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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Friday 3 May 2013

Colonial Accomodation - Giving New Meaning to Eating Their Young

The English language, like all languages, are peppered with funny little colloquialisms like "head of the pack", "chasing your tail" or "eating their young" - all are meant to be tongue-in-cheek, of course; we're sophisticated human beings, not animals.  We are in control of our behaviour, not like those animals we are so very different from.
You'll meet a lot of people who, consciously or unconsciously, believe in a variation of racial superiority - we, however we define we, are clearly superior in ethics, entrepreneurialism or whatever to other people.  It's that superiority - not external factors like inherited wealth, climate or geography - that determine success.
Call it the 47% solution - if people like Mitt Romney could get where they are, you know, by building everything entirely themselves, then those less successful simply aren't working as hard as they should.  If you take that theory to its rightful conclusion, you'd assume that Mitt Romney could have been born anywhere and had the same level of success, right? 
That brings us to Jamestown.  People who otherwise lived decent lives were reduced to cannibalism in an environment where Aboriginal people had managed to sustain themselves just fine.  The European, in short, were inferior to the Aboriginals in that context, without proper accommodations.  That's the key reason, of course, that the American colonies flourished in the long run - they brought boatloads of accommodations, including plants and animals, guns, germs and steel - with them.

Competition didn't help them - in fact, competing with the overwhelming indigenous population cost them dearly.  Without accommodations from home, the sophisticated Europeans were helpless.  They resorted to barbarism.  Worse - they degenerated past our ancestors in terms of cold brutality, doing whatever it took to survive. 
Even at the expense of the frailest in their society.
It took strong, centralized leadership and a great deal of societal support for the community to get back on its feet.
Keep that in mind the next time you snap at a pan-handler.  It really wouldn't take much for you to be in that exact same position.

Politics vs Policy: Huner or Farmer?

What happens when you get a political strategist to design policy?
Worth asking, as it's something we've seen a lot of over the past years aqt the federal, provincial and municipal levels.    
With that in mind, read the following: 

Salesperson: Hunter or Farmer?

Post image for Salesperson: Hunter or Farmer?
by Mike on May 19, 2011
I’m from New York, although I’ve been in St. Louis for 19 years and have lost most of the accent and some of the harsh edges. But I still like to make extreme statements – the kind that would fit as a headline for the New York Post. And I’ve learned from many consulting engagements, it’s often necessary to make extreme declarative statements to wake up the client and help swing the pendulum back toward the center.
The single biggest problem I see contributing to lack of new business development success is the hybrid hunter-farmer sales role.
There. I’ve said it. And I feel better already. After just five months back at full-time sales consulting, I can share without reservation that the typical blended part new business hunter, part account manager sales position is killing the NewSales acquisition efforts of many companies.
I know. You’re not supposed to point out the problem unless you are ready to share the solution. Well, this issue is big and hairy, and there isn’t a simple fix or canned solution. But the problem is so massive and so pervasive that it’s worth opening up the dialogue even if I can’t wave the magic consultant’s wand and pull a neat and pretty answer out of my hat.
There are precious few true hunters, but an abundance of account manager-farmers. Take a look at your sales team. How many legit A-player rainmakers do you have? If yours is like the typical company I see, the answer is between 10% and 20% of your team. Most likely, it’s closer to 10%. So…let me ask: if you have so few true new business killers, why do you task them with account management responsibility that dilutes their hunting effort? What’s the opportunity cost of having your best fisherman cleaning, cooking, setting the table, doing dishes? Before responding with your pat answer or the company line, answer this: are you hitting your fish-catching goals? Honestly, I am tired of hearing how important all these other “sales” functions are. Stated simply, if you are not hitting your new business acquisition numbers, isn’t it fair to examine how much real time and focused effort is actually dedicated to the cause?
No one defaults to prospecting. No one. Show me one blended-role salesperson who is ignoring the needs of an important existing account to focus on new business development (prospecting) and I’ll show 10,000 salespeople doing the opposite. Finding a successful part-time prospector salesperson is as rare as seeing Halley’s Comet racing across the night sky.
Yes, I am being extreme – intentionally. Sure, there are rare cases when super-gifted and disciplined humans end up on our sales teams. And these freaks of nature have both the gifts and skills to love on and penetrate existing customers, yet know when to carve out dedicated prospecting time, possess the drive and technique to get in front of strangers, and thrive hunting for new business. And every single sales leader reading this post would pay the moon to have just one person like that in their organization!
Questions to ponder:
  1. When was the last time you took a hard look at the account management/service burden that is placed on your supposed new business sales team?
  2. Is your sales compensation structured in such a way that a dollar sold to an existing account pays the same commission as a dollar sold to a new account? Year after year?
  3. If you’re falling short of the desired level of new business acquisition, have you considered studying how salespeople are actually spending their time? I fear you may be shocked about the ACTUAL amount of time dedicated to prospecting by salespeople with hybrid hunter-farmer responsibility.

Randy Hillier: Taking the Progressive Out of Progressifve Conservative

Others will focus on the partisan shots and hopefully, a bit of substantive talk about the content of the budget itself.
Me, I love Hillier's use of "fiscally progressive" as a pejorative.
In Hillier's world, progress is synonymous with waste and a loss of personal freedoms.  People should have their own land and be free to do whatever the hell they want with it.
Forget bemoaning the loss of horses and bayonets - Hillier is bemoaning the last 3,000 years of social evolutionary progress that has brought us such costly initiatives as roads, books, eye glasses, inoculations, hospitals, movie theatres and even Tim Hortons coffee (coffee originated in Ethiopia and is now a chief export of such diverse nations as Brazil and Indonesia).
Innovation is progress; innovation relies on creating things for which there is no practical need now, but might be, given a socially engineered change in public appetite.  That's what businesses do through marketing all the time.
Please tell me if there's another way to see this, but by being anti-progress, Hillier is essentially anti-society.  If Randy Hillier thinks we'd all be better off living the tribal live of independence, he's welcome to move to Northern Afghanistan.  I'm sure he'd fit in just fine.

Nature, Nurture and Why Social Learning is Hard

 - Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Human beings are born pathetic creatures.  Unlike most members of the animal kingdom, we can't walk, roll over, collect food, even latch to our mother's breasts without guidance, constant encouragement and continual effort.  Defense isn't even an option - human children are natural prey for a whole host of predators.  Despite these fundamental inadequacies, our species controls the fate of all others on the planet.
This is a question that's come to me as I watch my five month-old baby learn to roll over and help my five year-old son learn to read. 
The baby has no life experience of any sort - and as such, no opinion.  He's ready to learn how to function and willing to experiment with his body, to literally push himself into moving forward.  He gets frustrated, as all babies do, but that's where parents come in - our job is to provide basic needs like food and shelter, opportunity (through activities like tummy time which force babies to start lifting their head and start building the muscles they need to move independently) and a safe space for this developmental growth to happen. 
This isn't unusual practice - other primates and most mammalian species (like lion prides or elephant herds) practice the same trick of hands-on parenting.  As our kids are so helpless, the job of human parents tends to be a bit more involved.  Like other animal babies, though, human pups are born with a certain degree of hard-wired programming designed to help them survive in the wild.  This genetic programming includes the instinct to develop movement and talking skills as well as basic inclinations like a belief that might makes right and bad behaviour must be vigorously punished.
Think about that for a second.  Humans are hard-wired to recognize that power provides justification and determines right from wrong and that those who deviate from the rules of normative power structures deserve to be punished.  On the African savanna and through much of our evolutionary history, power used to just come in the form of strength; whoever was toughest got to call the shots. 
If you study hierarchical behaviour in lions or gorillas, there's a disturbingly familiar pattern; the alpha male (and it's always a male) is the strongest and lays down the law.  These alphas end up with the lion's share of resources and the best quality of mates - the entitlements of position.  Other males can and do challenge the alpha; if they succeed, they gain the status and entitlements of the old leader but if they fail, they are automatically spurned by the group for challenging the normative power structure.  The defeated, properly chastened and not wanting to be cast out will go into a period of extreme deferentialism - they walk around with their tail between their legs, so to speak.  For their part, the alpha will cling to power for as long as they can - until their strength leaves them.  Or, they go off and find their own pride to manage.
Go back to the idea of parents providing safe spaces for their kids and this sort of behaviour makes absolute sense.  If alpha-males had no respect for authority and saw no consequences to bad behaviour, there would be perpetual war between dominance-seeking males - hardly a safe environment to raise children in.  This is emphasized by the fact that a key part of dominance is the establishment of legacy; we want our offspring to carry on our genetic legacy, so have an inclination to kill the young of others.  Without also having an innate, shared sense of justice - it's wrong to kill the children of someone who is part of your tribe - no children would survive and our species would go extinct. 
Which brings me back to the Harper quote above.  Intentionally or not, Harper's approach to terrorism (and his political opponents) is purely evolutionary; bad behaviour is bad behaviour and must be punished, full stop.  Terrorism makes for unsafe spaces and therefore must be vigorously punished.  This is reinforced by Pierre Poilievre's position: "the root cause of terrorism is terrorists."  We have a hard-wired sense of what justice is and how it works; there's no need to commit sociology and understand anything beyond the basics.
Opposition Parties, to the Harper Government, are dangerous socialists and separatists, or threats to the economy, or are attempting to undermine their definition of our Canadian lineage.  In short, they are not part of the tribe.  As the only thing that matters is the well-being of the tribe (or the pride), you're either with them or against them.  If you're against them, then the ingrained rules around justice don't apply.
At the same time, Team Harper is trapped in the notion of might making right; they see themselves as the Alpha Dog, i.e. government - as such, they get to make the rules by which others need to follow.  Remember when John Baird told us his Party would go over the heads of Parliament and the Governor General - despite the fact that, in our Parliamentary System, both of those institutions have supremacy?  This is the younger male slapping at the alpha dog of the system, trying to undermine their authority so as to challenge them for dominance.  When Team Harper wasn't government, they were all for transparency, accountability and an end to arrogance - now that they're there they feel entitled to the entitlements of power.
Of course, this hard-wired programming was developed over millennium for the kind of lifestyle genetically-distinct humans led for tens of thousands of years - small groups trying to survive on harsh terrain.  Focused entirely on facing off immediate, perceivable threats to the rearing of successful offspring, nothing else mattered.  Our ancestors didn't care where they dumped their trash, because they were nomadic and didn't have to live with the consequences of detritus.  They gave no thought to the role of hygiene and cooking food to the maintenance of health - that was a notion beyond their grasp.  If you could go back and explain these complex processes and their long-term benefits, these ancestors would probably think you were stupidly committing sociology; what's the point of so much effort with no short-term pay off?
Our ancestors were quite happy to exploit the natural resources they had in front of them, maintain a strict, hierarchical social order and severely punish anyone who threatened their comfort zone.
Which is exactly how Team Harper is trying to govern Canada.
Complex social progress - the domestication of plants and animals, the development of more complex tools, physical and social infrastructure - didn't happen over night.  They were met with resistance, too; NIMBYism is hardly a modern phenomenon.  It's a genetic phenomenon.  We are designed for a basic level of socialisation, but everything above that basic level comes with a great deal of labour.
Which is where my five year-old comes in.  Much like the five month-old, my eldest is keen to learn and proactively seeks positive reinforcement from who he perceives as the alpha dog - his parents.  Son #1 is less suspicious of strangers (from outside the tribe) than the baby is, but he's had more socialization and has developed more sophisticated tools for establishing and managing interpersonal relationships.
Thing is, son #1 doesn't quite grasp the value of reading yet; he's not as driven to read as he is to, say, work on his running skills or his hitting-things-with-sticks skills.  The sitting still stuff, the theoretical stuff that reinforces social, not environmental skills don't entice him the same way survival skills do.  As he gets older, as all kids do, son #1 begins to feel around the margins, pushing his boundaries and challenging the established hierarchy in an effort to gain a position of dominance that lets him establish his own rules.  As a parent, my natural inclination is often the same as Stephen Harper's: "I'm in charge, kid, so I make the rules.  You're job is to do what you're told."
It's an instinct I resist.  Reinforcing his (and my) basic "might makes right" and "eye for an eye" genetic programming will not serve his best interests in the long run.  If my sons are to be sustainably successful in this world, they need to learn an additional set of skills - understanding what the rules are, who makes them and how both the rules and the maker can be manipulated for individual gain.  My sons will need to know how to assess consequence and behave in a way that helps produce the consequences they want.
Yes, it takes time to put one's toys away, but if you don't, they could get lost or broken, or the baby might stick something in his mouth and choke to death.  Yes, brushing your teeth takes time that could be used for other purposes, but if you don't, sugars build up on your teeth, rot holes into them and then you can't eat the food you like any more.   Even if reading doesn't feel important to you right now, it's an important skill to learn because it allows for understanding - and in our dense, complex society, might doesn't make right and a lack of comprehension will invariably hold you back.
Because we don't live on the plains of Africa any more and we don't survive in minimalist tribes.  When you try to bend the whole of society to the constraints of your genetic survival programming, you end up with North Korea or Nazi Germany - you've not secured continuity for your genetic legacy, you've signed it's long-term death warrant.
By stifling science, bullying Opposition groups and undermining Parliament, the current government is essentially raping democracy, demonstrating that they are in charge and to the victor go the spoils.  I use rape intentionally, because in a different context that is exactly what the rapists of rehtaeR Parsons were doing - demonstrating to the world how powerful they were and that they get what they want.  Terrorists do the same thing - they focus on strength as a tool of power and attempt to remind the world who's really boss.  The NRA is a variant on the exact same limbic programming - guns are power and a family's "safe space" is theirs to defend and use as they please; anyone who doesn't belong in that space is a threat to their social order and must be eliminated.
We don't need to learn anything new - we don't have the time to learn anything new.  There are rules that everyone needs to follow and those rules are set by the people in charge.  We have no need to adapt to situational changes (Jeremy, could you bring me my notes?)
That's what our biology tells us.  That's clearly not where the arc of history is taking us.  Because of our internal limitations, though, we keep learning these lessons the hard way.
The best skill, then, that alpha dogs can impart to their charges is the ability to think ahead.  It helps though, if they set the example.

The Root Cause of Terrorism, Paedophilia, Ass-Grabbing and Politics

We're not as in control as we confidently tell ourselves, which is the great irony.  It is possible for the alpha-dogs to understand this concept and do something proactive about it, but that's like trying to teach a kid to read - they feel they have better things to do with their time.  He who has the gold makes the rules, etc; it's a limbic thing.

Getting frisky: We’d rather not admit that we’re ‘clever apes’, but we are

Caught last month with his hand down the back of a colleauge’s trousers, Andrew Marr, lanky journalist and political commentator, has illustrated himself as a clever ape in a spot of bother. This alcohol fuelled ass-grabbing seems to be a timely misdemeanor amid a series of surfacing BBC groping allegations. Is Marr’s reasoning that “we are homo sapiens” enough to excuse him from his adulterous actions? Does it justify the on-air gropings that Sandi Toksvig and DJ Liz Kershaw brought to light last week? What, to push this to its natural conclusion, about the late Jimmy Saville and the recent accusations of paedophilia?
Like it or not, the truth is that humans are ‘clever apes’. Humans are clever; we discovered how to use tools to our advantagen and make fire, we developed money and commerce, discovered chemistry, industralised our world, invented the atomic bomb and computers. As Andrew Marr says, indtroducing his new BBC documentary, Andrew Marr’s History of the World, “we have been brilliantly clever at reshaping the world around us, almost as clever as we think we are, though not perhaps as wise.”
Even if our world is unrecognizable from 70,000 years ago, humanity’s animal instincts (primarily our sexual ones) have remained firmly embedded within our nature. The fact that we are evolved from apes by no means justifies the legality or morality of Jimmy Saville’s pedophilia or of other celebrities unwanted gropings, but it sure does explain their cause.
A recent response to Andrew Marr’s southerly stretching arm on the Daily Mail unwittingly reaffirms Marr’s ‘we’re only human’ defence: “‘The BBC’s standards are slipping……Wasn’t Janet Ellis thrown off Blue Peter because she was an unmarried mother !! Yet this MARRIED man has been caught playing away, yet still holds a prime time slot on a Sunday morning……How times are a changing.”
Times are changing; exactly. Coming to terms with our human nature has been a battle with the British stiff upper lip since the fall of the Roman Empire and Christianity became the accepted religion. Sex was suddenly for procreation – what a way to suck the fun out of it. The liberal ‘no strings attached’ Roman attitude dissolved until the cultural revolution in the 1960s. The Daily Mail commenter illuminates how, in the 21st century, a cheeky, drunk ass-grabbing does not undermine personal achievements. For the BBC even to bother commenting on Marr’s actions would highlight an outdated attitude to sexual liberation, and being as PC as they come, the BBC are unlikely to be dubbed as sexually backward if they were to condemn Marr’s mistake.
When celebrities like Marr slip up, the media has a field day. Everyone goes around on their moral high-horse asking ‘Why oh why would they do such a thing?’ What we fail to admit is that everyone knows why these people make mistakes; our ape like nature takes over our modern way of thinking and our wisdom fails us in favour of instinct. It’s easier to berate public icons and put them beneath the public’s morality, than admit they are our mistake-making equals. Marr’s ‘clever ape’ statement is intelligent and insightful. It is exactly what the media and public do not want to hear; they want an apology and acknowledgment of his irresponsible and terrible behaviour in order to denounce him as a pathetic adulterer. Instead his excuse is ultimately savvy and witty.
One up to Andrew Marr.
Main photo: Fashionbyhe
Marr photo: Πρωθυπουργός της Ελλάδας

Thursday 2 May 2013

Team Harper Taking their Home Game Abroad

Committing Sociology vs Social Pruning: Liberal Vs Conservative Governments


 That's a professional economist who has actually made a living as an economist speaking.

Then, there's this from the federal level:
Stephen Harper, the Economist Prime Minister, can't account for 3 billion dollars of taxpayer funds.  If I hire an economist to help me sort out my finances, I would kind of expect them to look backwards, forwards, under every rock and around every corner to make sure we have a good understanding of where we're at so we can figure out where we can go.
The Harper government hasn't done that.  What they have done, conversely, is spend huge sums on Canada's Economic Action Plan ads, muzzled dissenting opinion and attacked opponents.
Which is exactly what Mike Harris did when he was Premier.  They threatened and bullied opponents and spent heavily on advertising to promote the message they wanted people to hear.
Oddly enough, whenever Liberal governments start to focus on message over substance, that's when they start to go astray on program management, too.  Conversely, when they focus on policy implementation instead of dedicating oodles of their time to brand-building, they get whacked for it.  The more they get whacked, the more energy they need to divert from accomplishment to branding.
The reason why this happens is simple, but not sound-bite simple, which is probably why no one pays attention to it.
People rationally understand we need complex, collaborative solutions to our complex, collaborative social problems but emotionally, we respond more strongly to symbolism; messaging, branding, chest-thumping.
Aggressive, hard "C" Conservative governments function like lions on the savanna - they spend as little energy as possible on doing anything other than looking magnificent and smacking down opponents.  They aren't interested in making a system work or supporting the nation - their sole focus is on dominance.  Be it Stephen Harper or Rob Ford, the style of governance creeps ever further towards feudalism, with the King providing both judgement and direction in the absence of research, evidence or a cross-section of public opinion.

So, Harper's Canada has stifled debate, issues personal attacks on opponent after opponent, tried to threaten foreign scientists over data release and walked away from any international conversation they don't feel they can be top dog at.  Control is increasingly isolated at the top and starved of exposure to the realities of the people being governed.
Cynical Harper operatives pat themselves on the back for cleverly "starving the beast" by cutting off StatsCan, CIDA, national healthcare planning, etc. at the knees, thinking they've pulled a fast one on the Socialists and Separatists and irrevocably made Canada more conservative.  The actual result is that our national brand is diminishing and public confidence that government knows what it's doing is decreasing.
The solution to this, of course, is more dehumanization of opponents and more pumping of self, extending the peacock's tail a little further.  This increased focus on appearance and marketing will come at the expense of more government programming, which will result in more embarrassing slip-ups.  The Tories are painting themselves in to a corner and hastening the demise of their emperor's cloak of a Canadian conservative movement.

The pendulum will swing back and a more liberal government will take the reigns, start re-opening conversations and start rebuilding the infrastructure necessary for a complex system like a country to function.  If it doesn't happen through the electoral process, there are groups like Anonymous who will eventually make sure it happens regardless.  Post defeat, it won't take long for the Political Right to start their process all over again, focusing on self-promotion and oppositional attacks, egging progressives to respond in kind.  If and when the progressives do, they'll become more partisan, less focused on the system and start emulating the same damned mistakes that do in every Party.
Competition is the natural state of play - it's as true for human beings as it is for any other animal.  Competition is resource-intensive and isolationist; you work against, not with.  Progress, however, comes through collaborative efforts, planning and dialogue.  Humans are a progressive species, which is why we're not running from lions on the Savannah plain any more. 
Society is the result of progress, not competition.  Competition is more about branding and appearance than it is about substance.  If you doubt that, explain to me why fashion remains such a lucrative industry and why the more money people have, the more gets spent on image.  At its extremes us-vs-them competition chips away at society; wars destroy infrastructure and kill children.  We do these harmful, wasteful things because when we're reacting, we're not thinking
Progress trains children to innovate and build infrastructure.  You simply can't think ahead if you're always focused on fight or flight.
In a social context, the value that Hard Right Conservatives provide is again, a natural one - they act like brushfire, clearing away outdated and tangled infrastructure to make way for new growth.  Or you can call it synaptic pruning - it amounts to the same thing.
We're in the "clear space for new connections" part of the social cycle now, though there's a growing trend towards committing sociology.  If we took the time to understand why we react the way we do, we could accomplish this transition without the associated pain and frustration - but that takes a level of foresight we simply don't have at the moment.

Wednesday 1 May 2013

The Sin of Committing Sociology

I think they hit the nail on the head by comparing proactive public policy (often considered "social engineering" by the political right as though windshield wipers, organized waste collection/removal and inoculations were bad things) as sinful.
Original Sin, after all, was biting into the apple of knowledge.  That sin led to the expulsion from paradise.  What better metaphor could there be for the development of theory of mind and a sense of isolation from the world we live in?
Reactive vs Proactive.  Understanding and dealing with root causes vs whacking whatever mole is in front of you.  Fear vs hope.
There's a reason I keep telling people mental health is about more than just illness.

Rise of the Ideapreneur

If you read this blog, it'll be clear why I love this concept of ideapreneurshipI have a distinct idea of where I think we are headed, what the impediments are along that path and why, ultimately, we'll end up there regardless.
I've spent a lot of time crystallizing the concept and explaining facets of it to people in all sectors and at all levels; the goal is to direct them to the place where I see these paths converging.  The direct response has been varied but the emerging picture is exactly what I've hoped for - a little doubt is allowing people to break down our glass walls of ignorance and delusion and reach out.  We're taking our lateral blinders off and thinking a little bit further ahead.
The role I've played in this shift is probably negligible - it was happening anyway.  It'd just be a lot more efficient if we proactively pulled together and got there faster.  
Either way, it's good to see.

How to Influence People with Your Ideas
by John Butman | 11:00 AM April 30, 2013

One of my young clients, let's call her Julie, is on a mission. Julie has an idea, one that has been gestating in her mind for quite some time, but now she realizes that for her idea to have any impact at all she will have to "go public" with it. Julie believes there are countless intelligent, talented but disadvantaged kids who, for a variety of reasons, have been shut out of traditional educational pathways and are therefore at risk of never achieving their full potential. Her idea, which she is passionate about, is to help these forgotten kids realize their potential by offering them practical guidance for achieving their goals and dreams. She has done some public speaking on the topic to educational groups and associations, and her ideas have been featured in various content venues, but now she wants to crank it up a level. She wants to start a movement.
She asked me: What do I have to do to get my idea out there? Should I blog and tweet? Write a book? Conduct a survey? Try for TEDx? Lead a seminar? In what combination? In what order?
In essence, Julie wants to become what I call an "idea entrepreneur" — a person who builds a coordinated effort around a deeply-felt idea with the goal of achieving influence, affecting how people think and behave, and thus making some change in an organization or system.
Aspiring idea entrepreneurs are everywhere: in businesses, classrooms, and communities of all kinds, all over the world. Maybe you know one. Maybe you are one. But you don't have a massive influence-creation machine behind you (few people do) and you wonder how to get your idea heard above all the others competing for attention. How do you proceed?
You have to take your idea public, which means entering the "ideaplex" — that glamorous, treacherous place where videos go viral, TED stardom beckons, a thousand new authors publish each day, and think shops like IDEO make a business of idea generation. Julie's inclinations were right. She would certainly need to do plenty of blogging, tweeting, surveying, speaking — the works. But none of these would be totally effective without answering the following questions, too:
1. What is my purpose? People are driven to go public for all kinds of reasons, from the thirst for fame and fortune to the dream of leading a crusade. Those who gain genuine, long-lasting influence are the ones who want to create positive change for other people. So ask yourself: Why am I doing this? Idea entrepreneur Cesar Millan (he has built quite an empire around his ideas including books, tv shows, DVDs and merchandise) is a dog behavioralist ("the dog whisperer"), but his deeper motive is to reduce maltreatment of animals — and kids — in our society. The more you want to help others, the greater the influence you will have.
2. How does my personal narrative convey the idea? For people to respond to an idea, it must evoke emotion. That's why idea entrepreneurs tell personal stories. Gandhi, who I consider a prototypical idea entrepreneur, spoke of being ejected from a first-class train compartment in South Africa because of his skin color. That incident was the genesis of his concept of non-violent resistance. If you can move people with an idea, they will embrace it on a gut level.
3. How can people put my idea into practice? Ideas take root when we can use them in our everyday lives. Model the methods yourself and also enable people to adapt them to their own situations. Daniel Kahneman offers a complex theory of thinking but also gives practical guidance on how to make better decisions — as a result his latest book has received a great deal of attention. The more people use an idea, the more they will believe in it.
4. Do I have enough supporting material? An idea has to be expressed in different ways for people to understand it as fully as possible, and in their individual way. You need to build out your idea with analysis, stories, facts and data, references, and examples. George Stalk, the strategy expert, has a rule of thumb for accumulation: gather enough material so you can talk about your idea for a full day — and keep your audience interested. The richer the understanding of an idea, the more meaning it will have for people.
5. Who do I really want to reach? Surprisingly, many a would-be idea entrepreneur does not know who they want to speak to. Who will be most affected by your idea? Whose thinking and behavior do you most want to affect? Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don't Get Fat, wrote her book with the middle-aged, well-educated woman in mind. But she discovered that young mothers, teenage girls, aspiring women executives — even husbands and gay men — also responded to her ideas. The more diverse audiences you can reach, the broader your influence will be.
6. How does my idea connect with a greater "thinking journey?" No idea is completely original. Most are improvements on an existing body of thought. All the most successful idea entrepreneurs stand on the shoulders of giants, and usually say so. In fact, it's important you don't try to own your idea. When you give as much of it away as you can, people will be more — not less — likely to credit you.
When you're considering going public with an idea, it's hard to resist focusing on the tactics — like social media or speaking engagements — first. That's not wrong, because writing blogs and giving talks help you develop and refine the idea. But you have to keep trying to answer these bigger questions, too. The more you do, the greater the chance that people will connect with your idea. Ultimately, to the outside world, you and your idea are one and the same. You can't fake it — at least not for long.

Tuesday 30 April 2013

Terrorism, Canada and Cribbing Kumbaya From Calgary Grit

I liked this post from CalgaryGrit so much, I'm cribbing it to post below.  Besides, we all know I approve of thug-hugging.  Or hugs and kittens.

Thanks Dan!

One of the reasons I keep blogging is that the comments section here tends to breed meaningful discussion rather than the “no you’re Hitler” type of debate you see on most mainstream news sites. And as pointed out here, I found this comment by regular hosertohoosier quite thought provoking:
Paul O:
Or was the Justin quote trying to attract those Canadians who say that nobody would blow anyone up if we all sang Kum-Ba-Yah a couple more times?
Kumbaya is actually a great counter-terrorism strategy, and Canada is living proof. The best evidence suggests that terrorists do not join terrorist organizations to serve the cause. Indeed, terrorism rarely succeeds, terrorist groups often have shifting motives (how many times has al Qaeda’s mission changed), and terrorists rarely express a strong understanding of the larger organization’s goals.
Rather, they tend to join in search of community. The best predictor is that they have a friend or relative in an organization. This is why diaspora communities may be particularly likely to produce terrorists.
Canadian multiculturalism is our greatest weapon in the fight against terror. It has given us the most satisfied immigrant communities in the world (based on survey data). Not only does that combat alienation, it also means that even among the circles from which terrorists are likely to spring, Canada has friends (and can infiltrate those networks easily).
What was the key to catching the 6/6/6 terrorists? Tips to the RCMP from members of the community.
I’ll admit to not thinking a lot about counter-terrorism except when Homeland is on or when horrible things happen in the world. So this was a comment that got me thinking.
And, wouldn’t you know it? Just a day or two later, we find out that the terrorists hoping to derail a Via train were apprehended, largely thanks to tips from the community and a local imam.
Score one for Kumbaya Counter-Terrorism.

Political Alchemy and the Failings of Microtargeting

Microtargeting is a very effective way to communite narrow messages to narrow audiences.  It also nurtures blinders-on thinking and creates an impression that most views are intransigent.  You know, like believe people can't change.  Like maybe they're just born good or born bad.

There's a reason why this approach works well for Conservatives.  When Liberals apply this methodology of voter-targeting, they tend to behave more like Conservatives.

Liberals are supposed to be about strength through diversity and moving forward together.  That means recognizing that people aren't fixed in stone, but a bit more neuroplastic.

It's not about targeting more with less - it's about putting the stone in the soup.  Political alchemy is possible, you just need inspiration and bit of faith to do it.

How the Polls Can Be Both Spot On and Dead Wrong: Using Choice Blindness to Shift Political Attitudes and Voter Intentions


Political candidates often believe they must focus their campaign efforts on a small number of swing voters open for ideological change. Based on the wisdom of opinion polls, this might seem like a good idea. But do most voters really hold their political attitudes so firmly that they are unreceptive to persuasion? We tested this premise during the most recent general election in Sweden, in which a left- and a right-wing coalition were locked in a close race. We asked our participants to state their voter intention, and presented them with a political survey of wedge issues between the two coalitions. Using a sleight-of-hand we then altered their replies to place them in the opposite political camp, and invited them to reason about their attitudes on the manipulated issues. Finally, we summarized their survey score, and asked for their voter intention again. The results showed that no more than 22% of the manipulated replies were detected, and that a full 92% of the participants accepted and endorsed our altered political survey score. Furthermore, the final voter intention question indicated that as many as 48% (±9.2%) were willing to consider a left-right coalition shift. This can be contrasted with the established polls tracking the Swedish election, which registered maximally 10% voters open for a swing. Our results indicate that political attitudes and partisan divisions can be far more flexible than what is assumed by the polls, and that people can reason about the factual issues of the campaign with considerable openness to change.


With the proliferation of public polls from both media, political organizations, and the parties involved, European and US elections now seems to generates almost as much controversy about the polling as the candidates and issues themselves. In particular, it has become commonplace to question the scientific integrity of the polls, and view them as partisan instruments of persuasion [1]. For example, during the recent 2012 US presidential campaign many political commentators suggested the mainstream polls were based on flawed assumptions, and harbored a systematic bias that needed to be ‘unskewed’ [2][4]. However, in the aftermath of the election it was concluded that professional polling organizations generally did a good job of predicting the outcome (albeit underestimating the winning margin for president Obama [5]), and that independent aggregators of the polls, such as Votamatic, FiveThirtyEight, Princeton Election Consortium, or the HuffPost Pollster was particularly accurate in their calls (see Material S1 for details).

But success in calling the outcome of a race on the eve of the election is only one aspect of the prediction game. More important in both understanding and running a campaign is the effort to delineate what could happen, to pinpoint how many voters are receptive to different messages, and open to ideological change. To use another example from the recent US presidential campaign; seven weeks before the election, a video was released of republican candidate Mitt Romney, secretly filmed during a fundraiser in Florida. In this video Romney declares that it is not his job not to worry about the 47% of Americans that pay no income tax, because they are not receptive to his campaign message. Instead, he asserts that there only are 5–10% of voters that are open to move across the partisan divide, and that those are the target demographic he needs to convince to win the election (for the relevant quotes, see Material S1). Independently of whether the message of the leaked tape contributed to the failure of the Romney campaign, one might legitimately ask whether it is a sound strategy to run a presidential race on the premise that maximally 10% of the electorate can be swung across party lines? Are most voters so firmly locked in their views that they are unreceptive to any attempts at persuasion, even from the concentrated effort of a billion dollar campaign machinery [6]?
Looking at the research, this seems to be the case. The most salient contrast across the political landscape in the US and the EU is the left vs. right wing division. Despite a trend towards diminishing party affiliation among voters, partisanship across the left-right divide still holds a firm grip on the international Western electorate, and has even shown evidence of further polarization in recent years (e.g. see [7][10] for analysis relating to the condition in the US, and [11][13] for the EU perspective, see also [14], [15] for cross cultural comparisons).

We were given an opportunity to test this premise during the final stretch of the 2010 general election in Sweden. Based on our previous research on the phenomenon of choice blindness (CB [16], [17]) our hypothesis was that if we could direct the focus of our participants towards the dividing policy issues of the campaign, and away from the overarching ideological labels of the competing parties, we could use CB to demonstrate far greater flexibility in their political affiliations than what is standardly assumed.

Like in the US, the Swedish electorate is regarded as one of the most securely divided populations in the world (albeit shifted somewhat to the left compared to the US continuum). When we entered into the study, the tracking polls from commercial and government institutes were polling the Swedish electorate at about 10% undecided between the two opposing coalitions social democrats/green vs. conservatives (provided by Statistics Sweden (J. Eklund, unpublished data, 2012)), with the conventional wisdom of political science identifying very few additional voters open for a swing at the final stretch of the campaign [18][20].



In total, 162 volunteers (98 female) divided in two conditions (manipulated and control) participated in the study. Ages ranged from 18 to 88 years (M = 29.7, SD 14.1). We recruited our participants from various locations in the cities of Malmö and Lund in Sweden, and asked them if they wanted to fill in a questionnaire concerning their views on political issues. Participants who did not intend to vote, or who had already voted by mail were not admitted into the study. Two participants were removed due to technical problems with the manipulation process (the glued-on piece of paper did not stick and fell off during the discussion, see procedure figure 1). All participants gave informed consent.
Figure 1. A step-by-step demonstration of the manipulation procedure.
A. Participants indicate the direction and strength of their voting intention for the upcoming election, and rate to what extent they agree with 12 statements that differentiates between the two political coalitions. Meanwhile, the experimenter monitors the markings of the participants and creates an alternative answering profile favoring the opposite view. B. The experimenter hides his alternative profile under his notebook. C. When the participants have completed the questionnaire, they hand it back to the experimenter. The backside of the profile is prepared with an adhesive, and when the experimenter places the notebook over the questionnaire it attaches and occludes the section containing the original ratings. D. Next, the participants are confronted with the reversed answers, and are asked to justify the manipulated opinions. E. Then the experimenter adds a color-coded semi-transparent coalition template, and sums up which side the participants favor. F. Finally, they are asked to justify their aggregate position, and once again indicate the direction and strength of their current voting intention. See for a video illustration of the experiment.

Ethics Statement

The study was approved by the Lund University Ethics board, 2008–2435.

Procedure and Materials

We introduced ourselves as researchers from Lund University with an interest in knowing the general nature of political opinions. We emphasized that participation was fully anonymous, that we had no political agenda, and that we would not argue with or judge the participants in any way. After this, we presented the participants with an ‘election compass’; a survey with salient issues from the ongoing election campaign where the left- and the right-wing coalition held opposite positions.

At the start of the questionnaire, the participants were asked to indicate how politically engaged they were (on a scale from extremely disengaged, to extremely engaged), and how certain they were in their political views (from extremely uncertain, to extremely certain). Next, they were asked to indicate the direction and certainty of their current voting intention on a 100 mm bidirectional scale (from extremely certain social democrat/green, to extremely certain conservatives, with the midpoint of the scale representing undecided).

The main survey consisted of 12 salient political issues taken from the official coalition platforms where the two sides held opposing views. On the survey, the issues were phrased as statements, such as: “Gasoline taxes should be increased” or “Healthcare benefits should be time limited”. We asked the participants to indicate their level of agreement with the statements on a 0–100% scale (where 0% meant absolutely disagree, and 100% absolutely agree, and the midpoint represented uncertainty/indecision). To avoid any obvious patterning of the answers on the form, the statements were formulated both in the positive and the negative (i.e. to introduce or to remove a particular policy) and counterbalanced for the left and right wing coalitions (see table 1).

Table 1. The “Election Compass” with statements describing issues that divide the two coalitions.
In the neutral condition (N = 47), after having rated their agreement with the 12 statements, we asked the participants to explain and justify their stance on some of the issues. When they had completed these justifications we then overlaid a color-coded semi-transparent coalition template on their answering profile, with red indicating left-wing and blue right-wing (note, these colors are inverted in US politics). In collaboration with the participants, we then tallied an aggregate ‘compass score’ for the right and left wing side, indicating which political coalition they favored based on the policy issues presented. We then asked the participants to explain and comment on the summary score, and as the final step of the experiment, to once again indicate the direction and strength of their voting intention for the upcoming election.

However, in the manipulated condition (N = 113), while observing the participants filling out the form, we surreptitiously filled out an answer sheet identical to the one given to the participants, but created a pattern of responses supporting the opposite of their stated voting intention. Thus, if their voting intention supported the social democrat/green coalition, we made a summary compass score supporting the conservatives, and vice versa (for those that were unsure in their original voting intentions, we created an answer profile that was the opposite of their compass score). Then, before we asked the participants to discuss and justify their ratings of the individual questions, we performed a sleight-of-hand to overlay and attach our manipulated profile on top of their original answers (see Figure 1, and Material S1 for the background to the trick). Consequently, when we asked the participants to discuss their answers, they were faced with an altered position supporting the opposing coalition. For example, if they previously thought the gasoline tax ought to be raised, they were now asked to explain why they had indicated it ought to be lowered.

The goal of our alterations was to bring the sum of the participants’ answers securely to the opposing side. Thus, the number of altered responses we made on the mirrored profile depended on how directionally skewed the original answers were (say 11-1 vs. 7-5). In addition, there was no predetermined rule for the size of the manipulations across the scale. Instead, each manipulation was made with the intent of creating an overall believable pattern of responses on the profile (i.e. as the level of polarization generally varied between questions, it would invite suspicion to simply move all responses the minimal distance across the midline of the scale). During the discussion, and later during the summation, if the participants realized their answers were not expressing their original opinion, they were given the opportunity to change the rating to what they instead felt appropriate. This way, our efforts at creating a coalition shift could be nullified by the number of corrections made by the participants.

As in the neutral condition, after reacting to the summary score, the final step of the experiment was for the participants to once again indicate their voting intentions for the upcoming election.

After the experiment we explained the true purpose of the study to all participants, and demonstrated the procedure of the manipulation. At this point we asked whether they had suspected anything was wrong with their answers (over and above any previously registered corrections). We then interviewed the participants about how they felt about the experiment, and finally, everybody gave written consent to have their results included in the analysis. After the study, the experimenter took notes about the comments and explanations of the participants.


Correction of Manipulated Answers

Each participant had on average 6.8 (SD = 1.9) answers manipulated, with a mean manipulated distance of 35.7 mm (SD = 18.7) on the 100 mm scale. The participants were explicitly asked to state reasons on average 4.0 (SD = 1.6) of the manipulated trials, and of those were on average 0.9 (SD = 1.0) answers corrected by the participants to better match their original intention (i.e. a trial-based correction rate of 22%). At an individual level, 47% of the participants did not correct any answers, while 53% corrected between 1–4 answers. For all answers classified as corrected, the participants indicated that they had misread the question, or marked the wrong end of the scale. Only a single participant expressed any suspicion that we had manipulated her profile.

The number of corrected answers were not related to gender, age, or political affiliation as defined by prior voting intention (p = n.s.). The distance being manipulated on the scale did not differ between corrected and non-corrected answers (p = n.s.). Finally, there were no differences in self-rated political engagement or in political certainty between participants who corrected no answers and participants who made one or more corrections (p = n.s.) (See Table S1 for details).

Endorsement of Compass Score

As very few manipulated issues were corrected, we were able to create a mismatch between the initial voting intention (or original compass score for the uncertain group) and the manipulated summary score for a full 92% of the participants, all of which acknowledged and endorsed the manipulated score as their own.

Change in Voting Intention

In order to establish if the mismatch between the initial voting intention and the manipulated compass score also influenced the participants final voting intention, we measured the change in voting intention from pre- to post-test, and classified it as a positive change if it was congruent with the manipulated compass score, and as a negative change otherwise. For example, if the participants had a (manipulated) compass score biased towards the right wing, and their voting intention shifted towards the right-wing coalition, this was classified as a positive change. For the control condition, the change between initial and final voting intention was classified as positive or negative against their unaltered compass score. Using this measure to compare the amount of change in voting intention between the manipulated and the control condition, we find that there is a very large change in the manipulated condition (M = 15.9, SD = 24.7) while there is virtually no change (M = 1.72, SD = 9.9) in the control condition (Wilcoxon Rank Sum Test, W = 3857.5, p<.00001, r = 0.35, see figure 2).
Figure 2. Change in voting intention in the control and in the manipulated condition.
In the manipulated condition, we also find that the skewness of the compass score correlates with the amount of change in voting intention, e.g. if an initially right-wing participant finds herself with a left wing aggregate score of 10 vs 2, she is likely to change her voting intention more than if the balance was 7 vs 5 (Pearson correlation, r = 0.28, p<0 .005="" p="">
As was the case with level of correction, we found no connection between gender, age, level of political engagement, overall political certainty, or initial political affiliation, in relation to magnitude of change in voting intention (p = n.s.) (See Table S2 and Figure S1 for details).

If we translate the change in voting intention to categorical political affiliation, what we find is that 10% of the participants in the manipulated condition moved across the full ideological span, and switched their voting intention from firmly right wing to firmly left wing, or in the opposite direction (with a mean movement of voting intention across the scale = 71 mm, SD = 30.2). A further 19% went from expressing certain coalition support (left or right), to becoming entirely undecided (M = 27.2, SD = 13.2), and 6% went from being undecided to having a clear voting intention (M = 12.0, SD = 26.9). If we add to this the 12% that were undecided both before and after the experiment, it means that 48% (±9.2%) of the participants were willing to consider a coalition shift. In addition, a further 10% of the participants recorded substantial movement in the manipulated direction, moving 20 mm or more on the 100 mm scale.

Excluding the initially undecided participants (as they are per definition open to change), the average certainty of the initial voting intentions of the participants was notably high (M = 37.4 mm, SD = 13.45, with the 100 mm bidirectional scale transformed to a 50 mm unidirectional scale). If we compare the participants that altered their voting intention with those that did not change, we find that the latter group has a higher level of polarization (M = 34.0, SD = 14.40; M = 40.5, SD = 11.89, Wilcoxon Rank Sum Test, W = 789.5, p-value <0 .05="" 30.0="" 31.3="" a="" about="" and="" any="" are="" attitudes.="" awareness="" between="" certainty="" change.="" corrections="" did="" differences="" does="" general="" greater="" however="" in="" indicates="" indicating="" initial="" intentions="" itself="" made="" make="" more="" no="" not="" of="" one="" p="" participants="" political="" rank="" resistant="" s="" sd="19.36)(Wilcoxon" somewhat="" sum="" test="" that="" there="" they="" to="" translate="" voting="" w="1681," were="" which="" who="">
When looking at the post-experiment notes, one salient pattern we find is that around 50% of the participants who were not influenced by the manipulation referred to their ideological identity or prior voting behavior as a reason for ignoring the incongruent compass score. More generally, for all categories of participants, many also expressed clear surprise and curiosity over the fact that they failed to correct the manipulations, then argued the opposite of their original views, and finally accepted the altered compass score.


There are three key steps in the current result.

First, the low correction rate of the manipulated campaign issues. As reported above, the manipulations we made were generally not drastic, but constituted substantial movement on the scale, and each one of them had definitive policy implications by moving the participants across the coalition divide on issues that would be implemented or revoked at the coming term of government (yes, politicians keep most of their promises! [21], [22]). It is unlikely that the low level of corrections resulted from our use of a continuous response profile, as we observed similar results in a previous study of morality with a discrete numerical scale [17]. In fact, the survey concerned highly salient issues like income- and wealth taxation, health- and unemployment insurance, and environmental policies on gasoline and nuclear power. As such, they were both familiar and consequential, and the participants often presented knowledgeable and coherent arguments for the manipulated position (e.g. in contrast to [23], [24], who argue that voters generally lack knowledge about political facts).

Another noteworthy finding here is that we found no relationship between level of corrections and self-rated political engagement or certainty. That is, participants who rated themselves as politically engaged, or certain in their political convictions, were just as likely to fail to notice a manipulation. This complements a similar result from [17], and indicates that general self-reports of moral- or political conviction has a low sensitivity to predict correction rates on CB tasks.

The second main step of the study was the summation of the compass score. Here, an overwhelming majority of the participants accepted and endorsed a manipulated political profile that placed them in the opposite political camp. As we see it, this result is both obvious and remarkable; obvious, in that unless the participants had suspected some form of manipulation on our side, endorsement of the score follows logically from the summation (the adding was fully transparent, so it must be their score); and remarkable in that a few individual CB manipulations can add up to seriously challenge something as foundational as left- or right wing identity, a division seen by both academic research and commercial polling as one of the most stable constructs in the political landscape [7], [8].

But one can have many other reasons for giving political support than enthusiasm or disdain for specific policies (issues having to do with ideological commitment, trustworthiness, leadership, etc). So, the third and most critical part of the study concerned whether the participants’ endorsement of the ‘factual’ compass score would translate to a willingness to change their actual voting intentions. Here, it must be remembered that the study was conducted at the final stretch of a real election campaign, and our ratings indicated our participants were highly certain in their voting intentions from the onset. Despite this, what we found was that no less than 48% of them were being open for movement across the great partisan divide (or ‘in play’, as the pollsters would say). Adding to this the further 10% that moved more than 20 mm in the manipulated direction, often from positions at the absolute far ends of the scale, it is clear that our participants demonstrate a great deal of ideological flexibility.

This result can be compared to recent studies that have emphasized how hard it is to influence peoples’ voting intentions with ‘regular’ social psychology tools, like framing and dissonance induction [25], [26] (but see [27]). Still, most likely, our findings underestimate the number of participants open to a coalition shift. As we measured voting intentions both before and after the survey, we set up a clear incentive for the participants to be consistent across measurement (e.g. [28][31]). If we instead had measured voting intention only at the end of the experiment, and used the untampered compass score as a proxy for their political affiliation, they would have had no previous anchor weighing on the final voting question, and the amount of influence would probably have been larger. Similarly, our survey contained the critical wedge issues separating the coalitions, but not any party specific interests, and some participants found they could dismiss the compass score as not representative of their critical concerns (whether this was a post-hoc rationalization or not, we cannot know). However, as our result revealed there was no difference in correction rate between smaller and larger manipulations on the scale, to gain additional force for the summation score, we could have allowed the participants to indicate which issues they cared the most about, and then focused our CB manipulations there.

As argued by Haidt [32], [33], political affiliation can be seen as primarily being about emotional attachment, an almost tribal sense of belonging at the ideological level. The goal of our study was to use CB to circumvent this attachment, and get our participants to exercise their powers of reasoning (post-hoc, or not) on the factual issues of the campaign. Previous research has shown that voters engaging in ideologically motivated reasoning can be stubbornly resistant to correcting any factual misperceptions, even to the point where contradictory information presented to them only serve to strengthen their convictions [34]. Thus, in no part of the experiment did we provide arguments in support or opposition to the expressed views of the participants, instead they did all the cognitive work themselves when reasoning about the manipulated issues and the summary score. This way, it seems, we were able to peel back the bumper sticker mentality encouraged by coalition attachments, and reveal a much more nuanced stance among our participants. But nevertheless, we get a clue about the pervasive influence of ideology from what the participants reported at the end of the experiment. Particularly interesting are those participants that did not alter their voting intention. In this category, many referred to an overarching sense of coalition identity to motivate why the manipulated compass score did not influence them. Sometimes these participants even expressed a form of ideological relief at the debriefing stage (“pheeew… I’m not a social democrat after all!”).

In summary, we have demonstrated considerable levels of voter flexibility at the cusp of a national election, with almost half of our participants willing to consider a jump across the left-right divide. As the recent assessment of the polling organizations and the polling aggregators in the US confirmed, stated voting intentions in the final weeks before an election are generally very reliable [18], [19]. This was precisely the reason we chose to conduct our study at the stretch of a real campaign. But our result provides a dramatic contrast to the established polls tracking the Swedish election, which indicated that maximally 10% of the population would be open to swing their votes, or the 5–10% of uncertain voters that Mitt Romney revealed as the exclusive target of his US presidential campaign (already in May, half a year before election day). In this way, it can be seen how the polls can be spot on about what will likely happen at the vote, yet dead wrong about the true potential for change among the voters. We are happy that only five dollars’ worth of paper and glue is required to make this point, rather than a billion dollar campaign industry, but we would advise politicians against taking to the streets with a merry horde of choice blindness pollsters! Our result shows there is a world beyond ideological labels and partisan divisions, where people can approach the political issues of the campaign with considerable openness to change. Unfortunately, the question remains how to enter this world with no sleights-of-hand to pave the way.

Supporting Information

(A) Distribution of prior voting intentions and (B) distribution of post-test voting intentions. The graphs show how the intentions become less polarized after the experiment.
(A) Distribution of prior voting intentions and (B) distribution of post-test voting intentions. The graphs show how the intentions become less polarized after the experiment.
Non-significant tests reported in section “Correction of manipulated answers.”
Non-significant tests reported in section “Change in voting intention.”
The Supporting Online Text-file.