Monthly Archives: March 2012

Language Should Be for Communication Not Manipulation

Language Should Be for Communication Not Manipulation

I have been listening to the religious station here in Nashville, WCRN and I see a clear method to their style ;

Create a phrase that is made up of reasonable English words each of which taken individually is generally understood and then use that phase repeatedly in a forceful authoritative manner with strong group pressure.

The people listening will not understand what is meant but since it is delivered from a person who is seen as an authority figure. They assume that it means something significant.  The peer pressure to understand and normalize behavior is huge and these confused people will not ask questions because;

1)These groups are generally about top down control and questions are not encouraged.  2)No one wants to appear ignorant to the fellow members of the group.  3)The answers are famously vague and confusing and so they cannot be actually ‘understood’ .

The listener eventually internalizes the emotional content of the message without ever understanding the phrase. They feel more powerful since they can appear to understand what others do not while in reality they have added nothing to their ability to understand the world and worse yet have will no longer search for useful answers because they now know the ‘Truth’.   While there are thousands of examples, two of my  favorites are the The Trinity and “Vibrations”( as used by the new agers).

The Trinity teaches that God is three entities in one being (The Father The Son and The Holy Spirit).  There is no firm definition of the Holy Spirit even by normally unusable religious standards. As in math one undefined term immediately make the entire phrase undefined and therefore meaningless.  Next we have the term Father. In this context ‘Father’  means God.  Using a term that means God to define God is circular and again meaningless. Of course we all know what ‘son’ means, right? But here it cannot mean anything biological or legal so once again we arrive at meaninglessness.  I am reminded of a friend who tells the story (perhaps apocryphal) of asking his priest about the Trinity. After some preliminary questions the priest takes him aside, He is excited to be getting the answer finally and the priest bursts his bubble with “It’s a mystery”. Needles to say this person is no longer a practicing Catholic. However, this definition fits perfectly the requirements mentioned above.  It seems to mean something, the words are common English, but it is pure gibberish.

I know exactly what the term vibrations means. It represents some object which is periodically doing something(generally oscillating between a small number of states) over a measurement of some sort (almost always time) . The musical note A is defined as the sound made when air vibrates 440 times per second as the result of something else vibrating itself at that rate. The new agers have taken this term and use it ad nauseam for the reasons I mentioned above. However they make no effort to define what it is that is vibrating over what period. The result is a universal word that can be inserted in almost any sentence to support anything without any concern about being incorrect since it has real basis in reality. They have successfully redefined the word to have no meaning whatsoever so that they can use it to manipulate others.

As my anti-hero Russ Limbaugh is fond of saying “WORDS MEAN SOMETHING”. We should all be very suspicious when people of authority create meaningless phrases which they cannot define.  Whenever you see this recognize that the emperor has no clothes because purpose is not to inform but to control