-Guide to Getting Through to the Fence Sitters, the Skeptics, the Uninformed, and the Pro-Aging Trancists-
One of a causes main jobs is persuasion, changing the rhetorical climate, cutting through the status quo, the way it is, the tradition. It is done as they say with "persuasion that is pervasive". The best way to persuade somebody is to let them persuade themselves. This is mainly done through informing rather than trying to debate them, and it works the same for almost everybody.
It works the same way for the fence sitters who are uncommitted and go back and forth on supporting and ignoring this cause. It works the same way for the skeptics and the uninformed who just need some more information. Pro aging trancists are, as Aubrey de Grey defines, a group of people that have conditioned themselves to use fallacy to excuse death even if it is ridiculous, so they don't have to face the horrors of death. A pro aging transist is really just an uninformed person that has tried to solve the pain that death brings them by compensating with erroneous solutions. These techniques work on them too.
This section includes a list of tips and techniques to keep in mind when working to effectively inform someone, with a few other bonus techniques added in. To begin with we will start this off with a crash course in what it takes to change a person's mind.
Crash Course on How and Why People Change Their Minds - Every person in the world filters everything they think about through their current traditions, attitudes and beliefs. It is hard to get a person to accept something all at once, even if it is true, urgent and extremely important, even if it is life or death. These people are in comfort zones. We are all in comfort zones. It is not easy to get a person to step outside of their comfort zones. It is uncomfortable, and it causes cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance means that a person cannot hold two conflicting views at the same time. If a person thinks Chevy is better, they cant also think that Ford is better. If for example they think that talking to people about this, reading and giving out books, petitioning, talking on the radio, to coworkers, etc.. is uncomfortable and socially awkward, then they are unlikely to step outside of their comfort zone and do those things, like hold up a sign at an intersection full of people, because it is cognizantly dissonant to them. They just don't like it, so holding up a sign does not match up with what they think about holding up signs. If for example they think death is fine then they can not also think that death is horrible. This can be changed in a different way though, because everybody succumbs to gradual and incremental change.
Gradually and incrementally a person gets used to anything, especially the truth, and when they see that it is the truth that they want and need to participate then it will start to become much easier for them to step outside of those comfort zones and do things like hold up those metaphorical signs, and all the other big and small things involved. For example even people in WWII concentration camps were known to sing songs and play cards. People have gotten into these comfort zones in the same kind of way that buggies in the old days would get into ruts in the road. Sometimes a buggy would get into a rut and it would be unable to change its course for 50 miles even though it needed to go in another direction. After a while they gradually and incrementally got used to their new rut. "I was going to Albuquerque, I guess we can catch up with Houston and see what's going on there." Keep this in mind, you, and everybody need to choose their ruts carefully, and through informing people we help them make the right choice. By telling them about indefinite life extension we are starting to effect that change, we gradually and incrementally build up the potential for a new set of attitudes and beliefs to emerge. We open their reticular activating systems to this cause.
The reticular activating system is that part of your brain that notices all the other people that are driving the kind of car you drive. It is the system that causes you to catch that commercial about life insurance on TV because you have been thinking about it. It is that system that makes it so that when you read about something in a news paper it later causes a book in the book store about the same kind of concept to catch your eye. By activating your reticular activating system you begin to notice it more and more, and soon it has gradually and incrementally begun to present itself as an option for that next time a rut change comes up, whether that rut be the slew of science fiction books you've been reading switching to indefinite life extension books, or that insurance job you've had for 15 years starting to seem like something you might consider switching to full time indefinite life extension activism work for the 5 years of its crucial plan.
Soon, the truth in the cause wins out in their cognitive dissonance match ups and the borders of their comfort zones gradually and incrementally loosen and allow them to move more freely in their expanded indefinite life extension comfort zones. So the more people we begin in on getting the word out to, into the ears of, the more people will eventually be able to move through their current limiting beliefs and attitudes and march forward with us in this final part of the path to the world stage.
These techniques then can help you move people through this course.
When to inform, when to debate – We all need to spend most of our outreach informing, but most of us also have to know when to spot out key opportunities to debate, especially if we are good at debating.
If you try to debate when you should be informing then it's going to wear you out – and many times it leaves most people in the vicinity less convinced, or polarized against you. If you debate rather than inform, at the right times, it will create contrast between the realities of indefinite life extensions imminence and the status quo and demonstrate the intensity and urgency in the situation. We will spell out the differences between when to do which here.
a. Informing - Situations where you want to inform include places where you're outnumbered by people that don't support this yet and everybody that is hearing you has the ability to chime in. These places include most places that we interact, on the internet; email, forums, chat rooms, skype, with friends, acquaintances, co-workers and other similar situations. When you inform them, you take away their natural ins for saying "yes, but" or "what about". When you inform them, you are coming from more of a place of authority, saying, "This is how it is," not, "What do you think about this?" Tell them; don't ask them to accept it. Most of us need to spend most to all of our time informing. When you inform them that you greatly diminish their ability to overwhelm you with crowd mentality, devils advocates responses, ad hominems, and objections. When you allow that to happen, then what happens is the people in the crowd convince each other more and more against your case, they become more and more polarized against whatever it is that your saying. They begin to shut you out and embed opinions against what your saying into their reticular activiating systems.
When Informing it is many people's natural inclination to take the devil's advocate side, most of us do with almost any discussion. Try it, tell somebody they are cool and you'll likely find them arguing against you. Keep this in mind so you can stay the heck away from it when you're working to inform people. A good tactic in informing people about indefinite life extension is the opposite of the devil's advocate: show the other person how much you have in common and work from there. Concede any valid points the other person makes and build off of them, working them into the indefinite life extension message. Persuasive informing includes the more conciliatory approaches found in this list.
b. Debating – Situations where you want to debate include places where many people that don't yet support this can listen but not respond. These places include most media: radio, newspaper, tv, etc…; speeches, arranged debates, articles, a lecture, a YouTube video, other similar places and unique occasions. These forums give you a position of authority; use it to get your audience informed about the issue. When you debate in these types of situations then you also avoid over whelming crowd mentality, excessive devil's advocate, ad hominem, crowd effect and objections. Avoiding those is very important. Only your target can, and that's good. You want your target to play the biggest devil's advocate that they can. It helps you to be a practiced debater, but you don't even have to be good. Significant emotional appeal and contrast are your main tools here. The message end of things is the main tool in informing. Now that everyone else is only able to listen without those factors, they are able to become aware of the difference in the popular vs this new rhetorical picture you are presenting.
This lively contrast in these situations is key. Everybody who is listening is being informed about the schism that exists between this information and the current state of societies status quo. This opens their reticular activating system and helps them begin stacking, which we'll go over a little further down this list. Those that we have already gotten to on the information side of things already have their reticular activating systems open and are doing more stacking.
People also love to be able to claim they came up with the idea on their own, and this allows them to do that. This also puts the crowd mentality on your side. When they see you talking about it on these stages they think there must be groups of people backing you, and the odds of them investigating joining your perceived group of many, rather than your perceived group of a few in a one on one or small groups cases, increases.
Ask them – This is simple yet important concept. You must first ask them if they support indefinite life extension. If you approach it wrong, you might spend all your time unconvincing somebody that was already on the fence or considering it. If you ask them and they kind of do, then you can get them to commit to that position up front which is important. Whatever you can get them to say themselves they are much more likely to accept and not haggle over.
If they say they don't support indefinite life extension then ask them what could hypothetically change their mind. This will give you an idea of where to move with further techniques. In some cases they will flatly come out and tell you what would convince them, and this makes your job a whole lot easier. Many people for example will tell you that if they could only see how it would be biologically possible then they would support it. Many people just need to be reassured that all of their friends and family will have these same options for indefinite life extension. You can then many times completely win them over by explaining the "Our bodies are machines, not magical and otherworldly," section, or others, of this guide to them, and "Yes, these therapies will be equally available to everybody."
Know the basics of influence - Be sure that you know How to Win Friends and Influence People by knowing the book of the same name. It is world renowned for its essential fundamental concepts. Some of its basics include, be positive, appreciative, friendly, listen, let them talk too, be humble etc.. One standard technique is to avoid stating things in terms of absolutes, instead say things like, "It seems to me" and "as you probably already know" and thing like that so as to show them that you are thoughtful and reasonable. To quote Robert Anton Wilson, "Is, is, is —the fallacy of the word haunts me. If it were abolished, human thought might begin to make sense. I don't know what anything is, I only know how it seems to me at this moment." You also don't want to make the other person feel like they are of lesser intelligence or being condescended; nobody wants that. These are all basics. If you're not already personable and nice then read How to Win Friends and Influence People. If you think you might be ornery, blunt, etc... then begin with that reading. Nobody wants to listen to a jerk. Trust me, and don't worry, it's not just you. Many of us were a jerk at one time.
Realize that some people have coached themselves to accept death - Remember that some people have spent much of their lives (realizing imminent death) convincing themselves why death is alright. They have not been clever or brave enough to contemplate and heed the call of duty to execute the solutions. Don't let them tell you what their reasoning is. Just give them the authoritative information about what is going on with the movement for indefinite life extension and let it sink in. Sometimes it will; sometimes it won't – but you might be surprised at how powerful challenging the inevitability of death can be. For many people, the rationalizations of death will no longer be appealing if they recognize that indefinite life is achievable.
Make sure you use the right terminology - Just a little well-meaning but misplaced terminology can ruin a whole session of getting through to somebody about indefinite life extension. Your listener may associate certain terms with ideas and imagery that conjure up stereotypes and misunderstandings. Do not use "immortality", "infinity", "live forever", "comprehension of morbidity", "healthier lives", or "life extension", unless you can competently qualify them and elaborate on their meaning – and you are sure that your use of these words will not be taken out of context. More straightforward terms to use are "indefinite life spans", "indefinite life extension", "unlimited life spans", "unlimited life extension". These terms avoid unnecessary confusion and misinterpretation. There are two new words that you could give a shot, "longecity" and "indefinity", both of which mean, "indefinite life extension".
Don't ask for money - If the other person is new to the idea of indefinite life extension, don't mention money. Especially don't ask for money. Don't mention how the cause would be advanced if we just had xxx many more dollars. The other person will rightly smell (though inaccurately so) a scam, tune you out, and look for the exit.
Use strong reasoning and evidence – This is all summarized and explained throughout the MILE guide. Read the guide through, take notes, and read again as necessary. There are things like, explain exponential growth and what stage it is currently in with science and technology, explain the similarities between the science that needs to get done and similar science that has already had success, appeal to humans as innovators, explain the big 8, explain the mile premise, appeal to life etc…
Use appeals to authority and success - Mention all the great things the cause has accomplished already. International conferences have been held, and books have been published. Proponents of indefinite life extension have been on CNN, BBC, 60 Minutes, The History Channel, The Colbert Report, Barbara Walters Special, and many other programs. The cause has already raised its first millions from one of the main guys at PayPal and Facebook. Appeal to authority and success is an important one, use it. Highlighting the cause's successes in addition to the logic behind it will make a positive impression on all fronts.
Open up doors for getting involved - Point them to a simple way to get involved, which is simply to point them to the websites involved whether that be through telling them, email, a link, a blog, a phone call, a flyer, a speech, and spreading this booklet. Reading is also a great way to start, as it bridges the gap between thought and action.
Know the FAQs - An object of this guide is to try to get through to people without them arguing with you. If it does come to that, and one or two buts and what ifs do slip through, which they do sometimes, even if you follow this guide, then try to avoid answering if you can, by using some of the techniques we go over, like walking away, or the Steven Covey solution . Sometimes you can't, so you'll want to be sure you are at least a little familiar with cause FAQs. Most websites of organizations devoted to indefinite life extension have a FAQ page. It's a rundown of answers to all the nauseatingly flippant comments and questions that not-yet indefinite life extension supporters ask about it. Some of the important arguments that one should be able to refute right away, if they are raised, are the boredom argument, the overpopulation argument, the "playing God" argument, and the "death gives meaning to life" argument. In most cases though, just rest assured that the FAQs are out there, and direct them to it if need be, or if you don't have time, or cant remember them at the moment. A person that you have caused to start thinking about this, that you just inform, will get curious and look for the FAQs on their own too, and they are much more powerful when they do find them on their own.
Use crowd mentality to your advantage - Remember the crowd mentality. Try to discuss indefinite life extension with people one-on-one when you can. Crowds of people who haven't heard about it before can and will likely easily over power you with devil's advocate knee-jerk un-thought-out reactions. Even when you are sticking to informing and trying to stay away from allowing ins for debate.
Help stack credible sources - If you tell somebody about indefinite life extension and they don't catch on right away, don't despair. Know that by getting the information out there you are doing a stellar job, a needed, priceless job. Remember this because it has been found, and is rather intuitive, that people usually have to hear about a new concept from around 3 or 4 sources that they view as credible before they begin to consider it. Help fill in those first and second and third times they've heard it. We are out here with you; with your help, together, we are getting this job done.
Avoid trolls - If you can see that the person likes to argue for the sake of argument; if you can see the person wants to be right no matter what the issue is; if you can see that the person is contrary about everything, just avoid that person. These people are usually best characterized by their use of red herring fallacies like ad hominem, well poisoning and others. He or she still needs to mature. We can come back to such people at a date later down the road. If you want, directly or indirectly bring up the concept of fallacy somewhere in the area. It might just end up rubbing off on them.
Try the Socratic method - Work the Socratic method into your information dissemination routines when you can. Give it a try once in a while. You might find that it's the best strategy for you. Socrates would use the method of asking people questions to get them to start arguing his point for him. For example, "I see what you mean, overpopulation could become a daunting challenge. Do you think it is inevitable?" "Yes? I see. "There may not even be any solutions at all to such a crisis, do you think there would be any?" and then if done right they many times begin to argue your point for you, and convince them self. This also has that effect that we mentioned earlier of getting people to commit to a position. If you can get them to say that this or that is how it is, then they are much more likely to stand by and believe it and not haggle over it. You can read up on it by searching for "Socratic method" on Google. It works brilliantly when done right.
Use the "used to, found, sure you would agree" formula - There is a general formula for turning a disagreement into an agreement, and we find that it works quite frequently. It is really just the opposite of being the contrarian. It's a positive way to get a sincere win-win situation. The general formula is "I used to think that… What I've found is …. I'm sure you would agree." For example when people use the "over population" objection, you would say something along the lines of, "I used to think that population might be too disruptive to this cause, too. What I've found is that there may be an under-population problem, and that if we can achieve indefinite life extension, the population issue will be a cake-walk whichever way it goes – I'm sure you would agree." One of the main places Ive learned about this in Steven Covey's 7 Secrets of Highly Effective People. If you haven't read that book yet, and want to read up about this approach more, check it out.
Get back-up support where you can - If you are going to a party or another social event, bring a life-extensionist friend. If you are evangelizing in the halls of your school, then bring a life-extensionist friend. If you are going out into the forums of the Internet talking about this, send a link to your friend. (Better yet, join the Longecity internetworking team where we coordinate it.) By doing this you are beginning to establish that the crowd mentality may actually go in your favor, and listeners might just be inclined to get on your side just for that reason. Then, of course, when it comes to getting through to people, the more support the better.
Carry literature - There are studies that show that people are more inclined to believe what they see in writing. Longecity has a pamphlet, many of the organizations have books out, and other things you can use. Make sure you integrate this literature seamlessly into any conversation. In your mannerisms and presentation of the reading materials, do not give the impression that you are advertising. Appearing to be a salesman instead of an advocate of a new way of thinking may damage your credibility. Most people will be more receptive to being handed literature after several conversations. You can keep copies in convenient places – your car, your house, your bag, your folder – for distribution when the time seems right. If a natural reference to the literature comes up in a conversation, that is your chance.
Tell them about the organizations that seem best fitted to them – If they are scientific/mathematical kinds of people, tell them about SENS and use Longecity as a footnote. If they are activists or scientific and advocacy-inclined, then tell them about Longecity and SENS. If they want things other than science too then tell them about Longecity. If they are millionaire investors, then tell them about MaxLife. If they are looking for a mid-range investment right now, then tell them about Methuselah Foundation. If they want to know about cryonics, then tell them about the cryonics organizations and throw in Longecity as a footnote. If they are politically active, then tell them about the Coalition to Extend Lives and Longecity. If they are pretty conservative, then tell them about the Campaign for Aging Research and the Methuselah Foundation. There can, of course, be many other permutations of interests and possible organizations that will intrigue a particular person. If you don't have time to go through all that with them, then just tell them to go to Longecity and if they are interested then offer them some of your Longecity literature that you carry with you.
As time wears on, all of our collective work begins to form a crowd mentality, where people start to automatically think these things because it permeates them in general society. This is the spirit of a cause that you help instill. The more people that believe we can have indefinite life extension in our lifetimes, the more positioned for success unlimited lifespans becomes.
Edited by brokenportal, 30 October 2011 - 08:58 PM.