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Ankesh Kothari

Dear David,

Thanks for the post.

I think writing so that everyone understands what you write makes sense. However sometimes - as paradoxical as it sounds - writing in a way that makes no sense helps in persuading people too.

Case in point: Joel Cooper, Elizabeth Bennett, and Holly Sukel - these 3 psychologists did some court room research and found out that jurors are more easily persuaded by witnesses that use technical language than witnesses that use easy-to-understand simple language.

As soon as I read about that, my mind raced back to Joe Sugarman. Sugarman often used technical language in his sales letters. In fact, if memory serves me correct, he used a lot of technical language describing the circuit of a watch in a full page ad once. Even the watch manufacturer said something to the effect: "what you say is right, but even I couldn't understand the language." And yet, surprisingly, that ad pulled in more than the ad without technical language.

Thanks for letting me disagree a wee bit.

kind regards,

(The link below is to an article titled "How Juries are Persuaed" giving a possible explanation of why technical language works -- click on my name if you would like to read it.)

David Garfinkel

Thanks for the comment, Ankesh. I love disagreement, when it's respectful, well thought through, and the disagreer has enough guts to say who or she really is!

You make a good point. I would like to point out to you, though, that the "witness" is not the "persuader" -- the witness is in fact a form of spoken intellectual justification for the plain, simple language of the attorney. Like a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for the main message.

And with Sugarman, I think the technical language was confined to a paragraph or two. Again, like bringing in the "expert witness." Most of the copy was his normal, brilliant, simple, transparent, irresistible writing.

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