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Errors in Thinking: Hypnotic Writing

Posted Jan 23 2010 3:55pm

This category is responsible for a huge number of errors.  There are lots of writers and bloggers out there who are good at what I'll call "hypnotic writing".  This is writing in such a way that a person is convinced of your argument, but not through rational means.  It is somewhat hard to explain, but I find it easy to spot.

Hypnotic writing is really a skill.  Some people just naturally do it, and others increase their skill at it over time. 

In this blog, I try to write in a non-hypnotic way, and instead analyze things in a rational manner.  I see others who write hypnotically and then gather big audiences.  For sure, if you learn to write in a hypnotic way, you will gain an audience.  You only have to look at an example like Anthony Robbins who has put millions under his trance.

I read about this phenomenon a while back in an evolutionary psychology book (though I can't remember which one).  The argument was that communication in an evolutionary sense was always more about persuasion and entertainment than rational thought.  You can see this in book sales - sales of fiction books dwarf the sales of non-ficiton books.

I think some people put hypnotic writing to good use, but others mostly use it to stroke their ego.  This is why scientific journals are written in the way they are - all the style and personality is taken out, and only the argument remains.  This is how science moves forward.  Hypnotic writing is usually not the way to improved knowledge.

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