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To be or not to be hypnotized by the Panache Effect?

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Tony Bliar got a seven minute standing ovation at the Labour Party Conference. Seven minutes. Standing. Ovation. This is from his own party members, many of whom are very unhappy indeed with the PM’s policies on nearly everything from Iraq to health care.
So I started ruminating about The Panache Effect or, if you prefer, The Rabbit Caught in Headlights Effect. It works like this: human animals are easily seduced. All that is required on the part of the seducer or hypnotist is confidence, certainty and a persuasive voice. The words that the voice is speaking don’t really matter very much. They might even be completely meaningless, as long as they are delivered with panache, authority, repetition and certainty . The seducer must be absolutely certain that he/she is absolutely right. This certainty produces a kind of blueish Panache Halo which can extend into very large spaces and is irresistible. Reason and logic are no defense against it. You can mistrust and detest the seducer but you’re trapped in those headlights and might find yourself applauding and cheering for seven minutes or longer. History, as well as everyday life, is replete with examples of this effect. But what can we do to resist it? Could uncertainty be the antidote? Could the honest expression of honest doubt ever be enough to wake up a hypnotized audience, anywhere, anytime?

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