What do magicians and politicians have in common?
Sound like the lead-in to a good joke? It isn’t. Magicians and politicians share a common trick based on the idea of focusing people’s attention on one thing so they can do something else and get away with it.
For magicians, it’s all in good fun. No harm; no foul. With politicians, it’s time to call “FOUL” on these masters of misdirection.
“The technique of misdirection, which is most notably and professionally practiced by magicians, is also a highly valued technique employed by politicians.”
Manipulation of the public is a valued political technique!?!
“As magicians have long known and neuroscientists are increasingly discovering, human perception is a jury-rigged apparatus, full of gaps and easily manipulated…A great deal of the success of a piece of magic is simply getting the audience’s attention and sending it to the wrong place…Magic shows are masterpieces of misdirection.”
“…people have a pronounced tendency to miss things that are happening right in front of them.”
“…we miss things simply because we aren’t looking at them.”
“…there’s a value in simply coming to grips with the gaps and limits in our awareness…”
People are growing more and more aware of the way politicians use a crisis —a distraction—to push through some law or take some action that leaders likely know the public would not accept under normal circumstances.
With the Great Recession in 2008, it was the Quiet Revolution in education policies (Common Core Initiative, robust data systems, outcome-based teacher evaluations, and school closures) that skipped across the national stage while our focus was on the fiscal cliff. And six to seven years later, once these policies were well in place in the states, it no longer mattered that they were finally noticed and dissension arose….too little, too late. And we continue to be played for fools — mostly unaware.
To purposely change a major national policy at a time when it is least likely to draw attention is a low blow in a country supposedly based on the Consent of the Governed.The only thing lower than taking advantage of a bad situation is to purposely create distractions.
“Distraction and misdirection are very close (and are sometimes used to mean the same thing). In distraction, you manage something that the other person notices. In misdirection, you more deliberately direct their attention (although not always obviously).”
At this point, we should question both political techniques and motives.
In today’s society, thinking critically and being vocal about a dissenting view puts a person at risk of being called a conspiracy theorist. But think about this, politics as we know it involves deception.
“To some degree, politics has always involved deception….Media bosses demand a constant flow of material, which ensures that much reporting remains undigested. Customers want speed or will click elsewhere; competitors spew their own undigested news, and campaigns are only too happy to concoct it, or their opponents will. Shiny objects become tools of our least resistance. Polls and gaffes take less time and brainpower to comprehend than, say, Jeb Bush’s book on immigration policy.
In other words, the press colludes with politicians in this culture of distraction-mongering.”
So with the presidential race starting earlier than EVER…
“It is simply insane how much we’ve pushed up our presidential campaigns.”
…with all eyes on the hair on the stage, what went on in congress while the majority of the population didn’t have their eyes on “our representatives”? Several really, really Big Bills were put on the Fast Track. To name the ones I know—trade, infrastructure, and education…the last one only taking eleven days from its appearance to the pre-planned signing! Now that’s fast!
Was the early start to presidential campaigning insane or a distraction?
Activists on a variety of topics are telling the same story. They tried to draw attention to their cause only to find that they couldn’t rally enough troops to make a difference. They couldn’t grab the attention from the main stage.
“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk: culture-death is a clear possibility.”—Author Neil Postman
“When we’re being bombarded with wall-to-wall news coverage and news cycles that change every few days, it’s difficult to stay focused on one thing—namely, holding the government accountable to abiding by the rule of law—and the powers-that-be understand this.”
“If we do not awaken to the truth and open our eyes soon, then we may well find ourselves staring at a far different, far less pleasant picture before long, and by then, it will be too late to alter our reality.”
Trickery by magicians is entertaining. By politicians, the same methods are putting our nation at risk.