How a picture helps you pay your taxes

James Lawther at Squawk Point has an interesting post on the impact of pictures on vehicle relicensing rates. The trial was grounded in the work of UK Government’s Behavioural Insight team which is, in turn, informed by the work of Richard Thaler (co-author of the influential book Nudge). Imagery is an important part of story-telling and […]

Echoes through time: knowledge of a meagre kind

“When you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.”   Lord Kelvin (William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, 1824-1907), Lecture on Electrical Units of Measurement

Believe …

Steve Layman has a great quote from Daniel Kahneman: “A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.” I’m hoping this is from Thinking,Fast and Slow which is next up on my Must Read Shelf. […]

Pity, Fear, Catharsis – the essence of storytelling #writing

It’s strange and not a little sobering to appreciate just how much Aristotle got right, 2,500 years ago. The essence of storytelling, he tells us, is three simple but essential concepts: Pity – (we might say empathy) first of all, we must make the audience feel for and care about the central character Fear – […]

The neuroscience of narrative – Paul J Zak #writing

Here are some great resources on the neurochemical effect of storytelling. Paul Zak’s lab was responsible for identifying the importance of oxytocin in generating trust (as here). When I started to look at that, I found this much more interesting (for me) research on the generation of oxytocin during engaging narrative, and its related impact […]

Beware the simplifier

The media is currently obsessed by Donald Trump’s travel ban and it seems that, without exception, every outlet is describing the target as seven “mostly Muslim” countries. Social and celebrity media has quickly elided that to “Muslims”. Those countries are, of course, mostly Muslim: between 90.0 and 99.7% of their populations according to Pew Research quoted on […]

Evidence in a post-truth world? #contentmarketing

Are proof-points passé in a post-truth world? On the contrary, they are more important than ever. In a world of Putin, Trump and the Brexit campaign, it’s tempting to think that evidence simply doesn’t matter anymore. Can’t you just say anything you like, as long as you repeat it loudly and persistently? Here are two […]

Tell true stories – @thisisseth

Seth Godin on how to be heard, including: “Do your homework. Reflect back what you believe the other person is trying to say before you disagree with it. Tell true stories.”  

Custardy content muzak and Seth’s candy diet – @thisisseth

Here’s an interesting post from Seth Godin that should resonate with everyone: the dumbing down of media. It’s something that is all too familiar in business written content, too. In fear of losing audience, there is relentless pressure to make things simpler, to always aim for the warm custard of cognitive fluency. The problem is […]

We tell ourselves stories …

This caught my eye in Andrew Marr’s column from today’s Sunday Times: “[Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky] believed humans don’t listen to hard evidence and statistics clearly because we tell ourselves stories. That’s how we make sense of an uncertain world. But the very vividness of stories can persuade us that we understand things we don’t.”

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