Rhyme as Reason | Modern Manual Therapy Blog

Rhyme as Reason

peotry PTBraintrust phrase that pays
Communication is complex, rich, diverse and ever important when attempting to portray your ideas, or persuade those around you. As it turns out, certain phrasing can lend an air of credibility to your words.   
In the fantastically named paper Birds of a feather flock conjointly(?): Rhyme as Reason in Aphorisms, McGlone and Tofighbakhsh (2000) illustrate the power of structure in extracting meaning and truth from phrasing. 

Participants were asked to rate the truthfulness of phrases. Ex: "What sobriety conceals, alcohol reveals" was judged to be more accurate than by different participants who saw "What sobriety conceals, alcohol unmasks.
End result: Well, while the statistical change is extremely slight, rhymes (among some other poetic traditions) enhance perceived truth. This likely has to do with "Fast Thinking" vs "Slow Thinking" as described by Kahneman. If it rhymes, it must be a law handed down from on high. The cosmos would not let it sound so good and be so wrong. As quoted in the paper:
Although this superstition was dismissed long ago in
most cultures, Nietzsche observed that “even now...the wisest
among us are still occasionally fooled by rhythm—if only insofar as
we sometimes consider an idea truer because it has a metrical form
and presents itself with a divine spark and jump
This, of course, does not mean these statements are false, however, their individual gravitas is affected by their presentation. 
So, what do we hear in the clinic? "No pain, no gain?" Well, it must be true. So I'll share a few ...
"You've got to feel it to heal it." - Harrison Vaughan
"Motion is lotion."
"Nerves that fire together, wire together." - Hebb
"Nothing wrong with getting strong." - Adam Meakins
"It's more of a pain problem than a tissue issue."
"Treat the (wo)man, not the scan."
"Time to strengthen and lengthen."
We are not machines, we don't have wear and tear. We are biology, we have wear and repair."
"Don't show up to prove, show up to improve." - Simon Sinek
"Teamwork makes the dream work."

"Don't be lazy, but don't go too crazy."

"The problems of activity are better than the problems of inactivity."

In any account, if there is some mnemonic, or memory aiding device (again, simplicity is also linked to truth, there is something about brevity and a reductionist phrase) then people are more likely to respond. As we know from Recall Bias, if things are easier to remember and recall, they seem more prevalent, and perhaps more true in your world view. So, in the spirit of this post: post some of your favorite slogans, phrases, rhymes. On Twitter? use #RhymeasReason
-Matt Dancigers, DPT




Interested in live cases where I apply this approach and integrate it with pain science, manual therapy, repeated motions, IASTM, with emphasis on patient education? Check out Modern Manual Therapy!

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