DoubleSpeak, How to Lie without Lying

DoubleSpeak, How to Lie without Lying

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In the Winter of 1847, George Donner, the co-leader of the California-bound group of American settlers engaged in intraspecies protein reallocation in order to maintain metabolic integrity. However, his failure to fulfill caloric obligations in a timely manner rendered him unviable. This video, is about “DoubleSpeak” - what William Lutz, author of the book titled DoubleSpeak, defines as “Doublespeak is language designed to evade responsibility, make the unpleasant appear pleasant, the unattractive appear attractive, basically its language designed to mislead while pretending not to.” “What line of work are you in?” “Waste management consultant.” Let’s say for example the person whose treacherous mountain climb my energy bar company sponsored cannibalized his climbing partner, it would be better for me to say something that technically communicates this information, but doesn’t sound as terrible. Lutz says there are at least four kinds of doublespeak.
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“Protein reallocation” instead of “cannibalism” and Tony Soprano’s creative phrase to replace “Mobster” would probably fall under the Fourth Kind of doublespeak which is inflated language that is designed to make the simple seem complex or to give an air of importance to people, things, or situations. "I don't know if that tape is working, you ate three desserts tonight!" "Forbearance is the watchword; that triumvirate of Twinkies merely overwhelmed my resolve!" The concept of Doublespeak stems from George Orwell’s 1984 - in the book, “Doublethink” is a key concept. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies… Doublespeak though, is rarely about deliberately lying. For example, In January 2015, Sid Miller became Agriculture Commissioner of the state with the 5th fattest high schoolers in the country - Texas. So, that same year, along with announcing a plan to combat obesity, he announced updates
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to the School Nutrition policy in Texas which included rolling back a ban on the use of deep fryers and allowing the sale of “low-calorie beverages” in Texas schools. By low-calorie beverages he means ...sodas. I guess a soda is technically lower calorie than say a “meal” ...but I doubt coca cola is what you’re expecting if you ask for a “low calorie beverage” at a restaurant. "Why do you have so many bowling balls?" “Ah.. uh… I’m not gonna lie to you, Marge. So long!” So, doublespeak becomes useful obviously when you are obligated to communicate something, but are unable to straight up lie, yet communicating the truth bluntly or as clear as possible doesn’t have the listener perceive the information in the way you would like. For example, when being asked about your current position during a job interview, you might think it would sound better to say “I’m currently economically inactive due to being offered an early retirement opportunity as a result of my previous employer’s human
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resource redundancy elimination initiative” instead of “I’m unemployed because the company was firing people and I got fired.” Edward Sapir, in his essay “The Status of Linguistics as a Science,” says “Language is a guide to social reality ...Human beings do not live in the objective world alone, …, but are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society.” A lot of times, we don’t want information communicated to us objectively and unembellished. Euphemisms, like “passed away” instead of “died” or “big boned” for “fat” are words or phrases that are usually used to avoid a distasteful reality. William Lutz says this is the 1st type of Doublespeak. “You see, I don’t like euphemisms. I don't like language that reflects fear and conceals the truth.” "Americans can't really handle the truth, so they invent soft language to protect themselves, and it gets worse with every generation."
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“Sometime during my lifetime, toilet paper became bathroom tissue, ..., used cars became previously owned transportation and constipation became occasional irregularity.” “Poor people used to live in slums, now the economically disadvantaged occupy substandard housing in the inner cities. ... They don’t have a negative cash flow position, they're broke!” Calling an economic recession a “period of accelerated negative growth” can be annoying, but certain forms of doublespeak are just deceitful. In Chapter 2 under the section “The Doublespeak of Graphs,” Lutz gives a dated, but clear visual example of doublespeak. “Now here’s another chart... their tax cut, so called, is the dotted line. Ours is the solid line. As you can see, our tax cut keeps on going down and then stays down permanently.
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This red space between the two lines is the tax money that will remain in your pockets if our bill passes." Lutz points out that there are no numbers on this chart, which means you have no perspective to evaluate it with. When you make the dollar scale from $0 to $2500 rather than the awkward $2150 to $2400, it appears much less impressive. This kind of graphical doublespeak also appears elsewhere, used by the pharmaceutical industry for the heart protecting cholesterol lowering wonder drug - statins. "So here's the ad in which you see that Lipitor reduced coronary events and risk for heart disease by 36%. So this was a really important study, the one that ultimately drove Lipitor to generate over a 100 billion dollars in revenue. So I'm gonna show you the actual data from the study. And it's right here. But here are the actual data from the study.
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And somewhere in here is a 36% risk reduction when you compare placebo with Atorvastatin, the Lipitor. So if you look at survival, you see they're basically identical, no difference in mortality benefit. You see that tiny sliver of a difference between the red and blue bars? That is a 36% reduction. This is the wonder drug effect. This is the effect that propelled Lipitor to generate over 100 billion dollars in revenue. How can that be a 36% reduction in risk? When you calculate it and you look at the data, the actual difference is 1.1% This is where you do some statistical hijinx. You take that 1.1% difference between the groups, then you add the difference between placebo and 100... If you're not following me, it doesn't matter because this is silly. Right? So you take the 1.1, divide it by 3, what do you get?
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You get 36. 36 percent. And that's why they say there is a 36 percent reduction. And so, if you have truth in advertising, I think the 1% should actually be in the ad. Lipitor! reduces heart attack by 1%. "Now I'm also taking Lipitor." By the way, if you’re health conscious and want to limit your sugars, you might like to know that there are 56 different names for sugars. Don’t like the way just “sugar” sounds? How about “organic evaporated cane juice,” a completely natural sweetener ? This kind of “rebranding” of words to make people react differently is all over the place. “Frank Luntz doesn’t do issues, he does Language around issues. He figures out what words will best sell an issue.” In Frank Luntz’s book “Words that work,” he explains the importance of using the right word or phrase to evoke the right response from the listener. He says “It’s not what you say, it’s what they hear.” "Focus on those words that cause people to change their minds, change their behavior,
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even change their attitudes." For example, the “gambling” industry became the “gaming” industry and completely changed its perception despite nothing about the industry actually changing. As Luntz says in the book: “Gambling” looks like what an old man with a crumpled racing form does at the track... or feels like the services provided by some seedy back-alley bookie in some smoke-filled room. “Gaming” is what families do together at the Hollywood-themed MGM Grand, New York, New York, or one of the other “family-friendly resorts” in Las Vegas. “Gambling” is a vice. “Gaming” is a choice. He begins his work with something similar to a focus group. He talks to members of the target market and runs words or phrases by them to see what they like and dislike. "You're gonna use these to register whether you agree or disagree, whether you believe or disbelieve. The dials go from 0 to 100." "Climbing, Climbing. Changing fuels." One of his most significant political works has been getting the public to finally be
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against the estate tax by removing that particular phrase from the political lexicon and replacing it with the more emotional, more personal “death tax.” In his book originally published in January 2007, Lutz says A clear but somewhat narrow majority of Americans today support eliminating the so-called “estate tax,”... but more than 70 percent would abolish the “death tax.” "It's the same tax, but nobody really knows what an estate is. But they certainly know what it means to be taxed when you die." “I’d like someone to get rid of the death tax - that's what Iwant. I don’t wanna get taxed just because I died. You know...” "Who's hungry?" One food rebranding effort was so successful that by 2002, the National Environmental Trust started a campaign to save a previously ignored fish species from being eaten into extinction. In 1977 fish wholesaler Lee Lantz took “patagonian toothfish” and renamed it “Chilean sea
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bass (I believe)” because he knew no one would have toothfish for dinner. So, when people come to associate certain ideas with certain words, it’s useful to come up with new words that evoke a more pleasant reaction. For example, a hospital may think that you wouldn’t react to well to hearing that a catastrophic blunder killed your wife and child during a Cesarean delivery. So, it’s better to describe the anaesthesiologist having turned the wrong knob and giving the mother a fatal dose of nitrous oxide as a “therapeutic misadventure.” At least, St. Mary’s Hospital in Minneapolis in 1982 thought this wording would be better. “Three weeks ago in Los Angeles, the surgeons killed a patient. In a series of incidents that the pathologist called ‘incredible stupidity and incompetence,’ it included slitting the patient’s throat during surgery - this was called a therapeutic misadventure.” William Lutz says the second kind of doublespeak is jargon - the specialized language of a trade or profession.
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It is useful and necessary to know jargon to communicate within your field, but whether it is doublespeak depends on where you use it. For example describing your computer keyboard key to your friend as a Catastrophically Buckling Compression Column Switch and Actuator "Huh?" is unnecessary, but is an appropriate descriptor to use in a patent. After giving President Reagan a routine physical examination, Dr. Daniel Ruge said that “previously documented decrement in auditory acuity and visual refractive error corrected with contact lenses were evaluated and found to be stable.” "Wha?" That sounds a lot more impressive than saying the president’s hearing and eyesight haven’t changed since his last exam. "Where is the organoleptically detectable LAMB SAUCE?" And finally, William Lutz says the 3rd type of doublespeak is gobbledygook or bureaucratese. Basically, such doublespeak is a matter of piling on words, of overwhelming the audience
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with words. There are plenty of examples of politicians using bureaucratese when forced to comment on something they don’t want to comment on, but a good example is NASA’s ex-associate administrator Jesse Moore’s performance in terms of the lexicon he was operating under. After the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, Jesse Moore was asked if the performance of the shuttle program had improved with each launch, he answered, "I think our performance in terms of the liftoff performance and in terms of the orbital performance, we knew more about the envelope we were operating under, and we have been pretty accurately staying in that. And so I would say the performance has not by design drastically improved. I think we have been able to characterize the performance more as a function of our launch experience as opposed to it improving as a function of time." "Juh?" Pretty much everyone will at some point will dress up facts in some kind of way, even in our day to day lives. People use doublespeak because ...from a young age we learn that consequences exist. “So tell me, Did you eat the chocolate cake?”
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“No Mommy.” Just because someone is using doublespeak doesn’t make them a crook, but when you don’t quite understand what’s being said about something important to you, it’s good to ask “what exactly is this person saying?” For example you might be looking into investing and come across words like “subprime mortgage” or “collateralized debt obligation” - it would be good to clarify for yourself specifically what that means. "So banks started filling these bonds with riskier and riskier mortgages. By the way, these risky mortgages are called subprime, so whenever you hear subprime, think sheet." "So mortgage bonds are dogsheet. CDO's are dogsheet wrapped in catsheet?" "Yea that's right." And something I’ve been wondering lately - what does detox mean? It seems there’s hundreds of products promising to “detox” your body, but what exactly is being detoxed? Cadmium or Mercury? Reactive Oxygen Species? Benzene? Wouldn’t it be nice to know which toxins are being detoxified by which product so I
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could make sure to drink this when I’m taking way too much aspirin or take this for my excessive use of BHT containing cosmetics. Maybe this “detox tea” product could help me detoxify metals or PCBs or something like that, but I wouldn’t know because all I could find about the ingredients is that they “are time proven to help your body with the detoxifying process.” “What the hell are you talking about?”

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