Changing Minds in Detail

David Starker

This book was given to me not as an actual volume, but instead as a series of ring-binder printouts from one of my more interesting teachers, even if I only knew him for a short while. One of the more ethical—albeit also one of the harder to find—books on persuasion. (But it begs the question if books on persuasion can even be ethical, at all.)

Starker has a bad habit of repeating the same things over and over, but his work is not singular, and tries to find common strings between multiple diverse fields in which persuasive tactics are used. Reading a lot of craft writing books beforehand made many of the concepts feel familiar to me, as they were largely the same things, but under different names. It is not a magic-bullet solution to changing people's minds about any specific thing, but a generalized framework to keep in mind only for when one is truly serious about their persuasive efforts, and is simply ineffective when attempted casually.

The ultimate thing that sets this book apart from other attempts at outright manipulation, is the central concept of “closure”—the very moment when the mind is changed. Closure is something a person must reach on their own, and while you may lead them to it on the best of days, it is not a path that any ethical persuader can force someone to take. (If, indeed, that is a thing the persuader cares about...)

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