What’s The Opposite Of A Poisonous Jelly Bean?

Groups are persuaded more by emotive imagery than rational facts. Facts can help shape the image, but the image reigns supreme.

Consider putting the refugee situation in these terms:

“If I gave you a bag of 50,000 jelly beans and told you 100 are poisonous, you wouldn’t accept them right? Then why would we accept 50,000 refugees if some of them are bad?”

As Marginal Revolution calculates, statistically the average American is more likely to commit a murder than an incoming refugee.

Yet the imagery here matters. We can picture a bowl of jelly beans. We can imagine a poisonous jelly bean among them, and we can imagine how dangerous it would feel to eat one.

That’s powerful, emotive, imagery. The only way to beat this is to find more powerful imagery, not more powerful facts. Comparing refugees to murderers just heightens fear. Comparing refugees to asylum seekers from a bygone era just evokes more negative imagery.

One approach is to start talking about an army of incoming doctors, builders, teachers, and fresh young blood to keep America healthy, smart, young, and strong.

You can’t fight powerful images with powerful facts. You have to fight powerful images with even more powerful and more emotive images. The only thing that can defeat fear is a more unifying, more emotive, more powerful image people can identify with.


  1. Bo McGuffee says:

    Yes! Well said.

  2. Todd Nilson says:

    The comic book writer Grant Morrison recounted his terror about nuclear war when he was a child growing up in the 60’s (his dad was an anti-nuke activist). The idea of the bomb was only offset for him by the idea of something more powerful. Superman. Images and symbols win every time.

  3. Richard Millington says:

    I honestly don’t know how the planet ever survived without you @Todd_Nilson

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