Lecture One: Introduction to Communication
"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious." -Albert Einstein
•He said he spends the first 45 minutes understanding the question then in the last 5
minutes it will come to him.
•Sense of curiosity, wants to understand more about what it’s asking.
•Think above the obvious, put your shoes in others, and take the time to be able to
understand from their perspective.
“The qualities it took to succeed then are the same as today: intense curiosity, a genuine
interest in why people behave as they do, the ability to hold competing thoughts at the same
time, lateral thinking, hard work, and an obsession with never missing a deadline.”
Rikia Saddy, UHC, p.1
o When going to Brazil to teach, has to understand that the culture is different
therefore have to change his style.
•Senders & Receivers
•Physical & Psychological distortion/noise
o Things interfering, that make you not understand what's happening, noise.
If you have a bad experience with a professor then that will interfere you knowing
A simpler Definition:
•Communication is the process of human beings responding to the symbolic behaviour of
What are some characteristics that should understand about communication?
•What about between animals, and phones
There is a Method to the Madness.
•There is madness in the method.
o 7200 messages today we get from the moment we wake up to the moment we
go to sleep. o We live in a hyper-communicative society.
It's about making sense?
•Symbols: Toonies, beaver, etc.
o If he showed this in a different part of the world, they will be confused.
From One…To Many.
Types of Communication
6. Social Media communication
It Pro-longs our lives
•When the doctor communicated to his grandma that she has to stop living like….. It
saved her life, as he was a good communicator.
It Identifies Us
• Football team.
It Tells others…
•You are top dollar if driving a Lamborghini.
•Signs are practical, when they tell you where to go, GPS.
Models of Communication
o Sender Encodes
• Sending it to the right receiver
o Receiver decodes
• Takes the message and interprets the message.
• Pretty controlled channel in 1900, only newspapers and face to face.
•Choosing the right style and vocabulary for the communication
•Understanding the other person's communicative needs (Empathy)
o Putting yourselves in their shoes.
o Hardest communication is when he had to lay someone off (since they didn’t
Easiest communication was when he fired someone (because they didn’t meet
•Adjusting content, tone and emotions
•Understanding the situation and context
Ability to interpret and respond to feedback.
What needs does communication meet in our lives?
Can communication be learned, or are we born good communicators? A + 2P = C6
• Anticipation (doing your HW) + Preparation & Practice
• = Clarity, confidence, character, control, concise, charisma.
Minerva's Owl: Harold Innis
• Graduated in McMaster, B.A and Masters.
• Owl flies at the dusk of civilization, play on what Innis is talking about.
• Societies want to find balance between society and technology
o One of the founders of the field of media studies in Canada
Influenced, the thinking of Marshall McLuhan
o Graduate of McMaster/University of Chicago
o "sudden extensions of communication"
o Political Economy/Media Ownership
• BA/MA - McMaster University
• Ph.D. - University of Chicago
o Dissertation: Canadian Pacific Railway
o Staples theory: "assets that the Canadian Economy tended to rely on the
production of single commodities: fur, lumber, mining, agriculture, energy. As a result,
Canada found itself dependent, and in vulnerable economic relationships with major
• Britain & U.S.
• Question on final exam about him.
• Opaque & frustrating read
• Surveys all of history of communication
Disjointed and repetitive
• "Pervasiveness of language becomes a powerful factor in the mobilization of force
particularly as a vehicle for the diffusion of opinion among all classes. Language exposed
to major incursions became more flexible, facilitated movement among classes, favored
the diffusion of technology, and made for rapid adjustment."
o Oral tradition or indigenous/national language
Complex systems of writing
o Accessible to only a few
• Both co-exist in a state of tension
• When the two coverage - monopoly of knowledge is achieved
• But revolutions/change begins far from the centre •
Dawn of a new civilization
o Dusk - autumn
Steven Kabul with Ted Capel
• Rick Center with Brian Williams
• US Civilization is in danger, as their ability to use bag loads of money to elect who they
o Fake commercial about one of the south chlorine being a serial killer.
Innis & Communication:
• Bias of Communication
• Monopolies of Knowledge
• Social Change
• Method in the Bias of Communication
• People inhabit both a symbolic and a material environment
Influence of Adam Smith
• “The Invisible Hand”
• Smith the moralist influenced Innis the moralist
• The Theory of Moral Sentiments (A. Smith)
• Communities share values and beliefs that constrain the market
• Pre-literate, oral and tribal
• Emphasize continuity, for the human mind is limited in storage capacity
• Engaged in oral traditions
• Conserved knowledge of a very practical and religious/ magical nature
• Less possibility for abstraction
• Time flows in circular in this time-binding society with a recurrent present
• Tradition is valued over progress
• Were either oral (emphasizing social links) or hand-written
• Less transportable, harder to work with and more durable than space-binding media
• Defined as societies in which price system has penetrated fully or where the military
keeps the peace
• Secular, materialistic, and socially impersonal
• Greater possibility for abstraction
• Time is linear, not circular
• Time is broken up into chunks that can be valued and priced
• Progress is valued over tradition Space-binding media
• Are easier to work with, contain more information, are easier to transport and are less
durable than time-binding media
Summary of “Minerva's Owl”
• Creativity and learning attain their highest level only when a society has begun to
• In writing something down, you make it real and take responsibility for others
• Minerva's owl has flown for many civilizations
o Greece, Macedonia (Alexandria),Britain, United States?
Changes in social organization were accompanied by new modes of communication
• The mode of communication influenced society's values and society's function.
Innovation in communication happened in the hinterlands
• There was less structure.
• People could innovate more because there was less pressure from a centralizing
New media (radical ideas) move from the periphery towards the centre of Empire, transforming
society as they penetrate it and becoming more conventional themselves in the process.
Each medium of communication is associated not only with a civilization, but with a type of
• Hieroglyphics with spiritual knowledge/priesthood (Egyptians)
• Alphabet with reduced number of symbols leads to channels of knowledge and more
conventional culture (Greeks). It also leads to rationalism.
• Newspapers with advertising/current affairs/business led to more standardization and a
further advance towards a space-bound, materialistic society
New media create struggles not only between groups of people but between types of
• The sudden extension of communication
• Profoundly and irrevocably
Bias of Communication:
• Social history of communication
o Relative stability of culture
Monopolies of Knowledge
• Culture and politics • Universities
• Groups/individuals that control access to knowledge wield great power
• “Those who monopolize knowledge are also in a position to define what is legitimate
• How do new communication media develop?
• Need to understand physical characteristics (McLuhan)
• Society & Technology mutually influence one another
• Change starts from the fringes
• Music sharing (Napster – regulation)
• Develop free from commercialism
• The highest level of culture of an empire comes
• just before its decline and fall:
– “Minerva’s Owl begins its flight only in the gathering dusk.”
• “A monopoly or an oligopoly of knowledge is built up to the point that equilibrium is
• All great empires are most vulnerable in the moment of their over-reaching.
Wasn’t All That Bad
• History of communication
• Influence of language
– Written and vernacular
• Time vs Space Based Communication
• Need for balance
• Revolutions start at the periphery
• Societies reach their highest level just before they fall
• And so it begins again.
The message is the massage
• Took theory and made them contemporary in society.
• No longer was the powerful in charge, but this ground assault has really started to take
• English literature, was able to make obscure ideas,
• 1965: We used telephones to send lectures to a wide audience, now we can just use
• Problem with this medium:
• The medium is telling him one thing, and we lose control of non-verbal communication.
• McCluin predicted the future which technology will change the ways we think, and that
society will be different from the use of technology.
• He was seen by the elite as a nut, he was discredited.
• Set out to study how, the medium effected the message
• Pastorize the world into information. •Borderless world were communication is the medium.
•Born in Edmonton
•Converted to Catholicism
o Always an "outsider"
o 1979: suffered stroke & became aphasic
o Massively popular in the 1960s, forgotten in the late 70s and 80s
o Internet and WWW brought McLuhan back
o “Patron Saint” of WIRED Magazine
•Studied English literature and popular culture at U of Manitoba (B.A. & M.A.) &
• McLuhan was influenced by Innis, he accepted Innis’ “Communication Thesis”
• Concerned with rhetoric, not dialectic: for McLuhan, the content of objects is less
important than the fact that they exist in culture and society.
• Content of any medium is always just another medium:
• Content of speech is thought.
• Content of writing is speech,
• Content of printing is writing,
McLuhan’s Tetrad: The 4 Laws of the Medium
• These four effects are simultaneous, not sequential
• This four-square describes the medium's internal structure and order.
The 4 Laws:
1. What does the medium enhance or intensify or make possible or accelerate?
2. If some aspect of a situation is enlarged or enhanced, simultaneously the old condition
or unenhanced situation is displaced. What is pushed aside or rendered obsolete by the
3. What recurrence or retrieval of earlier actions and services is brought into play
simultaneously by the new medium?
4. When pushed to the limit, the new medium will tend to reverse what had been its original
characteristics. What is the reversal potential of the new form?
Analysis of the Automobile:
1. Enhances privacy
2. Renders the horse obsolete
3. Retrieves the knight in shining armor
4. Reverses into traffic jams, suburbs
Analysis of the Telephone:
1. Enhances dialogue
2. Renders privacy obsolete by eroding physical space
3. Retrieves instant access as in a tribal village
4. Reverses into the world of disembodied intelligence.
The Medium is the Message
• Objects have a grammar and logic when they are combined to make statements.
• Napoleon understood the grammar of gunpowder
• Alexis de Tocqueville understood the grammar of print media • England: vestiges of feudal/oral society; France/America were uniform societies
Media and perception
• St. Thomas Aquinas: The Sensorium
• Eye/Ear (Visual vs. Acoustic perception)
McLuhan’s General Theory of Media
• Media extend and amplify one or another of the senses, increasing the relative
importance of that sense in the sensorium
• Media can also extend the body (clothing/skin)
McLuhan Thinks Media can be Hot or Cool
• Hot media extend one's senses in a high-definition fashion, that is it paints an explicit
sensory picture for us, not obliging us to think or use our imaginations very much
• Example: print and written manuscripts
• Cool media gives little information, requiring the recipient to fill in the details. This forces
us to use imagination, fantasy and to participate in the medium
• Example: spoken language and dance
Marshall McLuhan on the Disorienting Power of the Media:
• With electronic media, Western man faces the same inundation and disorientation as the
remote native. The strictly ordered world of the book cedes to the anarchy of hypertext
and the internet.
• Example: Electronic media and TV
Quote from Pope Pius XII:
• “It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of the modern society and the stability of
its inner life depend on the maintenance of an equilibrium between the strength of the
techniques of communication and the capacity of the individual’s own reaction.”
McLuhan on the Power of the Media:
• If the formative power of the media is the medium itself, then we must consider the
media in the same way as we consider natural resources. Stress on a few major staples
creates extreme instability in the economy.
Lecture Seven: Pinker
• An Instinct to Acquire an Art
• Set the stage from a linguistic perspective of how we make sense of language.
• Language is a natural ability, immediately we have the natural ability to make and mimic
sound, a pattern of information.
• When were born, its like an empty hard-drive, nothing on our mind, then the parents
"program/put data on the baby"
o However pinker disagrees stating that this is not true, that when were born, we
are born with a certain set of beliefs. • Culture doesn’t shape language, it influences that different languages perceive people at
• In chatter boxes, language is universal, no one crater of language.
• There are stone age people but no stone age languages
• Children re-invented language every generation, done through natural process, and that
we in fact can create new languages.
• Information is what helps us make sense of visual identify of ourselves.
• In United States, conservatives or republicans identify some people as "liberals" as bad
A Blank Slate:
• Twins Talking
• Twins Talking again: What happens when you contextualize the "talking" by adding our
What does Pinker Think about That?
• He doesn't buy into the Blank Slate Theory
• Wired more than parenting
• Culture, relationships and context.
• Steven Pinker chalks it up to the blank slate
Some Reasons to Doubt that humans come in blank slate:
• Common Sense
• Human universals
The stuff of thought
• Language is window into the human mind
• Indirect speech acts
• Relationship mismatches
• Mutual knowledge
• Political Rhetoric
• Steven Pinker: The stuff
Lecture Eight: UHC CH 2
• Self” is a process. Continuously evolves and changes.
• The self consists of perspectives:
– Views about ourselves,
– about others, and
– About social life that changes over time as we interact with others.
Perception, the Self and Communication
• Beliefs, messages and image management
• Self-Concept and Self-Esteem
• The relatively stable set of perceptions you hold of yourself
• Ask yourself, “Who am I?”
• Describes who you think you are
• Evaluations of self-worth
• High self-esteem does not guarantee success – People with high self-esteem
• Likely to think well of others
• Expect to be accepted by others
• Evaluate their own performance more favorably
• Perform well when being watched
• Inclined to feel comfortable with views of others
• Able to defend themselves against negative comments
– People with low self-esteem
• Likely to disapprove of others
• Expect to be rejected by others
• Evaluate their own performance less favorably
• Perform poorly when being watched
• Feel threatened by people they view as superior
• Have difficulty defending themselves against others’ negative comments
• Biological and Social Roots to the Self
– Biology and the self
• Personality is part of our genetic makeup
• People who were judged shy as children still show a reaction as
adults when they encounter new situations
• Biology influenced traits
• Verbal Aggression
• Willingness to communicate
• Socialization and the Self-Concept
– Reflected Appraisal
• Each of us develops a self-concept that reflects the way we believe
others see us
• Children are not born with a sense of identity
• Children are bombarded with messages
– “You’re so cute!” “I love you.” “What a big girl.”
– “What’s the matter with you?” “You’re a bad boy.”
• Evaluations like the those above are the mirror by which we know
– Social Comparison • Evaluating ourselves in terms of how we compare with others
• Two Types of Comparison
– Superior or Inferior
– Attractive or Ugly
– Success or Failure
• These comparisons depend on the person we measure ourselves against
– Social Comparison and The Media
• Young women who measure themselves against ultra-thin models
develop negative appraisals
• Men who compare themselves to the media-idealized male form develop
• TV makeover shows can lead viewers to feel worse about themselves
– Characteristics of the Self-Concept
– The self-concept is subjective
– Distorted self-evaluations can occur
– These distortions can be based on:
• Obsolete information
• Distorted feedback
• Emphasis on perfection
• The Self-Concept Resists Change
– Cognitive Conservatism
• We seek out people who support our self-concept
– Are you funny? Or, do you surround yourself with people who tell
you that you’re funny?
• An inaccurate self-concept can lead to:
– Lack of growth
• Most communicators are reluctant to downgrade a favorable impression
• Culture, Gender, and Identity
• Individualistic Culture
– Self is separate, unique individual
– Should be independent, self-sufficient
• Collectivistic Culture
– People belong to extended families or in-groups
– “We” or group orientation
– Sex and gender
• Your gender shapes the way people communicate with you
• Shaping children with language
– Boys – focus on size, strength and activity
• “What a big boy!” “Look at how strong.”
– Girls – focus on beauty and sweetness
• “She looks beautiful.” “You’re so sweet.”
• The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
– Self-fulfilling prophecy
• A person’s expectations and subsequent behavior make an event more
likely to occur
• Four stages of the self-fulfilling prophecy:
– Holding an expectation (for yourself or others)
– Behaving in accordance with that expectation – The expectation comes to pass
– Reinforcing the original expectation
– Types of Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
• Self-imposed prophecies
– When your own expectations influence your behavior
• Prophecies imposed by others
– Expectations and behaviors of one, govern another’s actions
• Changing Your Self-Concept
– Have a realistic perception of yourself
– Have realistic expectations
– Have the will to change
– Have the skill to change
• Seek Advice
• Observe Models
Communication as Identity Management
• Public and Private Selves
– Perceived Self (Private)
• A reflection of the self-concept
– Presenting Self (Public)
• The way we want others to view us
• Constructing Multiple Identities
– Common Identities
• Respectful Student
• Joking Friend
• Friendly Neighbor
• Helpful Worker
– Constructing multiple identities is an element of communication competence
• Identity Management:
– Is collaborative
– Can be deliberate or unconscious
– Varies by situation
– Differs in degree based on the individual
• Why Manage Identities
– We manage our identities to:
• Start and manage relationships
• Gain compliance of others
• Save the face of others
• We often modify the way we present ourselves to support the way
others want to be seen
• Explore new selves
– Face-to-face impression management
• Managed in three ways
• Consists of a communicator’s words and nonverbal actions
• Physical items that we use to influence how others view us
• Personal items used to shape an image
• Identity Management and Honesty
– Managing impressions doesn’t make you a liar – Each of us has a repertoire of faces
– Which face we choose to show to others is an important decision
Challenges in Communicating with ourselves:
• Reflecting critically on social perspectives
– Ethical obligation to promote positive social values and a fair social world
– Individual & collective efforts to revise social meaning
• Seeking personal growth as a communicator
– Set realistic goals
– Assess yourself fairly (reasonable social comparison)
– Self-disclose appropriately: safe, gradual, reciprocal
– Creative a supportive climate for change
• Uppers: who communicates positively about us
• Downers: who communicates negatively about us
• Vultures: an extreme form of downers; who attacks our self-concepts
Common Perceptual Tendencies
• We are more severe on others than ourselves
• We are influenced by what is most obvious
• We cling to first impressions, even if wrong
• We tend to assume others are similar to us
• We tend to favour negative impressions
• We tend to blame the victim
• Relational satisfaction
• Degree of involvement
• Past experience
• A description of the behavior you noticed
• At least two possible interpretations of the behavior
• A request for clarification about how to interpret the behaviour
• Public sphere vs. private sphere
• Managing multiple identities
• A collaborative process
• Deliberate vs. unconscious
• Why and how to manage them?
• Face-to-face impression management
• Social media impression management
Web 3.0 and why it matters for impression management Lecture Nine: Artificial Intelligence
•BOMBE- decoded codes for German computers which encoded codes to each German.
•Machine can think like a human, he predicted. -
•Humans who can do complicated calculations within seconds.
Can Machines think?
•Annual turning contest, where humans try to make computers as close to humans as
•About the context and not the content that differentiates a human from a computer.
•The touring test (rant)
•Alan Turing - My favourite Scientist
Computer science, computation biology, cracked German indicators.
o Developed what an algorithm is.
o Human integrator if he can’t tell if it’s a human or bot, then the test passes.
•Gave the world a big head start, in computer science, and AI,
The Imitation Game
• Different ways of asking the question:
o A Gallup poll
The game is played with three people:
• A woman, a man and an interrogator.
• The woman, the man and the interrogator are in different rooms. The interrogator asks
questions. Then the man is replaced with a computer. If the interrogator can’t distinguish
who is the computer and the man, then you have a thinking machine.
Critique of the New Problem
• This seems to draw a solid line between human beings’ physical and mental capabilities.
The object isn’t a humanoid robot, but a “thinking machine”
• The question/answer paradigm is insufficient but we can talk about pretty much anything
in a question and answer format, that is that we can use language to talk about most
• It might be hard for the machine to do particularly human things (e.g. win a beauty
contest, run a race), but it is also hard for the human to do things that machines do
well... is this a critique of the game?
The Machines Concerned in the Game
• What sort of machine are we talking about?
• Engineers can use all of their imagination and technique to build it but genetically
engineering a human does not qualify.
• Only digital computers can participate in the game because they can mimic any other
machine. Thus we can say that computers are universal or virtual machines. Contrary Views on the Main Question
• The Theological Objection
o Only people have souls
o But doesn’t this limit God?
• The “Heads in the Sand” Objection
o The consequences of machines thinking is too dreadful.
• The Mathematical Objection
o Mathematicians have proven that there are limitations to the powers of discrete
state machines. But there are limitations to human thought too.
• The Argument from Consciousness
o Machines can’t feel emotions. But thinking and consciousness are two different
• Arguments from Various Disabilities
o Machines don’t make mistakes and can’t build themselves. But this is an error of
description of mistakes.
• Lady Lovelace’s Objection
o Machines can only do what we tell them to do. But we can’t think of every
possible thing that they can do, so they do things that surprise us.
• Argument from Continuity in the Nervous System
o A small error in the nervous system leads to big consequences. But this “cascade
of errors” can be simulated in a different sort of computer.
• The Argument from Informality of Behaviour
o People behave in unpredictable ways.
o But we do behave within acceptable parameters of social behavior.
• The Argument from Extrasensory Perception
o People have ESP
o The trick would be to put the participants into an ESP- proof room.
Turing’s Main Point:
• Turing says that what is important about the mind is not what kind of “wetware” the
human being has between his/her ears, but rather whether the “wetware” can act.
• He is implying that anything that could pass his test is surely intelligent.
• He put forward the idea that a simulation that runs well enough can replace the original,
so a machine that looks like it is thinking, is indeed, thinking.
Why is the study of language important to us:
•Our ultimate need for communication
•If we don’t get it right, we can hurt others feelings,
•Language is also culturally and contrary situated.
•There are other cultures that have different terms, and uses, that we will not talk in this
course, this course is centred around western communication.
•Its symbolic, it helps us connect with someone else.
•Being angry can dissolute your message.
•1998-went to visit aunt in Ireland, language is the same, but have distinct words.
•Power in language, powerful language can add credibility.
•Different communication by gender example in class. o
We had to put ourselves in different shoes, to be good communicators, for it to go
• Words can be interpreted differently by different groups.
The Nature of Language
• Language is symbolic
• Meanings are in people, not in words
• Language is rule-governed
• Pragmatic rules
The Power of Language
• Language shapes attitudes
Language reflects attitudes
• Attraction and interest
o Demonstrative pronoun choice
• Sequential placement
• “It” vs “I” statements
• “You” vs “I” statements
• “But” statements
• Questions vs. statements
• Equivocal language • Relative terms
• Fact-Opinion Confusion
• Fact-Influence Confusion
• Emotive Language
• Evasive Language
Gender and Language
• Reasons for communicating
• Conversational style
Culture and Language
• Verbal Communication Styles
o Low-context cultures
o High-context cultures
Lecture Eleven: Metaphors
• I am drowning in guilt
o Own self, anxiety
• "Life is a highway"
• "Argument is war"
o Argument is an aggressive concept, powerful forces trying to take you down,
trying to destroy your perspective. George Lakeoff:
o Student of Noam Chomsky
o Alternative theory generative semantics
•Famous for his ideas about the centrality of metaphor to human thinking, political
behaviour and society.
Metaphors we live by
•Its Halftime America.
o Half-time: Sit back and reflect, coach sits with the team, to motivate them and
strategize, the game is still not done, its only half-way through.
o Sub metaphor: Politics, images of families, fire-fighters.
•One of the founders of the field of Critical Discourse Analysis
•Concerned with how power is exercised through language
o Texts, speech, video, practice.
•He wants to devalue the way they present the story
Critical discourse analysis:
•Separating facts from their own story/agenda.
o First show family members,
•CTV report on crash:
o Show authority, police force, judges.
•Same story, different angle.
o Covered the story, as a central issue and not facts.
Why should we to engage in Critical Language Study?
• Theoretical Reason: Importance of language. raise the profile of language in the
production/power/maintenance/change of social relations of power
• Practical Reason: Social Emancipation. Help increase awareness of how language
contributes to the domination of some people by others
Linguistics used to be a descriptive/prescriptive social science – it didn’t seek to explain the
relationship between Language and Social Life
There is nothing common about “common sense” – it is ideological.
What is an ideology? Should we study it?
• The exercise of power in modern society is achieved through ideology
• We live in a “linguistic epoch”.
The exercise of power: coercion vs. consent
Definition of Critical Language Study: • “Critical means showing up connections which may be hidden from people – such as the
connection between language power, and ideology referred to above.“
• “CLS analyses social interactions in a way which focuses upon their linguistic elements,
to show how these elements affect social relationships and the hidden effects they may
have in the system.”
Approaches to Critical Language Study
• Cognitive Psychology and AI
• Conversation Analysis and Discourse Analysis
Some recent social theory pertaining to Language and Social Life
• The theory of ideology
• Michel Foucault
• Jürgen Habermas
The Mentality of Crowds:
•Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots
•The Kiss - Photo Essay
•The Vancouver riot kiss, 2011
•Took the psychology of the crowd, and how to manipulate crowds to certain behaviours.
•People in crowds will do things they will never do otherwise.
•Mentality that happens, when people get into groups.
What is a Crowd?
•Not a collection of individuals
•A group of people moving in one direction (emotionally, sentiments and ideas)
•Each individual's conscious personality disappears.
The mind of crowds:
•Varies according to type of and intensity of stimulus
•Develops according to type of and intensity of stimulus
•Fully developed crowds accept thoughts and ideas that might not be natural to the
culture from which the members of the crowd come.
•Individuals in a crowd: putting them in a crowd gives them a collective mind.
Crowds and Revolutions:
•The most AMAZING video on the internet #Egypt #jan25
There are in fact some noble causes.
The Unconscious and the Crowd
• The unconscious (primal, emotional, passion) vs the conscious (intelligence, reason,
civilization), for Le Bon. • In the collective mind, individuality is diminished, so the heterogenous (diverse) is
drowned by the homogeneous (common) and the unconscious becomes predominant.
Le Bon's Thesis:
• Crowds cannot accomplish acts demanding great intelligence
• "In crowds, it is stupidity and not mother-wit that is accumulated."
Three Characteristics Peculiar to Crowds
o Individual Invincibility. The individual in a crowd gains a sense of invincibility because of
the number of members of a crowd.
o Contagion. Every sentiments and act is contagious to sucha degree that an individual
will sacrifice his/her own interest to the collective.
o Suggestibility. The individual who has abandoned his/her self to the crowd will obey all of
the suggestions of the person who has deprived him of it.
“A human in a crowd descends several rungs in the ladder of civilization.”
• Juries make unfortunate decisions.
• Parliaments adopt unworkable laws against the citizenry's interest.
• Lynch mobs form.
• The most virtuous can become the most criminal.
Crowds are not always inferior to individuals: it depends on what is suggested to them.
• The French Revolution would not have happened without the storming of the Bastille.
The Ideas of Crowds
• Two Types of Ideas:
o Accidental and passing ideas.
o Fundamental ideas.
• Ideas must be simple for crowds to accept them. Ideas must be present in the form of
• The lack of an individual self in each member allows the crowd accept these ideas.
There is no hierarchy of crowd ideas. They are so simplified for crowd acceptance, that
they all assume the same value: nil.
• An idea, once accepted by a crowd, is hard to change.
• It takes a long time for an idea to be accepted by a crowd.
• Politicians, according to Le Bon, are cynical, not really believing the ideas that they give
to population. Politicians know only that these ideas help them keep power.
The Reasoning Power of Crowds.
• Crowds do not really reason, they only appear to reason
• To woo a crowd, you can string dissimilar things