Tag Archives: abortion

right side of brain From Manuel de L'Anatomiste  Morel and Duval  1883

If You Want Fewer Abortions, Stop Talking About How Many There Are

I’m using abortion as an example, but this bit of science applies to all political messaging.

What’s wrong with this headline?

55,772,015 Abortions in America Since Roe vs. Wade in 1973 - LifeNews.com_thumb[2]

I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it. It shouts: “Everybody’s getting an abortion!” Even if connected with messages that say abortion is wrong.

In numerous studies, messages intended to discourage a behavior by promoting the number of people engaged in the behavior (called negative social proof) actually caused the behavior to increase.

In the most famous study by Robert Cialdini, Steve Martin, and Noah Goldstein, researchers wanted to reduce theft of artifacts from the Petrified Forest National Park. Theft of artifacts is a serious problem, and signs installed by the park service hadn’t helped.

The scientists believed the signs in the park were actually encouraging people to steal petrified wood. The park’s signs read:

“Your heritage is being vandalized every day by theft losses of petrified wood of 14 tons a year, mostly a small piece at a time.”

To test their theory, the researchers placed two different messages in different areas of the park and marked artifacts in the area to track them. Here’s a description of the experiment:

The negative social proof sign said, “Many past visitors have removed the petrified wood from the park, changing the natural state of the Petrified Forest,” and was accompanied by a picture of several park visitors taking pieces of wood. A second sign conveyed no social proof information. Rather, it simply conveyed that stealing wood was not appropriate or approved, saying, “Please don’t remove the petrified wood from the park, in order to preserve the natural state of the Petrified Forest.” That sign was accompanied by a picture of a lone visitor stealing a piece of wood, with a red circle-and-bar (the universal “No” symbol) superimposed over his hand. We also had a control condition in which we didn’t put up either of these signs.

Goldstein, Noah J.; Martin, Steve J.; Robert B. Cialdini (2008-06-10). Yes! (Kindle Locations 372-378). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

The results: the negative social proof sign caused the number of thefts to triple!  That’s right, three times as many people took petrified wood from the area with the negative social proof sign.

The theory held. The National Park Service was actually encouraging people to steal, and anecdotal evidence bore this out.  The researchers learned of the wood-theft problem from a former grad student who took his fiancée to the park.

. . .  a woman he described as the most honest person he’d ever known, someone who had never borrowed a paper clip without returning it. They quickly encountered the aforementioned park sign warning visitors against stealing petrified wood. He was shocked when his otherwise wholly law-abiding fiancée nudged him in the side with her elbow and whispered, “We’d better get ours now.”

This study has been replicated repeatedly. When you tell people that lots of people are doing something wrong, you increase the number of people doing the wrong thing.

Use the Science of Social Proof Effectively

The authors of the study point out that more effective message would be the opposite of negative social proof. Instead of talking about 55 million abortions, talk about the declining number of abortions. Find statistics that show how unusual it is for a woman to get an abortion.

The incidence of abortion has been declining for over a decade, and it plummeted 5 percent in 2009 alone. The ratio of abortions to live births declines every year. The rate of abortions declines every year. Two-thirds of women never have an abortion. If trends continue, someday there will be no abortions in America.

Smoking Turned The Corner When They Stopped Talking About How Many People Smoke

For years, the CDC and the Surgeon General and all sorts of health groups complained that people just refused to listen to their messages on the dangers of smoking. As evidence, in the 1980s, they decried the large number of teens taking up cigarettes.  But they were wrong. People were listening. And here’s what they heard:

  • More teens smoking
  • Smoking up in 43 states
  • Despite the risks, Americans smoke more than ever

All of those messages told people “everybody’s doing it. Why aren’t you?” Or, as the grad student’s fiancée said, “we better get ours now.”

In the 1990s, the messaging shifted. Instead of talking about all the people smoking, they started talking about all the people quitting.

Suddenly, quitting became the in-thing. And fewer people smoked.

This Isn’t Just About Abortion Messaging

Back to Cialdini, et al:

More generally, political groups of all sorts misunderstand the impact of their communications by condemning the rise in voter apathy and then watch their communications backfire as more and more voters fail to turn up at the polls.

You should see all the emails, blog comments, and tweets I get that use negative social proof. “Most kids will vote for Obama no matter what.” “Most teachers are socialists.”  “Every kid under 30 was indoctrinated to hate Republicans.”

Those messages only increase the outcomes you don’t want.

I understand why people—even professional marketers—use negative social proof. They see a problem that’s big and growing, and they want to alert others of the danger.

That works if it’s an agreed upon danger. An angry giant descends the beanstalk. The wicked witch brews a potion to turn everyone into toads. The Cubs win the World Series.

But it doesn’t work if the danger is not agreed upon. Thirty-eight million Americans wear contact lenses! Okay.  So what?

To the 51 percent of Americans who call themselves “pro-choice,” the LIfenews headline is as ho-hum as the contact lens headline. To the smoker, hearing that more teens are smoking is a yawn.

Instead, flip the message over.  Only 16 percent of Americans smoke. Since 2002, there are more former smokers in the US than smokers. Eighty-eight percent of Americans do not wear contact lenses.

Back to Martin, Goldstein, and Cialdini:

If the circumstances allow for it, focusing the audience on all people who do engage in the positive behavior can be a very influential strategy.For instance, imagine you are a manager recognizing that attendance at your monthly meetings has gone down. Rather than calling attention to the fact that so many people are missing the meetings, you could not only express your disapproval for that behavior, but also highlight that those who don’t attend the meetings are in the minority by pointing out the large number of people who do actually turn up.

Goldstein, Noah J.; Martin, Steve J.; Robert B. Cialdini (2008-06-10). Yes! (Kindle Locations 390-391). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

I hope this news helps. I know there’s a tendency to shout out big numbers, but don’t shout big numbers unless you want them to get bigger. People do what they think others are doing. Call it the bandwagon effect, social proof, or monkey-see-monkey-do, the science is clear: calling attention to a behavior’s frequency will only increase it.

This Is Why Turning People Off Is A Terrible Idea

Sometimes a cause’s worst enemies are its best friends.

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In 1995, 56 percent of American described themselves as “pro-choice.”  At the time, Michael Kinsley on CNN’s Crossfire declared the debate over.

Then something strange happened. Americans started changing their minds.  The pro-life movement whittled away at public opinion.

By May of this year, Gallup found “pro-choice” to be at an all-time low:

The 41% of Americans who now identify themselves as “pro-choice” is down from 47% last July and is one percentage point below the previous record low in Gallup trends, recorded in May 2009. Fifty percent now call themselves “pro-life,” one point shy of the record high, also from May 2009.

pro-life-pro-choice-chart

I’m sure someone, somewhere mimicked Kinsley by declaring the debate over again.

Since May, the winds have shifted. In fact, those describing their views on abortion as “pro-choice” have returned near their record high at 54%.

Why this shift?

Well, it happened just after Todd Akin’s infamous “shut the whole thing down” comments in August. While I can’t say for sure that Akin’s comments triggered the shift, I can’t point to any other major abortion news that coincides with the shift.

As Allahpundit points out:

[S]uddenly, in August of this year, the number jumps. Why? Well, what else happened in August this year? Right: Todd Akin opened his yapper about “legitimate rape” and women’s supposed biological defense mechanisms against it and that was the beginning of the end for Republican chances to take back the Senate. How big a deal was it? Weeks later, the NYT poll was seeing more support for the idea that abortion should be “generally available” than it had in over 15 years.”

Akin didn’t try to sabotage the pro-life movement, of course. He is sincerely and devoutly pro-life. He’s so pro-life, in fact, that he’s willing to say anything to advance his cause.

And that’s the problem.

Sometimes our greatest gift to the movement is to shut up or to give strategic answers.

No, that’s not lying. You tell the truth; you just tell in a way that doesn’t turn off the people who don’t yet see things exactly the way you do.

Why is this so important? Because if your statement turns people off, you lose your ability to influence minds. And influence, not being “right,” is the only weapon we have in public debate.

Not only did Akin’s ridiculous comment end his political career and hurt chances of flipping control of the Senate, he set back his beloved pro-life movement almost 20 years.

When I urge conservatives to think critically and act strategically, it’s not squishy; it’s the only path to victory.

Old Courthouse St. Louis

Obama Cancelled Religious Freedom, But Some People Aren’t Listening to Obama

When Obama decreed that Catholics shall support and provide chemical abortions, he wasn’t promoting women. He was shackling religion.

Totalitarian autocrats don’t cotton freedom, unless they personally granted it.  Obama doesn’t believe in individual liberty, but that all power and rights emanate from government. Timothy Cardinal Dolan agrees.

So it’s exciting to report that some St. Louisans are fighting back.  Here’s the details:

Protest for Religious Freedom

Location:  Old Courthouse (Directions)
Date:   Saturday, April 28, 2012
Time:   11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Our rally outside a government building will be held on April 28th at 11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon.  We will have an outstanding list of speakers at this event.  Zip Rzeppa will be our Master of Ceremony.

Religious and Tea Party Leaders will encourage us to press for religious freedom.

The event will be held at the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis.  Please plan on arriving early to find parking as the Cardinals play the Milwaukee Brewers at 12:05 that same day.

http://www.stl-defenders.com/index.cfm?load=event&event=37

Related:

Video: White House Chief of Staff Says Obama Has Complete Power to Decree Healthcare Rules

nurse-deadly

Video: White House Chief of Staff Says Obama Has Complete Power to Decree Healthcare Rules

Jack Lew, Obama’s Chief of Staff, says Obamacare law gives the President the power make rules regarding your health.  Period.

Lee Presser’s comment nails it:

Chris Wallace states this is precisely the reason why so many people oppose Obamacare.

Share this frightening power grab with your friends.

40 Days of Life

Forty Days of Life is a peaceful, prayerful response the poverty of abortion.

The Coalition for Life is a community based Christian pro-life organization made up of over 90 churches and thousands of individuals who are working to end abortion in St. Louis, peacefully and prayerfully. 

The 40 Days for Life St. Louis Adopt-A-Day program is for Churches and/or Organizations that feel God is calling them to a day of prayer at our vigil location near Planned Parenthood on Forest Park Avenue.

Each of us can make a difference.

Abortion and ObamaCare

In Tennessee and Arizona, insurance exchanges created under ObamaCare are barred from covering abortions. Pro-life groups claim this trend will continue as more states realize that the bill passed earlier this year allows states to block abortion coverage by private exchanges. (Missouri’s legislature sent a similar measure to Gov. Jay Nixon.)

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Pro-abortion members of Congress are incensed, according to the Associated Press and Fox News:

"Implementation of this reform should be about increasing access to health care and increasing choices, not taking them away," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of the Senate leadership.

Expect the White House to close this loop with strong-arm tactics.  When insurance companies discovered that ObamaCare permitted insurance companies to exclude children with pre-existing conditions, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius simply dictated the loophole closed.  Sheepish insurance companies yielded.

Dictatorships are efficient. They are also inhumane.

Good Government Doesn’t Kill Babies

One of Barack Obama’s first actions as president will likely involve a series of executive orders ensuring that as many abortions as possible happen. Good government protects its most vulnerable citizens; bad government kills them. Nazi Germany killed the weak, the halt, the improvident.  Of course, the Nazis trained specialist to carry out these grim and evil tasks.  In America, we rely on ordinary citizens to do the killing for us. 

That the murder of innocents ranks among Obama’s highest ambitions tells you a lot about the man and his mission.  So I must ask:  the millions who adore Obama–are they just as bent on doing evil as he is?  Would the kill their own infants for fun and convenience?  Or did they just fail to ask themselves, “do I really want my country’s face to be the face of a killer-by-proxy?”

And for those who still claim to honor heroes, how do you view a man who wants to kill babies, but must pay his own daughters to do it for him?

One Question for Obama on Abortion

Everytime I’ve debated the death penalty with a bleeding-heart, I’ve heard this question:  “Would you pull the switch” or its equal.  It’s only fair to turn the question on them.

Barack Obama, if you read this blog, please answer this question:  Would you kill child who survived an abortion with your own hands?  (Thanks to Jill Stanek via Michelle Malkin)

Barack Obama, as chairman of an IL state Senate committee, voted down a bill to protect live-born survivors of abortion – even after the panel had amended the bill to contain verbatim language, copied from a federal bill passed by Congress without objection in 2002, explicitly foreclosing any impact on abortion.

The smartest thing about Barack Obama is his suit.  Cassy Fiano has the complete story and says Obama won’t get out of this one.  We’ll see.