True Believers


A judge and I had a conversation one day about a good lawyer who knew how to win over juries.

The lawyer was defending a man who was accused of fondling an underage girl. In his closing arguments the attorney told the jury that his client touched the girl while he was sleeping, therefore he wasn’t responsible for his actions. The jury bought it. The man was acquitted.

“He doesn’t work to get the jury to believe what he says,” the judge told me. “He is good at convincing them that he believes it.”

The first way to get someone to believe you is to say it with authority. Once an audience is convinced of your conviction, it greases the wheels for their minds to follow suit.

It’s effective because a listener stops thinking about whether the speaker is telling the truth and instead begins to wonder why the speaker is so adamant about his view. This guy is pretty convinced of himself. He seems intelligent. What makes him such a believer?

Cons, lawyers, pundits and politicians are really good at this. By convincing victims they believe their own words, they tap into an emotion that victims and listeners fall for.

This is an important aspect with delivering news whether it’s Fox or MSNBC or the Wall Street Journal or New York Times. It doesn’t matter the political bent, it’s all a matter of making people believe that the speaker believes.

It’s been said many times that if you say something enough, people begin to think it’s true. When you convince someone that you believe something, it can sometimes become truth.

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