EF7 (S1-E5): Sleight of Mind: The Black Magic of Rhetoric

(EF7) S1-E5: Sleight of Mind The Black Magic of Rhetoric The Evolve Faster Podcast with Scott Ely Season One

(EF7) S1-E5: Sleight of Mind: The Black Magic of Rhetoric (Season One, Episode Five)

PLAY | DOWNLOAD Evolution gifted humans with minds able to create complex abstractions like language. But what if this ability is manipulated to hold power over others like a spell cast with black magic? And can we trust reason and our ability to protect ourselves? More...

Can We Trust Reason?

The big question driving Episode EF7 is … Can we trust reason? In an online world now overcome with fake news, reason and rational thinking would seem to be an obvious bet for an antidote. But how many times did you find yourself in a situation where your reasoning was unreasonable to somebody else? Does this mean it’s not a consistent tool we can trust in all situations? Or are there other skills you need to develop in your critical thinking toolbelt in order to fight fire with rhetorical fire?

So you shouldn’t discard reason as a reliable tool in your existential arsenal, but it’s prudent to give it a regular and proper maintenance job ever. Reason didn’t create us but the other way around. So when’s the last time humanity created something that’s 100% perfect? Following reason blindly is same as blindly following emotions — and it gets even worse when these two are mixed up.

Episode EF7 Summary

Edward, a marketing master and spokesperson for the dark arts of rhetoric and propaganda, is hired to educate a controversial businessman running for an important public office. It’s Edward’s job to bestow the black magic of verbal and written manipulation on the businessman to win the election. Where the tongue is quicker than the mind—and the pen sharp enough to cut—are these skills a well-respected art? Or are they just cheap mental tricks wielded by insincere charlatans?

Since perfected by the ancient Greeks, rhetoric has slowly devolved from a respected art into a manipulative tool used in marketing, politics and any other walk of life where mental and verbal coercion pays. Rhetoric, propaganda and the strategic use of logical fallacies are mental and verbal manipulations similar to the dark arts of black magic, in that they create smoke and mirrors to change minds to believe mistruths. And unlike a magician who deceives to entertain, these dark wizards act maliciously in pursuit of profit and power over others.

But what are the real cornerstones of these dark arts of mental wordplay? And it possible to recognize—or even to fight back—when someone tries to sway you using mental magic tricks filled with lies?

Into The Rabbit Hole

SHOW NOTES: This episode is dedicated to George Orwell. See the EF7 Show Notes for details of the dedication, inspirations, references, selected quotes and more. 

ABOUT THE EVOLVE FASTER PODCAST: Everything is changing, yet the questions that drive us remain the same. Will humanity face the absurdity of our collective existential crisis in time? Join Scott Ely as he takes us deep into the rabbit hole with philosophical tales to reboot your mind, upgrade your life and explore your soul. To Evolve Faster is to see the fact that you will die someday as a formidable challenge, instead of a source of immense fear. Create your reality…before it creates you. Isn’t it time for an upgrade? More episodes…

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