I have a simple new model of how persuasion works. The more you hear a message, the more persuasive you find it. That’s it. That’s the model.
Okay, so it’s not entirely a “new” model. I suspect that many people already believe something like this – in part. They also think that the message itself matters. But what if it doesn’t? The radical claim of this model is that quantity >> quality. Consistency and coherence matter MUCH less than pure repetition. Notably, this theory that repetition is persuasion is inconsistent with the “marketplace of ideas” theory that good ideas tend to triumph over bad. If the bad ideas are repeated more, they will dominate.
The useful takeaway – and I hadn’t appreciated this until I thought it through today – is that how much you hear a message isn’t fixed. It’s something that both you and others can control. And it has some important corollaries:
Exercise for the reader: if this model of persuasion is true, what would an ideal system of free-speech law look like? Bonus question: what would an ideal system of content moderation look like?