During this season of political conventions, I thought you might enjoy these Canons of Good Spin from Daniel Dennett.
Spin is effective if…
- It is not a bare-faced lie.
- You can say it with a straight face.
- It relieves skepticism without arousing curiosity.
- It seems profound.
In my experience with spin, both political and religious (which is Dennett’s topic), the real art is in the third one.
The only people who will be convinced by spin are people who are already on that side. The spinmeister’s objective is to keep them there. Fortunately, that’s what they want, t0o. They want to believe they have been right all along. If they have slight doubts then the spinmeister’s job is to put those doubts to rest — i.e., back to sleep. If the spinmeister can merely relieve skepticism, as opposed to honestly addressing it, he will have done his job. Curiosity is his enemy, for nobody who is curious is asleep.