Everything is in motion again

Posted by on Oct 24, 2006 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Well, hello.

Finally got my act together to blog my thoughts. I’ve been writing this book http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470060360.html about how we’ve misunderstood human nature, been talking to marketing and creative people around the world, boring friends and acquaintances with it and still everyday I spot some new example of what I call our Herd nature. And having finished the book, I wanted somewhere to store them and share them. So this is it.

What is this Herd thing all about then? Well, at the simplest level I mean the fact that we are a herd species and not a individualist species (as our Western post-enlightenment culture would have it). From the moment we are born til the day we die, we are shaped by our interaction with others; for good or ill, we are made who we are by other people – happy or sad, intelligent or otherwise, rich or not. We seem designed specifically to interact with others – our bodies and our brains are those of the ultimate social primate, the Super Social Ape.

Why does this matter, you might ask? Well, that might all become clear from the entries on this blog and readers’ comments, but Stephen Pinker’s line from his Blank Slate book is as good a place as any:

‘If I am an advocate, it is for discoveries about human nature that have been ignored or suppressed in modern discussions of human affairs…Why is it important to sort this all out? The refusal to acknowledge human nature is like the Victorians’ embarrassment about sex, only worse: it distorts our science and scholarship, our public discourse and our day-to-day lives’


In other words, it matters because if we don’t embrace this truth about ourselves, we’re unlikely to be able to live the kind of lives that make us happy, shape the societies we need or be successful in business or in other attempts to change human behaviour. It matters because it’s true (and falsehoods and misunderstandings are always bad places to start).

See what you think.

BTW Why is everthing in motion?

I was whisked off to see this at the National Theatre on Saturday night. Galileo_149pxwffhrh

A great show (and bravura performance from Simon Russell-Beale – a treasure of the British Theatre) but a number of the lines in text struck home. Like these from the opening scene:

‘For the last hundred years it is as if mankind itself has been poised. Mankind has been waiting, stuck away in his corner. And now the moment is here. At last we are able to say: ‘just because something is so, that does not mean it will remain so for ever…Everything is in motion again!’

It’s kind of how I feel right now. Hope you do, too.