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Not Really About Ideas -- Instead About How to Sell an Idea
on May 10, 2009
Well, I appreciated the evidence this book provided about the power of stories and details, but sorry Chip and Dale, I think you are speaking about fast media ideas and not the kind that matter to me.
It may be true that slogans like, "nice guys finish last" catch on for reasons other than that they are accurate, and it may be that stories are more effective than distilled oration, and it may even be true that appealing to emotions is more effective that facts, but if all these things are true, it is one more reason to give up on trying to say anything important at all.
Important ideas benefit from stories, concrete details, and simplicity, that is true, but some of the greatest ideas are interesting because they are not simple or concrete. Maybe the most important ideas are about mystery, logic, connections, and those perceptions and ways of seeing that are out front of the crowd, just on the horizon of realization. Slogans like, "nice guys finish last," and other ideas people like to use to justify their aggression or competitive nature, may make the ideas memorable, but is "sticking" the most important thing when the idea is only half baked?
Instead, I think this book is about solipsism. The art of persuasion. This really has nothing to do with real ideas which are often notoriously hard to remember because they are new, beyond our current way of thinking, revolutionary, without equals.
All the other stuff is an interesting study of human shortcomings, our inability to think abstractly, our inability to focus on a line of reasoning, our tenancy to rely on irrational ways of knowing over analysis and careful observation.
In essence the book is about justifying a culture of quick influence, easy selling, advertising, and the instant answer. It is a white flag in the battle for clear perception.
Where are the ideas that grab us, that transform our worlds. I didn't see many in this book, nor an analysis of how those ideas are so effective. I'm thinking of relativity, the wheel, monotheism, cooking, municipal sewers, sports jackets -- I don't know, anything that has stood the test of time. There are millions of ideas like these that have changed our lives and imprinted themselves on our psyche. I don't think they did so just because they are simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional and told with stories. These can help a good idea along, but equally important glues are beauty, fit, innovation, artistry, brilliance, clarity, solutions, synthesis, robustness, comprehensiveness, etc.
To the authors I might suggest that you simplified your subject but left out the best bits.