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Web Letter

I found this article to be mildly persuasive. But one of the core ideas presented makes it fall apart for me. Glaser writes that "persuading us robs us of our ability to observe things for ourselves." No, it does not. The only thing that robs of our ability to observe for ourselves is our failure to think for ourselves about information presented to us.

When information is presented non-persuasively, I suppose we don't have to think about it. But when persuasion is used, the responsibility for our choices falls squarely where it belongs, on ourselves. Persuasion is the attempt to influence people's attitudes. I find nothing wrong with that. Attitude drives behavior, so persuasive skill is a necessary tool for parents, managers, service providers and a whole host of others trying to either improve their world, their relationships, or at least their lot in life.

I think it a valuable endeavor to improve one's persuasive skills, since without this ability, one may have the solution to a problem yet the problem may persist; the answer to a question, yet the question may go unanswered; a way to move things forward, yet no progress may be made. Yes, it's true that people are all too often more emotional than thoughtful in their responses to the signals of persuasion. Yet for this very reason, when hope requires persuasion, without it there is no hope.

Dr. Rick Kirschner

Ashland, OR

Mar 6 2008 - 5:42pm

Web Letter

Your five factors of morality are very thought-provoking. Maybe one more could be added: "Fear of disorder"--although perhaps that is some combination of "Purity" and "Respect for Authority." I have always felt that the left is driven primarily by a fear of oppression that and the right is driven by a fear of disorder.

It would be very interesting to try to place political ideologies and statements in your five-dimensional "Morality Space." A great doctoral dissertation topic.

John Read

Owings Mills, MD

Feb 24 2008 - 1:16pm

Web Letter

While I agreed with the view and much of the sentiment in Mr. Glaser's article, I am also reminded of Plato's suspicion of art as something like propaganda. There are some people I know who seem to question nothing and others who see conspiracy in all messages and symbols. I would hesitate to ascribe, as he does about ethical principles, any sort of genetic basis for this, but will assert that questioning what you hear and see is a form of behavior that not all may avail themselves of.

Is this very letter attempting to persuade or is it merely one person's observation?

T.R. Kielikello

Philadelphia, PA

Feb 23 2008 - 10:03pm

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