Experts Say…

306335002_6437df303a_zIf I am trying to sell you one of two cameras which, although different brands, are exactly the same in quality and functionality, and I tell you that professional photographers prefer camera A over camera B, there’s a good chance you will then purchase camera A. And what I said about professionals preferring camera A doesn’t even have to be true, because you’ve already switched off the part of your brain in charge of critical-research thinking.

An actor playing a dentist in a toothpaste commercial will be trusted as an authority on which toothpaste to buy even when you know he’s just an actor. You ignore that fact because it’s not the focus of your thinking in the moment. The focus of your thinking is on making the decision.

It’s difficult for us to make decisions, especially when we are ignorant on the subjects of choice. What do you know about cameras? How much research are you going to have to do in order to make an informed decision? How much time do you have for that? So isn’t it nice when someone has done all the research for you and can simply tell you which option is better? Those people are the experts. Experts range in occupation from Technicians to Pastors.

And it’s great when you can trust the experts; when they’re not BS’rs. But you have to be careful when the expert, or the person in authority, may be using your ignorance and trust as a way to manipulate you.

How can you know?

  1. Always lean toward the possibility that the expert has an agenda unknown to you.
  2. Always ask, “Is this true?” and weigh that question against your own common sense. If something doesn’t make sense, it’s probably not true.
  3. Is what the expert saying leaning toward your own bias on the subject? Are you believing what he is saying simply because you want it to be true? Is it merely an appeal to your own selfish desires?
  4. Is what the expert saying qualified? Do other experts agree?
  5. Be prepared to do some of your own research, which, in the age of Google, isn’t too difficult.

Recommended reading: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

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Were You Duped by the Gillette Ad?

Were you, like myself and thousands of others, duped by the Gillette ad?

How do you know if you were duped?

You took sides.

And if you took sides, and defended the ad, I’m guessing you are liberal leaning. And if you hated the ad, you’re probably conservative leaning.

Here is the problem with that: Does a liberal’s definition of a good man and a conservative’s definition of a good man differ a whole lot? I’m guessing not. If you asked a conservative to write a list of ten things describing what a good man is, and asked a liberal to do likewise, I’m pretty sure those lists would be nearly exact.

Then why did the Gillette ad cause so much division?

Because it was designed to.

If Gillette truly cared about encouraging men to act as good men, could they not have created an ad which would offend no one and create no division? Of course they could. It’s not hard. Simply portray a variety of men acting in a variety of good ways in a variety of situations: A man holding a door open for a woman; a man defending someone against bullying; a man working with inner city kids; etc…. Create an ad like that, but do not infuse into it any accusatory or preachy tone. That ad would encourage men to act well and it would offend no one.

gillette women blue suits

Gillette does not care about men behaving well. Like an arms dealer making millions selling weapons to both sides of a war, Gillette is playing the culture war hoping to increase its profits. If, in ten years, Gillette believes it can increase profits by appealing to conservative men, you can be sure it will create the appropriate ads to do that. With this latest ad, Gillette seems to be targeting progressive liberals.

So lets all agree that there are both good men and bad men out there, on both the left and the right, and that most men are trying to be good men. And also, lets all agree that a multi-billion dollar corporation, like Gillette, is not the best place to look to for our moral standards.

Related reading: Rough-and-Tumble Play and the Regulation of Aggression

PS… Why are men buying Gillette razors anyway? They’re a rip off! Go and get yourself a Merkur safety razor, along with a box of a hundred blades, and you’re set for decades.

Update July 2019… “…P&G reported a net loss of about $5.24 billion, or $2.12 per share, for the quarter ended June 30, due to an $8 billion non-cash writedown of Gillette.”

Update August 2019“‘We will continue to represent men at their best’: Gillette’s backflip after ‘toxic masculinity’ backlash”

Stop Talking About It

“We know Canada isn’t immune to racist violence & hate. We condemn it in all its forms & send support to the victims in Charlottesville.”
~Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Excerpt from a recent CTV Canada news article….

Last weekend’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., has thrust America’s racism, violence and toxic political climate into the global spotlight.

But experts warn that right-wing extremist views are also on the rise in Canada, and should not be ignored.

“The far right is becoming very bold in Canada as well and we’ve seen that in the run-up to the last (federal) election and right after that as well,” Barbara Perry, a global crime expert at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, told CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday.

In Cambodia, in the 1970s, Khmer Rouge soldiers were a bunch of young men who were angry at the upper class. The thing is, they didn’t know they were angry at the upper class until Pol Pot came and convinced them of it. There are a lot of angry people in Canada. They don’t necessarily know why they’re angry, but they have no way to express it and so are looking for a cause/group they can attach their anger to. It doesn’t matter if the cause does not line up with the reason they’re angry (if they even know it). The cause becomes an outlet for the anger and it gives the person a sense of purpose in life. So, if we want to see an uprise in racism in Canada, then by all means, talk about it incessantly. Convince people that they need to be outraged and afraid of it. Good leaders will find angry people and attach them to good causes. Foolish leaders will attach them to evil causes. Canada has foolish leaders.

Related reading…. Fuelling White Nationalism

Propaganda (Brief Book Review)

propaganda

“Modern propaganda is a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group”
~Edward Bernays

I recently finished reading Propaganda by Edward Bernays. It’s a short book written in the late 1920s describing the methods used by anyone who wishes to push their ideas and agenda onto a large group of people. The methods described in the book are still in use today.

Propaganda is a neutral term; it is neither good nor evil in and of itself. It can be used for good and used for evil, but mostly it is a vessel used to push an idea.

If I were a newsman who recently read a report done by some major university on the annual financial earnings of men and women and wanted to do a story on it, I could choose a couple of different ways to present the report. If I have no agenda but to present the report to the public for their own scrutiny, my headline would look something like: New Report on the Financial Income of Men and Women Released by U of T. However, if I’m a feminist, and do have a strong agenda, and I see in the report that men, due to more frequently working full time, putting in more overtime, and taking jobs in higher paying fields, are earning more money on an annual basis than women, I can use that information to push my agenda, and my headline would look more like this: Women Only Make Seventy Cents for Every Dollar a Man Makes New Study Shows. And that headline would be propaganda. It’s not an outright lie; it’s just that I am presenting the information to the reader so as to sway his or her opinion toward my agenda (which, for the feminist, is to convince the public that women are oppressed by men).

propSo, even though propaganda is neutral (and should not be mistaken with opinion writing), I would argue that it will most often lean towards dishonesty as the presenter of the propaganda is most likely not being sincere in his or her propagation of the information, even when the cause behind the propaganda is a good one.

I gave the book 3/5 stars.

BS’rs vs Liars

Smells-Like-Bullshit_fb_99704

A liar is someone who knows that what he’s saying is not true, and he wants to deceive you for his own personal gain and/or to protect himself. He doesn’t necessarily want his lie to be true. He just wants you to believe it so that he can get on with his plans.

A bullshitter, however, while not speaking the perfect truth, wants what he’s saying to be true, and he wants you to want it to be true as well. He will over exaggerate his statistics to make things appear to be better, or more worthy of praise, than they really are. He knows it’s bullshit, he feels it inside, but he convinces himself it’s true just long enough to blurt it out. He hopes that you won’t look too deeply into what he’s saying, and he knows most people won’t.