Van Jones: “Language Intelligence Is The Progressives’ Field Guide In The War Of Ideas”

JR: Once a week I’ll do a weekend update on Language Intelligence. It’s had better reviews and better sales than any of my previous books — it hit #73 on Kindle nonfiction bestseller list — probably because it is more entertaining and more useful. I am reposting Van Jones’ review because I wouldn’t have published this book if not for him. He read a draft in 2010 and urged me to get this book out there. Thank you Van!

UPDATE: Climatologist Michael Mann has a review of the book at RealClimate. Singer-songwriter and Internet sensation Daria Musk has a shout out about the book to her 2 million fans on Google+.

The New “Must Read”: Joe Romm’s Language Intelligence

by Van Jones via HuffPost

In a war of ideas, the weapon of choice is words. Even when equipped with better and more popular ideas, progressives are losing the fight on ideas because of how we communicate those ideas — or fail to communicate them.

When I read an early draft of Joe Romm’s Language Intelligence two years ago, I told Joe it changed my life. I realized what I had learned from osmosis and practice through hundreds of speeches and direct feedback were secrets figured out centuries ago by the Elizabethans and others. Social scientists and advertisers have confirmed these secrets are the key to being memorable and persuasive.

To get our ideas out there, progressives need to communicate more powerfully. We aren’t failing to come up with good solutions. We’re failing in explaining them to the American people. That’s why I am encouraging every progressive to read Joe Romm’s new book: Language Intelligence: Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln, and Lady Gaga.

Let me give you a quick example of Romm’s Rules, in effect: When Rebuild the Dream campaigned to prevent the doubling of Stafford loan rates this summer, we followed his formulas for effective communication. By doing so, we were able to help millennials and students win a big victory on student loans.

The first rule: keep it short. “Don’t Double My Rate” got straight to the point of what we were trying to accomplish. It’s hard to envision a campaign slogan like “Keep federal Stafford loans at their current low rates” taking off in the same way.

The second and third rules: Use figures of speech and repetition to make memes memorable. The alliterative nature of “Don’t Double” helped make the campaign catchy, effective, and persuasive. As President Obama took up the “Don’t Double My Rate” cause, the term was repeated in speeches and the media, and it was constantly trending on Twitter until Congress took action to pass “Don’t Double.”

That is just one example of the usefulness of Joe’s approach. As one of the most impactful climate bloggers on Earth, Joe Romm knows the ins-and-outs persuasive communication. His Language Intelligence is the progressives’ field guide in the war of ideas. If you liked Lakoff’s Don’t Think of An Elephant, you’ll love Language Intelligence.

7 Responses to Van Jones: “Language Intelligence Is The Progressives’ Field Guide In The War Of Ideas”

  1. clays says:

    I’m with Socrates. Screw the sophists.

  2. idunno says:

    On a technical note, I think you’ll find that’s better translated as “Bugger the sophists”.

  3. Leif says:

    Time to toast the GOP,
    Not the Kidders…

  4. Joe Romm says:

    Me too, but those are mostly for writing, not speaking, tho I cite 1 and 2 in the book.

  5. Anne says:

    Excellent, can’t wait to read it. In the meanwhile, I’ve been reading Frank Luntz’s book along a similar vein (but, the evil twin version): “Words that Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear.” Luntz is a genius at this sort of thing. Words matter. Language matters. The truth also matters. Recently I shared a brilliant cartoon on Facebook. It’s Karl Rove, pleasantly sitting on the ground at the feet of Plato. Rove to Plato: “But surely you agree that truth can be created by the repitition of a lie.” A classic.

  6. Richard D says:

    Read the book, and enjoyed it, many thanks. Have to practice my extended metaphors now!