Persuasion and Morals

      4 Comments on Persuasion and Morals

Scott Adams has always been kind of a fan of persuasion, hypnosis, and psychology in general. Ever since he’s been talking about Trump, He’s gone in full obsessed fanboy mode. I’m not as obsessed as him yet, but I’m certainly interested. This stuff is fascinating. Of course, that is probably one of the worst things in life to get taught by only one person, so I’ve been reading a lot about those subjects through other authors too, to avoid the echo chamber effect.

Recently, I’ve started thinking about taking an official hypnosis class. Not the flashy “make you believe that you are a chicken” hypnosis, but the more everyday kind of hypnosis. When I mentioned that to my girlfriend, her instant reaction was “As long as you don’t use it on me.”

This seemed like a given. What kind of monster would use hypnosis to manipulate his own girlfriend? But then I started thinking. I have no idea what I would learn in those classes. If it’s the same kind of stuff as Scott learned in his, that is more persuasion than actual hypnosis from what I’ve understood, it also seems like the kind of stuff that you start using all the time without even noticing it. if it’s little words and body language tricks that allow you to make people like you a little more, make them believe you and listen to you a little more, etc. then that means that I would not be able to “refrain” from using it on her. If it’s some kind of passive skill, then you can’t really turn it off right?

So, is it accurate to describe hypnosis and persuasion as “manipulation” and say that they are immoral, or are they just a more efficient method of communication?



  • Kingfisher12

    Scott likes to make hypnosis out to be some great mystical power; real magic. But that’s just a magician selling the gimmick.

    Learning hypnosis might make you better at persuasion, just as taking sales training, or a public speaking class. It’s all about being a better communicator. Hypnosis won’t give you any magical sway over people that you didn’t already have.

    The difference, I see in some classes – particularly sales – isn’t that they teach you any powerful technique for persuasion, but rather they teach an attitude of abuse. Whatever advertisement for the class says gives you a pretty good idea of what you’ll actually be learning, besides hypnosis technique.

    Relaxing – you’ll learn how to use hypnosis therapeutically
    Boost your confidence – you’ll learn how to be a bit of a jerk
    Fun and useful – you’ll learn to be more popular at parties
    Success in life – you’ll learn how to be a big jerk
    Mystic secrets – you’ll learn stage magic, or get fleeced.

    Learning any new skill is neither bad nor good, it’s what you intend to do with it that make it good or not. If you’re learning a martial art for physical and mental health – that’s great. If you’re learning a martial art to go pick fights, that’s less healthy.

    • Kaito Kid

      That makes a lot of sense. Do you think that there are no ways to succeed in life without becoming a big jerk in the process? Or maybe you believe that there is a strong correlation between succeeding and becoming a jerk, but it’s not necessary?

      • I suspect it depends entirely how you define success:-) and possibly in which field:-). Advertising, PR and (probably) politics: you have to be an amoral if not immoral jerk to succeed, as far as I can see. Other fields: not so much:-)

        Back on KK’s point about persuasion and girlfriends, I’m reminded of the Big Bang Theory episode where Sheldon starts training Penny with chocolate rewards:-)

      • Kingfisher12

        As Duncan says, it depends on how you define success. But to generalize, there is no such thing as a free lunch. To obtain any kind of success, someone has to pay the bill. There is a path to success where you pay the bill yourself with hard work and dedication, there is the dumb-luck path where the bill is paid by cosmic lottery (for which we’ve all bought a ticket, just by staying alive), and there is the jerk path where you make the people around you pay the bill for your success.

        Only one of those paths can be taught in a short class or a self-help book. Not saying there aren’t classes and books that teach hard-work and discipline, but if they are promising ‘success’ up front, chances are they’re teaching the quick and easy path to the dark side. There are even some who claim to know the secret of winning the cosmic lottery – almost invariably they’re also teaching the dark-side path, only viewed through rose-coloured glasses

        But we should be careful when we judge. Some very nice and intelligent people win the cosmic lottery, and some hard-working individuals are also complete jerks, and none of the paths guarantee success.