Matt Ball claims:
"There is a natural tendency for uncritical acceptance of claims we want to believe. In the long run, however, I believe that this causes more harm than good, because we lose support from people who have come to realize that we are not objective, and we miss chances to convince people who are inherently skeptical. Furthermore, most people are looking for some reason to dismiss us. Thus, it is imperative that we present information the public won’t regard as ludicrous and from sources that they won’t dismiss as partisan."Is he right? Do studies support this?
There is a natural tendency for uncritical acceptance of claims we want to believe, yes, that seems to be true. But does that mean vegans should be more critical of our own beliefs or does it mean we should tailor our outreach and activism to suit the beliefs of the average person? Which is more effective in the long run?
It seems, in part, that he may be wrong. The staggering sales of Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, a book that no one would call "objective," seems to disprove Ball's hypothesis. If "most people are looking for some reason to dismiss" vegans and animal righters, why would they continue to buy and read a book about veganism?
Moreover, life experience has shown me that strong logic and truth are not very persuasive to the average person. In fact, very few people are what I would call "inherently skeptical."
The book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion Robert B. Cialdini, suggests that people are more motivated by six principles of ethical persuasion: reciprocity, scarcity, liking, authority, social proof, and commitment/consistency. For the record, "social proof" is akin to the logical fallacy "appeal to popularity." According to Cialdini, we may be more effective animal advocates if we appeal to authority and popularity than if we appeal to truth and logic.
One has to wonder, is Ball right or wrong? Does it matter if we're more concerned with what's most effective?
I certainly agree with him from an ethical perspective. To me, it's immoral to promote information you know is false. Accurate information is always better. But from an efficacy perspective? I'm not so sure. I'd like to find or do marketing research to find out.
But go ahead and read Ball's piece. He makes some really great arguments >>