Saturday, 31 January 2009

Annals of Gullibility: Why We Get Duped and How to Avoid it

As a visitor to this blog you are no doubt interested in what it takes to stop people taking advantage of you or perhaps you have known somebody who has been taking advantage of someone.

People say there is a 'book in all of us' and Stephen Greenspans book Annals of Gullibility: Why we get duped and how to avoid it is certainly one that I would have liked to author! That said, there is thinking about doing and there is doing it.

Carpe Diem!

Mind you I have been tracking and commenting on people and events where gullibility can be found for two years now, and so I have quite a tome of material for the gullibility aficionado to dip into.

Amazon introduce Professor Greenspans book as "An unprecedented examination of gullibility, how we develop this tendency to be duped, and what we can do to become less apt to be fooled. The first book to provide a comprehensive look at the problem of gullibility, this groundbreaking work covers topics from how we are fooled in areas from religion, politics, science, and medicine, to personal finance and relationships"

I look forward to getting a copy soon and will post a review here and on Amazon. It's great to see the subject of Gullibility getting formal attention. So if you want to,avoid being taken advantage of at work, stop people taking advantage you in politics, marketing, religion, and relationships why not give it read too!

Monday, 26 January 2009

Young Bull Kills Six

11 year old Michelito Lagravere Peniche is being hailed as Macho Matador of the Moment after killing a record 6 bulls in one session at a bullfight in Mexico.

Now I know emotions run high on this matter, and I for one feel that killing an animal as a 'sport' is unwarranted. In this case it is a clear example of social influence at work. Master Peniche is being taken advantage of by his elders. Naturally as a child he will enjoy praise, recognition and adulation from people older than himself. The organisers are clearly using his age, enthusiasm and 'talent' to further their own ends in order to draw attention to their pastime and ensure their dogmatic thinking is passed on to future generations.

We are witnessing the 'Bullfighting Meme' fighting for its life.Ole. However the hue and cry surrounding Micheleto's involvement surely means that the 'bullfighting meme' is entering its tercio de muerte,(third/phase of death). How long will it be before it receives the estocada I wonder?

Young Michelito finds himself in a cultural and social situation that determines how he thinks about things. His attitude is being 'landscaped'. Proponents of bull fighting are quick to explain how 'culturally essential' the sport is and that has created the context in which the young bull has grown up in. It is the 'situation' that sets someone up for gullibility.

His childlike gullibility comes through when he says:

"The bullfighting opponents shouldn't stick their nose in things they don't like," do we see reactance in action here? He is clearly very sensitive to any attempt that might restrict his freedom to act as he wishes.

...and is if repeating the flawed logic of a tequila soaked bar rant he announces the mantra

"No-one is forcing them to watch bullfights or to keep informed about them. It's as if I told a boy who does motocross not to do it, it's very bothersome."

OK, young man perhaps you can answer the following:

Is a motorbike a living organism?
Are motorbikes selectively bred and husbanded?
Do motorbikes experience fear?
Do motorbikes experience pain?
Do motorbikes chase you when you wave a red cape at them?
Do motorbikes die? (OK I accept they can when its wet and the electrics fail)
So,where exactly is the similarity between a bullfight and motocross?

Friday, 23 January 2009

Mother Gets 8 Years For Kidnapping Own Daughter

Karen Matthews, 33, and Michael Donovan, 40, are found guilty of kidnap, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice. In a classic example of gullibility Karen Matthews has underestimated the power of her intellect 'soooooooooooo much'. One of the roots causes of gullibility is over estimating your capability and this was her down fall.Now she's going to spend 'soooooooooooo much' time behind behind bars for taking advantage of her daughter.Sooooooooooooooooo Much for her and her partner in crime Michael Donovan.

News Story
You Tube

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Barack Obama's Inspirational Value Meme

The way you see the world affects how you understand problems and which solutions you think will solve those problems. Listening to Barack Obama's inauguration speech I was fascinated to hear him tap into important traditional core values, recognise the inter-connectedness, diversity and changes happening in the modern world, and weave a steely determination to defend key principles against violent enemies at the same time as offering friendship hope, and a sense of common aspirations.

It was also fascinating listening to UK TV commentators attempting to 'make sense' of this complexity. One commentator struggled to 'label' President Obama. She agonised as she tried to place him one side of the fence. 'What does he really stand for?' she pondered.

A while back I was introduced to the thinking of Clare Graves he was a colleague of the more well know social psychologist Abraham Maslow (Maslow's hierarchy of needs)Graves classified a range of 'world views' that explained how people understand how the world works, key causes and effects, key guiding principles and values.

Grave's ideas were taken up by writers Don Beck and Chris Cowan. They developed Grave's classifications into a range of memes which they called Value Memes.

Two things are significant. Firstly they made a division between what they called first and second tier thinking. Secondly they noted that the more developed the meme someone has the more they are able to 'transcend and include' less developed memes.

Second Tier thinking (yellow meme and above) is characterised by an ability to grasp systemic complexity and interdependence, accept diversity, emphasise individual responsibilities, and yet take decisive and definite action even if it might clash with a minority view.

Second tier memes are difficult for first teir thinkers to make sense of. Communitarian first tier memes have trouble with the decisiveness, individualistic memes (hello Bankers)have trouble with social responsibility. Be sure Barack Obama has taken the USA and the rest of the world to a different level.

Beck and Cowan predicted a global meme shift around this time. This is when a significant proportion of the worlds population begin to think in a different way. President Obama leads the hope that this will happen. As he said...

"On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics."

"What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them"

"We will not apologise for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defence, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you."

"For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness."

"With eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."

With thinking like this there is clear Hope.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Nationalise This Utter Banker

Do you need a reason for why we are in financial meltdown? Are you puzzled how expert banking professionals got it wrong? Do you wonder how fat cats get their jobs?

Chairman of Lloyds Victor Blank (was his mother Cheque by any chance??)was interviewed by Sky News's Jeff Randall this morning and in a staggering video interview (see this part way down the link page)he tried to explain his position.

His responses are unbelievable and blood boiling. This is a man who is not used to having to justify anything to anybody. In a series of vague claims and astonishingly out of touch utterances he suggests that Bankers are clearly better than government at running the Banks!, that they can sell us more products (thanks! you mean like loan insurance etc?), they are a better bet for employees (oh? so nobody is being made redundant then)

What is clear from this interview is that this man has never had to justify himself and the value he adds in terms of 'value' for other people like customers and society he has only ever had to justify his 'value'in terms of financial return to shareholders. He has never had to think 'value' through before and therefore his vaccuous claims demonstrate a stupefying arrogance and closed mindedness.

This is a very poor show. The hypocrisy of the man is jaw dropping. They don't want to be nationalised because they don't want outsiders on their boards. Have you ever borrowed money as business from a bank? I have! Over £30m to be precise as a management buyout, and the first thing they insist is that they have 'one of theirs' on the board.

This arrogance and abuse of power runs right down to branch level, where banking administrators have themsleves pegged as commercial experts and start telling you how to run your business. They are not good advisors. They are pen pushing bean counters with a slight flair for math and a keen eye for the short term.

So my view is that he should 'Blank' right off and let a new breed of holistic manager do his job. The senior managers of banks like Lloyds TSB are the same types as the Generals of the first world war. We are the lions led by these donkeys.

Monday, 19 January 2009

My Digg Duggout

Its happened to me again:( I thought I had spotted a juicy headline to Digg about Romans being gassed by Persians off the BBC

I bookmarked it using Onlywire...although it doesn't seem to connect :(

Anyhow when checking Digg I saw that again, someone had Dugg the story a full five hours after me and got a massive number (well 300 ish) Diggs.

Help!! where am I going wrong

Confessions Of A Digg Virgin

I've been spending a bit of time developing my Digg skills. Well at least I thought so. I spotted a news article about a find of Iron Age coins worth a bob or two in Suffolk and thought 'ideal' I'll be the first to Digg this, what a star!

So I did, that was I day five hours ago and today I was checking Digg out and I saw someone else had Dugg the article just over an hour ago.

The difference? I have got 1 Digg, no comments and Imbanksy gets 333 Diggs and 33 comments. So what's the game? Where did I go wrong? Changing the article title, forgetting to 'shout' my friends?

It seems like its Influence rather than Initiative that scores goals on Digg :)

Friday, 16 January 2009

Police Arrest Drunk Woman On Mobility Scooter

A woman has been banned from driving for 20 months after being caught on a 2.4mph supermarket mobility scooter trying to get home after a drunken night out.

read more | digg story

Who said we become wiser and less gullible the older we get?

Thursday, 15 January 2009

War on Terror is now a War on Error!

David Miliband UK Foreign Secretary has said that the idea of a War on Terror was a mistake because it had unified disparate terrorist groups against the west.

Way to go Dave!

This recognition of gullibility provides us with some classic lessons in the use and misuse of the psychology of social influence. Whether the original decision (that should really read bush-ision my new word for any dodgy decision!)to use the term War on Terror was a deliberate but mistaken use of social psychology we'll probably never know.What we can explain are the methods that have and are being used to influence and change the way we think.

The original idea of the War on Terror is a classic case of the Granfalloon a "a proud and meaningless association of human beings" (K.Vonnegut). This happens when appeals to common ancestry and common enemies are made and involves the social influence technique called Altercasting. Altercasting is when you 'cast' other people in a role, or give them an identity that they weren't previously aware that they had. Once you have done that they come to think of themselves as 'connected', we think of them of them as 'connected' and we both interpret how they behave and should behave as somehow 'connected'.

David Miliband has realised that the bush-ision to start a War on Terror has caused problems and is now using another social influence method called Framing to change the meaning of the term Terrorism in our minds. Quote "Terrorism is a deadly tactic, not an institution or an ideology"

This is more like the truth. Terrorists are undoubtedly highly trained, cunning and committed. They are, nevertheless, more criminals and bullies than philosophers and sages and like all bands of thieves and vagabonds they come together as loose and fragile confederacies made up of socio-pathic self interested individuals who would kill each other and their own grandmother's if there was something in it for them.

To 'cast' them as an equal, an enemy, an adversary in War gives them a status beyond what is credible. Whatever the politics and practicalities, whatever the balance between military action and humanitarian aid, whatever the attack and atrocity, we now have a War on Error. The opening shots have been fired and this new war will be one that is won because terrorists are now being seen for what they are. In turn this will influence the actions appropriate for dealing with them. As always every failure of implementation is a failure of formulation.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Building A Squidoo Lens Portfolio

I've been spending more time recently developing my Squidoo lens portfolio. If you don't know, Squidoo is a site that lets you build information blogs on topics of your choosing. The Squidoo site then monetizes your lens by placing relevant adverts around your content, and each lens is supported by a suit of analytics to help you track your effectiveness.

Think of it as electronic scrap booking. Each lens is made up of modules which are provided for you to add a host of different types of content ranging from your own text, amazon book recommendations, wikipedia content, blog feeds and a whole host of others.

I joined Squidoo some 18 months ago and built two lenses, which sort of lay fallow until the other month. I averaged about 20 visitors a month. I now have over 30 lenses and I'm averaging 170 visitors a week and growing.

There is also a vibrant Squidoo community and ways to cross link to Facebook, Stumble, Digg and so on.

I've really seen significant changes in the visitors to my portfolio after thinking for some time that I'd been a bit gullible in joining. My current top lenses are:

How To Become An Air Guitar Expert

The Border Reivers an ancestry resource about the unique clans that lived on the English and Scottish borders

How To Open A Bottle of Champagne With A Sword

For a quick preview of my lenses you can see them here too My Squidoo Lens

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Is A Degree Worth Anything In A Recession?

The simple fact is that possessing an undergraduate degree is less of a differentiator than it was in the past because more people have them. So you might think that a swimming certificate might be of more value to you when you are thrown into the employment deep end.

The UK government are throwing a lifebelt of sorts with their Internship idea, although like a real life belt this can only be a temporary life saver.

Recession doesn't mean that all jobs will evaporate, what it means is that employers will become more selective, and that means as always that the better candidate will be selected. Now, depending on the job that doesn't necessarily mean the best grade, but when large corporates are processing thousands of potential candidates grades are an obvious 'coarse screen'.

Don't be gullible and think that possessing a degree provides any right to employment. It is an indication of a general undergraduate level of education. Whilst this might lead to a degree (sic) of independent learning capability, critical, analytical and synthesising skills, these are only a small part of the 'know how ' that is needed to operate convincingly in a fierce commercial environment. Despite 'work experience' having a degree will not provide you with the skills that only experience can bring.

The problem with internships is that they suggest that somebody can 'continue their learning' whilst on the job. Do not for one minute think that this means a continuation of the benign and supportive learning university environment. More so in a recession the people expected to guide you will be full on concerned with keeping their jobs and not baby sitting a new graduate.

So in an interview be clear about what you can 'do' for the organisation and don't spew out platitudes such as 'good team working', 'enthusiasm', 'leadership', 'problem solving ability', 'presentation skills'. Just like a degree these are now just the table stakes for being allowed to play the employment game. What difference can you specifically make to outputs and key performance indicators of the company or department? Do you have any contacts that your prospective employer can use? Do you have research or information they can use? Can you bring customers or suppliers to your employer? Can you facilitate access to specialist know how?

Any business studies graduates out there need to wake up! Do you seriously think that your employers haven't heard about SWOT, PEST, Five Forces, Missions, Values, Slippage, Belbin, Myers Briggs, Forming Storming Norming and Performing, Suitability Feasibility and Acceptability, and the myriad of other managerial concepts covered in standard business tomes.

Its not what you know but who you know. These might just be the difference between sink or swim.

Read More:
advantages and disadvantages of a university degree
rush for university places
Degrees maintain job market value June 2009

Choosing a University Resource:
Choosing A British University

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

How To Avoid People Getting A Piece Of Your Ass

How good is this! An Australian Judge confronts a criminal with the true consequences of his crimes by explaining to Cody Heap the sort of amorous attention he can expect to get in Prison

So, the tables turn from heap spending his life thinking 'WIIFM' (what's in it for me)to TIWITFY (This is what in there for you!)

Judge Brian Maloney is to be commended for his skill in Social Influence and making the dangers of his actions clear to Heap. In this he will induce avoidance behaviour by confronting Heap with his fears. I hereby sentence you to a trip on the Midnight Express...toot toot all aboard.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

How Do I Become A Success?

Is there a formula for personal success and if there is where do you find it? Once the penny of gullibility drops and you realise that there never was a direct correlation between hard work and success, or talent and success, then the hunt for something else starts.

Many of the Life Hacks that you bump into on the net are ken to persuade us that they have the magic approach, the correct mental attitude, the insight that has been secretly hidden from view until they came along to help.

I've just been reading some more grounded stuff from Kevin Hogan and Steven Reiss which looks at our fundamental human drives.

A key drive involves where you sit in relation to being Competitive or Co-operative. Their information about these two drives is very interesting, and crucial to answering the question 'how do I become a success'. This is because your success is as much about what people think of you as it about about what they think about themselves.

Many people lean towards helping others as the route to get on in life. The 'helpful gene' is buried deep in our DNA and has evolved to maximise immediate benefit by co-operating with potential adversaries. There is a problem with this though.

Competitive people who see themselves as 'Go getters', 'Top dogs', Winners, Hard Nosed, see co-operative people as failures, losers, lacking assertiveness. This means that if you try and ingratiate yourself with a competitive type they will simply regard you as weak. You will not benefit in any way from their success.

Being successful means standing up for yourself and what you believe. This should not be confused with selfishness. You can also use this information to influence and persuade people to buy into your ideas, buy your products or buy your services by checking what 'mode' they are in. If they come across as having a competitive attitude position yourself as competitive too, and show what you 'know, 'have' 'can do' will help them continue to win.

People succeed by looking after their interests first. This enables them to look after other people (should they choose) from a position of strength and abundance.