Around the Institute

Fear / Opposition Research / Data that Makes Sense

September 9, 2011

Understanding Fear
Most of us are familiar with the use of scare tactics in American politics. Take a close look at some of the campaign ads airing right now and you’ll know what we mean. The Center for American Progress and U.S. in the World focus on these and other messaging strategies in Fear, Inc. and Managing the Fear Factor. In this time of escalating public anxiety, advocates need to know what they’re up against.

Reframe, Reuse, Recycle
Last week, Michael Gerson wrote “Family planning as a pro-life cause” for The Washington Post’s opinion page. Yep, you read right, folks—pro-life. Drawing on the experiences of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he points out that family planning services have the potential to save the lives of mothers and their newborns. Gerson shows that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to get a message across; sometimes, recycling the opposition’s language will do the trick.

Much More Than Pretty Colors (Though They Count Too!)
Let’s be frank: statistics are often not exciting or easy to understand. This makes Swedish professor Hans Rosling’s accomplishment all the more remarkable. He and his team have created Gapminder, an online resource designed to make publicly-available data more user-friendly. As we’ve said before, numbers by themselves don’t tell us much. But with an appealing presentation and a narrative to explain the takeaways, stats begin to make sense.