2020 No. 13

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Central Park at W 92nd St, looking out across the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir
(she used to jog there), with Fifth Avenue buildings on the other side visible
We did it! Well, almost. A few small hurdles left to clear, then we're home free.

It’s truly amazing that the US election went off smoothly and without flaws in the face of a raging pandemic, massive numbers of mail-in votes and the largest voter turnout ever! Possibilities for the attempted authoritarian coup are dwindling rapidly. We have certainly made history with this election on many fronts.

Using the term “coup” in connection with the United States is jarring, isn’t it. Some examination of how we arrived here is certainly warranted, and essential, really.

One thing is for certain: A lot of people have been persuaded to believe things that aren’t true, and a lot of people have been persuaded to follow an unworthy and dangerous leader. How did that happen?

This might be one of the most important questions of our time, one relating to persuasion, coercion, marketing, and what used to be called brainwashing. Those issues have fascinated me for decades. In fact, I wrote an academic paper about them almost fifteen years ago. While the paper focuses specifically on cults, it addresses in depth the issue of coercion, one of the primary drivers of our current predicament.

Now I believe it’s imperative that we look at this issue seriously. What is coercion, how does it work, and could we actually be coerced ourselves? Surely not! But yes, everyone is susceptible to coercion in the right circumstances. Only when we become aware of how it works and recognize it when it appears are we less susceptible.

I'll write a post about it soon, but let's start with the paper I mentioned. After you read it, please let me hear from you! I promise to respond to all emails. Here it is: The Use of Persuasion in Cults: Are We Free to Choose?.

(Please note that while in this paper I suggest—subjectively, to be sure, albeit with a certain standard in mind—that a couple of organizations are high on the “cultish” scale, I’m not at all denigrating those who follow or participate in these organizations. Also, subsequent to further information since gained, I now find that Hasidism rates much higher on the “cult scale” I constructed than I originally assessed. Things change over time, and so does my learning and understanding.)

Again, here’s the link to the article: The Use of Persuasion in Cults: Are We Free to Choose?

And don’t forget to keep scrolling below until you see the quote; there’s more!
If you missed the last Newsletter, view it here:
Newsletter 2020 No. 12
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laptop computer and coffee on wood workspace and park background
TECH TIPS: Posting to Instagram from a laptop. Unlike most social media apps, Instagram is designed for phone, not PC, and it’s seemingly impossible to post from a laptop. But you can!
  • Go to Instagram and press F12.
  • On the right you’ll see a new column of technical data. At the very top left of that right column find the word “Elements.”
  • Just to the left of “Elements” is an icon of two squares representing a phone/laptop. (If you rest your cursor on that icon, you’ll read “toggle device emulation.”) Click on it. (Or press CTRL+Shift+M.)
  • You’re technically in Instagram mobile now. But you won’t see the accurate screen until you Refresh, so, with your cursor in the Insta side on the left, do that now (hit F5 or use the Refresh icon in your browser).
  • Now you’re in Instagram mobile! You’ll see the usual + (plus sign) icon at the bottom that allows you to post. You’ll also notice that your cursor icon has changed a bit. Not to worry; it still works the same. You can now post away!
  • To return to Instagram for PC, hit the same icon to the left of “Elements” again. Click on the x at the top right of the data column to close it, Refresh once again, and you’re back where you started.
    * Note: The toggle will not affect other pages you might have open in your browser.
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Quote-Tennessee Williams
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