This Harvard Magazine overview of the field of behavioral economics is interesting in itself, but even more so when you realize the extent to which these findings are being manipulated and managed by political and corporate overlords to shape the population in the image of their perfect consumer/constituent.
This Tomorrow's Professor posting describes some of the "first impression" analysis that we do as experts, the subtle ways in which we can be manipulated, and the importance of training our incredibly agile minds.
As important as first impressions are, though, real debate -- not canned pseudo-presidential press appearances or forensic exercises or blogwars -- by the people who are affected by policy is incredibly effective at cutting through "conventional wisdom" and reaching solutions that actually work with the community because they come from the community. It's not perfect, but it's a damn sight more democratic and wise than what we've got now.
I used to have a button -- from my F/SF Con days -- that said "Can you tell the difference between fallacious logic and cunning linguistics?"