On the 60th anniversary of Orwell's Politics and the English Language, George Orwell described political speech as consisting "largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness." Some six decades later, many symptoms of manipulation and propaganda diagnosed by Orwell persist on the American political landscape, along with new disinformation techniques enabled by modern technology.
Historians, scientists, philosophers, linguists, cognitive experts, journalists, image-makers, and public figures will debate in three separate sessions the current state of political discourse - and journalism's response to it - on the dawn of a bitterly contested presidential campaign- NYPL
Paul Holdengräber is the Director of LIVE from the NYPL.
George P. Lakoff
George P. Lakoff is a professor of linguistics (in particular, cognitive linguistics) at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 1972.
Although some of his research involves questions traditionally pursued by linguists, such as the conditions under which a certain linguistic construction is grammatically viable, he is most famous for his ideas about the centrality of metaphor to human thinking, political behavior and society.
He is particularly famous for his concept of the "embodied mind" which he has written about in relation to mathematics. In recent years he has applied his work to the realm of politics, and founded a progressive think tank, the Rockridge Institute.
Nicholas Lemann is dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Lemann has published five books, most recently Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War (2006); The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy(1999), which helped lead to a major reform of the SAT; and The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America (1991), which won several book prizes. He has written widely for such publications as The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, Slate, and American Heritage; worked in documentary television with Blackside, Frontline, the Discovery Channel, and the BBC; and lectured at many universities.
Lemann continues to write for The New Yorker and serves on the boards of directors of the Authors Guild, the Center for the Humanities at the City University of New York Graduate Center, and the Society of American Historians, and is a member of the New York Institute for the Humanities. He lives with his family in New York City.
Frank Luntz has been called the "hottest pollster" in America by The Boston Globe, and was named one of four "top research minds" by Business Week.
He was the winner of the coveted Washington Post "Crystal Ball" award for being the most accurate pundit in 1992. Luntz has written, supervised, and conducted more than 1,500 surveys, focus groups, and dial sessions in more than two dozen countries and four continents over the past decade, and is the pioneer of the "instant response" focus-group technique. He consults Fortune 100 companies — from General Motors to Federal Express, Disney to American Express, AT&T to Pfizer, Kroger supermarkets to McDonald's and the entire soft-drink and motion-picture industries, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Business Roundtable — on communication and language.
He also served as a consultant to the award-winning NBC hit show The West Wing. He is the author of Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear (Hyperion, 2008)
Andras Zanto is a writer, researcher, and consultant whose work spans the worlds of art, media, policy, and cultural affairs.
He is a member of the senior faculty of the Sotheby's Institute of Art and director of the NEA Arts Journalism Institute at Columbia University. The former head of the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia, he has designed conferences, conducted research, and launched initiatives for major foundations and cultural organizations. He is co-author and editor of five books, and his reporting and commentary have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The American Prospect, The Art Newspaper, and other newspapers and periodicals.
He is a founder of the online arts publication Artworldsalon and has edited the journals ARTicles and Reflections. Born in Budapest, he lives in New York City.
Drew Westen is a clinical, personality, and political psychologist and a professor in the departments of psychology/psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University.
As the founder of Westen Strategies, a consulting firm, he advises Democratic leaders and candidates. He holds a B.A. from Harvard, an M.A. in social and political thought from the University of Sussex (England), and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan. He has been chief psychologist at Cambridge Hospital and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School.
He is a blogger for The Huffington Post and a commentator on NPR's All Things Considered. His book, The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation, explores how politicians can capture the hearts and minds of voters through examples of what candidates have said or could have said in debates, speeches, and ads. He lives in Atlanta.
Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at UC Berkeley George Lakoff explains that liberals and conservatives have different world views which determine their positions on issues. Lakoff explains no two moderates are alike because subjective morality determines political opinion.
Frank Luntz demonstrates how Senator Barack Obama took advantage of Senator Hillary Clinton's mistake in answering a question about the national archives in an example of effective political communication, citing that it was "not that Obama's response was so good, but because Clinton's response was so bad."
Obama uses the weakness of Clinton's statement as a springboard into his platform, effectively killing two birds with one stone.
Drawing from a risque Freudian slip involving Jennifer Lopez, Dr. Drew Westen explains how conservative politicians master activating unconscious networks in our brain to associate Democrats with negative ideals.
Dr. Westen gives the example of the newly negative connotations of "liberal" and describes this manipulation as bordering between "propaganda and persuasion."