Category Archives: Sincerity

outrage; confusion; but mainly sincerity

Remembering Clif on Veteran’s Day

I honor the memory of my late father-in-law, Clif Booth, on Veteran’s Day.

Clif Leans Back

Sergeant Booth fought as a tank commander in Patton’s Army during World War II from Normandy to the Bulge to Germany through V-E Day. Then while on a train to the West Coast and deployment for the invasion of Japan, his combat service ended with V-J Day.

I appreciate his service to our country.

Let’s Gooooo! Mountaineers!

Count the Change, or in this case, the Beer!

WVU Party School Ranking

On days like this I miss the large lecture in Comm 80, rocking through persuasion in mass communication. Batman and Vicky Vale. Sports Beat. Rock Break. Top 5 lists. And every WVU President took a star turn in the class.

Then those President’s wonder why WVU always makes the Top Party School list. You can’t recruit rock star profs then serve lemonade!

P.S. Of course, the Princeton List is a ridiculous Count, as bad as anything you get from the Lifestyle Drum and Bugle Corps, the Cool Table, or the Four HorsePersons of the Post Modern Apocalypse. And, by now, it’s little more than a self fulfilling joke. Do the students at WVU drink a lot? Sure. Just like Harvard or Stanford. Mountaineers just admit it while everyone else is persuasive.

All Party Schools Are Sincere!

Al in the Exit

Al MunsonDr. Al Munson, director of the Health Effects Laboratory Division with NIOSH, retires today and in so doing provides me the opportunity to rise with the occasion and to recall . . .

Al almost always had an empty chair beside him when he knew I would be talking in front of a crowd. He quickly sized me up during recruitment and figured out that I’m a neurotic introvert which means that in crowds I tend to get over-aroused and not in a good way. That’s bad enough for me, but for people around me, it means they tend to get over-aroused, again not in a good way. When he saw that I was over-aroused and over-arousing other people, he’d make hard eye contact with me, then pat the empty chair beside him. I’d hang dog over, sit down, and begin to relax as my manager talked down his crazy pitcher.

You think I’m joking, but Al knows I’m not. I was pitching a presentation for the NIOSH Board of Scientific Counselors and a Counselor interrupted me while I was in high arousal mode and worse still he interrupted me to misinterpret my remarks for his purposes. I started walking toward the Counselor so I could respond with a high inside fastball near his head when he finished his deep and thoughtful fripperies. Al was sitting just behind this fool and in my light of sight. Normally Al is a paragon of nuance, but he was wildly signaling me with a nose wipe over and over and over, rising out of his seat. When he finally got my attention, he gave me one hard shake of the head, sat down, then looked at the program in his lap like he was reading the latest issue of Cell Biology.

Has Jeffery Koplan sent garlands to Al? Perhaps he lacks Al’s situational awareness and probably has no idea that Al saved him from me at that first NIOSH meeting Koplan called when he became the new CDC director. The NIOSH director, Linda Rosenstock called a bunch of NIOSH folks to DC to greet ‘n grip with Koplan and do some dog and pony show along the way. And, I was invited because I knew how to get a crowd aroused and if you’ve ever attended a Fed meeting, you know those meetings need arousal.

Koplan, however, needed no motivation from me. He decided that he would announce his presence with authority and started throwing at Linda’s head whenever he could. He’d riff off a slide from a show and whack Linda. He’d interrupt a speaker to share an important and rude insight to Linda. He’d interrupt Linda when she took a breath. Hey, Linda was yet another of my bosses, yet another good one. She was cheerfully ducking, and while she needed no help from me or anyone else, Koplan needed a timeout. I was sitting behind Dr. Koplan and to his left about three chairs away. A hop, skip, and a step and I’d have him in a sleeper hold. I was rising from my seat to call out Koplan when I looked across the table to see Al scowling at me like Moses in front of the multitude over the Golden Calf. He looked Biblical, so I stopped sinning, but to this day, I do not repent.

Since arousal quivering in sports metaphors seems to be my main line here I’ll close with a guys in the locker room story. A pharma invited me to participate in one of their well meaning symposia. The meeting was held in San Juan in February and Melanie had found out about it, so I essentially resigned my position with the government for 72 hours to attend. She did make it worth my while. As I toiled with pharma mavens to extract more compliance from more people than even the government wants, Melanie frolicked the beach in her black bikini. When the symposia ended you could follow the pieces of my suit on the sand to that blonde in a black bikini on the white beach. Then, while we played in the surf, I broke the second toe, the long one, on my right foot. Long story, but heed my warning: Never go en pointe in a pas de deux in heavy surf with a blonde in a black bikini.

By the time I got to the office on Monday, that toe was swollen, black and blue, so I limped into Dan Sharp’s office for a free consult. Dan was the Chief Scientist for HELD, an MD along with a PhD. And for an epidemiologist, he’s a good physician! He removed my shoe and sock, then rolled up my pants leg for a careful look.

Dan’s office was next to Al’s and about that time Al wandered into the doorway. Al and Dan consulted wisely about broken toes as they considered the presentation of symptoms. They asked a few deeply nuanced questions, then Dan bent my toe and said, “I’ll bet that hurt.” Al asked how it happened, as if that was important to the diagnosis. So, I explained about blondes in black bikinis in heavy surf. Al and Dan nodded sagely as if this was a common occurrence in their experience with broken toes. I confessed that my largest concern was with sex. How could I proceed without pain.

Al gracefully kicked up his leg and said, “Just keep your foot over your head.”

My work at NIOSH was the delight of my professional life, but more important then and now was every day with Al. I know no man for whom I have more respect and affection and from whom I’ve learned more. The largest regret I had on leaving NIOSH was losing that daily relationship with Al. I know that I wore him out, but fortunately Al is a big man with a big heart, so much must remain. And it is to what remains that I offer,

Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Administrative Update

A new look for a new year!

I’m making changes with my writing at Healthy Influence. I’ll consolidate all my blogs into one, the Persuasion Blog. You’ll get all the same great content, plus all my charm, wit, and insight, and I’ll have less administration! That means more writing!

Exclamation points on the house!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks to Tom Johnson from I’d Rather Be Writing for his technical assistance, plus the technical team at InMotion Hosting, my web hosting service.

As always, I appreciate your patience and good humor as I do some remodeling work.

Happy New Year!

Administrative Update

I’ve recently updated to the latest version of WordPress, the software behind the Persuasion Blog. While that change is unnoticeable on this website, apparently there are some bugs in the new version regarding RSS and email delivery. While new posts are published as planned everyday, the syndication feeds are not. If you depend upon this function, please understand I’m working on it, but thus far the usual tricks are not working. It’s entirely likely things will go back to normal without any intervention from me, but I appreciate your patience in the interim.

Reading Remains at the End of Writing

Philip Roth has announced his retirement from writing novels.

Yes. Roth chose a French magazine for this disclosure. The New Yorker translated for our benefit, but Roth didn’t talk to the New Yorker. Instead he spoke French.

And if you know Roth, you’ve got to appreciate that irony.

If you’ve never read Mr. Roth and you like reading, you would enjoy the experience. Goodbye Columbus. Portnoy’s Complaint. Zuckerman Bound. American Pastoral. The Human Stain. The Dying Animal.

While this post is mainly just my sincerity, Roth does demonstrate the persuasion power of irony. In his best novels, he never means exactly what he writes. For example, Exit Ghost is much more enjoyable as a takedown of the literary world than as a story of literary suffering. With Roth, you just can’t be sure what he really means.

Start with Portnoy’s Complaint. And remember. It was the 1960s.

P.S. We also looked at the Web 2.0 Wisdom of the Crowd with Wikipedia’s entry on the Human Stain. Noting but a case of life copying art as the Wiki editors twisted themselves into the ground with their silly rules, looking like a parody of a Roth novel.

Counting Pretty Girls as WATTage Play

Jake, An Interested Reader, carefully reads the PB Post, Great Moments in Bad TACTs, and asks . . .

I noticed in your post Great Moment in Bad Tacts you talk about how they are targeting the wrong age group, but I do believe they got the age group right. It seems to stem from the phrase ‘Americans born in or after 1980′, which you interpret as being 32+, but really does mean 32 and younger. I am in fact born after 1980 — in 1986 — and would indeed fall into their 18-34 age group TACT (although I am not a woman). Was this just a mistake or am I missing something?

After reading the Post as carefully as Jake, I am pleased to announce that I have discovered a new persuasion play – Counting Pretty Girls – which I believe functions as an Elaboration Moderator, or colloquially on the PB, the WATTage switch. When Other Guys, particularly of the standard male variety, count while looking at pretty girls, the WATTage switch gets set on High, which could lead to Objective Processing and correct counting of numbers like years, ages, and dates, but, in fact, leads to Biased Processing where the Other Guys, High on Motivation, but Low on Ability, forget that They are looking at Pretty Girls to count and instead focus their cognitive capacity on other attributes of Pretty Girls beyond Their numerosity.

Stated more plainly, the Interested Reader is right and I was in the throes of Counting Pretty Girls. The mavens at Glamour are indeed targeting the correct age group for their magazine while I am just another drooling guy who temporarily lost his ability to count, caught in the curves of nonnumeric delights.

Reconsideration also leads me to re-Rulify.

You Can Get Farther with a Pretty Girl than with a Kind Word and/or a Big Stick.

Great Persuaders Don’t Need Rich Uncles, Kindness from Strangers, or Third Party Vote Splitters . . . Just a Pretty Girl.

If You Don’t Count Her, She’ll Change You.

You Can Persuade A Fallen Man.

And, finally.

All Bad Science Is Aroused.

P.S. My regards to Jake’s careful attention and sterner stuff at Counting Pretty Girls.

Consistency As Sincerity

In 1997 I served as the webmaster for Eastern Communication Association. Even then I saw a particular utility to the Web.

For example, we could try to develop this Web site into a credible source of communication knowledge suitable for public consumption. We could develop Communication FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) on topics ranging from hostage negotiation to public speaking anxiety. These FAQs (or some other message form) would be publicly available to any citizen with Web access. Such a function would clearly expand the scope of our Web site to something well beyond an association newsletter. We would become “broadcasters” of knowledge in a way different from our typical teaching and publication forms of information dissemination. And yet, such communication would seem natural, essential, and consistent.

This sentiment dominates the Persuasion Blog and the Primer. I’m trying to give away online what I learned as a professor, a researcher, and a practitioner to anyone willing to wade into the struggle.

Of course, while my approach shows my sincere consistency, it also displays a dynamic tension. Persuasion works best when it hides but the Persuasion Blog and Primer seeks. I can’t teach magic without showing the trick.

And, you know as a practitioner that while you’re in the spotlight you’re Famous and thus not Effective, at least according to my Rules. But, then the Other Guys always seem to forget and move on to the next New New Thing. Just wait a bit for the attention to die down and then let human nature go to work for you.

From Communication Quarterly, Vol. 45, No. 1, Winter 1997, Pages 90-91.

doi: 10.1080/01463379709370047