Seth's Reviews > Don't Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate: The Essential Guide for Progressives

Don't Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the De... by George Lakoff
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bookshelves: 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 for people trying to discuss the election and maybe a foot in the door for Lakoff's research to reach campaign staff. It was not especially successful at either.

If you read it for what it is, a collection of material on the same subject and inherently repetitive, it's not bad at all. It makes excellent bathroom reading. It is light on jargon and completely ignores definitions, detailed explanations, or anything else "textbooky"--a welcome change from Lakoff's better-known books.

If you want to really understand the material, though, in a way that you can apply in your personal or professional life, you need to read Moral Politics, his detailed lay explanation of the principles. It's also pretty readable and it tried to avoid covert bias (by moving all the biased material he could recognize to one chapter towards the end, called "Why I am a Progressive"), while Don't Think of an Elephant is openly biased throughout.

I bought 10 copies of this for my friends, mostly my friends who disagree with me on politics. I wanted us to have a framework and language to understand one another and it has been invaluable. But Moral Politics is the real thing.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
October 1, 2004 – Finished Reading
April 18, 2007 – Shelved
August 16, 2007 – Shelved as: psychology

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