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The author of the wonderful book "Change of Heart" , Nick Cooney of the Philadelphia Humane League agreed to do one interview per day this week with Vegan Outreach's blog about effective animal advocacy. I'll be posting them here in case anyone is interested in them. Not all of them are up yet so I'll post the ones that have been done:

Monday - Why "Change of Heart?"

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What I wanted to do with Change Of Heart is to cut through all these personal opinions and find out what the scientific record shows. Researchers in the fields of psychology, sociology, communication studies, and a few other areas have conducted tens of thousands of studies on what does and does not help in persuading others to do what we'd like them to do. By taking their results and applying them to our animal advocacy work, we can become a lot more effective and save many more lives. Change Of Heart is meant to be a psychology primer for activists, a road map of how people's minds operate and what we need to do to persuade them to live more compassionately.
Tuesday - "Do anything"

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The problem with slogans like "do something, do anything," "practice random acts of kindness," etc., is that they are completely focused on how we feel, and they completely ignore what's happening in the world around us. If we're living out the phrase "do something, do anything," we're letting ourselves be steered by our self-centered desires to feel good about ourselves. It's profoundly disrespectful to those who are suffering right now. To a pig confined in a filthy gestation crate, it doesn't make a difference in her life whether or not you "do something, do anything". It only makes a difference in her life if you create an actual change - by getting someone to stop eating meat, getting a company to do away with gestation crates, etc. As Jean-Paul Sartre wrote, "The revolution is not a question of virtue, but of effectiveness."
Wednesday - "Personal views vs. Real Change"

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So again, and in summary, we face that question: is our goal as animal advocates to express ourselves as accurately as possible, and to feel good about our purity of message? Or is our goal to change the public's behavior as much as possible, and consequently help as many animals as possible? The research record makes clear that in general we can't have both.
Thursday - "Lessons learned and best tools"

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That's where Change of Heart comes in. The tools I talk about in the book can make us 10, 20, maybe 30% more effective in the work that we're doing (which will mean many lives spared). To give an example, social norms messages - where we essentially say "most people/lots of people are doing this, so you should too" - are extremely powerful. Research has found that in many cases they are more powerful than direct advocacy messages (such as "please recycle to protect the environment", etc.). For your summer outreach at the Warped Tour, Vegan Outreach now prints special booklets that feature popular vegetarian musicians on the front and back cover. As far as I understand, using this social norms message on the cover - as opposed to leading off with a "protect animals from cruelty message" - has resulted in a lot more Guide To Cruelty Free Eating requests and likely many more vegetarians created. THL is also in the process (and admittedly we're late to the game on this) of getting Facebook like buttons on our vegetarian resource websites, both to help spread the word and also to use the power of social norms to help spread vegetarianism on Facebook ("Oh look, Betty just ordered a vegetarian starter kit. I guess vegetarianism is becoming more popular, maybe I should get one too.")
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My thoughts: Great book about effective activism from an experienced, thoughtful and compassionate man who's put a great deal of thought into his work. Great series of interviews. Should be read by those who are interested in the practical application of known human psychology to progressive social movements of various types, in this case animal rights.
 
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