- Remarks by President Biden on Fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Reporters slam White House for shouting down questions from the press pool
- We’ve never initiated an attack on any country; we want peace: interview of the Armenian Ambassador to US to Al Arabiya
- Frank Pallone congratulated on Independence Day, emphasizing significant progress made by Armenia
- We have decided to establish Park of Life, where trees symbolizing lives of all victims of Artsakh wars will be planted: Pashinyan
- Queen Elizabeth II congratulates Armenia on Independence Day
- Test news
- Անցած անգամ ասեցի՝ ինքը բոզ ա, հիմա ավելացրել եմ եւս մի կոչում՝ բիճ, բիճ Նիկոլ. Գեւորգ Պետրոսյան
- Russian peacekeepers organized the transfer of humanitarian aid to refugees and large families of remote settlements of Nagorno-Karabakh
- Susan Templeman MP supporting Australian recognition of Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Genocides
Of Elephants, Armenia, and the ARF07:00 25 Aug 2018
BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
After I mentioned the topic of this piece in a Facebook posting, a friend was insistent that I do a full piece on it, so here goes.
“Don’t think of an elephant.”
What just happened in your head? In order to NOT think of an elephant, you, in fact, had to think of an elephant so you could “not” think about it. The image of an elephant probably flashed across your mind’s eye.
That phrase, “Don’t think of an elephant” is the title of a very short book by George Lakoff, first published in 2004, that serves as a guide for activists to advance their agenda by understanding how people receive and perceive information. He has also published a much longer, scholarly, “version” of the same analyses titled “Moral Politics”.
The underlying concept is that people have a moral basis for being politically “conservative” or “liberal” that defines how they process information coming at them from their surroundings. Lakoff says conservatives have a strict father model in which people are made good through self-discipline and hard work, everyone is taken care of by taking care of themselves. Liberals have a nurturant parent model in which everyone is taken care of by helping each other. Most people have varying degrees of these two in themselves, which helps explain the spectrum we see in politics. These are what Lakoff calls “frames” through which people “see” the world around them. But these are not the only frames that exist.
What’s very interesting is that these frames are so solid that even when the facts contradict what people expect because of their frame, thye do not change their minds. Facts just bounce off the frame!
Perhaps the best way to explain this in an Armenian context is through the example of Turks’ attempts at Genocide denial. Think about it – when a Turkish lobbyist approaches an elected official and says “There was no Genocide,” what has s/he done? S/he had to use the word genocide. Once that happens, the elected is thinking about genocide, just like you couldn’t help but think about an elephant when you read the second sentence of this piece.
That’s how people’s minds work. This applies where the matter in question is a societal issue, an organization, or even an individual, framing defines perception and understanding.
I would add, from personal experience, that it also matters who gets the first word in. So if two people have opposing opinions on a topic, the one who speaks second to a third person usually has a slight disadvantage in getting the third person to come to her/his side.
And that’s what explains, partially, the bind, the hole, the ARF finds itself in at this time. At least in the Republic of Armenia, a fairly broadly accepted frame is that the Armenian Revolutionary Federation is no different than the agglomeration of oligarchs it worked with when in coalition with the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA).
With this as the frame in an otherwise uninformed person’s mind, it is extremely difficult convey a different notion. If the ARF says “we’re not oligarchs,” what happens? People hear “oligarch” which is a well-established frame, and the hole has been dug deeper for the organization. If people hear the ARF very rationally, logically, explain why it was in coalition with the RPA, the hole gets deeper still, because Serge Sarkissian, the former president, now extremely unpopular, comes to mind. All the ills associated with him somehow also accrue to the ARF.
So what’s the solution for the ARF? It has to undertake the difficult task of recreating the enormously positive frame it enjoyed among a significant portion of the population when Armenia regained its independence. I do not want to underestimate the number of people who had been duped into an anti-ARF mentality through decades, generations, of Soviet propaganda which contributes to the negative-ARF frame.
How is this to be done? It is definitely not through public statements which will inescapably fall victim to this negative frame that exists (and the work of those who for various reasons are negatively disposed towards the ARF). Only hard, productive, social-political-economic work will reestablish, in time, a positive frame for the ARF. Just as it seems Nigol Pashinian can do no wrong at this time because of the positive frame through which he is perceived, thanks to his diligent activism and public relations savvy, the ARF, too, can improve its standing among the citizenry.
Quiet, low key, productive, helpful, open, heartfelt, constructive work – that’s the path to progress for the ARF as a party and though it the country and nation as a whole.
Oh, and every Armenian should buy “Don’t Think of an Elephant” and read it.
- Remarks by President Biden on Fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic 16:27 22 Sep 2021
- Reporters slam White House for shouting down questions from the press pool 16:23 22 Sep 2021
- We’ve never initiated an attack on any country; we want peace: interview of the Armenian Ambassador to US to Al Arabiya 16:20 22 Sep 2021
- Frank Pallone congratulated on Independence Day, emphasizing significant progress made by Armenia 16:19 22 Sep 2021
- We have decided to establish Park of Life, where trees symbolizing lives of all victims of Artsakh wars will be planted: Pashinyan 16:18 22 Sep 2021
- Queen Elizabeth II congratulates Armenia on Independence Day 16:17 22 Sep 2021
- Test news 00:00 24 Aug 2021
- Անցած անգամ ասեցի՝ ինքը բոզ ա, հիմա ավելացրել եմ եւս մի կոչում՝ բիճ, բիճ Նիկոլ. Գեւորգ Պետրոսյան 14:13 1 June 2021
- Russian peacekeepers organized the transfer of humanitarian aid to refugees and large families of remote settlements of Nagorno-Karabakh 09:43 26 May 2021
- Wearing masks in open-air areas will not be mandatory in Armenia from June 1 09:38 26 May 2021
- No incidents were registered in Sisian section of border: Defense Ministry 09:35 26 May 2021
- Tete-a-tete meeting of Ara Aivazian and Mohammad Javad Zarif commenced 09:30 26 May 2021
- Tensions on Armenian-Azerbaijani border demand immediate measures: CSTO Deputy Secretary General 09:25 26 May 2021
- President, Human Rights Defender discuss situation on Armenian-Azerbaijani border 09:25 26 May 2021
- Susan Templeman MP supporting Australian recognition of Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Genocides 08:39 26 May 2021
- President Armen Sarkissian received the Ambassador of France to Armenia Jonathan Lacôte 07:02 26 May 2021
- Armenian-Iranian business forum held in Tehran 06:00 26 May 2021
- Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee Announcement 12:25 19 Mar 2021
- Billboards Call on President Biden to Recognize Armenian Genocide 12:22 19 Mar 2021
- Azerbaijan Destroying and Falsifying Historical Facts of Armenian Monuments in Occupied Territories of Artsakh 12:16 19 Mar 2021
- 07:29 19 Sep 2018 Trump and Bolton Undermine the International Criminal Court Many Americans and others around the world have been following with great concern the irrational statements and destructive decisions made by President Trump ever since his election.
- 08:00 6 Sep 2018 Our Greatest Strength is Our Unity This of course cannot be conditioned on a complete and total agreement on every issue.
- 07:02 29 Aug 2018 Don’t Tax the Green in Armenia Given Armenia’s lack of confirmed coal, oil, or natural gas reserves, the nation is dependent on fuel imports from Russia and Iran, and blockaded by its two other neighbors.
- 16:27 22 Sep 2021 Remarks by President Biden on Fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic Get vaccinated.
- 16:23 22 Sep 2021 Reporters slam White House for shouting down questions from the press pool Press pool filed a formal complaint after being denied questions
- 16:19 22 Sep 2021 Frank Pallone congratulated on Independence Day, emphasizing significant progress made by Armenia Frank Pallone, Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, sent a congratulatory message on Armenia's Independence Day,
- 07:49 6 Sep 2018 Franchise Conference Connects U.S. Businesses with Armenian Investors The United States Embassy in Yerevan and the U.S. Commercial Service in Moscow, in partnership with IDBank, organized a one-day conference focused on franchise business opportunities on September 5 in Yerevan.
- 07:30 25 Aug 2018 Transport Minister instructs to put more effort in North-South Highway The construction works delayed in Talin-Lanjik and Lanjik-Gyumri section of the North-South Highway should be continued faster.
- 05:40 9 November 2017 Family Living In Fear Of Landmines In Artsakh Inspires HALO Crowdfunding Campaign An innovative crowdfunding campaign to clear a minefield in Harar village in Artsakh launched on Friday.