"Do Intelligent Arguments Make A Difference?"

DiA entertains a depressing thought:

I'm trying, and failing, to think of an instance where voters on any side have been persuaded by a reasoned opposition on any issue. It might happen with individual voters on particular issues, largely of the technical varietyif someone sits down to figure out whether they support a bond issue, maybebut I can't think of a single issue where an argument, however elegantly expressed, has tipped the balance. These, I think, are the methods by which public opinion may be moved:

  • A momentous event (9/11, the oil spill, a botched execution)
  • The gravitational pull of mounting social change (gay marriage)
  • A timely and effective message, repeated ad nauseam ("It's the economy, stupid;" "change")