Compare Trump and Clinton's debate strengths with this one weird "South Park" trick

After reading the reddit thread and feeling like it was bullshit, I was relieved to see how many other commenters here also felt it was bull.

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for fucks sake, this is a Rosetta Stone. someone is offering an explanation as to how people are able to believe Trump even after his facts are proven decidedly false. it’s the STRUCTURE of the communication. it’s in the FORM.

a line like “Hillary SAYS she doesn’t have any more hidden emails, BUT she IS a POLITICIAN…” allows the audience to offer their OWN logical conclusion to the syllogism over the ellipses. no wonder people feel personally connected to Trump while being unable to offer evidence as to what similarities they might share.

(…he screamed into the void…)


Well, it’s true that there must be something to the structure, the emotives, the chords it is striking that allow his demagoguery to rally people to him. The content of his speaking is so heavily found wanting. But there have already been a number more better explanations for it than this particular theory.

Examples -
He has been more successful at portraying himself as successful than actually being financially successful. As such he’s very good at talking people into the deal than actually following through with it. And the public hasn’t yet learned because they haven’t personally been burned by it yet.

He plays on fears, whipping up racism and nationalism, supporters of which get very vocal.

He claims to be a political outsider play to the ‘change candidate’ position at a time when the establishment is widely unpopular (so Clinton’s experience level, despite being substantial and capable, still has a negative stigma).

Now, you raise a good point about how his speaking

but I think that’s more a product of his intentionally vague language than his conjunctions.

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Trump 2016!


Points for enthusiasm, but again, you think it’s plausible that the difference between a good narrative and a bad one comes down to these two words? This seems easy enough to debunk:

A) My opponent smells like soup but she looks like leather! But don’t take my word for it!

B) My opponent is a con man and a liar. His only goal is to enrich himself while settling scores and imperiling the nation and the world.

You’d say A is the stronger narrative? Just look at all those buts.

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I’ll agree that first sentence of option A isn’t much of an argument, though it uses the word “but”. Both statements (‘soup’, ‘leather’) are made by the same speaker expressing a similar emotion; the “but” here is weak since “smelling like soup” and “looking like leather” don’t necessarily contradict each other in either a literal or metaphorical sense.

Though the last sentence of A (“But don’t take my word for it!”) seems like a throw-away line at first, I think that might be closer to the study’s premise. That the ‘difference’ here is not ‘soup vs. leather’ but ‘statement from power’ (e.g. Trump on the platform) vs. ‘local emotional resonance’ (i.e. “does it feel right to you?”, “do the people you personally know agree?”). So again, it sets up an argument, this time following the the emotional/narrative/truth arc of a stand up comedian (“he’s saying what we’re all thinking!”), even though it might be premised on hyperbole.

Option B certainly expresses an obvious thesis (an assertion posited on a premise of an underlying intent that has broader implications), but it hinges on an assumed agreement of the speaker’s interpretation of the subject’s intent. in this instance, the speaker is alone in his statement without even any opposition to push against or contrast with. Ultimately, it’s a characterization, placing the subject in a specific role without engaging the audience’s sense of evaluation and approval. In this way, Option B functions simply as a ‘statement from power’ instead of relinquishing the power of decision to the audience.

(to note, I don’t really understand why this is referred to as the narrative index, it seems to be more closely related to the construction of syllogisms)__

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But that’s exactly the point. “I’m sorry, but…” is selling a narrative. But an apology is not supposed to be a narrative, which is why “I’m sorry, and…” is an actual apology.

I think it’s saying that there is a strong correlation between speeches that tell good narratives, and ones that use the word “but” a lot. Not that the presence of “buts” creates a good speech.

It’s like the correlation between having a lot of books in the house and raising a good reader. It’s easy to “debunk” by filling a non-reader’s house with books, but it doesn’t mean that the correlation doesn’t say something valid.

It’s exactly like the examples the video brought up at the start: people say Trump resonates better because he talks at a third/fourth/whatever-grade level. That doesn’t mean that some random third-grader will sound presidential [insert joke].

I think people are reading too much into this. I think the South Park folks are saying “changing ‘ands’ into ‘buts’ and ‘therefores’ forces you to rewrite everything to create more causal narrative.” And I think this video is saying “calculating this index is an easy short-hand that seems to correlate pretty well with good rhetoric.”


The first sentence is the more emotionally engaging statemenet.

It’s an attack with imagery and sensation and punch.

The latter is just a list.

In a binary political setting , Sentence A) will probably be more effective.

Was that the point you were trying to make?

What I said made more sense before the replyee’s edit. No regrets.

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