Malcolm Gladwell - Can We Believe What People Tell Us?

Perhaps the most famous line of Plato's Apology is the one in which Socrates makes the bold claim that "the unexamined life is not worth living." This is also where we get the exhortation "know thyself." The problem is that, quite often, the more we learn about human beings as a group, the more obvious it becomes that we know far less about our individual selves than we might have originally suspected, and worse, that the more we try to introspect and discover, the less we end up knowing ourselves. It's not just like walking toward the horizon and expecting to reach it; it's more like walking toward the horizon and somehow ending up farther away from it than before but still believing we've made some progress...

Marketers, politicians, broadcasters and many others rely on polls and participants' assessment of their own preferences, beliefs, attitudes, etc. in order to push some product or endorse a political trend. After all, who would know better about your own preferences than yourself? Funny thing is that when you are asked to evaluate your own preferences and justify them, the preferences you end up defending are either not your own, and you don't even know it, or you end up defending them in some really pathetic way that should not convince a retarded dodo.

In the following presentation, pop sociologist Malcolm Gladwell discusses some of these findings and meditates on some of the ways we might be able to overcome these natural and subconscious proclivities and, as is his interesting style, he begins with a seemingly trivial example, this time: office chairs :)


Sometimes the solution to some of our problems is much simpler than we normally imagine.
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