America's Got Fat Dancing Losers

I was channel surfing America’s Got Fat Dancing Losers and the cable news channels last night watching people bloviate about public options and peace prizes, and wondering where to apply for one of those death squads for grandparents.   It reminded me of a story in The Week, summarized from a longer piece in The Atlantic.

Why do people cling to an opinion even after they’re presented with contradictory evidence? 

A new study has found that people employ “motivated reasoning” to fend off any evidence that their strongly held beliefs are wrong.  Many people feel that they are their opinions, and hate to lose arguments; as Vince Lomabrdi once said, “Every time you lose, you die a little.”  So when confronted with new, troubling information, ideologues selectively interpret the facts or use ’contorted logic’ to make conflicting evidence just go away.  You’ve hear it said that some people ‘don’t let the facts stand in the way of a good story.’

Researchers found that exposing people to contradictory information actually ‘intensified’ their existing beliefs making them more rigid and entrenched. 

The bottom line is that you’re probably not going to be “changing anyone else’s mind with facts or rational discussion.”

It’s a topic and one that’s covered.  Classes are coming up in more than 35 locations, so please call or email me if you’d like to learn very nicely in the Emotion, Outrage and Public Involvement class that we’re doing with IAP2 and Dr. Peter Sandman more.




Jonah Lehrer has a book out called How We Decide. It’s about the dichotomy between “emotional” decision-making and “rational” decision-making and what science can tell us about these two kinds of thinking.

In the world of experts and scientists there’s a popular notion that they’re employing complete objectivity and reason for every decision they make.  Not quite. 

People who experience damage to the parts of their brain responsible for emotional reactions are unable to decide, because their rational mind dithers endlessly over all the possible rational reasons for each course of action.  That purely rational being who makes decisions without some kind of gut-instinct is really a helpless schmuck who can’t decide between “white or brown toast?”  

But decisions based on emotion will also get us into serious trouble. There’s a sweet-spot in there between white-hot emotional thinking and ice-cold reason.


Generation Y – the Millennials — is that age group born between the 70’s and 90’s who have given us something new to worry about.   They don’t do ambiguity.

They’re less able to cope with uncertainty than older generations. It’s not just Generation Y, it’s a universal truth.  Each generation tries to provide a “better,” more assured life for the one that follows.

So here are some of the consequences:

  1. Animosity between workers and bosses will increase.
  2. Younger employees will ‘opt out’ of the corporate system
  3. Leadership will suffer

The story on SmartBlogs isn’t all gloom saying that these challenges can be corrected, but can you think of a more ambiguous time than we’re living in right now?   

Details and the other six problems are at:


 There’s a good story in Business Week about some of the best ways to screw up your next presentation. 

It starts with:

1. Misspelled words.  Failing to check the spelling on your slides shows a complete lack of care. If you don’t care enough to proof your presentation, your audience won’t care about you or your message. It’s the easiest way to look unprofessional.

2. Distracting color combinations. Blue on green is especially hard to read.

3. Inconsistent fonts.  Professional PowerPoint designers use no more than two, or maybe three font styles in an entire presentation.

4. Using really small font sizes.  If you really want to drive people crazy, say something like: “I know you can’t read this, but here’s what it says.”

The other 11 and more details are at:


Found a video blog on motivating employees in startups that has some universal truths and I thought you’d find interesting.  In a nutshell it lists three primary motivators:

1.               Autonomy:  The urge to direct our own lives.  It is really important for employees to feel         autonomous.  Just provide some guardrails and let your people to find their way to the              outcome, their creativity may surprise you.

2.            Mastery: The desire to get better and better at something that matters.  Everybody      wants to excel at something, so provide opportunities for your employees to grow           through training, practice, and time.  It is a tremendous motivator.

3.            Purpose: The yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than.  Define            and communicate a big vision that is impactful – it is a powerful motivator.



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