Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2019


Persuasion studies indicate that facts and logic have likely never persuaded people. Rather, people typically hold “deep frame” beliefs, and story persuades them. People then use facts and logic to justify their beliefs.

While this potentially persuasive “fake news” itself is old, the widespread dissemination of fake news via bots is new. Donald Trump’s campaign benefitted from these bots and from an electoral college map more favorable to Republicans. But these super-powers were not his only strengths, the Trump campaign wielded the power of superhero storytelling techniques.

So, faced with an army of bots, a superhero story, and an unfavorably weighted election system, what is a truth-teller to do? Go ask the Wizard of Oz. In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her allies dress as the witch’s guards to sneak inside the witch’s castle. They get inside the enemy’s skin.

By getting inside the antagonist’s skin, the protagonist truth-teller learns from the antagonist’s strengths while rejecting the antagonist’s weaknesses, such as dishonesty or lack of ethics.

Truth-tellers can defeat Trump-like styles of superhero fiction and other fake-news campaigns if truth-tellers widely disseminate superhero nonfiction.

Part Two of this Article briefly outlines the Trump network’s storytelling techniques and explains why his often-fictional narrative still succeeds. Part Three shows how these kinds of fictional narratives can be turned on their heads by using the same narrative techniques to tell true stories. Part Four of this Article discusses why legal and political storytellers should tell the truth regardless of whether someone else wins with lies. Part Five outlines some of the more unethical techniques used to intimidate truth-tellers or to quash true stories and shows how to overcome them with meta-communication, labeling the technique itself.