The Left-Behinds

No, not the The Leftovers TV show…. The “left-behinds”—those who are failing to keep pace with the technological revolution. I am increasingly one of them.

At one time, I was among the “techno” leaders. I was one of the first academics to embrace email and did so at a time when most of my colleagues were rejecting email as a method of communication. I have previously mentioned secretaries I knew in days gone by who resisted having their typewriters replaced by computers and word processing programs. They were among the first left-behinds. At the time, I didn’t fully understand why . . . → Read More: The Left-Behinds


By now, you undoubtedly know about the devastating earthquake in Nepal. You may not have heard, however, about the earthquake in SW Michigan. Earthquakes come in all sizes, from the huge and deadly to the minor shake-ups. Michigan’s earthquake was a minor shake-up. When I was growing up in California, we had numerous minor quakes. Even though they always came as a surprise, we learned to recognize them for what they were. After I had grown up and left, California experienced at least two serious quakes with extensive damage and some deaths, one in northern California and one in southern . . . → Read More: Earthquakes

Changing Channels

A recent Internet news article, “Want To Look Smarter? Stop Sending Emails And Speak Like A Human,” by Emily Peck, reminded me of the ways communication channels influence the meanings of messages. The principal communication channels fall into three general classes: visual (what we see), auditory (what we hear), and kinesthetic (touch, taste, smell, and emotional response). Although neither the article nor the study on which it is based specifically addresses the concept of channel richness, that is basically what the article is about.

Face-to-face (F2F) is considered the richest communication channel because it conveys the most information. Assuming . . . → Read More: Changing Channels

Social Media and Our Collective Well-being

A long time ago (1985) a New York University professor, Neil Postman, published Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. One of the principal ideas is that television is “entertainment,” even when the subject is serious. The “news” becomes just another “show.”

From time to time I have wondered what Professor Postman would have thought about social media. His principal complaint about television was that it turns “news” into “entertainment.” Rational discourse was replaced by video and sound “bites,” with the focus of attention increasingly fleeting and fragmented. I remember the history of television . . . → Read More: Social Media and Our Collective Well-being

Old Dogs and New Tricks

An alternate title for this blog entry might be “Adjusting to Social Media.” Many of us who are older “dogs” at this point haven’t really caught up with the changes in forms of communication that have occurred in recent years. Some of us are making the effort. Others aren’t. If you’re a student of communication, you’re probably familiar with Morris Massey, who has used the lens of generational differences to help individuals understand the communication process. Where we were when, especially in pre- and early adolescence, influences the principal frames through which we view the external environment. When I was . . . → Read More: Old Dogs and New Tricks

Selling Fear in the New Year

One of the things I’ve been paying increasing attention to (perhaps because of the ongoing political debate in the U.S.) is fear marketing. I find it amazing at how pervasive “fear appeals” are and the various ways they are used to sell “stuff,” including politicians and political “talking points.” The basic concept is that we really need to be afraid of X, and, if we want to be safe, we need to stock up on (or vote for) the anti-X.

The world has a lot of risky stuff in it, of course, and we are undoubtedly safer when we . . . → Read More: Selling Fear in the New Year

Stubble, Etc.

You may be wondering what stubble’s got to do with it…. I had been wondering why so many men in current advertising, including the man deemed the “Sexiest Man Alive” by a popular magazine, are often photographed and filmed with three to five days of stubble. My curiosity got the better of me when I read an interview with a female actor who had just completed a movie about a same-sex relationship. When asked what she liked best about kissing another woman, she replied, “No stubble.”

It turns out that stubble is women’s Number-One complaint about kissing men. It . . . → Read More: Stubble, Etc.

Lesser of Two Weevils

In the movie, “Master and Commander,” Captain Jack (Russell Crowe) asks the ship’s surgeon, Dr. Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany) to choose one of the two weevils crawling around in their food. The doctor initially says that they are the same in the critical aspects: “Arcades ambo. They are the same species of curculio, and there is nothing to choose between them.” When Captain Jack insists on a choice, the doctor chooses the larger one. The captain says that he has chosen incorrectly because “in the Navy you must always choose the lesser of two weevils.”

Now that the political . . . → Read More: Lesser of Two Weevils

Why Everyone Needs to Know Hypnosis

Several news sources used the following headline to report the results of a recent medical study: Doctors predict impotence after prostate treatment. A number of other news sources used the following wording: Study: Potency after prostate cancer varies widely. And other headlines put it this way: Sex After Prostate Cancer: New Study Helps Predict Erectile Function Post-Treatment

Which of the headlines is a hypnotic command promoting impotence for those facing prostate surgery? I suspect that most readers of this blog know that “Doctors predict impotence after prostate treatment” is a form of “doctor hypnosis.” One of my videos on . . . → Read More: Why Everyone Needs to Know Hypnosis

Elephants, Crooks, and Class Warfare

When President Obama announced his new plans for improving the economy in the States, Republicans cried, “Class warfare!” Obama’s response was, “It is not class warfare—it’s math.” This response not only reminded me of Nixon’s infamous claim, “I am not a crook,” but also reminded me of George Lakoff’s warning against using your opponent’s frame in your counterarguments (see Framing—Again. It is a failure to remember the Don’t think of elephants rule. When Nixon said, “I am not a crook,” the connection made in most people’s minds was, “Nixon—crook.” The not gets lost in translation.

In addressing the issue . . . → Read More: Elephants, Crooks, and Class Warfare