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The Cause - Effect Trap


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Once upon a time a bunch of marketing types were doing some experiments.

They had a woman wait in line to make copies.

And she asked people if she could cut in line.

At first, she just said, "Hey, can I cut in line?"

Most said, "Um, no."

The next phase was to come up with a valid excuse.

"Hey, because my car is parked in the red, can I cut in line?"

Most people said, "Sure, ok."

So far so good.

But then it got kind of goofy.

They tried different things AFTER the word, "because."

Even this worked:

"Can I cut in line, because I have to make copies."

Most people let her cut in line.

It seems that "because" is a magic word.

It creates a feeling of "cause-effect."

Most people have a problem with cause and effect.

It's the source of all superstition.

We wear our lucky underwear because that one time we found a dollar on the street we were wearing them.

So now anytime we go gambling, or want to become financially lucky, we wear our lucky underwear.

They've done experiments with little kids and even as young as six months, they see this cause-effect generator in action.

One common way this is presented is when two things happen in sequence.

First A happens.

Then B happens.

And most people assume that A causes B.

A lot of times we get things backwards.

Like a newspaper headline says, "Diet Soda Linked To Obesity!"

Now, which is more likely:

Skinny people start to drink diet soda and THEN gain weight.

Or skinny people gain weight and THEN start to drink diet soda.

Either way, you can LINK obesity and diet soda.

But as they say in the newspaper business, one is a "dog bites man" story, which is uninteresting.

The other is a "man bites dog" story and is VERY interesting.

You'll see these false "cause-effect" connections EVERYWHERE.

They are particularly dangerous when they show up in authority and social proof.

We tend to believe that because people know what's what, that CAUSES them to gain authority.

But the opposite is almost always true.

They gain authority in ways nobody can measure or predict.

Then EVERYTHING they say is thought to be true.

Their truth didn't CAUSE their authority.

But we believe they speak truth BECAUSE they are in a position of authority.

Most people, in most societies, during most of history, simply CANNOT think any thoughts SEPARATE or different from what the authorities say is OK.

At the same time, society can ONLY progress when some people decide to do just that.

Think DIFFERENTLY than every other "normal" person.

Learn How:


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