Memo to Kevin Rudd, but then simple isn’t always good


Linked to source. This cartoon from today’s Sydney Morning Herald is so relevant to my post! 🙂

One of the difficulties the Rudd government has had getting its climate change policy to run has been that too few of us actually understand it. See Cool reception on climate costs triggers broadside on Tony Abbott’s efforts.

Even some seasoned government representatives were surprised at attempts to tell the media what was happening in the enemy camp. It may yet prove to be an attempt that permanently damages the government’s campaign on an ETS that Kevin Rudd concedes has failed because of the scheme’s complexity.

On the other hand you know how I feel about the Opposition’s GBT line: Neurolinguistic programming 101 – according to Tone.

There is a good article in The Boston Globe at the moment:


It isn’t just visual cues that have this sort of effect. Matthew McGlone, a psychologist at the University of Texas, has found that auditory cues can shape people’s perception of truth. McGlone did a study in which he presented subjects with a series of unfamiliar aphorisms either in rhyming or nonrhyming form: “Woes unite foes,” for example, versus “Woes unite enemies.” He found that people tended to see the rhyming ones as more accurate than the nonrhyming ones, despite the fact that, substantively, the two were identical. Phrases that are easier on the ear aren’t just catchy and easy to remember, McGlone argues, they also feel inherently truer. He calls it “the rhyme-as-reason effect.” The persuasive power of repetition, clarity, and simplicity is something that people who set out to win others’ trust – marketers, political candidates, speechwriters, suitors, and teachers – already have an intuitive sense of if they’re good at what they do. What the fluency research is showing is just how profound the effect can be, and just how it works…

And a few studies suggest that disfluency works well as a prompt to get people to think carefully and catch mistakes. Alter and Oppenheimer found that using a more difficult font can get students to do better on the Cognitive Reaction Test, a three-question test that usually trips up people answering intuitively. In another study, they found that disfluency also led people to think more abstractly. Schwarz and Song found that a difficult font can dramatically increase the number of people who correctly respond to the question, “How many animals of each kind did Moses take on the Ark?” (The answer is “none” – Moses wasn’t on the Ark.)

In other words, to get people to think carefully and to prevent them from making silly mistakes, make them work to process the question: make the font hard to read, the cadence awkward, and the wording unfamiliar…

…The human brain, for all its power, is suspicious of difficulty, but perhaps we can learn to use that.