Monday, 8 December 2008

Confusing Delivery With Content

Powerfully delivered bad messages are like glue in the mind of dumb people. It is the basis for the (sometimes surprising) spread of incredibly bad information with the speed of wildfire.

Great delivery can persuade a large group of people to do all sorts of crazy things like get into crushing debt, join cults, and eat at McDonalds.

"mmmm... that kool-aid sure is good!"

Just think about how many atrocities have been committed in the name of religion? I was watching Idea City a few months ago, and one of the speakers said that behind every atrocity in history is a scripture-spouting nutbar.

If the message itself raises goose bumps and gets the adrenaline pumping then it must be okay, right?

As long as it feels like you're having an orgasm when listening to or reading it, it must be correct, right?

The antithesis of all this is of course, thinking for yourself.

Dumb people have a problem with this.

"Where is my emotional fix?" they ask.

Like flies that are attracted to the light, they gather around those things that make them feel a certain way.

And then off they go, ready to jump off the cliff.

"Good thing that kool-aid tasted so good, otherwise I would never have dreamed of doing this!"

Heck, when you look at it like that it makes perfect sense.

And if anything good happens to come of it, it is pure coincidence. A chance occurrence, the same way that getting punched in the head will help you dodge a stray bullet.

The irony of this is that smart people are often those who deliver messages that attract dumb people to their cause.

They know what to say. How to say it. When to say it. And the dummies lap it up. Cheering and drooling they take the message with the sense of urgency needed to make it happen. Must not wait too long, otherwise the effect may wear off. Can't risk having common sense re-emerge and ruin the whole thing.

However, experienced dumb people are more able to "hold on". It is the "newbies" that are at greatest risk of straying from the path. Most of the kool-aid must go to them. And they must drink it more often.

When their views are challenged you will see them blinking extra hard, trying to recall those things they have been taught which can be used as justification. Their encyclopedic knowledge is the first thing they will lean on when their views are confronted. Digging deeper will result in an even greater agitation of this knowledge.

The most skillful arguments will consist of indirect proof such as "if I can't be proven wrong then I must be right". Or proof by consensus such as "if so many people agree with me then I must be right". Circular logic is also common.

There's almost a level of intelligence involved. I said almost.

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