Persuasion designed to obtain something is the purpose of applications, advertisements, argumentative essays, political pamphlets, religious tracts, editorials, medical reports, and legal briefs. Their aim is to have readers or listeners accept something or do something or change their minds about something. But to be effective, it is important to gain an idea of how persuasion differs from propaganda. My first extensive research attempts to find distinguishing features between their purposes and methods were not successful. Yet, it became obvious that, in a broad sense, these terms are blood relatives, have both good/bad purposes, and produce good/bad effects. In fact, authorities often define them with almost the same words: a conscious attempt to manage the minds of others...and the marshaling of material to support the idea being advanced.
Not being satisfied, I turned to ancient African literature in hopes of gaining distinction insights. Of course, I started with the works of the Black Egyptian, Hermes Trismegistus (?4000 BC) because he laid the foundation for most of the worlds best knowledge. In Principle VII, he said that Gender is in everything; everything has its Masculine and Feminine Principles; Gender manifests on all planes. It is the Masculine principle which starts into activity the creative process but the Feminine principle is the one always doing the active creative work. Whether separated or combined, one is incapable of operative energy without the assistance of the other. Next, in studying the ancient meanings of persuade and propaganda, when they came into the language, the feel pattern of persuasion seemed to be feminine and that of propaganda, masculine. This suggested to me that the energy contained in the persuasion pattern was more gentle, more diffuse, more variable, and more emotionally flowing compared with the more focused, the more step-by-step thoughtful, and the more destructive pattern of propaganda. Then it became evident that the feel of both persuasion and propaganda differed from the feel of education. We know that education includes information that can be verified and that is considered an acceptable right, good or necessary part of our culture. Learning to feel the energy in words not only helps you to select the best persuasive words but it also teaches a skill for detecting good and bad energy in other things -- a skill that could make the difference between success or failure.
As a Straight Forward Persuasive Writer, your focus is entirely on getting your readers in a receptive go along with me mood that is smooth and soft (gentle). Next, overcome their short attention span by keeping things moving and interesting. Words and phrases used in persuasion convey value judgements (like good, better, best) and that push along an argument (e.g. furthermore, therefore, accordingly, and consequently). It helps to use the first person I or we or the more formal third person he, she, they, or one. Meanwhile, good and reasonable information -- using technical or other specialized terms -- is presented with good manners and respectfulness to get your point across. In selling your points, avoid bashfulness, beating-around-the-bush, defensiveness, or coyness in telling your strengths. In fact, brag a little but in a kind of neutral, disinterested, brief, and clear away. Summarize your best material in your opening paragraph and avoid anything questionable. And at all cost do not engage in any tricky (Sophist) type persuasion.
Joseph A. Bailey, II, M.D
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