Is it possible to convince anyone with the right words?

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Sir-Sister-of-Suck
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Is it possible to convince anyone with the right words?

Post by Sir-Sister-of-Suck »

I have often wondered just how powerful language alone can actually be. Is it possible to convince anyone of anything by just saying the right thing? Perhaps it's more of a psychological question than a philosophical one, but imagine a machine capable of looking into your brain which knows everything about you, and everything that's ever happened to it. It knows exactly which argumentation styles that are the most convincing to you, your favorite words, your current emotions, and every corollary that follows. Using nothing more than words and talking to you to get you to believe in something, would this machine be able make you believe in anything? Are words enough to invoke revelations powerful enough to change very deep-rooted beliefs, even clear irrationalities like convincing you the law of identity isn't actually true?

If the answer is no, how do you think this affects philosophical arguments? Are some debates simply meaningless to get into with the intent of convincing the other person?

My answer is, within a limited amount of time - no. Given an infinite amount of time, I lean more toward thinking this hypothetical machine would be able to convince you of anything. It's hard for us to imagine how an omniscient thing would actually work in reality, but given what I know of human psychology, people don't usually end up changing their world-views, at least the important ones, from a single discussion. It's usually about having good arguments laminate on their mind for an extended period of time, and build up after consequent discussions. If indoctrination is any constellation, otherwise smart people also have no problem of being convinced of even the irrational things, in certain situations. Granted this often involves omitted information as well, but it's all relative to this topic.
FlashDangerpants
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Re: Is it possible to convince anyone with the right words?

Post by FlashDangerpants »

There have been a few articles in The Economist recently about the perplexing way that voters suddenly change their most fundamental views. One example is evangelical types who for a long while were the most likely voters to claim they consider the personal morality of a candidate to be paramount, but yet they voted for Trump, who has got through 3 wives so far, in both the election and the primaries. But there's loads of other examples, every demographic is capable of abandoning a core principle, often without an obviously good reason (ok, I'm fairly sure actual nazis won't vote for a jew any time in our life span).

The general upshot from a lot of research that has been done on this stuff is that we change our minds more than we think we do, and the key driver seems to be that we think other people like ourselves have changed their minds in the same direction. If we're that susceptible to herd instincts, then your imaginary machine should outwit most us pretty quickly.

To avoid a sci-fi nightmare, please test the nasty computer out on VT first. If she isn't immune, we kill the inventor and bury the computer.
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Re: Is it possible to convince anyone with the right words?

Post by Philosophy Explorer »

Most definitely not and I speak from experience. I've worked at a number of sales firms where we (the staff) worked from a script. There is no script in the world that will work 100% of the time (not even 50% of the time).

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HexHammer
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Re: Is it possible to convince anyone with the right words?

Post by HexHammer »

Sir-Sister-of-Suck wrote: Thu Aug 24, 2017 9:43 pm I have often wondered just how powerful language alone can actually be. Is it possible to convince anyone of anything by just saying the right thing?
No that would suggest that the other person is easily manipulated, only by observing it's easier to persuade people, ofc then there's mental ill that are in denial about everything.

Boris Yeltsin refused capitalism, USA could preach the benefits all they wanted without any luck, but when Yeltsin visited USA and went into a supermarket he was astounded by the abundance! How was it possible?!?!? ONLY THEN was he convinced that capitalism was the way, and made reforms.
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Re: Is it possible to convince anyone with the right words?

Post by vegetariantaxidermy »

Philosophy Explorer wrote: Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:02 pm Most definitely not and I speak from experience. I've worked at a number of sales firms where we (the staff) worked from a script. There is no script in the world that will work 100% of the time (not even 50% of the time).

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Re: Is it possible to convince anyone with the right words?

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vegetariantaxidermy wrote: Sat Aug 26, 2017 12:13 am
Philosophy Explorer wrote: Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:02 pm Most definitely not and I speak from experience. I've worked at a number of sales firms where we (the staff) worked from a script. There is no script in the world that will work 100% of the time (not even 50% of the time).

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How beyond ICK.
If you're disgusted, good.

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Walker
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Re: Is it possible to convince anyone with the right words?

Post by Walker »

A lot of people came out of the woodwork to vote last time around. The alternative choice was pitiful.

People didn’t vote for Trump. They voted for the principles he espoused. He sold them well, with conviction, and he is believed.

He found the right people to run a brilliant campaign. Astonishing, really. And he’s doing a good job.

For some reason many folks, including many putting out the news, don’t like that. The bias is heavy against Trump in the reporting.

On the other hand, Obama’s naiveté is both arrogant and dangerous, and surprisingly the cap on the president’s term limits wasn’t waived. He is to blame for the attacks upon the diplomats in Cooba. On the big island they don’t care for capitalists and movie stars looking for a cheap thrill. They say Teófilo Stevenson would have whopped Ali, but who knows. That’s what the disadvantage of that social system does to individual talent, it just fades away. A system like the U.S. takes talent to excess, to absurdity, to spectacles rather than contests.
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Re: Is it possible to convince anyone with the right words?

Post by Sir-Sister-of-Suck »

Philosophy Explorer wrote: Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:02 pm Most definitely not and I speak from experience. I've worked at a number of sales firms where we (the staff) worked from a script. There is no script in the world that will work 100% of the time (not even 50% of the time).

PhilX 🇺🇸
I've had a pretty extensive experience in sales as well, so I can relate to what you're saying. I'm inclined to agree with you, though I think there are psychological tricks that even the most proficient salesmen don't fully realize.

I think getting someone to buy something is also a bit different than getting them to believe something. Although maybe that sort of necessitates the former is also possible.
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Sir-Sister-of-Suck
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Re: Is it possible to convince anyone with the right words?

Post by Sir-Sister-of-Suck »

HexHammer wrote: Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:42 pm
Sir-Sister-of-Suck wrote: Thu Aug 24, 2017 9:43 pm I have often wondered just how powerful language alone can actually be. Is it possible to convince anyone of anything by just saying the right thing?
No that would suggest that the other person is easily manipulated, only by observing it's easier to persuade people, ofc then there's mental ill that are in denial about everything.
I think you're not thinking creatively enough; Imagine the machine is even able to convincingly doctor quotes from faking scientific paper to make it sound as though there's observable data which exists when there really isn't.
Last edited by Sir-Sister-of-Suck on Sat Aug 26, 2017 4:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Sir-Sister-of-Suck
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Re: Is it possible to convince anyone with the right words?

Post by Sir-Sister-of-Suck »

Walker wrote: Sat Aug 26, 2017 2:23 am A lot of people came out of the woodwork to vote last time around. The alternative choice was pitiful.

People didn’t vote for Trump. They voted for the principles he espoused. He sold them well, with conviction, and he is believed.
I think you're correct to bring up trump as a good example of playing a crowd with words, except I would say he was playing a crowd with almost no real principles at all. The man contradicted himself every other rally, and often didn't present any real plans. Which makes it even more relevant to the conversation of convincing people simply with words.
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Re: Is it possible to convince anyone with the right words?

Post by Philosophy Explorer »

Sir-Sister-of-Suck wrote: Sat Aug 26, 2017 3:39 am
Philosophy Explorer wrote: Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:02 pm Most definitely not and I speak from experience. I've worked at a number of sales firms where we (the staff) worked from a script. There is no script in the world that will work 100% of the time (not even 50% of the time).

PhilX 🇺🇸
I've had a pretty extensive experience in sales as well, so I can relate to what you're saying. I'm inclined to agree with you, though I think there are psychological tricks that even the most proficient salesmen don't fully realize.

I think getting someone to buy something is also a bit different than getting them to believe something. Although maybe that sort of necessitates the former is also possible.
I'll give one example which will make the members think.
I was selling newspaper subscriptions. After I announced myself and the name of the newspaper I represented, this lady said "Well I don't think..." in a playful tone of voice where she was indicating she was about to turn me down (before I even got to the offer). So my gut reaction was "Oh oh!" and her response was to laugh her head off.
She then admitted she was thinking about getting the newspaper for a long time, asked me what the offer was and then signed for the subscription.

Now my question is what's so convincing about "Oh oh"?

As far as "psychological tricks" go, there are no psychological tricks to selling. So-called sales persuaders (objection rebuttals) don't work. I've abandoned them in midstream in my sales history and started selling more. But around 2003, between 1 to 2 million telemarketers lost their jobs in the US thanks to these "sales persuaders."

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FlashDangerpants
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Re: Is it possible to convince anyone with the right words?

Post by FlashDangerpants »

What's the point you're trying to make there PhilX?
That's a story about you calling up some lady and offering her a chance to complete some chore she was planning to do anyway, and of you never being in control of the conversation. The oh-oh bit is just the part where you indicated you had no persuasive offer to make, and left the ball in her court to decide whether you were going to make your sale.
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Re: Is it possible to convince anyone with the right words?

Post by Philosophy Explorer »

FlashDangerpants wrote: Sat Aug 26, 2017 11:28 am What's the point you're trying to make there PhilX?
That's a story about you calling up some lady and offering her a chance to complete some chore she was planning to do anyway, and of you never being in control of the conversation. The oh-oh bit is just the part where you indicated you had no persuasive offer to make, and left the ball in her court to decide whether you were going to make your sale.
You see so little here Flash. She was planning? Thinking about it and planning to do it are two different things, right? Persuasion is as much on the part of the prospect as it is on the sales rep. Remember this thread asks if it's possible to convince ANYONE with the right words to which I've answered no (and the script is supposed to have the right words).

Have you ever worked in sales?

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Re: Is it possible to convince anyone with the right words?

Post by FlashDangerpants »

Briefly, when I was between real jobs. I was surprisingly good at it, but sales is boring. I've certainly never made 200 phone calls a day reading from a script though because I wouldn't last a day doing something so boring as that.

That script is not, and was never intended to be, a set of perfect words that make your sale happen in all cases. It's mechanization for for people. It gets you through your calls quickly and perhaps increases your chances of making your sale by one or two percentage points if it's well designed with plenty of leading questions and other NLP bullshit.

It's not particularly relevant to the question other than making the obvious point that what SSoS describes is more difficult than a 400 word sales patter on a sheet of A4, which should probably not be big news.
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Re: Is it possible to convince anyone with the right words?

Post by Philosophy Explorer »

FlashDangerpants wrote: Sat Aug 26, 2017 12:24 pm Briefly, when I was between real jobs. I was surprisingly good at it, but sales is boring. I've certainly never made 200 phone calls a day reading from a script though because I wouldn't last a day doing something so boring as that.

That script is not, and was never intended to be, a set of perfect words that make your sale happen in all cases. It's mechanization for for people. It gets you through your calls quickly and perhaps increases your chances of making your sale by one or two percentage points if it's well designed with plenty of leading questions and other NLP bullshit.

It's not particularly relevant to the question other than making the obvious point that what SSoS describes is more difficult than a 400 word sales patter on a sheet of A4, which should probably not be big news.
The script/words isn't the path to great sales. Outbound telemarketing is hard to some people, but for me it developed into a breeze (I got to be the best at it, but I'm not revealing my trade secret).

Because management subscribes to the philosophy of controlling the conversation, that's the main reason for using a script, to make sure the correct information is being related. The biggest fault in scripts is reliance on objection rebuttals, which kills more sales than creates (btw it's no trade secret to substitute for objection rebuttals to gain more sales).

So basically, I and you agree Flash. I think many people may be surprised to learn there is no such thing as sales talent, no sales voice nor personality. All you need to do is to be able to talk.

PhilX
Last edited by Philosophy Explorer on Sun Aug 27, 2017 2:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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