Recent Blog Posts

Respect Your Betters, Peon!

 Posted on April 05, 2019 in Uncategorized

Chris McNutt, executive director of the nonprofit group Texas Gun Rights, blames Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen for a Constitutional Carry bill not being heard in the House. So he went to visit Bonnen's home. (Bonnen claims that McNutt knew Bonnen wasn't at home, and calls the visit "gutless.")

As a result, Poncho Nevárez, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said that "the behavior of certain groups and/or individuals who are unreasonable in their expectations and even more unreasonable in their behavior caused me to reconsider" having a hearing on the Constitutional Carry bill.

McNutt's visit to Bonnen's home was perfectly legal. Bonnen's point about gutlessness notwithstanding, McNutt had as much right to call on Bonnen's home as to call on anyone's.

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 Posted on April 05, 2019 in Uncategorized

American Lawyer Media's Angela Morris, interviewing me for this article, asked me why I am fighting Texas's revenge-porn statute.

Since I'm fighting these cases without getting paid nearly as much money as my time is worth (a roundabout way of saying pr* b*n* without using those words), it's a fair question for a lay audience (by which I mean "one not composed of First Amendment lawyers").

My answer, "Because somebody has to," didn't make it into the article. That's fair. It probably doesn't add much to the lay audience's understanding. After all, knowing nonconsensual publication of intimate visual material is a dick move, at the very least. Why does anyone have to make it any less legally risky?

So here's a better answer: Because someone is going to, and that someone had better be me.

If we all just pretended that dick-move speech could constitutionally be forbidden, if there were no appellate cases on the constitutionality of a speech-restricting statute like section 21.16 of the Texas Penal Code, the constitutionality of that statute could not going to be used to justify restricting non-dick-move speech.

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Another Model of Charisma

 Posted on November 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

I've talked about the power + presence + warmth model of charisma, and about Tshkay and colleagues' affability + influence model, in which they pick six self-observable traits to describe charisma:

  1. Makes people feel comfortable.

  2. Smiles at people often.

  3. Can get along with anyone.

  4. Has a presence in a room.

  5. Has the ability to influence people.

  6. Knows how to lead a group.

If you think of charisma as power + presence + warmth, you can work on the individual components of your own charisma. That is, you can increase your charisma by working on on projecting power (whether personal or social), being present, and feeling warmth.

If you see charisma as affability + influence, where affability might not be the same as presence + warmth and influence might not be the same as power, you can work on those traits. And if you break those traits down into "making people comfortable," "knowing how to lead a group," and so forth, you might increase your charisma by improving those more specific abilities.

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Things to Make Congruent

 Posted on October 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

This is a note, extracted from the preceding post for special attention later.

For charismatic leadership, all of these should be congruent with the emotion that you are seeking to elicit:

  1. The values you appeal to;

  2. The metaphors you use;

  3. The emotion you display; and

  4. The language you use.

The emotion you elicit, in turn, should be congruent with the action you are seeking to prompt.

So it all starts with the action you are seeking to prompt.

Is the valence positive (affiliative) or negative (expulsive)? Is the focus inward (object of the action (e.g. your client) in the same group as the subject (e.g. the jury)) or outward (client outside jury's group)?

You can probably imagine scenarios in which you would want to elicit each of these types of moral emotion, but the most common is probably in the upper-right quadrant, eliciting an emotion that will lead the jury to affiliate, through you, with your outgroup client.

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A Charismatic Leadership Loop

 Posted on October 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

Thomas Sy and Calen Horton of University of California, Riverside; and Ronald Riggio of Claremont McKenna College, propose this model of charismatic leadership:

Hey, look. A loop!I love loops.

The article, Charismatic Leadership: Eliciting and channeling follower emotions, is published in Leadership Quarterly.

The charismatic leader elicits an emotion in the followers, who have an emotional response. The leader channels this emotional response into congruent behavior, and the followers act, resulting in an outcome. If the outcome is successful, the followers attribute it to the leader, who can then more easily elicit emotions.

In this model the emotion is a proximal outcome of the leader's behavior, which then is channeled toward the distal outcome. For example, the leader elicits admiration and channels that emotion toward emulatory behavior.

The emotions that the authors focus on are the moral emotions:

  1. Other-praising moral emotions

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So What Was That About?

 Posted on October 28, 2018 in Uncategorized

Here I solicited your self-ratings in six areas:

  1. Has a presence in a room.

  2. Has the ability to influence people.

  3. Knows how to lead a group.

  4. Makes people feel comfortable.

  5. Smiles at people often.

  6. Can get along with anyone.

I hope you're wondering what that was about. If you haven't already shared your answers, please be so kind as to do so now.

I've been teaching charisma. To trial lawyers, sure (especially in the context of voir dire, where being more likable than the other guy is the most important thing), but also to business students and ordinary people.

The conception of charisma I have been teaching, I adopted from an outstanding book, The Charisma Myth, by Olivia Fox Cabane. Cabane's model of charisma has three components: presence, power, and warmth.

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Do This For Me

 Posted on October 26, 2018 in Uncategorized

On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is Strongly Disagree and 5 is Strongly Agree, please rate how much you agree that each of these six items describes you:

  1. Has a presence in a room.

  2. Has the ability to influence people.

  3. Knows how to lead a group.

  4. Makes people feel comfortable.

  5. Smiles at people often.

  6. Can get along with anyone.

Leave your ratings in the comments.

Thank you.

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Some Thoughts on Loops in Interpersonal Relationships

 Posted on October 26, 2018 in Uncategorized

Continuing our exploration of loops...

Some loops are entirely internal. For example, Zeigarnik discovered her effect by observing a waiter who could remember a party's entire order only until he had served it. He then promptly forgot who had ordered what.

The loops I am more interested in are shared between people. Of those, I see two distinct sorts: loops in which only one party is active, and loops in which more than one party is active.

Let's call the kind of loop in which the audience does not participate, a performative loop. For that sort of loop, consider the humble banana.

The other sort of loop, in which the audience participates, is a participative loop. A conversation, an argument, a handshake, a fight: any interaction between two or more people is a participative loop. Inside a performative loop, there might be many participatory loops-every question and answer passing between the speaker and the audience is a participative loop.

Performative loops are intended to capture your attention. Some things are worth your attention, and some are not. You should be able to maintain control over your attention, and filter out most of the unworthy things. Recognizing when someone is opening a performative loop at you is a good step toward maintaining that control.

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Loops, Charisma, and War

 Posted on October 25, 2018 in Uncategorized

I've been thinking about loops.

I wrote about loops here, and in the intervening nineteen months I've come to a better understanding of them.

Loops were called to my attention by the Zeigarnik Effect, which is that our minds will keep paying attention to open loops until the loops are closed. In hypnosis we use this effect to deliver suggestive payloads to the subconscious: if you open loop inside loop inside loop inside loop the conscious mind gives up trying to keep track of them, and you can make a suggestion, and then close the loops successively and the conscious mind will not be aware of the suggestion delivered to the unconscious mind.

In studying and teaching persuasion and charisma I realized that most two-way interpersonal communications are loops. If I smile warmly and sincerely at you, you may feel good and will smile warmly and sincerely at me, and I will feel good: a feedback loop.

If you scowl at me, I may feel bad and scowl at you will feel bad: also a feedback loop. Lots of people go through life this way, wondering why the world hates them and putting on a defensive scowl.

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Follow Up on MGA Garage Door Yelp Laundering

 Posted on September 07, 2018 in Uncategorized

Brad commented on Spotting Review Yelp Laundering:

If you check the WHOIS for MGA (whose physical address on Yelp is an apartment complex) on GoDaddy, the registrant for MGA's website is "Lior Mi" - at Grand Garage Door's physical address.

So Grand Garage Door and MGA Garage Door are run by the same people. Good to know.

I ran that physical address on the Harris County Appraisal District website, and found that it is a house belonging to Lior Mizrahi-"Lior Mi."

The Texas Secretary of State associates Mr. Mizrahi with several other businesses, including "Garage Door Cowboys":

"GDS Team" is MGA.

Garage Door Cowboys is an Austin Company. It has a Yelp review from "David S." in Rancho Cucamonga. David is a garage-door-repair connoisseur. Also a review from Yaniv P. in Austin-I don't think I've ever met a Yaniv. But look: David S. and Yaniv P. are Yelp friends.

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