I was quite young when I first came across the phrase, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” in the context of how to frame a question for a failing answer. That broad concept jarred my innocent assumptions: “Why would you want to do that?” And once having eyes opened to the manipulation of it, I began to see it everywhere. I’ve been observing this since high school.
This tactic used to be the realm of the salesman but I began to see it in journalists’ interviews, and then in the way everything in the media was artfully worded for a desired emotional impact. And yes, it was. It HAD to be, or else people wouldn’t buy it.
Today the impact of phrasing has drifted into “scientific polling” and we’ve disdained the poets for science that isn’t science within cultural surveys of all sorts. People sift, sort, and filter through the answers to find what they were planning on finding, by dint of the questions and how they were framed. “Why would they want to do that?” Indeed, why?
Soon, if not already, your workplace will have you take a “survey” to see how racist you are. It is not science, no matter which lauded institution of higher learning touts it. It is art, and an extremely complex and clever one. But its sophistication does not make it an accurate picture of your soul.
Manipulation is the devil’s playground, and it’s why we are reminded in the bible that he is the accuser of your soul, and you mustn’t give him that authority. Besides, it’s where all the money is made. There is HUGE money in this latest attempt to have vast numbers of people self-negate in order to feel better about the horrible mirror that such manipulations hold up for them to see. This is a false framing of the problem, a false burden of sin, and a false salvation for your soul. All dressed up as systemic compassion as an answer to the oppression that the accuser brings to the world.
For sure we are sinful and in need of salvation. We know our own soul. To trust a statistician to reveal it to you is to go to a gypsy to have your fortune told, to be promised that she will unlock the mystery of your self to you. It’s witchcraft.