In a communication, at a given time, there are the one who speaks and the one or those who listen.
The one who speaks
Schematizing, the one who is speaking can find oneself in two different modes:
In a creative mode. He builds, creates as and when the ideas he expresses. His brain is entirely mobilized by this activity. All his energy is devoted there; communication is, from his point of view, spontaneous.
In a repetitive mode. He explains a subject he perfectly controls, he repeats a story he has already told hundred times, he recites a by heart learned passage, he reads a text written in advance... A part of his intellectual potential is available to improve the effectiveness of his communication. The latter can have a beneficial effect if it is made to allow a better understanding and memorizing for those who listen (it is the case of a professor in front of his pupils, of "a good" presenter...). In the opposite, this availability can be used for the credulous people fishing, what is our subject here.
The one who listens
When listening is active (what means to have always in mind this question: "What does he want to say to me through his words?") the concentration that it requires mobilizes the most part of the intellectual energy. Then, one may adhere "with full knowledge of the facts" to ideas one has perfectly understood or may do a critical analysis one is able to argue. This attitude requires a great vigilance in particular when the speaking one inclined to monologue or when it is a conference. If the listening one has not the possibility to stop the speaking one, there is the risk to be overflowed by words running out more quickly than the capacity of the brain to analyze and "to decode" them. (What does he want to say to me through these words?). Consequently there is:
A "switch off": "you can talk as much as you like, I do not believe you", if the listening one does not trust the other or if he is skeptic, critical towards the expressed ideas;
A surrender if the listening one trusts the speaking one, if he is credulous or if he lacks of emotional maturity. Then, he receives the words like as many truths, without seeing the possible ulterior motives. He adheres to its especially easily if the speaker shows eloquence or if he represents an authority.
The moments of passive listening can be freely agreed when one voluntarily gives up his conscience to the pleasure of seeing a film, of reading a novel, of listening to a piece of music that one know pertinently to be a tale, a fable, a history, a myth invented to distract us. It is relaxing and can be very pleasant "to forget" a moment the daily worries.
But in case of misuses, there is the risk to lose the sense of reality, to cut oneself off from the other people and to lose any critical sense.
The capture of attention
Even if listening can sometimes be described as active, it is above all a passive and non-creative attitude. It is a moment of risk because the attention is mobilized on a source of information that one does not control. Indeed, to capture the attention of someone else is, consciously or not, to take a form of ascendancy over him.
The media, and the advertising agents in particular, have perfectly understood this. All their efforts and their know-how are devoted to capture the attention of their public in order to concentrate it on the object or the concept they are selling. Our consumer society will not be long, unless it is already done, in giving a commercial value to this captured attention. Some people begin to reason in "times of brain" mobilized on their products.
The skeptic people's brains are more difficult to capture. Do we have to conclude from this that the consumer society has any interest there is a maximum of credulous people and thus of believers?
Techniques of seduction and of attention capture: Some examples
These are very close to the sales techniques, to from "door to door selling":
To establish a climate of complicity with one’s public, what allows occulting untruths;
Eloquence, intonation, appropriate body language;
Imitation (to adopt the verbal or body attitudes of the interlocutor to cause a mirror effect);
To get advisedly humour or witticism (just what it is necessary, but not too much);
To get quotations as arguments of authority;
To speak with a flow which does not let to the interlocutor time to reflect;
To lead the interlocutor to enter into a commitment (example: to think about a question, to read a book, to meet so-and-so). This technique is a traditional form of underhand manoeuvre which will let, the following time, the interlocutor more disposed to agree to a little more constraining commitment, and so on...
Unconsciously, the one who is speaking in public, and who is thus in the center of the common attention, is put by the others on a pedestal, he is idealized. Even if there is decorum, ostentation, mystery, the speaker's authority increases.
... not to mention the natural charisma of some people.