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Streams & Loops

Creative Houston Sparks

  • People, places and projects which show the relentless inventive spirit of Houston
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Health Guide USA Tips & Trusted Links

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To make a contribution: don't try to fit in

I love the idea of being the lone dissenter so other people have an opportunity to dissent as well.

The Atlantic: The Perks of Being a Weirdo, 2020-Apr by Olga Khazan

Psychologist Solomon Asch is famous for his 'conformity experiments,' but he also studied how dissenters influenced group behavior.... Having just one person who broke with the majority reduced conformity among the responses by about 80 percent. Perhaps the participants in those trials felt as though they and the dissenter could at least be weird together. Interestingly, they were less likely to conform even if the dissenter disagreed with the crowd but was still wrong. The dissenter appeared to give the participants permission to disagree. ...

In a small study, Rodica Damian, an assistant psychology professor at the University of Houston, and her colleagues had college students engage in a virtual-reality exercise in which the laws of physics didn’t apply. In this virtual world, things fell up instead of down. When compared with another group that performed an exercise in which the laws of physics functioned normally, those who had the physics-warping experience were able to come up with more creative answers to the question “What makes sound?”... Damian has a theory she’s researching: that all kinds of unusual experiences can boost creativity. 

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How to change someone's mind

I've read many explanations lately about why people are not convinced by debate. Fortunately, James Clear points the way toward persuading people: treating them as friends. 

JamesClear.com: Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds, 2018-Sep-10 by James Clear

Be Kind First, Be Right Later

The brilliant Japanese writer Haruki Murakami once wrote, “Always remember that to argue, and win, is to break down the reality of the person you are arguing against. It is painful to lose your reality, so be kind, even if you are right.”

When we are in the moment, we can easily forget that the goal is to connect with the other side, collaborate with them, befriend them, and integrate them into our tribe. We are so caught up in winning that we forget about connecting. It's easy to spend your energy labeling people rather than working with them. 

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What kind of mistake do you want to make?

Mistakes are a chance to collect information. Plan them carefully. 

New Statesman: It’s impossible to live in a state of error-free perfection: the trick is to make the right mistakes, 2019-Jan-29 by Ian Leslie

On an individual level, it can be liberating to accept that the whole trick of life is deciding how, not whether, to screw up. A student may do better in an exam once she feels that nobody is expecting her to answer every question correctly. Every day, somebody starts a new business, fully aware that it may go kaput, having weighed that possibility against another error: creating the regret that comes from never trying in the first place.

When theatre directors give pep talks to their ensembles before an opening night, they often point out that the odd mistake is inevitable. They do so because the worst mistake of all would be for the performers to be so cautious that they forget to put their heart and soul into what they’re about to do. Well, your audience awaits. If it’s not too late to ask, what mistakes do you plan on making in 2020? 

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Start from accepted values

We actually can't change someone's values by talking with them. We could possibly affect their values by doing things with them. But more immediately we can show them that the values they currently hold are consistent with more options than they realize. 

Stumbling and Mumbling: Conservative arguments for radical ideas, 2020-Jan-03 by Chris Dillow

...we don’t persuade people by telling them that their worldview is wrong and by demanding that they change the ideas of a lifetime. We are more likely to succeed by showing them that their ideas are consistent with things they might not have considered.

Here are some examples of what I mean....

Worker ownership. This sounds like a radical idea. But it’s not – and not just because law and accountancy practices are routinely owned by their workers. One inspiration for it comes from Hayek’s important point, that central planning is impossible because economic knowledge is fragmentary and dispersed. Worker control, more than hierarchy, can mobilize such knowledge. Hayek’s key insight – “you don’t know what you are doing” – is a challenge to top-down managers.

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