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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

How I Get People to Talk

I’m very unsociable but I like drawing people out about their political beliefs for non-scholarly research purposes. I have a few easy tricks that help me do that.

With people who are likely to be of Liberal persuasion I say, “As an immigrant, I. . .” or for those who look like tougher customers “When my husband was an undocumented seasonal workers in the fields. . .” When they hear that, they put on this look of intense compassion, and that’s it, it’s easy from there.

With people who look conservative, I say, “I’m from Canada, and taxes are so much higher there. And what do we get in return?” My interlocutors get this glazed, shellacked look on their faces that I will have once I’m finally reunited with my phone. And then stuff starts pouring out of them.

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9 thoughts on “How I Get People to Talk

  1. Shakti on said:

    Machiavellian level manipulation. :-p

    What happens with “I’m an immigrant from Canada and taxes are so much higher there. And what do we get from it in return?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • You never use the word “immigrant” with conservatives unless you are prepared to add “I love Trump” and “yay for deportation.” My trick is that I’m always completely honest.

      Like

  2. Just saw an informative article:

    Volatile and dangerous: a look at the humanitarian crisis in Gaza
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4929579,00.html

    Also read an opinion column predicting another operation in summer.

    Ah, and this evening:

    “Rocket fired at Hof Ashkelon lands in open area … Hamas has began to evacuate positions out of fear of an Israeli reprisal attack.”

    Like

  3. Stringer Bell on said:

    A couple of years ago someone approached me at a party with — I shit you not — ‘What are your thoughts about the 2002 gujarat hindu muslim riots’?

    Talk about a risky first move!

    Like

  4. Evelina Anville on said:

    This is interesting! What clues do you use in order to predict if someone tilts liberal or conservative? (Like how do you know whether to ask the “liberal” question or the “conservative” question?)

    I try to do predict people’s political compass’s all the time. I can usually accurately assess pretty quickly if someone is conservative or liberal (sometimes just by looking: fashion/hair choices can reveal a lot.)

    Like

    • Sometimes it’s easy just on the basis of who the person is. For instance, what are the chances that a 60-year-old white plumber from Missouri didn’t vote for Trump?

      But there is another easy tell. The better people understand my English, the more likely they are be conservative. The more people ask, “What? I’m sorry? Could you repeat that?”, the more likely they are to be Liberal. I have this colleague who is very progressive. She’s been to the Ferguson protests, the recent airport protests, a very active, engaged person. I’d love to hang out with her but I can’t because she literally doesn’t understand anything I say. It gets very frustrating.

      Like

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