(From Abet, 4/26/07:) "Book review: Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (2007).. this book is about what makes ideas memorable, spreadable, and motivating -- "sticky." What makes message sticky is summed up in the slightly goofy acronym SUCCES:
"Simplicity. Can it be expressed in a very few pithy words?"
In other words, Hemingway prevails. If it's not a sound byte, I won't pay any attention. Anything longer than than five words is too much for me to remember. And puh-leez, don't ask me to memorize anything, especially scripture.
"Unexpectedness. Is it surprising?"
In other words, I don't need to pay any attention to anything that bores me, so you must constantly find ever new ways to shock me into paying attention to you. You must earn my attention; I'm not under any obligation to listen to you.
"Concreteness. Is it real or theory?"
In other words, Marx was right, seeing things far more clearly than Plato, Aristotle or Thomas Aquinas: praxis is everything. If it works, it's gotta be true. Anything else is ivory tower and so I don't have to pay attention to it.
"Credibility. Is there a good reason for people to believe it? "
In other words, Maritain was wrong. Epistemology does come before metaphysics. Doubt trumps wonder. Clifford was right, and (to paraphrase Garrison Keillor) "we're all Evidentialists now."
"Emotions. Does it make people care at a gut level?"
In other words, Plato was wrong and Hume was right: we "think" with our guts.
"Stories. Can it be expressed in a narrative way?"
In other words, we don't have any other way to hear you except how we've been conditioned by TV, a medium better known for sitcoms and crime dramas than debates.
The enemy is the "Curse of Knowledge" -- we know our stuff too well, so we fail to communicate clearly to those who know less than we do.
(That's the number-one reason for weak fundraising!)
Possibly. But could it also be that those we seek to communicate with have ADD? That's not to say that we shouldn't keep trying to communicate! But at some point, those we communicate with need to know that they may have a learning disability, and if so, they need to develop skills to overcome it.