J. Garvey, The Persuaders: The hidden industry that wants to change your mind

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This is not a book about education but it is a very erudite and enlightening examination of the world in which our pupils are growing up.  A world in which, Garvey argues, rational argument is increasingly losing out to other attempts to persuade.  These attempts include: ‘product placement, infoganda, astroturfing, crowd manipulation, newsjacking, framing, spinning, propaganding, agenda setting, message carpet-bombing, anchoring and the nudging of your choices, beliefs, desires, values, decisions and actions’.  The lowest estimates suggest that the average adult encounters several hundred ‘persuasive messages’ a day.  It is hard to believe that secondary age children encounter any fewer, and my suspicion would be that they encounter a greater number than many adults.  The book is full of examples of persuasion in action in the modern world.  Here are just a few:

  • The story of Nayirah.  In 1990, shortly after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, a 15 year old…

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