Home Forums Circularity RANDY OLSON: SESSION 2.3: “Therefore"

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    Randy Olson
    Randy Olson

    RANDY OLSON: SESSION 2.3: “Therefore”

    Great session, everyone be sure to visit the Google Group now — the first 4 Working Circles have been posted.

    Here’s a few questions and answers.

    Elizabeth L Mclean: Do people/students that study the art of argumentation, doing oral speech and debates, follow a narrative framework?

    Yes, absolutely. You’ve heard me mention the best starting point for this — Jerry Graff’s book, “They Say, I Say,” which has sold over 2 million copies. Everyone should own a copy. The parallels with this course are 100% and he’s my good buddy for the past 15 years — great guy!

    https://www.amazon.com/They-Say-Matter-Academic-Writing/dp/1469028611

    David Goldstein: For World Bank the question should be how many authors are English first language speakers now vs. then…

    That’s certainly an interesting aspect of it and probably a factor in the change over time, but the important point is simply comparing today’s 5% not to the values in the 1940’s, but rather to well edited material that scores around 2.5%. It baffles me that there exists this simple, objective criteria that points out poor communication, yet is not used, and was even ridiculed.

    Julie Claussen: Are journalist taught the AND frequency, or is it more intuitive for editors that 2.5% makes a more interesting story?

    Do you know any journalists or editors? If so, ask them if they have ANY idea of this 2.5% value. I don’t think they do. I’ve never met anyone who has known of it, but as I said, the World Bank study cited it, then when we measured it for well edited magazine articles it was amazingly consistent. I don’t think it occurs analytically — I think it is a byproduct of a mind that has good narrative intuition.

    Elizabeth L Mclean: the irony of our times… a colleague of mine wrote a report entitled “lesson learned from lessons learned”… implying that what is learned is not actually put into practice 😛

    That’s a perfect title. When I made my movie “Flock of Dodos,” I went to the Tribeca Film Festival ready to give it a good premiere, be done with it, and immediately start my next movie. Little did I know I would spend the next two years doing over 200 screenings with over 100 post-screening discussions that I took part in. But that turned out to be the most important part of the process. For the most part, things do not “speak for themselves.” They only speak with someone obnoxious like me goes out and shouts at people that, “THIS THING IS IMPORTANT!!!”

    Which is exactly the story for that World Bank study. I think it was important, but unless someone like me beats a drum around it, it will be lost to history.

    This was exactly the deal with my editorial about Michael Crichton in January. He is already almost completely forgotten, but there is … (wait for it) a lesson to be learned. I wrote this article, teaching the lesson of the missed opportunity. And of course it came out, had one day on Twitter of the climate crowd telling me to shut up and quit promoting a climate skeptic, then the next day the climate skeptics all told me to shut up and quit promoting climate action, and then it was all done.

    Ah, what a lovely society we’ve created.

    https://ensia.com/voices/climate-communication-michael-crichton-darth-vader/

    dmarkbreiter: Does the analysis of “and” over time take into account other ways of connecting clauses/phrases (such as commas or semicolons)? It seems like that analysis might’ve just pointed towards shifts in English stylistics rather than narrative form

    For the World Bank study they only measured the proliferation of the one word, but they also included qualitative validation, like showing samples of the text showing how these days the word is used to string together disconnected subjects, on and on and on. The metric itself (frequency of “and”) may not be that precise, but the sample size is huge, meaning the pattern is definitely real.

    Evelyn Wight: How does narrative work across political beliefs? No matter how good trump is at narrative, it doesn’t reach me. Is there a study about the role of ABT/narrative to influence opinion – seems like it could only work with ‘undecided’ – it can’t sway opinion if your mind is made up. Or can it?

    The core principle is at the simplest of levels — that people do not follow leaders who bore or confuse. Trump never bored or confused his followers. His messaging, albeit bombastic, was always simple, clear and focused. The bulk of the Democrats lack that ability, and thus lack effective leadership.

    Ilsa Kuffner: Randy can you please provide a copy of your Scientific American article? Would love to read it. Thanks

    Hi Ilsa – here you go: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/a-new-tool-for-humanizing-medicine/

    Dean Pentcheff: There is some work I’ve read about that indicates that it’s hugely difficult to change opinions. Tune them, yes, moderate them, yes. But flip them? Almost never. (Which shouldn’t stop us trying!)

    Do you think Coca Cola ever manages to change opinions about their product or is their annual budget of $200 million a waste?