Emory Report
October 27, 2008
Volume 61, Number 9



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October 27
, 2008

Aim for the heart to win in politics
“How many of you remember Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a plan’ speech?” quipped Drew Westen, professor of psychology, during a Life of the Mind lecture. Choosing words that evoke strong emotions is vital to getting people behind a movement or idea, Westen said. “If you don’t move voters with what you say, you will not move them.”

The Republican Party has milked the emotions of voters for years, using advertising techniques that connect ideas and brand them into people’s minds, he noted. Many Democrats, however, have lost races due to the false belief that emotion is too much like propaganda and it’s better to barrage people with facts and figures, Westen said. “If you want to win hearts and minds, you have to start with the heart.” — Carol Clark

Diamond on collapse, survival
“Collapse is not inevitable. The challenge is to understand why some societies thrive and why some fail,” said evolutionary biologist and author Jared Diamond.

The Goodrich C. White lecturer expounded on findings from his latest book, “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.”

Successes: Japan, New Guinea. Iceland — “provided it survives the current economic crisis,” he said, getting a laugh.

Failures: Rwanda, Easter Island, Mayan civilization.

On the verge: China, Australia.

“Modern societies are struggling with all the same problems as in the past and some new ones as well,” he said, noting that “choices make the difference.”

Hopeful signs that we will be able to solve our problems: Technology, communications and the capacity to learn from the past. — Leslie King

Carter: U.S. must do better on rights
“We can’t take basic human rights, basic civil rights, for granted,” said former President Jimmy Carter, during his keynote for “Advancing the Consensus: 60 Years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

“The United States government has become a gross violator of key provisions of the Universal Declaration,” said Carter, citing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp among many examples.

“All of us need to exert a renewed effort to ensure that we as Americans will be able to celebrate, and not apologize for, our compliance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Carter said. — Carol Clark