Tag Archives: Evidence

Communicating to portray reality versus to sell

In earlier posts, I wrote that there are two approaches to presenting and evaluating evidence. The first is “to look for evidence along different dimensions and then draw dimension-specific conclusions based on this evidence”, and the second is “to highlight those pieces of evidence that support the product you’re trying to sell while overlooking or downplaying those pieces of evidence that could be barriers to the sale”.

The goal of the first approach is to accurately portray reality, while the goal of the second is to sell.

Every communication (written, over the phone, video, or in person) is composed of different degrees of both elements.

In order to communicate effectively, you need to know the degree to which to use each element.

And when filtering incoming communications, you need to know the degree to which the communicator’s goal is to portray reality versus to sell.

The nuance of reality

If you believe that something is good, it’s easy to find evidence to support your view.

Similarly, if you believe that something is bad, it’s to easy to find evidence to support that view.

In other words, our tendency is to draw conclusions and then look for evidence to support those conclusions.

Reality, however, is much more nuanced. Most good things have bad characteristics and most bad things have good characteristics.

So seeing reality calls for the reverse approach. We first need to look for evidence along different dimensions and then draw dimension-specific conclusions based on this evidence.

Almost inevitably, some evidence will support a good view along certain dimensions and other evidence will support a bad view along other dimensions. That’s the nuance of reality.