“Don’t buy cigarettes for minors”

It’s true. It’s used as a marketing ploy too. I saw it when Phillip Morris was instructed to put anti-smoking signs in stores in he 90s. The first ones read something like,

“Don’t buy cigarettes for minors”

How does the brain read that?

“Buy cigarettes for minors”. It puts the idea in your head.

Then it negates it.

Did it increase adults buying cigarettes for minors? No idea. But it’s that kind of technique.


When I started teaching framing the first thing I would tell the class is “Don’t think of an elephant,” and of course, they think of an elephant. I wrote a book on it because the point is, if you negate a frame, you have to activate the frame, because you have to know what you’re negating. If you use logic against something, you’re strengthening it. And that lesson was not understood. So if people think in terms of logic — it’s a mistake that’s made every day on MSNBC — you go on there and you’ll get people saying, “Well, you know, Trump said this, and some Republicans said that and Jeff Sessions said this and here are the facts that show they’re wrong.” You just keep repeating the things that you’re negating. And that just strengthens them.

-George Lakoff, 2017


This is the book that taught me the technique you’re mentioning. I use it all of the time; it’s become how I engage with people generally (at least online).


I read it way back in 1990/91 and it stuck with me.


It doesn’t work with everybody though. If it did, I’d be the #1 Ninja Kung-Fu Master of Debate. But it’s a good thing to have in the toolbox of rhetoric.

lol I wouldn’t sweat it. I doubt you’re doing anything wrong by _not_ reading it. At least from this internet perspective, you appear to be doing everything ‘right’ as much as anybody can.



Some people call this stuff subliminal. But I don’t think it’s quite as powerful as all that. But it *can* sneak in messages sideways to an already willing mind.


He brings up a point – that I’m proud of having already done (I’m an apt pupil of Lakoff I guess!) – of reframing “removing regulations” for what it *really* is:

Removing protections for citizens against corporate and government over-stepping.

So, when regulations are dropped, talk about the protections you’re losing. Talk about the protections of the people in their “care circle” will lose.

Good example of that in the media is when the 45th President signed away the ACA.

A lot of reporters did it wrong. But one that did it right reframed it as: “And look at the disabled veterans that are going to lose their healthcare now”. Fuuuuuuck! Part of the traditional conservative protection group, and removing this regulation will remove their protection? Conundrum ensues.




Lakoff makes a strong point : these are “unspoken morals”.

The people supporting these values just assume they’re true. I just assume they’re true and never thought about it either way.

Because they assume these are true, they never speak them out loud. They don’t even think they’d have to because they assume EVERBYBODY thinks the way they do about these things.



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