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Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values…
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Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate--The… (2004)

by George Lakoff

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1,370198,530 (3.78)14
  1. 20
    Moral Politics : How Liberals and Conservatives Think by George Lakoff (chellerystick)
    chellerystick: Moral Politics is the research based book that Don't Think of an Elephant is based on. This book is longer but it is still accessible, more detailed, and more persuasive than Don't Think of an Elephant.
  2. 43
    What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America by Thomas Frank (lorax)
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» See also 14 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
I was interested in this book as I was reading it, but looking back, having already read Moral Politics, I wonder if I got much new out of it. I suppose I would recommend this to progressives new to Lakoff's theories, who just want a concentrated primer on why framing matters so much. As for me, I would be more interested in seeing the results of the new think tank to get concrete examples of ho to reframe current political issues. ( )
  greeniezona | Jan 24, 2019 |
Was weirdly my introduction to more mainstream partisan politics. I still think it's mostly correct. ( )
  triphopera | Apr 14, 2018 |
The difference between conservatives and progressives? It's all about morality, specifically family morality or how people subjectively define a 'good' family. That's what George Lakoff, a cognitive scientist from University of California at Berkeley, claims in this book. Conservatives are operating within a framework constructed around a 'strict father morality' that stresses authority and obedience. Progressives, on the other hand, operate within a 'nurturant parent' framework that is founded on cooperation and understanding. These two different moral frameworks lead to fundamental disagreements between people about what is good, what is right, and what should be done in a wide variety of situations.

He may have a point. Let me share a personal anecdote. A few years ago, a nephew and his wife and kids were visiting. They are lovely people, but both parents are politically conservative (which I am not). Their kids were in the backyard and happened to start walking on a narrow, tile covered strip that runs between my concrete patio and some landscaping. It's a drainage system, a buried plastic pipe surrounded by rocks and covered by thin tiles. It is designed to shed water away from the patio and works quite well, but it's not substantial enough to use for a walkway. I began to say something like, "You shouldn't walk on that because—" I had intended to explain what it was and why the kids should use the concrete path instead, when their dad shouted at them, ordering them off. They complied instantly. "That's how you do it," he told me. I said nothing. They were his kids, after all, but I felt that what he had done was fundamentally wrong. His kids obeyed but they didn't understand. I didn't want blind obedience. I felt it important, essential really, for the kids to know why they shouldn't walk there. In my mind, blind obedience to authority is wrong. To my nephew, a child's blind obedience to his father is good.

But, back to the book.... Lakoff claims that these two different understandings of family values, 'strict father' versus 'nurturant parents,' helps explain the deep political divide between conservatives and progressives. It's not quite as simple as my short review makes it sound. If it was, all conservatives would agree on just about everything, as would all progressives. They obviously don't. To explain this, Lakoff identifies several variants within each of these two broad groups, but each, at their core, shares the applicable view of family.

He devotes much of this short book to 'framing,' which is about how people frame their beliefs and arguments about specific topics. Since this book is primarily about political issues, he uses those as examples. His advice is that it is important when discussing your views to present them within the context of your own framework. A conservative, for example, may see the great divide between rich and poor as perfectly legitimate because the rich deserve to be rich. Progressives might see the same issue as an unjust denial of equal rights and equal opportunity, and should speak to it in those terms.
( )
  DLMorrese | Aug 23, 2017 |
This has to be one of my favorite non-fiction books. Now if I can only remember what I read so that I can use it in the inevitable discussions about the upcoming election. ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
How language creates reality - including political reality.
  mdstarr | Sep 11, 2011 |
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When I teach the study of framing at Berkeley, in Cognitive Science 101, the first thing I do is I give my students an exercise.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Don't Think of an Elephant! is the antidote to the last forty years of conservative strategizing and the right wing's stranglehold on political dialogue in the United States." "Author George Lakoff explains how conservatives think, and how to counter their arguments. He outlines in detail the traditional American values that progressives hold, but are often unable to articulate. Lakoff also breaks down the ways conservatives have framed the issues, and provides examples of how progressives can reframe the debate." "Lakoff's years of research and work with environmental and political leaders have been distilled into this essential guide, which shows progressives how to think in terms of values instead of programs, and why people vote their values and identities, often against their best interests."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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