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The ALL NEW Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  4,657 ratings  ·  530 reviews
Ten years after writing the definitive, international bestselling book on political debate and messaging, George Lakoff returns with new strategies about how to frame today’s essential issues.

Called the “father of framing” by The New York Times, Lakoff explains how framing is about ideas—ideas that come before policy, ideas that make sense of facts, ideas that are proactiv
Kindle Edition, 195 pages
Published September 23rd 2014 by Chelsea Green Publishing (first published September 2004)
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3.98  · 
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Nov 26, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
I just finished reading George Lakoff’s don’t think of an elephant: know your values and frame the debate. Published in 2004, it appears to be a collection of essays and thoughts he has pulled together over the years. Frankly, it could have been reduced to about a 30-40 page primer that might get a wider audience. However, at 119 pages, it’s a quick read.

The book is about frames, i.e. how we understand the world, how we know what we know. Frames control how we deal with new facts that are presen

The question this book poses is a very good one. In the US, Democrats and Republicans disagree on almost everything. Why is that?

Lakoff's answer is that it all goes back to different ways of thinking about the concept of the family. Republicans assume that people are fundamentally bad. They think in terms of an authoritarian father-figure, who expects to be obeyed, and in return protects the family both from a hostile outside world and from their own mistaken desires. Democrats assume that peopl
บอมบุง พ่อยอดคะน้าอ่อน
เปนหนังสือทีอานชวงตนๆ แลวตืนเตนมาก แตหลังจากบทแรกจบลงไป รูสึกวาผูเขียนยำคิดยำทำกับการโจมตีแนวคิดอนุรักษนิยม และอวยแนวคิดเสรีนิยมมากเกินไปจนรูสึกวาเนือหามีแตไขมัน แถมตอนทายมี FAQs แถมอีกราวกับหนังสือเลมเลกๆ นีจะกลายเปนคูมือพัฒนาตนเองของฝายเสรีนิยมกาวหนาเพือสรางวาทกรรมฟาดฟันกับอนุรักษนิยม

อานจบ เขาใจเลยวาทำไมอนุรักษนิยมถึงมีแตมตอในเวทีโลก เพราะหากเทียบกันหมัดตอหมัด ฝายกาวหนาดูจะฟุงฝันจนเหมือนวาดวิมานในอากาศ เชนประโยคทีวา 'ทุกคนสามารถเขาถึงการรักษาพยาบาลคุณภาพเยียมในราคาถูก' ซึงขัดกับโลกแหงความเปนจร
Corey Preston
As a brief textbook, with some great concepts, this is a fine book. But repetitive, static, unfocused at times, hyper-focused others, and ultimately a little too clinical, given the subject matter. Maybe the 3 stars is unfair to Mr. Lakoff, who is clearly a brilliant guy, but all the careful framing in the world won't save us if we ignore the poetry, the pathos, the romance that is American existence.
Fallon Chiasson
The point of the book is to teach progressives how to use the same tactics that have lead conservatives to success over the years. Lakoff uses examples and creates lists to show progressives how conservatives make arguments so compelling to voters on the margin. He uses the term “framing” to demonstrate his point. However, Lakoff fails in that his statements are over broad and are often vast generalizations. Frankly, this usage of “facts” to fit his narrative null and voids the lessons in this b ...more
Apr 18, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Lakoff rushed this out for the 2004 presidential election. It's a collection of essays and transcripts about the use of framing--providing the context and comparisons by which a subject is evaluated--in politics and the notion that the conservative and liberal wings of American politics differ in their understanding of the metaphor that "America is a family."

Both of these concepts are well worth reading. The implication are both deep and wide. But this book was intended as a quick-start primer f
Melissa Muszak
This book had some good ideas, but it is past its relevance in a lot of ways. Do we really care why Arnold won the election anymore? I mean, I guess it's an interesting application of his theory. But I'm sure there are more relevant applications now. Which is not his fault -- it was applicable when he wrote the book. But there are some books that can stay relevant past the time in which they were written. I just don't think this one holds up to that standard.

The concept about the left's need to
Jul 06, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a member of the super minority party working in state government in the ultra red state of Idaho, I found this book interesting, although a bit redundant. I had heard an audio version of Lakoff's lecture on this same subject so it wasn't new to me but has more resonance for me now that I work with the conservatives who have been framing the debate for all these years. I found it helpful in terms of thinking about how to get your point across without being confrontational and by coming from a ...more
Sep 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology, thinking
Of the three books I've recently read on political messaging and tactics, this is by far the best. It doesn't have the snarky cynicism of Frank Luntz's book, and avoids the "Ends Justify the Means" attitude of Saul Alinsky. Instead, Lakoff recommends that progressives focus on values they truly believe in, and stop responding to the debates in ways that conservatives have framed.

He believes that progressives have "lost" the culture wars because of their inability to properly frame their argument
Tammy Durm
Jul 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: political
Although it wasn't the most exciting book I've ever read, I found it thought provoking. Four guidelines for responding to a conservative: 1. Show respect. 2. Respond by reframing. 3. Think and talk at the level of values. 4. Say what you believe. It made sense to me and answered some questions I have had for a long time, for example, why republicans are they way they are and why they vote against their own best interests. The examples and stories are a little outdated and I will be reading the n ...more
Theo Logos
The central thesis of this collection, that values as expressed through linguistic framing are far more powerful than mere facts in shaping how people think and vote, is powerful and important. It is an idea that far too many liberals have ignored to the detriment of their ideas and world view. That is the valuable take away from these essays, the reason for the three stars.
The problem with the book is that you really don't need to read beyond the first essay. In it, Lakoff establishes his cent
Meadow Johnson
I think Lakoff hits some things right on the head but spends way too much time delving into issues of politics in a very divisive way. While framing is a huge challenge and we have seen issues move with a more human-centered frame (such as marriage equality, marijuana legalization, and even some gun control), he does not focus enough on the neuroscience.

Neuroscience is challenging to understand. But in focusing so heavily on framing, he actually is reinforcing his idea about direct-causation ra
May 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had been on our bookshelf for years. It was a suggested read for a course that my wife took in grad school. The book centers around how conservatives have done a great job of framing their political ideas while progressives have obsessed over facts. The books proposes a way forward using framing principles from linguistics and cognitive sciences. The idea behind the book is great but for a book that talks about how to frame ideas, it does a fairly mediocre job of explaining its idea. I ...more
Jun 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thought provoking, timely book about conservative versus progressive/liberal politics. Although I enjoyed reading a book by one of the linguists that I've admired and read previously ("Metaphors....", his bias was over the top. The concept of "framing" was a new one to me, but I wish there had been more how-to information for speaking about controversial issues with my conservative friends. Our progressive women's group from church read this and discussed it over the past few months. It certainl ...more
May 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The middle third was too time-specific for me, as it was written in the aftermath of the Iraq War and focused narrowly on unknowns that have since been better examined. Those chapters also drifted from the central topic of language and metaphor into a polemic that is (at this point, 15 years down the road) stale. The final two chapters, however, are excellent, and much closer to what I was hoping for.
Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings after having read this book. On the one hand, I think Lakoff's ideas behind framing are quite interesting and worth exploring. On the other hand, I find his ideas on core morality somewhat hard to swallow (the strict father vs. nurturant parent part). I think it was worth reading regardless, as it gives some handy, practical advice for progressives, but I might steer clear of digesting this whole book uncritically.
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Lakoff's work, but this book feels a little out of date, and a bit like one idea (conservatives prefer paternalistic values, progressives nurturing ones) argued over and over. I think the point about framing our debates around values rather than information is essential. But I also think it's fairly well known at this point. I'd be interested to see what Lakoff does next, as he seems to be experiencing a bit of a Renaissance.
Chris Burd
This book was only okay, and I suspect two specific factors are to blame for that.

First, the information is, at this point, not terribly groundbreaking or fresh. I realize that this might not be fair, because when it was originally published in 2004, Lakoff may have been pioneering this type of thought.

The second issue I have with the book, however, is Lakoff's constant reminders in the new edition about how he DID pioneer this thought. His tone was just far too arrogant for my taste.
Sep 28, 2018 rated it liked it
This one is pretty hard to rate. I think there are definitely some good ideas and I very much connected to the concept of strict-father vs nurturer frames. I was floored by the author's metaphors for 9/11 because it put into words a visual I didn't know I had. At the same time, I was annoyed by his self-congratulatory tone and turned-off by the imperious tone throughout much of the book. I give the book both 2 stars and 4 stars, so I averaged it to 3.
Anne Donohoe
Really interesting look at the use of language and how conservatives have used it to shape (and manipulate) the national narrative. Should be required reading for anyone interested in politics. (Only gave it a 3 instead of 4 bc it was a bit dense and long winded... but overall really good. Wish good reads allowed half stars!!)
Kim Shively
This is a collection of essays on the same theme, so the book tends to be quite repetitive. But it is still very useful. I would recommend reading just the first chapter of part 1 and then skipping to part 2. The rest of the essays in part one are applications of Lakoff's argument to specific cases from the early 2000s.
Nov 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Excellent book that Lakoff needs to update although its strategies and advice hold up completely. It’s one of those simple yet elegant concepts: reframing and the absolute need to frame progressive values clearly and constantly and not fall into the trap of accepting conservative frames when discussing an issue.
Rebecca Roycroft
Liked: this book uses science, it also gives practical advice

Wanted more of: cognitive science, economic theory

Think it would be good to put the practical advice in the final chapter into practice--sometime soon hopefully!
Jul 23, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The linguistic structure of the title makes you think of an elephant. Your mind responds to the frame, not the message.

George Lakoff's recent history is interesting. This book was a temporary cult phenomenon in progressive communities, and Lakoff was in demand in the inner sanctum of Democratic politics, temporarily. Then he went out of fashion, although not without lasting impact and an established coterie of true believers. A few months ago, the Elmwood Institute in Berkeley, dedicated to the
Jefferson Fonseca
May 27, 2017 rated it liked it
O conteúdo é muito interessante, porém acredito que não seja o livro ideal para quem deseja maior aprofundamento. Além de alguns insights sobre frames, o livro basicamente é um manual para orientar os liberais norte-americanos em debates contra os conservadores de lá.
ed schmitt
Oct 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting reading

While the book is interesting,too many of the ideas supported are contrary to my life experiences. He doesn't allow for situations that were good at one time but that now have become problematic.
Barton Stanley
Useful information but too strident and biased, which limits it's credibility. It's this type of withing that makes progressives look bad, imho.
Lee Ann
Jun 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
A good primer on Lakoff's ideas around framing communications. A very easy and fast read. Still relevant today.
Jan 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For someone who is already politically involved this has some good information but is also a rehash of many of the ideas behind progressive values.
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George Lakoff is Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at UC Berkeley and is one of the founders of the field of cognitive science.

He is author of The New York Times bestseller Don't Think of an Elephant!, as well as Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, Whose Freedom?, and many other books and articles on cognitive science and ling
“You can't understand Twenty-first-Century Politics with an Eighteenth-Century Brain.” 9 likes
“There is no such thing as a self-made man. Every businessman has used the vast American infrastructure, which the taxpayers paid for, to make his money.” 6 likes
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