Zeitgeist Information A Zeitgeist Movement general information site

5Oct/108

Tangible vs In-tangible and understanding peoples perception of the world

The information presented below is based on observations which I (Michael Kubler) have gathered over the last few years along with an understanding of the biology of human behaviour, psychology, motivation, and predictably irrational behaviour.

Note : By categorising different types of people it can be harder to see the subtle differences between the categories, however the knowledge below can hopefully help you understand why some people are more open to ideas than others.

People come in lots of different shapes, sizes, and types. Depending on their environment, their friends, family, experiences, genetics, and hormones they are also likely to exhibit different types of behaviour.

When I am trying to get to know someone there are a number of different types of categories you can think about which can help you tailor your concept or message to them.

  • Open Mindedness
  • Market Segment (Bell Curve)
  • Tangible/In-tangible
  • Time Perspective
  • Hunter vs Farmer
  • Consumerist mentality
  • Ways of Learning

Note that a lot of these are very similar. For example, someone that is open minded is also likely to be an early adopter, will be able to work on a concept even if there isn't any existing tangible results. Although that doesn't mean they'll be future oriented and a farmer. They could still be a present hedonistic, hunter.

Open Mindedness

Peoples interest in new ideas regarding a certain topic generally range on a spectrum from open minded to narrow minded or even close minded.

Open minded people will usually hear out what anyone has to say, and are open to new ideas in multiple senses and inputs. These inputs include the people around them - friends, family, work mates, team mates in sports or other church community members, but even random people on the train, etc... It also includes the way they can process the information. Verbal, visual, video, written text, video games, TED talks and more.

Open minded people are more likely to investigate a concept like the Zeitgeist Movement, Venus Project and the core tenants of the Resource Based Economy.

Narrow minded people are generally closed off or simply won't pay attention to new ideas being presented by strangers, or in ways they are not accustomed. Thankfully they will still be willing to hear out ideas presented by their peers, friends, family and other people within their 'sphere of influence'. They are also more likely to comprehend information given to them in a way they are familiar with. This could be via TV, the Newspaper, a conversation with a friend, even a computer game. They might however be put off by a powerpoint presentation, or a stranger on a train trying to explain the concept through interpretive dance 😛

Someone totally closed minded will automatically reject any and all information or new ideas which conflict with their established set of beliefs.
Religions and cults will often use circular logic to cause peoples minds to be closed off, making their mind armoured against ideas that they don't believe in, especially ideas they've been indoctrinated to hate or distrust. An example is the religious practice of saying that anyone who does not believe in the exact same religion that you do is being controlled by the devil and everything they say is a lie.

As such new ideas just bounce off them and aren't even processed, making it almost impossible for that person to change. In order to reach such people their loop state has to be broken. I like to imagine that close minded people are wearing helmets which deflect new ideas. As these people have usually been heavily brainwashed by a cult or religious organisation I suggest you keep away from them, at least for the moment.

Everyone is born open minded, it is through environmental and sometimes physical conditioning that you become close minded. -- Michael Kubler

In the diagrams below each 'spike' represents a way of allowing new ideas and concepts into ones life.

Diagram 1 : A visual example of the different states of acceptance towards outside information.

*      [Open Minded]
-     [Narrow Minded]
O     [Closed Minded]

 

Belief versus Investigation

Before going too far I should mention the difference between blind belief and understanding.

Definition of Belief according to Dictionary.com :

Belief is the confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof

Definition of Understanding according to Wikipedia :

Understanding is a psychological process related to an abstract or physical object, such as a person, situation, or message whereby one is able to think about it and use concepts to deal adequately with that object.

A number of people get confused between understanding and belief. If you are talking to someone that's open minded then it means it should be easier to talk to them about the movement. It doesn't mean they should instantly believe what you say, just that they will take the time to hear the concept. Those that do believe it nearly instantly have either already heard lots of similar information and supporting facts, are bullshitting and have no idea what your saying, or worse have never been taught critical thinking and are the sort of people that fall for cults.

Being open minded means that when exposed to new ideas you will investigate them and critically analyse them before making a judgement. If you come across people who blindly believe what people say then you need to teach them critical thinking. I personally think critical thinking should be a mandatory class at school, along with information literacy and learning to learn.

 

Bell Curve of Market Segments

Diagram 2 : A bell curve of market segments.

Note : The Bell curve image is from http://www.ericsink.com/Act_Your_Age.html which is a great post regarding marketing, especially about the chasm between the Early Adopters and the Pragmatists. If you do read the article then in your head replace the word 'product' with 'Zeitgeist Movement'.

When talking about a new technology, new idea or new product it is often the case that peoples uptake of that will fall on a bell curve, with population on the y axis (height) and time on the x axis (width). In this case, the people to the left of the graph are the first to take on something new. These people are called Early Adopters and examples range from the first people to explore the wild west, to the first ones on Facebook or Twitter. Or even the first people to understand that the Earth isn't flat.

If the product, or concept is open the feedback then the Early Adopters can have a lot of influence over the final result, however as the Early Adopters often talk the same language as the initial creators it's very easy to get along with them.

Once enough Early Adopters have started understanding the concept you then have to jump the great chasm and reach out to the  pragmatists. Here you'll need to tailor your message differently that before. Once there are enough people doing something different the Conservatives will go with the majority and start to change, but note, you'll need to change your message and even the concept again to properly reach the Conservatives. In Zeitgeist Movement terms, we should reach the majority of the the Pragmatists (i.e 30-40% of the population) before there is a collapse of the system. If we reach 60% of the worlds population then the transition can likely happen much smoother and without a full collapse (more on the transition possibilities later).

 

From what I've been able to gather the majority of the Zeitgeist Movement is made up of open minded, early adopters people (which makes sense).

If you were to plot a bell curve we are talking about the front most 5-10% of people. The leading-edge pioneers. Like the first people to explore the wild west or the first to adopt a new application or technology. We are at the front of those looking to adopt a new system of resource creation and distribution. Those who are willing to take risks because they know the reward is worth it.

The opposite of an open minded individual is someone close minded. I like to think of them as a loop, or sphere. The only thing that exists in their mind is what was in there before their mind became closed off. Often it is the circular logic that religions and cults use which cause peoples minds to be closed off, making their mind armoured against ideas that they don't believe in, especially ideas they've been indoctrinated to hate or distrust. An example is the religious practice of saying that anyone who does not believe in the exact same religion that you do is being controlled by the devil and everything they say is a lie. Any new ideas just bounce off and aren't even processed, making it almost impossible for that person to change. In order to reach such people their loop state has to be broken.

The middle ground is the average person. They are adverse to risky new ideas, especially from people they aren't familiar with, but aren't immune to a sufficiently well established idea coming from people they already trust, such as their work mates or local community. They can also be attracted to ideas which have enough support and which enough other people have jumped upon, the on the spectrum, the more harder to convince people (but not closed minded) will need to see overwhelming solid evidence, which brings us to tangible vs in-tangible.

Tangible vs In-tangible vs not-yet tangible

Tangible is something physical. You can touch it, see it, and experience it, an example is your mobile phone. In-tangible is something that doesn't physically exist but can be experienced or conceptualised, like social connectivity, love or expectations. You can't touch an expectation or pick up love and put it in a jar, but you can describe them. I define Not-Yet Tangible as referring  to an idea or concept which which doesn't yet exist or hasn't yet been proven. An idea for a new type of mobile phone, a new type of material, or a new scientific theory.

The people reading this (Zeitgeist Movement members) are the open minded pioneers who are striving to make tangible results from the not-yet tangible. But far more powerful than that, we can understand how the in-tangible changes can have a bigger effect than the not-yet tangible ones. Sure a circular city is a great tangible outcome of The Venus Project, but the in-tangible changes of a society based around intrinsic motivation, abundance, automation, plus co-operation and collaboration instead of fighting and competition is far more powerful. The outcomes from changing the education system to promote self-education and creativity will far outweigh the physical changes to schools. The problem is, the average person doesn't understand or can't easily grasp the in-tangible. It's not until a Venus Project inspired city is created that they'll start to take interest or even believe the ideas are possible.

If you enjoyed this, then you might be interested in the other ways that people can think (and can help you understand other peoples seemingly irrational behaviour) including their Time orientation and if they are a Hunter or a Farmer.

Time Perspective

This section is also covered as per the existing Zinfo post the secret powers of time and is based on the RSA animate video of the same name.

Watch this amazing RSA animate YouTube video

Synopsis

People can think in 6 main time perspective.

  1. Past Positive - remembering the good times
  2. Past Negative - remembering the bad times
  3. Present Hedonistic - wanting to satisfy all your immediate desires
  4. Present Deterministic - believing there's no point in trying to change any outcomes because everything in life is fated to turn out that way
  5. Future Oriented - working hard now because you trust that it will help you in the future
  6. Life after death - The primarily Religious belief that your life starts after you die (in your after-life).

Also, people can change their time orientation, in fact, as we are born we are Present Hedonistic, as we grow up we start to change our perspective, usually to be more Future Oriented, Deterministic or to have a belief in an after life. Most people as they get older loose their future oriented perspective and become more past positive or past negative.

People who have an unstable or untrustworthy family, or live closer to the equator are more likely to be present oriented and as with anything, there's always exceptions to the rule.

For an interesting look at the Life after death perspective check out the pattern behind self deception. http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_shermer_the_pattern_behind_self_deception.html

Hunter vs Farmer

Direct quote from Seth Godin's blog post :

Clearly, farming is a very different activity from hunting. Farmers spend time sweating the details, worrying about the weather, making smart choices about seeds and breeding and working hard to avoid a bad crop. Hunters, on the other hand, have long periods of distracted noticing interrupted by brief moments of frenzied panic.
It's not crazy to imagine that some people are better at one activity than another.

 

Conclusion

If you see someone on the street and are talking about the Zeitgeist Movement you should now have a better understanding why not everyone will immediately start investigating and understanding the Zeitgeist Movement. For some people the information has to be presented in the right way, by the right people and at an appropriate time.

Update [July 2011] : There's a great post by Chris Mooney on the science of why we don't believe in science which talks about some unfortunate psychological processes http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/denial-science-chris-mooney

Resources

--
Michael Kubler
Skype : kublermdk
Email : michael@zeitgeistsa.com

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Comments (8) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Excellent content- keep it up.

  2. Thanks for info Michael – I am proud to have joined the ZM – enjoy the day

    Ruby Worthy

  3. Good job Michael.

    Grant Robb

  4. Good article

    • Yah Greg – so you ready to become a “Geister” with the rest of us? Now that Michael’s in Sydney he could fill you in some more over a pint or 2 – I’d love to be there with yas 😉

      • Yes be there or be square, I can even put you up for a few nights. There will be many interesting discussions :), There appears to be many information wars going on at the moment which are throwing up some novel ways of distributing information. I’ve got lots of free time at the moment so, Michael, feel free to drop around at anytime if you like.

        • Michael, I also have a decent desktop working if you are struggling with your notebook.

          • Hello Michael
            I really enjoyed reading this article. A “must read” for all those who get frustrated and angry as a result of their attempts to introduce others to TZM and RBE ideas.
            Regards from Tamara (hard working and future-oriented early adopter Northern hemisphere born and bred, lol)


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