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Humanizing Political Language

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On a recent episode of Your Undivided Attention, we explore how language shapes politics in subtle ways – either to make political concepts polarizing or less alienating and more unifying.

Our guests come from both sides of the aisle: Drew Westen is a political psychologist and messaging consultant who has advised the Democratic Party, and Frank Lutz is a communications consultant, polster, and pundit who has advised the Republican Party.

Drew Westen and Frank Luntz generally advocate for more straightforward, humanizing language. Westen and Luntz offer several examples of how and why we should make our language less polarizing:

Their suggestions highlight a few valuable takeaways:

  • Language is a powerful tool. We can either choose language that divides and confuses, or language that unites and clarifies.
  • Language is contextual and constantly evolving. The language that resonates with one group may not resonate with another. Similarly, the language we use today may not be the language we use tomorrow.
  • Language that unifies will sound like the conversations we have with our extended families over the “kitchen table.”

Language plays an essential role in creating shared understanding. To learn more, listen to the full podcast episode with Drew Westen and Frank Luntz, outlined below.


WHAT WE’RE READING, LISTENING TO, AND WATCHING

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  • Jonathan Haidt joins the Lex Fridman Podcast to discuss The Case Against Social Media. In the 1.5 hour session, Haidt uses research to rebuke some of the claims Mark Zuckerberg made in his recent interview on Fridman. Main takeaway: social media is harmful, and changes aren’t going to come with platform tweaks. We need to fundamentally change the incentive structures of platform business models.
Published on
June 23, 2022

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