By Richard A. Friedman
Dr. Friedman, a contributing opinion writer, is a professor of clinical psychiatry and the director of the psychopharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College.

作者:Richard A. Friedman
弗里德曼博士是特约评论员,他是威尔康奈尔医学院临床精神病学教授和精神药理学诊所主任。

When Joe Biden debates President Trump on Tuesday, he will have to figure out how to parry with an opponent who habitually lies and doesn’t play by the rules.

当乔·拜登在下周二(9月29日)与特朗普总统辩论时,他将不得不弄清楚如何与一个习惯性撒谎和不按规则行事的对手进行对攻。

As a psychiatrist, I’d like to offer Mr. Biden some advice: Don’t waste your time fact-checking the president. If you attempt to counter every falsehood or distortion that Mr. Trump serves up, you will cede control of the debate. And, by trying to correct him, you will paradoxically strengthen the misinformation rather than undermine it. (Research shows that trying to correct a falsehood with truth can backfire by reinforcing the original lie. )

作为一名心理医生,我想给拜登先生一些建议。不要把时间浪费在查证总统所做的每一个事实上。如果你试图反驳特朗普先生的每一个错误或歪曲观点,你就会失去辩论的控制权。而且,通过试图纠正他,你会自相矛盾地加强错误信息,而不是破坏它。(研究表明,试图用事实来纠正一个错误的信息,可能会因强化了原来的谎言而产生反效果。)

Instead, Mr. Biden should use more powerful weapons that will put Mr. Trump on the defensive — and also tell the audience that the president is a dishonest narrator.

相反,拜登先生应该使用更强大的武器,让特朗普先生处于防守状态--同时告诉观众,总统是一个不诚实的叙述者。

The first weapon maybe the most effective: humor and ridicule. A derisive joke can defuse tense and outrageous situations. In 2007, for example, protesters dressed as clowns confronted a “white power” march in Charlotte, N.C., holding signs that read “wife power” and throwing white flour in the air. It made the white nationalists look ridiculous and avoided a violent confrontation, which would have served the interests of the racists.

第一个武器也许是最有效的:幽默和嘲笑。一个嘲讽的笑话可以化解紧张和令人愤怒的局面。例如,2007年,装扮成小丑的抗议者在北卡罗来纳州夏洛特市对抗 "白人权力 "的游行,他们举着写着 "妻子(white故意写错成wife)权力 "的牌子,并向空中投掷白面粉。他们扮演看起来很可笑的白人民族主义者,避免了暴力对抗,而暴力对抗会符合种族主义者的利益。

Now, imagine a different kind of high-stakes situation — the presidential debate. Mr. Trump, faced with a pandemic and an economic downturn, tells Americans what a great job he’s done. In response, Mr. Biden should smile and say with a bit of laugh: “And just where have you been living? South Korea? Or Fiji? You cannot be in the United States — except maybe on the golf course. We’ve got about 4 percent of the world’s population and 21 percent of all Covid deaths and the highest unemployment since the Great Depression! You must be living on another planet!”

现在,想象一下另一种高风险的情况--总统辩论时,特朗普先生面对新冠肺炎大流行和经济衰退,却告诉美国人他做了多么伟大的工作。对此,拜登先生应该微笑着,带点笑意地说。"请问你是住在哪里的?是韩国?还是斐济?你不可能在美国--除了可能是在高尔夫球场上。我们的人口约占世界人口的4%,新冠肺炎死亡人数却占了21%!失业率是大萧条以来最高的! 你一定是生活在另一个星球上!"

The retort mocks the president as weak and unaccomplished, which will rattle him. He is apparently so fearful of being the target of a joke that — unlike any president before him — he has skipped the last three roasts at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

反驳嘲讽总统软弱无能,这将使他感到不安。他显然是如此害怕成为笑话的目标,以至于与之前的任何一位总统不同--他已经连续三次逃避了白宫记者晚宴上最后的烤肉。

Ridicule could also neutralize one of Mr. Trump’s favorite racist tropes: that America is being overtaken by violent thugs. So what should Mr. Biden do when the president starts in? He should say something like, “This is like the bad joke about the arsonist who shows up at the bonfire and started posing as a fireman! The guy who calls himself a stable genius seems to have forgotten that he’s been president during all this violence and that he’s been the instigator in chief with his racist rhetoric. The country’s biggest bully thinks he can fool you by playing sheriff.”

嘲笑也可以中和特朗普先生最喜欢的种族主义言论之一:“美国正在被暴徒所取代”。那么当总统开始进入角色时,拜登先生应该做什么?他应该说:"这就像关于纵火犯在篝火中出现并开始冒充消防员的笑话一样! 这个自称稳重的天才的家伙似乎忘记了,在这些暴力事件中,他是总统,他的种族主义言论是所有暴力的煽动源。他是这个国家最大的恶霸却以为他可以通过扮演警长来愚弄你!"

To see why humor could be so effective in dealing with Mr. Trump, you have to understand why he lies. People don’t tell the truth for many reasons, but the president’s lies generally fall into two categories. The first are boastful and self-aggrandizing claims, such as “Only I can fix it. ” This swagger betrays a fragile self-esteem, and while outlandish and amusing, the lies are typically harmless.

要想知道为什么幽默可以如此有效地对付特朗普先生,你必须了解他为什么撒谎。人们不说实话的原因很多,但总统的谎言一般分为两类。第一类是自吹自擂的说法,比如 "只有我能解决。" 这种自吹自擂的行为背叛了脆弱的自尊心,虽然荒诞有趣,但谎言通常是无害的。

The second type of lie aims to deceive others in pursuit of a specific goal. For example, we now know, from a taped interview with Bob Woodward, that Mr. Trump knew in February that the coronavirus was deadly and transmissible by air, but he lied to the public, playing down its severity and discouraging the use of masks — a calculated deception that cost untold lives.

第二类谎言的目的是为了追求特定的目标而欺骗他人。例如,我们现在从鲍勃-伍德沃德的采访录音中知道,特朗普先生在2月份知道冠状病毒是致命的,可以通过空气传播,但他对公众撒谎,淡化其严重性,不鼓励使用口罩--这是一种精心策划的欺骗,造成了无数人失去生命。

This kind of lie is emblematic of individuals with antisocial traits who have a deficit in moral conscience. But if they also have strong narcissistic traits, they are exquisitely sensitive to criticism and especially to ridicule. Derisive humor threatens to expose them for the loser they secretly believe they are.

这种谎言是具有反社会特质的人的象征,他们在道德良知方面有缺失。但如果他们也有强烈的自恋特征,他们对批评,尤其是对嘲笑极为敏感。嘲讽性的幽默有可能暴露他们的失败者身份,他们潜意识认为自己是个失败者。


The cognitive scientist George Lakoff, who studies propaganda, calls this a “truth sandwich” — a lie gets sandwiched between true statements. Research shows it effectively corrects a falsehood, because people tend to remember the beginning and end of a statement, rather than what’s in the middle.

研究宣传的认知科学家乔治-拉科夫将其称为 "真相三明治"--谎言被夹在真话之间。研究表明,它能有效地纠正假话,因为人们倾向于记住一段话的开头和结尾,而不是中间的内容。


Mr. Biden will have another advantage during the debate: President Trump will not have a live audience to excite him and satisfy his insatiable need for approval and attention, which means he will be even more vulnerable to a takedown. True, no one will be there to laugh at Mr. Biden’s jokes, but it doesn’t matter because the goal is serious: to expose the truth and unnerve Mr. Trump by getting under his skin.

拜登先生在辩论中会有另一个优势:由于没有现场观众,特朗普总统缺少这些可以满足他自我认可和求关注的贪婪需求。这意味着他将更容易被攻陷。的确,没有人在现场为拜登先生的笑话哈哈大笑,但这并不重要,因为我们的目标是严肃的:揭露真相,并让特朗普感到焦躁不安。