Tag Archives: conventional wisdom

The Language of Talking Points


TALKING POINTS, all the political parties, candidates, and politicians use them.  But where do they come from, what good are they, and what are the downsides? Talking points are one of the types of CONVENTIONAL WISDOM  that was  featured earlier this month. Conventional Wisdom describes ideas or explanations that are generally accepted as true by the public or by experts in a field but are not necessarily true. The term talking points is used pejoratively to refer to the idea that statements which are repeated over and over become conventional wisdom regardless of whether or not they are true.

A talking point in debate or discussion is a succinct statement designed to persuasively support one side taken on an issue. Statements can either be free-standing or created as retorts to the opposition’s talking points and are frequently used in public relations, particularly in areas heavy in debate such as politics and marketing. They are often created by political think tanks that strategize the most effective informational attack on a target topic and launch talking points from media personalities to saturate discussions to frame a debate in their favor, standardizing the responses of sympathizers to their unique cause.  These lists of talking points are disseminated to those sympathizers who frame their responses in interviews with media outlets to reflect the info contained in the talking points memo. That’s why when media folks ask questions during interviews, the answers don’t fit the questions sometimes.

Tomorrow, PR Points Related to Talking Points.    Rita Bay

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Conventional Wisdom

Conventional wisdom describes ideas or explanations that are generally accepted as true by the public or by experts in a field but are not necessarily true. Though widely held, conventional wisdom is  unexamined and may often be used to maintain the status quo. It was popularized in the 1950s by economist John Kenneth Galbraith in his book, The Affluent Society, but actually dates to the 19th century.  Examples of conventional wisdom from history include:

Nero did not “fiddle” during the Great Fire of Rome. As a matter of fact violins had not been invented.  Also, Nero rushed back to Rome to organize a relief effort, which he paid for from his own funds, and he also opened his palaces to provide shelter for the homeless, arranging for food supplies to be delivered in order to prevent starvation among the survivors.

In ancient Rome, the vomitorium was the entranceway through which crowds entered and exited a stadium, not a special room used for purging food during meals. Wealthy gluttons and emperors may have binged and purged, vomiting was not a regular part of dining.

Christopher Columbus did not believe in the flat earth idea that was prevalent prior to his voyage.  Sailors and navigators of the time knew that the Earth was round. The early Greeks knew it was round and Eratosthenes actually calculated the Earth’s diameter.

Tomorrow, More misconceptions.   RitaBay

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