Electability response - Three men make a tigerSubmitted by ptferris on Tue, 03/06/2012 - 03:56
The term “Three Man Tiger” is a phrase that alludes to a Chinese idiom known as Three Men Make A Tiger. It comes from the story of a high ranking Chinese official named Pang Cong, who served during the Warring States Period (475 BC – 221 BC).
Pang was to about to embark as an envoy to a neighboring state, and fearing his political opponents would take advantage of his absence he asked the King if, upon hearing a single report of a tiger running rampant in the markets of the capital city, he would immediately believe the story – to which the King replied he probably would not.
The official asked the King if he would then believe two people reporting a tiger loose in the markets, and he replied, “I would begin to wonder.”
Finally he asked “What if three people all reported a tiger loose in the markets?”, and the King replied that he would believe it.
The official reminded the King that the notion of a tiger loose in a crowded marketplace was highly improbable, yet without checking the facts for himself three men's words had suddenly made a tiger. Spread by enough people, a rumor was as good as real.
The official naturally had many opponents and critics, and urged the King to pay no mind to those who would spread gossip and rumors about him while he was away. “I understand”, replied the King, and the official took his leave. Nonetheless, slanderous talk was inevitable, and when the official eventually returned home, the King refused to see him.
“Three men make a tiger .... if an unfounded premise or urban legend is mentioned and repeated by many individuals, the premise will be erroneously accepted as the truth. This concept is analogous to communal reinforcement.” [wikipedia]
"Communal reinforcement is a social phenomenon in which a concept or idea is repeatedly asserted in a community, regardless of whether sufficient empirical evidence has been presented to support it. Over time, the concept or idea is reinforced to become a strong belief in many people's minds, and may be regarded by the members of the community as fact. Often, the concept or idea may be further reinforced by publications in the mass media, books, or other means of communication. The phrase "millions of people can't all be wrong" is indicative of the common tendency to accept a communally reinforced idea without question, which often aids in the widespread acceptance of urban legends, myths, and rumors." [ wikipedia ]
We all know people who like Ron Paul for many reasons, but say they will not vote for him because he’s unelectable. I don't think there are enough stadiums in the United States to hold all the people that fall within this camp.
The utterance of the statement “Ron Paul is unelectable” is a prime example of communal reinforcement; the more people hear others say Ron Paul is unelectable, the more likely they accept it as an absolute truth.
The irony is that if you ask these people who say he is unelectable what they like and respect most about Ron Paul, you will likely be told that he consistently votes on principle. If only these people would do the same.
They apparently see themselves as a group sharing the same resignation rather than a group sharing principles. The failure to appreciate their commonalities, coupled with a lack of firm conviction, leads them to abandon their principles.
Another sad irony is that they abandon their principles, thereby destroying a potentially powerful group, and instead try to predict what others are going to do in an effort to be among a group they perceive will have greater strength and pick the winner. Ultimately, each voice in the group becomes weaker. The group is particularly weak when the members of this group are divided among three other candidates.
We all struggle with how best to respond to this statement. The positive statement "Ron Paul is electable" doesn’t have the same bandwagon effect. Rather, it’s growth is linear; moreover, it’s growth rate is outpaced by the negative statement “Ron Paul is unelectable”, the latter having the MSM as the loudest voice in the community.
Rather than attempt to turn the phrase around, perhaps the best response is to expressly dismiss the statement. Electability isn’t the issue. Ron Paul has already been elected multiple times. It’s about influence. And no one has influenced the political discourse in the country more than Ron Paul. Anyone can talk about the issues - fiscal policy, deficit spending, foreign policy. Ron Paul is the only one who leads the conversation. The entire nation has already begun to follow him.
Now you can tell these people a story about a tiger ...