Vivid language, metaphors, analogies, and stories work because they tap into our emotions. Of all our emotions, fear is possibly the most powerful human motivator. Fear sells us many things: alarm systems, life insurance, air bags, and condoms.

Politicians everywhere have used fear to win votes. In the 1930s, Hitler whipped up the fear of communism and Judaism to win support for the Nazi Party. In the 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy used the fear of communism engendered by the Cold War to help launch government investigations into the daily lives of thousands of loyal Americans whom he labeled communist sympathizers.

Appeals to fear, however, don't always work. We've all watched mass campaigns warning us about the dangers of ...

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