. In my experience needing to have a reason to speak a language is very important. Often around the age of three (or the beginning of daycare and/or school) children who realize they don’t have to speak a language will give it up (and often flatly refuse) as they begin to become more broadly socialized. It definitely helps if they’ve got a peer group who primarily speaks the language as well.

I quite liked the parts about a language “filling one up” or the ways in which language was implicated with attention. These are intriguing observations.

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👓 A New Accent Is Developing in Southwest Kansas | Atlas Obscura

Read A New Accent Is Developing in Southwest Kansas (Atlas Obscura)
The diverse young people of the town of Liberal are coming up with their own way to talk.
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👓 Trump has turned words into weapons. And he’s winning the linguistic war | George P Lakoff and Gil Duran | Opinion | The Guardian

Read Trump has turned words into weapons. And he's winning the linguistic war by George P Lakoff, Gil Duran (the Guardian)
From ‘spygate’ to ‘fake news’, Trump has turned words into weapons. The press must do more to dull their power
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