Mark Briggs, Communications & Media Relations Officer


In the inaugural PSA/British Library public lecture series, Mark Laity said narrative has the ability to influence decision making, and logical argument is the least effective method to convince the public of your arguement.

Mr Laity is a former BBC defence correspondent and now head of Strategic Communications at NATO’s military headquarters. Using examples from the US gun lobby and the conflict in Ukraine, Mr Laity showed how appeals to shared history can drown out logical argument.

A narrative with historical overtones, an emotive connection and credibility not only convinces people, it frames the points of reference they use to evaluate the decision they are being asked to make.

We are storytelling creatures, Laity said, the proper response to fake news and social media bubbles (“a self-licking lollipop”) is not to despair, but to get better at using facts to tell an emotionally credible story.

Our next public lecture with the British Library be on Tuesday 29 May. Bernadette McAliskey will be part of a discussion looking at the events on May 1968 and reflecting across 50 years of political and social change, and the challenges that still exist today.

You can watch the whole lecture below, and the subsequent Q&A below. His slides are available to download here:/sites/default/files/Mark%20Laity%20slides.pdf

Mark Laity discusses history, myth and political storytelling
Q & A with Mark Laity


Further reading

We’ve also teamed up with our partners at SAGE to bring you open access journal articles on some of the issues Mark Laity raised in his talk.