ABSTRACT

This chapter discusses the elements of conceptual metaphor theory that can be applied to deconstructing big lies and conspiracy theories. While the strategic utilization of metaphorical language characterizes all kinds of political oratory, including speeches that promote social justice causes, the very same strategies are used by nefarious political actors to make their lies and false narratives persuasive. Conceptual metaphor theory can be used specifically to describe how mapping processes affect the brain, turning on mental switches (so to speak) that embed the lies into cognition. This is called the “Korzybski effect,” after Polish-American scholar Alfred Korzybski, who claimed that language and the nervous system are interactive agents in communication.