Loosely, many scholars define persuasion as a process of…

Loosely, many scholars define persuasion as a process of influencing others. In doing so, they are careful to distinguish persuasion from coercion, force, propaganda, and the like. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that we understand the role of ethical and engaged persuasion in a democratic society. Whether we are talking about fighting the COVID-19 pandemic or systemic racism in law enforcement, engaged persuasion is absolutely vital since it is all about changing, altering, or reinforcing attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors for the common good. However, in the post-truth era, where social media echo chambers can so easily spread false and misleading information and where political polarization easily becomes magnified, there are many examples of unethical communication which may ultimately lead to, as we witnessed on January 6th, horrendous consequences. So, let’s begin this week’s discussion with these questions: How can we best explain the differences between ethically engaged persuasion for the common good and darker forms of communication? What challenges does engaged persuasion face in a digital age with rampant social media use and a post-truth world characterized by fake news (meaning “news” that is not factual and intended to deceive or mislead, as opposed to factual news that is labelled as “fake” because someone wants to discredit it)? Perhaps most importantly, how can ethically engaged persuasion lead us forward? And, why is it important for us to study persuasion? chose one response and run with it.
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