Even skep­tics believe every­thing they’re told.  We all do.
At least, we believe it long enough to under­stand the mes­sage.  We wired that way.  There is no neu­tral park­ing wherein we can “hold” an idea while we eval­u­ate it.
Humans have to believe in order to under­stand, and they have to under­stand before they can reject*.  Hence the effi­cacy of push-polling in sway­ing — rather than just mea­sur­ing — voter opinions.
So what does this have to do with writing?
Read the fol­low­ing and see:
*** Insert of Letter ***
Clearly, nobody actu­ally believes all the things said in this let­ter.  Nor are they expected to, as the claims are all made tongue in cheek.
But the very pos­i­tive men­tal images were all vividly played out any­way, weren’t they?  We all accepted the propo­si­tions as true for what­ever frac­tion of a sec­ond it took to under­stand them.
And doesn’t the after­glow of those images still lighten your smile?
Now think of this: those cheery images have now attached them­selves the company’s name within your mind.  Recall the name, and you’ll likely recall these same images and feel­ings.  And how­ever irra­tional it might be, you’re now more likely to assume this com­pany has higher qual­ity and cus­tomer ser­vice stan­dards because of this letter.
Just some­thing to keep in mind.
* Now, sim­ple expo­sure to human nature tells you that “under­stand” is a rel­a­tive term, as lots of peo­ple reject ideas and mes­sages out of igno­rance.  Yet it’s not total igno­rance!  Those peo­ple reject ideas they mis-understand

Even skep­tics believe every­thing they’re told. We all do, actually.

At least, we believe it long enough to under­stand the mes­sage.  Appar­ently, we’re wired that way.

Since our brains have no neu­tral park­ing wherein we can “hold” an idea pend­ing eval­u­a­tion, we’re forced to believe first and then eval­u­ate.  Or so says recent research by the emi­nent Har­vard psy­chol­o­gist, Daniel Gilbert.

All of which is hardly news to (but cer­tainly explains the actions of) politi­cians using push-polling to sway voter opinions.

So what does this have to do with writing?

Check out how CD Baby puts this psy­cho­log­i­cal dynamic to good use:

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Clearly, nobody actu­ally believes the things said in this let­ter, nor are they expected to, as the claims are all made tongue in cheek.

But the very pos­i­tive men­tal images were all vividly played out in your mind any­way, weren’t they?  We all accepted the propo­si­tions as true for what­ever frac­tion of a sec­ond it took to under­stand and imag­ine them.

And doesn’t the after­glow of those images still lighten your smile?

Now think of this: those cheery images have now attached them­selves to the name “CD Baby” within your mind. Recall the name, and you’ll likely recall these same images and feel­ings.  And how­ever irra­tional it might be, you’re now more likely to assume this com­pany has higher qual­ity and cus­tomer ser­vice stan­dards because of this letter.

While most of us like to scoff at “cheesy” Jolly Green Giant-type com­mer­cials, when prop­erly exe­cuted, the silly, personality-driven aspects of those com­mer­cials can still work their magic, even among the cynical.

Just some­thing to keep in mind ;)

P.S. Full props to Kem Meyer, from whom I stole the CD Baby Letter/Image, and a hat tip to my friend Man­ley Miller for bring­ing her blog post to my attention.