Using the Principle of Social Proof to Marginalize, Discredit, and Disempower Orthodox Islam

Saturday

Social proof is one of six "weapons of influence" from the book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. When people are uncertain about how to respond, the principle of "social proof" says that usually people will look around and see what others are doing and do the same.

If you see two people have signed a petition, statistically, you will be less willing to sign it than if you see a million people have already signed it — especially if you aren't sure of the merits of the proposition.

If you saw a single protester on the street, would you pay much attention to him? But what if both sides of the street were filled with protesters? Wouldn't it make you more curious about what they were protesting? This is the principle of social proof.

A just read a good example of social proof in the book, The New Concise History of the Crusades. The crusaders were trying to capture the great walled city of Constantinople, but they were outnumbered and the city was well defended. But by luck, the crusaders made a hole in a back gate to the city, and one crusader climbed through the hole to find himself face-to-face with enemy soldiers. The lone crusader boldly drew his sword and ran toward the group of enemy soldiers. They turned and ran! Other soldiers inside the walled city saw their fellow soldiers fleeing from something (they knew not what), and they abandoned their posts and fled too. This panic spread throughout the city.

Amazingly, the crusaders who came through the hole walked over and opened the city gates. There were no soldiers inside the gate left to stop them. They easily captured the city — one of the largest and most well-built walled cities in the world. How? Because of the principle of social proof. Once a few soldiers were seen fleeing, other soldiers didn't know what to do. So they did what others were doing, and the more people who did it, the more it seemed like the thing to do. (Read the whole story here.) Social proof is a powerful principle of influence.

We can use this principle in many ways to marginalize, discredit, and disempower orthodox Islam. For example, when you find a good petition, you can encourage your friends to sign it. They will see that many other people have deemed it worthy of signing, and that will help them accept the information. Because of the principle of social proof, that information will be considered more valid. Without any pressure from anyone else, this seedling of validity can evolve into their personal belief.

You can use this principle in personal conversations, too. Think about it for a moment — are you likely to listen to someone who seems to be the only one who thinks that way? Or would you be more open to hearing what millions of people believe it?

We need to think about this when we're telling people about Islamic supremacism and the third jihad. When you talk to people and you imply that "nobody knows this," or that all the mainstream media is crazy, or in any way imply that you are the only one who knows The Truth, you automatically prevent people from listening. Their guard goes up. You have made the social proof principle work against you.

Instead, you need to let your listener know that a lot of people think this way. If you can add authority to these other people, so much the better (authority is another of the six principles). Let your listener know movies have been made about it, hundreds of books have been written about it, and millions of people are trying to do something about it around the world. This social proof will give weight to what you say and help awaken people to the situation, and that's what we need right now more than anything.

2 comments:

Citizen Warrior 11:51 PM  

One of our readers just sent in a little video with some good examples of the principle of social proof:

Japanese Social Experiments

Elsa 7:08 AM  

I think using social proof is great: millions know this, it's on dozens of blogs.

A suggestion: combine using social proof with the question: how is it that you're outside the network? how is it that you don't have this information?

And then suggest: why don't you subscribe to, say, Citizen Warrior? They have loads of info that the mainstream media doesn't report. Also, there's JihadWatch - daily updates on jihad worldwide.

In other words, try to entice the person to want to get in with the in crowd.

If they're dubious, agree with their being dubious. "I agree, it's good to be skeptical about information, and not swallow everything. But if you don't even give things a try, you don't have the chance to agree or disagree. You're just outside the loop."

I find it vital to do what I can so people start getting regular doses of info.

And, in my experience, lots of people are willing to sign up for one counter jihad blog or another.

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