Monthly Archives: September 2009

Tempura Strainers for Professional Audio Sound

Lately I have been playing around with making videos on YouTube. Some are regular videos, with me standing and speaking random nonsense into my camera, other videos are actually thought out streams of ideas, to which I tried to find relevant pictures to illustrate my points.

One big of difficulty I found was that recording audio is difficult if you don’t have a proper set up. If you get too close to the microphone, you can hear every pop and click and breath. If you get too far away, you can’t hear very much at all.

So a couple of weekends ago, I set out on a quest to find a solution. First I stopped at a music store, hoping they would have some kind of recording microphones that would filter out pops and clicks. They did, but they were very expensive. I then looked to see if they had any of those “screens” that you see in videos of people recording songs. They did, but they were about a hundred and fifty dollars.

But, because the box was partially open, meaning they had a window, which showed the actual screen that was to be used, I had an idea. The material itself looked like nothing more complicated than a round cheese grater. Of course it had some high tech clamps and clips and other devices of attachment to hook it up to a microphone.

I headed on over to my local DIY center (do it yourself, as they are called here in Japan) and picked up a couple of small tempura strainers. The material is like a regular strainer, but much smaller. About three inches in diameter, and only a small curvature to it. Used for dipping out small pieces of food from a deep fryer.

I also got a few regular all-purpose clamps that look like a little oversized alligator clips. Then I got one more all purpose thing that looks kind of like a vice, where you can clamp something on your desktop, and then clamp another pole to that, so you can swivel it in many directions. So I clipped the two tempura strainers together, in front of a digital microphone. Now I can take a deep breath, and speak with full force into the microphone. The two tempura strainers filter out all the hissing and popping, and the sound is fantastic. A few passes through any number of free audio software you can get, and I have a near professional sounding video to use with whatever goofball YouTube videos I want to make.

DiY Tempura Mic

The total cost, microphone included, was about fifty bucks. By far the most expensive element was the microphone, as it is a rather high-end directional digital microphone. You could easily get one much cheaper if you wanted.

The moral of all this, is that there is always another, usually cheaper way to do something if you are willing to explore and think of new ways to do things. If you only accept the ways you are “supposed” to do things, then you’ll not only be limited in your options, but you’ll be doing things the same way everybody else is doing them. And there’s no fun in that.

How To Model The Vietnamese Nail Salon For Massive Profit

I had a friend once who was taking this class in becoming a certified (I’m not sure what the right word is) nail salon specialist. She explained all the different certifications you need to work in that kind of shop. It’s a little similar to the kind of license you need to cut peoples hair, but not as intense. Meaning that you don’t have to attend as many classroom hours, or take a very difficult class to pass.

Having never been to a nail salon to get my nails done, I wasn’t aware of the different requirements for opening and running a shop. Because it is a health related industry (sort of) and there is the possibility of transferring germs, you need to follow certain health guidelines. That is basically the gist of the course, not the proper way to cut or polish nails, but to ensure that the equipment that is used over and over again remains clean and germ free.

And just like restaurants, those nail salon places are inspected (or are supposed to be inspected) on a regular basis. Because my friend is from California, and California is currently undergoing a huge budget crisis, I’m not sure if the have the money to send health inspectors out running around checking on nail salons.

One interesting phenomenon that happened recently (or maybe not so recently depending on your time frame) is the massive increase in Vietnamese nail salons in southern California. Before, most nail salons were run and catered to upper class patrons.

But when the Vietnamese came in, they changed all that. They changed the target market, the operating procedures, and the profits. Soon almost every single strip mall contained a nail salon run by Vietnamese. And they were very profitable.

The thing to be learned from this is that no matter how saturated a market appears to be, there is always another way, always another angle to swoop in a dominate, even in a market that has been well established for many years.

How To Exploit Juice Underneath Your Desires – For Sex, Love, And Money

Have you ever chosen a goal, only to find out that you really didn’t want it, or once you got it you thought maybe it wasn’t all that you thought it might be?

Or maybe you’re lucky enough to have had a goal, tried really hard to achieve it, and then failed. And after you’ve failed, you realized that you really weren’t after that goal after all, but something deeper, and by doing things that were moving you closer to the goal you thought you wanted, you were actually developing your skills that would make it much easier for you to achieve a much larger, more satisfying goal.



I know a guy that really wanted to be a standup comic. He had watched comics as a kid, and really enjoyed him, and really wanted to be onstage telling jokes, and getting people to laugh. So he read books, went to trainings and seminars. He studied the structure of humor so he could write his own material. When it finally came time to get up on stage and burst onto the comic scene, he failed miserably.

He was literally booed off stage again and again. His jokes were horrible, his delivery was terrible, and his timing was awful. For a while he was completely demoralized. The he started learning about personal development and motivation. As it turns out, studying the structure of comedy is closely related to the structure of human understanding and how we humans view the world. Which is very closely tied to our own motivational strategies and our beliefs about what we are capable of.

So he started studying and learning more and more. And he found out there was a huge demand for this kind of seminar. He started giving seminars that quickly sold out every time.

The skills he had picked up along the way, studying about human nature through comedy, and practicing public speaking skills against a ferociously unappreciated audience gave him incredible understanding of other peoples pain and fear, and incredible effective public speaking and motivation skills.

Had he not tried and failed as a comedian, he would never have succeeded as self-development coach. His seminars still sell out whenever he gives them, and he is making quite a bit of money today.

But the point of this essay is not to encourage you to chase after a goal and then fail. If you started out with that mindset, you’d likely not chase it with near as much gusto as is you were expecting to win.

The point of this is to encourage you to really examine the goal you are chasing. Really really examine it. What is it about that goal that is so appealing to you? What will you have, feel, and experience when you achieve that goal? Is there and even better, quicker, and easier way to feel, experience and have those same things by choosing a different goal?

In the example above, the underlying criteria of becoming a comic might have been to make people feel good, and happy, and feel good about oneself for delivering those emotions to others. There are many ways to do that. Being a comic is certainly one way, but is it the only way? Is it the easiest way?

There is one very powerful motivating factor in psychology called commitment and consistency. This has been proven to be a very powerful social influence technique. People that publicly claim they are Republicans will never vote democrat, but people that never commit publicly to either party are much more likely to vote for a candidate not based on his party, but on his or her qualifications.

In the jury system, studies have shown that juries where they publicly voice their opinion (guilty or innocent) before deliberation have a much harder time coming to a consensus. Those that indicate their initial opinion anonymously (writing G o I on a slip of paper) have a much easier time agreeing on a consensus. The people that publicly claim either guilty or innocent have a much harder time changing their minds.

This same dynamic is in place when setting goals.  Sometimes a goal that should have been abandoned a long time ago is still pursued, only because the person made a decision to get it, no matter what.

Of course, this is not to be confused with simply giving up on chasing a goal due to some adversity or difficulties in achieving it. This is about a goal that has lost its relevance.

When you can really dig down deep inside your mind to discover the real reason behind your goal, and go after that, the goal itself can become a temporary placeholder in your mind for your deeper, and more important criteria. Once you identify what that is, you will realize that there are many more ways to get there.

This can take some time and person introspection, but it is well worth the effort.  When you realize that the underlying structure of your experience is something worthy of your attention, you can be assured you will be successful.

Covert Charisma For Influence, Sales, And Seduction

Here’s a neat trick that you can use to covertly create really good feelings in other people. When you can do this covertly, people will feel good without knowing that you are consciously trying to do this. All they will realize is that whenever you are around, they feel really good about themselves. They will start to see you as a really charismatic person. Whenever they hear your voice, or see your face, they will immediately begin to think happy thoughts.

When you aren’t around, and they start to think about you, they will begin to automatically think and feel happy thoughts and feelings. Is this something you think you might have some uses for?

The trick is to make some really positive assumptions about them, and then allow them to prove you correct. There is something strange about this; the mechanism is something deep and subconscious. When you assigning a positive trait to another person, and really assign it in a deep and meaningful way, they have an almost unconscious drive to live up to that label, so long as it is a good and positive one.

Of course, if you do this with manipulative attempt, people will see your fakeness from a mile away. Do this genuinely and people will be their best around you.

For example, if your boss comes in and starts telling you what a great and hard worker you are, on a Friday afternoon, you know something is up. You will naturally feel some resistance, but he’s your boss, so you can’t really tell him how you really feel.

If on the other hand, if you are sitting in a meeting, and they are discussing who to send to meet with a potential client that could mean big money for your company, and after a few moments thought, he looks at you and says”

“You’re the best we’ve got. If anybody can land this contract, you can. If you can’t do it, then it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Then you know she’s being totally honest, and you will feel inspired beyond belief to land that contract, whatever it is.

When you speak to people on a social level, you can still inspire those same good feelings in others. The trick is to assume positive things about them, and then talk to them as if those positive things you assume about them are already obvious to everyone.

Linguistic presuppositions can come in really handy here. Linguistic presuppositions are sentence structures that assume one or more things to be true in order for the sentence to make sense.

If I say that my cat is really smart because she can run to the door two minutes before the mailman comes, that presupposes many things:

I have a cat.
My cat can run.
It’s possible to measure the intelligence of a cat.
My cat is really smart.
My cat can predict when the mailman will come.

Another example based on making people feel good about themselves. Say you are talking to somebody you’ve just met. You’ve talked to them for a few minutes, and learn that they are a kindergarten teacher. If you say:

Wow, kids must really like you. How long have you been able to use your communication skills to inspire people to learn?

What does this presuppose?

They have good communication skills.
They inspire people.
They help people learn.
They have been doing it for a while.

Now, the specific structure of the above example is a question that starts off with “How long…” The important thing to remember is that any answer they give, even if they shrug their shoulders, indicates that they’ve accepted your presuppositions as true. They would have to be extremely suspicious, or have extremely low self-esteem, if they took each element of the sentence and overtly disagreed with it.

When you can take some good assumptions about another person, hide them inside a sentence that only requires a yes, no, or one word answer, you are doing pretty good.

Another sneaky way to do this is to give them a quick, sly compliment, and then follow it up with an easy to answer, and seemingly obvious question.


Wow, you must be really good with kids. I think that people that are good with kids are the most important people in society. We would be completely lost without them. When did you know that you wanted to be a kindergarten teacher?

The important part is to not allow him or her any time to respond to your compliment, and then ask a question that most people would ask by itself.

The problem many people have with giving compliments is that they have an ulterior motive, and they give the compliment, and then wait for the thank you. This is an indication that on some level, they are really fishing for a “Thank you,” rather than giving an honest compliment.

When you give somebody a compliment like this, without giving them a chance to respond, then quickly focus their attention on some normal, often asked and easy to answer question, the compliment really sinks down deep, and makes them feel really good.

These are just two techniques you can use in your daily conversation that will really boost your charisma, and your ability to make people around you feel really good about themselves. And when you have high charisma, and are surrounded by people that feel good about themselves, you’re doing pretty good.

Embedded Commands for Powerful Persuasion

One powerful tool that you can use in your toolkit of persuasion and influence is the embedded command. An embedded command is likely the most popular, easiest to learn, hardest to detect (and therefore one of the most powerful) ways to influence others.

They do take some time to learn, but once you have them down, you’ll notice that you are using them in your everyday speech. When you combine an unconscious skill of embedded commands with a strong win/win intention or outcome, you can be a powerfully unstoppable and charismatic force.

It’s no secret that most people would rather rally around a strong, charismatic leader than step up the plate themselves. Humans are designed to follow one leader in every group of people. Many studies of psychology and sociology have been done that illustrate this simple point. If you’ve every been in a business meeting, you know that most people would happily submit to a powerful, authoritative leader than take responsibility for themselves.

When you develop the use of embedded commands, you will be tapping into peoples deep evolutionarily based need to follow directions, and become incredibly influential. And the great thing is that they are very simple to use and apply.

First, take a short sentence, which is in the imperative form. A short command. Some examples.

Eat sushi.
Drink CC Lemon.
Watch Television
Add water.
Buy my product.
The structure is the first word is a verb in its basic present tense form. Then you have two or three words after it, that go along with the verb.

Next, you need to say them with the right tonality. Pretend you have your own personal robot. They will do everything you ask, and their feelings won’t get hurt. Say each of the above sentences with a slight downward tonality.

Ok? Ok. Next, take the above small snippets of speech, and put them into a larger sentence. This is where it gets tricky. You’ll need to say the command part a little bit different from the rest of the sentence. But make sure not to linger too long when you say the command, otherwise the people you are talking to will know that something is up. Pause just a little bit before the command, and a little bit afterwards, and then continue on with your sentence as if nothing happened.

This way, even if the person you are speaking with suspects something is up, by continuing on as if nothing happened, they’ll quickly forget their suspicions. Even if they notice something is up, they likely won’t know exactly what it is (other than maybe, you are talking funny, but this rarely happens.)

For example, let say you want to convince your girlfriend to eat sushi. You could try looking at her like Rasputin, and say EAT SUSHI! But she’ll likely think you are a nutcase. Or you could say something like this:

The other day, I was listening to this doctor on a radio talk show. He was discussing a study about people who eat sushi, and how they are healthier. He says that when you eat sushi, you get lots of good monounsaturated fats, and people that eat sushi on a regular basis tend to live longer. Hey, I’m getting kind of hungry by the way; do you want to get something to eat?

I remember when I was a kid; I went to some amusement park. In the amusement park they had this animal show, where they had a dog and a cat do a bunch of tricks. They had a sort of joke trick, where they would pull a kid out of the audience, and the trainer would tell him to whisper an article of clothing in the dog’s ear, and then he would go and get it.

Every time they kid would whisper women’s underwear, and the dog would come back with a bra, and you could hear a woman scream from backstage. They called me up on stage, and sure enough, I chose to whisper in the dog’s ear a woman’s bra. I thought it was my own choice to choose a woman’s bra, but my brother later explained what was up.

He would describe all the things I could choose, but he always used embedded commands (although at the time I had no idea what they were) when he mentioned to “choose a woman’s bra,” so inevitable, all the kids that went up on stage would choose that. And that was the only thing the dog was trained to go and get from back stage. It was a pretty good way to set up an easy trick.

These are great to use over the phone if you are in sales, or are talking to your girlfriend or boyfriend. They are particularly powerful if you start with a command that is easy to accept, and slowly lead to a more powerful command that you’d like your listener to perform.

For example

Become interested.
Get curious.
Get excited about this.
Want this.
Make a decision
Get this.
Buy this.
Do this.
Choose now.
Be happy.
Share with your friends.

Whatever it is you are talking about, if you start slow, and work your way up to a big finish, this can be very powerful. At first you’ll have to think these through before you deliver them, but after a while (with practice) you’ll be able to choose a destination and then automatically give people easy steps to get there by following your commands.

Of course, like any other powerful persuasion techniques, these should be used with caution. The quickest way to make a bad name for yourself is to convince somebody to commit money or emotions to something that isn’t in their best interests. The reasons powerful leaders are so powerful, and that people trust them is because they truly have the people’s interest at heart. You don’t have to look back through history to find reviled, hated and despised dictator that took advantage of their leadership.

When you use these ethically, they can be a lot of fun, and make a lot of people (including yourself) very happy.

Change Your Filters – Change Your Life

Filters are a very important and necessary part of life. Filters are used in a variety of ways, in a variety of situations. They can be extremely beneficial to sort out what you don’t want, but they can also keep out things that you do want.

Some examples are coffee filters, low bypass filters (used on stereo components, oscilloscopes and computer based audio software), and those pans that old timers used during the gold rush to filter the sludge from the river bed from the gold nuggets they were hoping to find.

Other filters are the filters that are in your brain. When you go to the store for example, if you happen to be a vegetarian, you filter out all of the meat products and focus only on those derived from plants. Or if you like to drink alcohol, and had a particularly painful experience with, say, tequila, then you’ll likely not spend too much time lingering in the tequila section of your local supermarket.

Some filters are completely out of our conscious awareness. One way to do a quick check of the filters that are operating in your head is to simply do a quick inventory of your life. What things do you have? What things are you experiencing on a daily basis? Whatever you have going in your life is a result of your filters. The people, jobs, living conditions, cars, everything you have is a result of a filter of some sort.

The interesting thing is that filters are operating completely below conscious awareness. And they were likely picked up, or learned below conscious awareness as well. Usually from parents, or teachers, we tend to pick up our major beliefs in life without even questioning them.

So how do you go about changing your filters? Practice filtering on a conscious basis. Just like any skill, when you elevate it to the conscious level, you can change it, and drop it back down to the subconscious level where you won’t have to think about it.

Take your golf swing for example, or any other sports related skill. Unless you have taken lessons, or focused on a specific component of it, you likely learned through trial and error. You kept changing your method without much thought, until you got a result that was acceptable to you.

But what happens when you take lessons from a pro? He or she will show you exactly what you are doing wrong, and exactly what to do to correct it. Then you must practice, focusing only on what you are supposed to be doing. This is slow and frustrating at first, but the more you practice, the more it becomes natural. Becoming natural is when your new behavior is slipping back down into unconscious behavior.

Filters work the same way. When you focus specifically on something that you are filtering, you can slowly change the things you filter automatically. Next time you go to a fast food restaurant, watch the people in front of you. They will likely not have any clue what they want to eat until they get to the front of the line. Even then they will usually take some time making a decision. They only know that they are hungry. They have put off sorting through their environment for what they want until the last possible moment.

Next time you go to the supermarket (if you don’t usually do this already) make a mental list in your head of exactly what you want. Get only what you chose, and nothing else. When you are shopping, pretend you are the terminator (from the first movie) where they show him sorting through looking for Sarah Connor. Pretend you are scanning the supermarket to get what you want as efficiently as possible. Don’t waste any time looking over things you are not going to buy.

Believe it or not, this is exactly what your subconscious is doing all the time. Sorting through your environment just like the terminator. When you are not able to make a decision, it is because you haven’t identified what is important to you.

When you make a clear and solid choice exactly what you want before you enter into any situation, you are practicing selecting conscious filters. Another way to practice filtering is go outside for a walk, and see how many red things you can mentally collect.

Most people never take the time to examine their filters and see if they are working for them. They have such vague filters that they end up in relationships that don’t serve them, jobs they don’t like, and life situations that are less than spectacular. By practicing your filtering on a conscious level, you will become more and more skilled.

And the more you practice, the more detailed you can get in your filtering. You’ll be amazed how well this works. Instead of filtering for red things, you’ll be filtering for jobs that pay you good money to do exactly what you want, or life partners that can satisfy you sexually and emotionally in ways you never thought possible. You’ll never again have to “end up” with anything. You can actually choose your life.

Why Deep Rapport is Much Easier Than You Think

Couple of weeks ago, I went to an aquarium. It wasn’t a very large aquarium, it was a “traveling aquarium” if you can believe that. It wasn’t really anything more than an oversized tropical fish store, and it seemed to be set up mostly for kids. I’m not sure if it was something that travels around the country, or if it just a local thing that might have been on loan from the local zoo.

One thing they did have that was surprising was four penguins. On the advertisement it had pictures of all kinds of exotic sea creatures, and it had a picture of a penguin in the middle. I was certain that the penguin was only for advertising, so I was surprised to see actual penguins at the exhibit.

The were in a relatively small room, maybe twenty or thirty square meters at most. In the center was a make shift pool, the surface was maybe four or five square meters. It was only half a meter deep or so. When I arrived, there were many people pushing up against the Plexiglas with their cell phone snapping away. When I got there the penguins were swimming around in a circle in their small pool.

Shortly after I made my way to the Plexiglas, they had climbed out of the pool and were walking around it. They were incredibly cute, I have to admit. Following each other, as if they were afraid to make a decision on their own. Every time one would pause and look at the water, the rest would copy him. When one started walking, they others started as well. When one veered off form their path from around the pool, the rest followed.

Pretty soon you could tell the crowd was hoping for them to dive back into the water, as watching them walking around in circles was getting a little bit boring. Every time they would pause, an almost jump in, but hold back, you feel the small crowd express its disappointment.

Finally, one of them slipped, and fell into the pool. Before he even had broken the surface of the water, his three friends immediatley followed suit, to the immediate pleasure of the crowd.

It reminded me of a sales seminar I went to a few years ago. The speaker was talking about how important it was to develop rapport before trying to persuade anybody of anything. Rapport is that unconscious feeling you get when you feel comfortable with somebody.

For example, if you were in a strange city, and you saw somebody in shopping mall wearing a t-shirt the bore symbol identifying them as part of a small group that you belonged to, like a high school, or a hometown charity group, you would immediately feel a connection to this person. If you went up and introduced yourself, and identified yourself a as member of the same group of them, you would immediately feel a connection.

Another example. Imagine you are taking a long flight home from somewhere. You finally get to your airport; get off the go down to the baggage claim. As you are waiting, you notice somebody the same gender and age as you. And pretty soon you realize that both of your bags have not come out of the shoot yet. You both finally go to the service desk, only to find that both of your bags have been accidentally transferred to Miami. They are safe, and they will be returned within one week. You share a unique experience with this person, and you suddenly feel a certain connection. You have developed rapport.

There are many ways to develop rapport. The easiest is to match body langue, match the rate of speech, the words that they use. Another way that people try is to find as many shared past experiences, or shared likes and dislikes. Like you both played baseball as a kid, or you both hate the Bee Gees, or anything else you can find.

What the guy at this seminar said, was interesting. He said it’s much easier to develop rapport than most people think. The reason behind this is that people, from a biological perspective, are pack animals. We move in herds, or large groups. It’s almost automatic for us to get into rapport with people. It’s as if we are always subconsciously on the lookout for people that are similar to us, to get clues on how to behave.

This guys said that the easiest way to get rapport with anybody, be it a potential boss during a job interview, a client or a potential lover, is to simply relax, and allow the inevitable similarities to come to the surface. We have in us wonderful mechanism given to us by God or Evolution (whichever you believe) which makes this natural if you just relax and allow it to happen. Of course, if you look for differences, you will find them. But when you relax and allow the similarities to surface naturally, you’ll be amazed how easy it is to develop bonds with people that you don’t even know.

How to maintain those bonds is a subject of another article.

The Crow Massacre

Once upon a time there was a group of crows. They were numerous, and had been established in their community for quite a while. They had a fairly well developed relationship with the surrounding farmers. They would refrain from picking the crops while they were growing, and hunt for food elsewhere. The when harvest time came, they were allowed to pick up all they could eat so long as they didn’t interfere with the harvesting process.

In turn for their cooperation, the farmers agreed not to shoot the crows for sport while they were getting close to harvest time. Crows are very easily hypnotized, and when the season is getting close to harvest time, there is something in the air that transfixed the crows. They begin to gather in mass hordes just outside the crops and wait for the harvest. This makes them easy targets for farmers with shotguns.

Once in early fall, before this rule had been established, several farmers, decided after a night of heavy drinking to have some fun with the waiting crows. They loaded up their shotguns and went out one night, and had a contest to see who could kill the most crows.

What happened after was disastrous. Very few people recalled exactly what had happened, but they all agreed that it was so horrible they should never repeat it. After several rounds of negotiations, they agreed that the crows would be protected during their hypnotic waiting for the harvest, and they would restrain themselves during their furious scavenging after the harvest.

This went on for several generations. The crows would hunt for squirrels and small rodents, and they could steer clear of the farmer’s crops. Then the weeks leading up to the harvest, the crows would slowly gather and watch, transfixed as the farmers prepared their instruments of harvest. The farmers learned to regard the gathering crows with a detached disinterest, not unlike a stronger predator barely acknowledging a lesser animal, waiting in the background for scraps.

Then one day disaster struck. There was a solar eclipse, which sent down a strange combination of solar radiation, and the strange feeling of night during the day. And few people know that the feeling of night during the day is one thing that can send the crows from a lazy feeling of desire into a ravenous blood lust for flesh.

Which is exactly what happened. Nobody knows why, but the solar eclipse was not predicted by any meteorologist, nor written about the much relied upon farmers almanac. It came completely without warning. It didn’t help matters that the frequency of the accompanying solar radiation was similar to that of the brainwave frequency of the crows.

What happened next was unimaginable. Crows swept down upon the harvesting farmers as one, instinctively plucking out there eyes, creating immediate and deadly fear and panic. With the farmers suddenly running around in a chaotic frenzy, the crows began plucking at their throats with almost surgical precision, ripping open carotid artery after carotid artery. Soon all fields were running with the blood of the slowly dying blind farmers.

When all the farmers were dead, the crows turned on each other. Before long, crows and farmer alike lay in the yet to be harvested fields, dead.

It took several days for the neighboring communities to realize there was a problem, as they weren’t expecting any harvested corn or wheat for some time. By the time a delivery truck happened through the community, the site was completely void of life.

No one has ever been to those fields since.

Are Kids REALLY Getting Worse?

The other day I was talking to a neighbor of mine. She was saying how lately some of the kids in the neighborhood have been acting less polite than usual. And I think when she said lately, she meant the last several years. And because of her age, I was almost ready to discount her statement as just another disgruntled old person’s expected “kids today,” rant.

There is a famous quote that goes something like this: “kids today don’t listen anymore, and they don’t respect their elders, blah blah blah,” which sounds like a common enough complaint. When you realize that was spoken by some Greek guy over two thousand years ago, it becomes apparent that old people grumbling about kids is common to every generation.

But one thing that is different, at least in this particular situation is there are some statistics to back this up. According to several sources, there are less and less people getting and staying married. And there are less and less people attending religious services on a regular basis. Before you click off this page thinking that I’m some right wing family values religious nutcase, please understand I haven’t stepped foot in a church since my fathers funeral, and I think it’s absolutely fantastic that social pressures that keep people in otherwise unhappy marriages are crumbling, giving people freedom that they wouldn’t have enjoyed in other generations.

That being said, I think this is an interesting phenomenon from a scientific, societal standpoint. There are less and less marriages, and many more divorces, which many argue lead naturally to a less stable upbringing for kids. Of course there is the argument that kids are better of with separated or divorced parents than with parents together but at each others throat all the time.

Also, less and less families are attending any kind of church services as a whole. When you combine these two together, you have less positive role models for kids to look up to, which leaves them only with each other to learn how to behave and act in modern society.

Please keep in mind that I am not arguing for people to stay married if they hate each other, or get married if they aren’t ready. Nor am I advocating any church participation of any sort. I jus think it’s interesting to watch the dynamic unfold, and how it will affect society in years to come.

I am a firm believer in personal responsibility, and if you are of the persuasion that it is up to society to teach you morals and proper behavior, and then you are at the mercy of the ebbs and flow of societal trends, be they good or bad.

If, however, you are inclined to choose your own moral path, based upon your own choices and decisions for where you want your own life to lead, then there has never been a better time that right now.

Crumbling influences of society can be good, and it can be bad. Like any other system, those that depend upon it stand to lose when the system has problems. Those that understand the system for what it is, and use it to their advantage usually come out ahead, regardless of their social economic background and upbringing.

Crumbling social pressures to get and stay married may make finding and keeping a partner more difficult, but much more rewarding once they are found.

Similarly, releasing oneself from the restrictions of the two thousand year old religious moral authority may seem frightening at first, but when you realize you can make your own rules, (so long as you are prepared to live with the consequences,) you can gain so much more power.

What many come to realize is that when they choose their own path in life, they find that their own personal code of morals and ethics closely mimic the beneficial ones from religion. Don’t kill, steal, or covet, or lie. And as a bonus, some of the stuff is supposedly bad, isn’t so bad after all.

Like sex and money are perfectly fine so long as you make sure everybody is happy, and nobody gets hurt. Of course, if you’re going to make more people, then you need to be sure they grow up with the best resources, mental and otherwise, to achieve their dreams in life as well. Maybe that’s what my neighbor was getting at.

Social Proof and Authority – Powerfully Persuasive, Or Horribly Evil?

Two of the most powerful and effective means of persuasion are social proof and authority. Social proof and authority are responsible or some of the greatest marketing stories of all time and some of the most horrible acts of cruelty perpetrated by societies led by evil and charismatic leaders.

Due to hundreds of thousand of years of evolution, the human brain has developed several “short cuts” in thinking. If you were a caveman living a hundred thousand years ago, it wouldn’t have served you very well to sit back and contemplate all your options when your whole tribe was on the move. Those that had a compulsion to follow the crowd generally lived long enough to reproduce, and pass on this compulsion to their offspring. Rebels didn’t.

Despite our tendency to fancy ourselves as independent thinkers and individuals, we are very strongly influenced by group thinking. Fashion, movies, bestsellers, product endorsements all make it much easier for us to make decisions. Our modern thinking brains are the same brains that kept us alive and thriving on the plains of Africa for hundreds of thousands of years, and they still operate on the same principles, despite what modern science may try and lead us to believe.

The other factor, authority, is as equally as powerful, for the same reason. Most ancient tribes had a single leader, or small group of leaders. When they made a decision, you followed it, or you were banished or shunned by the tribe. Those that had the compulsion to follow orders from those that had demonstrable authority usually did better than the rebels.

The most famous experiment that demonstrated this was one you’ve likely heard of if you’ve studied psychology. Researchers set up an experiment where they would ask a test subject questions, and then have another test subject give him an electric shock if he got the answer wrong. (This test was performed several years ago. Today if any scientist even proposed such an experiment he would be shunned from the scientific community.) The inside scoop of the experiment was that the leader, dressed in a doctors white coat, and the person receiving the “shocks” were both in on the experiment. No actual shocks were given, and the receiver only pretended to be in pain.

The person giving the shocks, however, didn’t know this. The test was to determine just how far they’d go in listening to an “authority” figure. Much to the horror of the testers, the test subjects (the people giving what they thought were real electric shocks) went much further than anybody expected.

A huge percentage of the test subjects continued to give “shocks” despite the receiver begging them to stop. Only a small percentage refused to do so. At one point, the receiver even pretended to be having heart difficulties. Even so, shocks were still obediently delivered.

If the shocks had actually been real, and not pretend, the voltages would have been enough to kill the test subjects.

Let’s recap, just so you understand the significance. Normal, everyday people, just like you and me, were persuaded to give a potentially lethal electrical shock to a complete stranger, despite his pleadings against it, simply on the word of an authority figure.

The test designers were so horrified by the results, they made sure an experiment of this nature was never performed again.

When you combine social proof, described above, and authority, you get a persuasive message that is virtually impossible to resist. Cult leaders, dictators, and unscrupulous marketers have known this, and have used this.

Jim Jones persuaded people, mothers with their children, to kill themselves. Adolf Hitler persuaded a whole country to willingly murder six million Jews.

These two can be used together to persuade people powerfully. If you are a salesperson, or somebody that persuades others for a living, these two tools can be extremely useful, if used ethically.

When you persuade using these to influence factors in a win-win situation, you will be unstoppable. You can make more money, and attract more lovers than you ever thought possible.

However, be careful. Just the slightest bit of unethical behavior can quickly turn against you. If you use these two techniques to persuade or manipulate people against their best interests, you will soon find yourself as hated as Adolf Hitler.

Be careful.