Why are we so groupish?

Can we work together?

We are all stuck here for a while. So let’s try to work it out

I have been listening to The Groupish Gene: Hive psychology and the origins of morality and religion from The RSA with Jonathan Haidt and reading his 2 books ‘The Happiness Hypothesis‘ and ‘The Righteous Mind‘. He tells us why we do things in groups and why we are born to co-operate.

Thanks to a single mutation in our jaw muscle, around 2.4 million years ago, The human species where capable of growing a much larger skull and thus leaving place for a larger brain. With this brain we where able start evolving complex social structures and more advanced groupish behavior.

We became the Tribal and Story Telling Chimp.

Pan Narrans – The Story Telling Chimp

We are not a bee hive and we are not The Borg. Whoever we are a groupish species that are 90% chimp and 10% hive-mind. We are Pan narrans, the storytelling ape. It’s a term by Terry Pratchett, Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart they coined in the book Science of Discworld II. Our brains is a storytelling and pattern recognition system that acts like everything is part of a story. I talk more about Storytelling in this blog Your Story 🙂

We are all Groupish vehicles for human genes. We became able to use a set of shared intentionality that later developed into a shared Moral Matrix for the group.

This Moral Matrices then enable each group to elect something sacred for the group that we could circle around and the defend in a very irrational way. This sacralization bound us together and made us blind to rational evidence.

The Hive Switch

We humans have the ability (under special circumstances) to transcend self-interest and lose ourselves (temporarily and ecstatically) in something larger than ourselves. Haidt calls this ability The Hive Switch. This leads to a sense of shared fate. This is present in the PERMA model of what makes us flourish by Martin Seligman.

We think that this Hive-Switch is made out of Oxytocin (witch I talk about before) and Mirror Neurons. It can be triggered in many ways but some of the easiest is experience Awe of Nature together or becoming in a state of Trance when dancing together to Trance music.

The Elephant and The Rider

The best mental model and metaphor for our brain is that of a very large elephant that makes up most parts of our brain that are in a constant debate of what decisions make. Then we have the small rider that is our conscious thought and reasoning.

The Elephant stands for our intuition that makes constant and instantaneous decisions. The Rider then works like Press secretary that makes up a story that correlates and justifies with the decision made by The Elephant. With the help of this Press secretary, we are able to lie and cheat often, and then cover it up so effectively that we convince even ourselves. Dan Ariely talks of why we are so good at lying in his new book The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone – Especially Ourselves

The Elephant itself consist of many small parts of the brain that is in constant “conflict” with each others on what decisions to make. David Eagleman explains this great in his book Incognito.

The Rider is there to guide the Elephant where to go and what decisions to make but the Elephant and it’s many parts are in charge.

Intuition comes first and Strategic Reasoning second

Reasoning has evolved to help us engage in arguments, persuasion and manipulation in the context of discussion with other people. It helps us look good in the social context of the group and help further our reputation and agenda withing the group. But it also help us defend our group and it’s moral beliefs. All this has been a key to our survival and success here on earth.

“We are obsessively concerned about what others think of us, although much of the concern is unconscious and invisible to us”

We as individuals are very good at finding evidence that supports the view and standpoint we are already holding, mostly for intuitive reasons. That’s why it’s so hard to look to the other side and find evidence against your own point of view. Other people do us this favor so much better for us, as we do for them. This is why we should always be vary for individuals ability to reason. It is much better done in a group. But not just any arbitrary group.

It’s important that any group whose goal is to find any truth or make any important decisions to have an intellectual and ideological diversity.

If you want to change another group or individual the easiest way is to change the path the Elephant is traveling on not the Elephant itself. This is discussed in the book Switch in more detail. Many of advice found in the book How to Win Friends and Influence People from 1936 are still very good advice into how to change another group or person:

1. Become genuinely interested in other people
2. Smile or even better Hug!
3. Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
5. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely

Building a better world together

What steps can we take make use of this knowledge and build a better world together?

1. Understand Sacralization
If you want to understand another group follow their sacredness. Recognize that they have something sacred that you don’t really understand and that they will defend with blind faith.

2. Talk to the Elephant
If you want to change someones mind talk to the Elephant first. Start by bringing up some points of commonality and establish some way of trust. Then when you bring up matters of your different Moral Matrices. Begin by giving praise or give a sincere expression of interest. Then build on from there to a more common ground.

3. Moralize Demonization
Stop demonizing another group for their believes and sacred values. We are all prone to fall victim to the myth of Pure Evil. Where we self feel “Victim” to some form of injustice. So when you see or hear someone demonizing something, politely remind them that they are demonizing and that doesn’t lead anywhere.

4. Groupishness must be Managed
It’s easy for our groupish behavior to get out of control. Therefore we must help each other to monitoring our behavior so that it applies to a Moral Matrix we all can agree on.

All groups that seeks out some form of truth or affects other groups in any way must have both intellectual and ideological diversity.

5. The Earth Tribe?
Is there a way to unite all humanity on earth as to create a global human tribe? The only way we see this happening is by us being under attack from a common enemy like a global virus outbreak or some other global catastrophe.

In the meantime all we can hope for is a new emergent network society with many small groups pulling in the same direction. Here Social Media comes out a as great tool for bringing all those groups together 🙂

Moral Matrix of the Mind

We are deeply intuitive creature whose gut feeling drives our strategic reasoning. This makes it difficult – but not impossible – to connect with those who live in another Moral Matrix of the Mind. This is exactly like in the movie The Matrix. We live in different worlds in our minds.

/Michael Sillion
Follow me on Twitter: @LordSillion

We are all stuck here for a while. So let’s try to work it out

Jonathan Haidt from TED 2012


Oxytocin and human connections

Give me a Hug!

We all need a hug. When you hug me you release a hormone in my body called Oxytocin. The hormone tell my brains system that it’s okay, relax, you can trust me. It does this in a very subtle way. But it works!

The Scary Guy
I saw a documentary some years ago about The Scary Guy and his mission to make this world a better place without hate and bullying. In it he talked about how we all should hug each other each day. Now later a recognize this as one of the sparks that set me on my mission to make a better world. It changed what I thought we could do together.

Today listened to The Moral Molecule from The RSA by neuroscientist and economist Paul J. Zak where he talks about his research on Oxytocin. He has a new book out if you want to dig deeper into it as well. You should really listen to the RSA podcast about it yourself.

He goes by the name Dr.Love because he stopped shaking hands and insisted on hugging people instead. Dr.Love prescribes hugging 8 people each day. So both he, the scientist, and The Scary Guy gives us the same message 🙂

Here is what you should take with you:

  • Hugs not drugs. Hug 8 people each day to spread a kinder and better society.
  • When someone is stressed out they really just need someone to hold them. Not time-out alone.
  • We build community where ever we go. Keep on spreading the love.
  • Hate, violence and name calling has no place in this world.
  • We are all victims to the myth of True Evil.

The Goupish Gene
Humans on this planet are an amazing success story as today we able to connect to people around the world that we have never met before. I will talk more about this in my coming blog on The Goupish Gene.

The Vampire Economist – Dr.Love

Here is 5 minute video where Paul J. Zak aka The Vampire Economist aka Dr.Love talks about it briefly:

/Michael Sillion
Follow me on Twitter: @LordSillion

Happy Hugging!

Reality & May The Fourth

What is Truth and what is Real?

R e a l i t y

Online with your brain
On track with your senses
In focus with your mind
In aim with your dreams
In contact with your body
In phase with Reality

In thoughts we wander
In chaos we exist
In truth we believe
To destiny we yield
In information trust
In Reality we live

I wrote my poem to reality back in ’95 and still feel much the same 🙂

Wouldn’t it be great if reality was in black and white just as Star Wars once was. Good versus Evil. As I follow what we’re about to do yo the Arctic in the name of Profit one cannot but feel the Evil in large companies like Shell. Is it so? #SaveTheArctic

Today we geeks celebrate May The Fourth or Star Wars Day.
Thanks to social media this is now a global event just like many others that we all can participate in. This shows the power of our global network society we are about to build. Let’s use this power for good!

May the Fourth be with you!

Matrix is still the most powerful movie made and the thoughts that come from it is amazing if you let your brain do the wandering 🙂

What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.

Then what about Star Wars on a day like this. The story telling of the Jedi captured the minds of an entire generation. I know that most people don’t get it. But I has always dreamed about being a Jedi!

Our Homeworld

What is Truth and what is Real? The Planet we live on is very much real. You can only experience it by what little your brain is telling your conscious self, but never the less you now it’s there.

What if it suddenly wasn’t? Would you miss it? What is most important here in life? Our brains wasn’t designed to either grasp reality nor the long time plan that we must have for our Homeworld. Can we change they way our brain tell us about the world that is out there? Outside our brains…

It is time to launch my Project Homeworld soon. A project which will help us grasp what a future here on planet Earth might hold for us. We still have the time and the ability to create for our own future and just not be swept along in a world of catastrophes and chaos where we have lost all control.

Let’s make it so! Let’s make life on planet Earth a big Co-operation project with clear goals!

/HanS olof Michael Sillion
Follow me on Twitter: @LordSillion

Emotional Impact

You need to inspire as well as inform

How does one communicate a scientific or an important message to a broad audience?

We use social media. And to do that one most change the way we communicate.

How to communicate
Think of this when you communicate

  • The Message must be quick, clever and strike an emotional chord
  • Good vs Evil is a great way to engage ones attention
  • We must tell a story that takes place over decades so that it can be understood in terms of a persons attention span of a day
  • The message must be useful for the recipient

Motivation to act
What makes the target feel that it must act upon or spread the message you are putting forth?

  • It must be personal and important to each individual
  • There must be some self-interest included. It can make them look cool or smart. To make their life look interesting.
  • They are emotional engaged. Anger or Passion are great motivators.
  • The Action must be short and focused. The effort to act must be small.

/Michael Sillion
Follow me on Twitter: @LordSillion

David Attenborough

You have certainly seen David Attenborough before. But have you seen him like this. As one of Earths leading naturalist he talks about how the population growth is one of the largest challenges that we have to come to terms with here on earth.

Points from David Attenborough

  • Earths population increases every week with 1.5 million people. Half of them live in urban areas. That means a new large city every week with everything that comes with it. Roads, Sanitation, Housing, Healthcare and so on.
  • We must lift the taboo to talk about stopping population growth. Start talking about it today and spread the word!
  • It remains an obvious and a brutal fact. That on a finite planet population growth will quite defiantly stop at some point. And that can only happen in one of 2 ways. It can happen sooner by fewer human births. The alternative is an increased death rate. The way that all other creatures will suffer. Famine, Decease or War.
  • The goal for you is to: Reduce over time, the average consumption of resources per person and the number of people doing the consumption.
  • You should visit www.populationmatters.org where David is a patron to see what can be done.
  • The fishing-fleet use modern technology to vacuum the oceans clean from fish. We can easily use technology to control the oceans instead. We just lack the political will to make sure that we can feed our children with fish too. You must make sure our politicians know this!

/Michael Sillion
Follow me at Twitter: @LordSillion

Netocracy – The Network Society

Netocracy – The Network Society

The 4 paradigm shifts in our history

I was on the Sprinkler event here in Varberg, Sweden yesterday and saw Alexander Bard give one of the most insightful talks I have ever heard. He talks to us entrepreneurs about the paradigm shift that is occurring in our society today.

Photo by Richard Tholin

First some history:
1. The first paradigm shift occurred when we started using the spoken word some 100 000 years ago.

2. The second was when we started using the written language. Before then the most valuable person in the tribe was the old woman who knew everything. She know what to eat and what not to eat. She new how to keep things social with other tribes and avoid too much conflict. This was needed to exchange genes with other tribes.

Now we could write all our knowledge down and that made it possible to build societies.

3. The third Revolution was Mass-media that started with the invention of the printing press. With it came books, newspapers, paper money, radio and television. The information was spread top down.

The was perfect for the industrial revolution that made it possible for the losers living in cities to take away all the power from the Nobility living in the countryside.

When Napoleon come to Germany he was seen by Hegel who lay the ground for what Bard calls “The Napolean Society”.
This is a top down hierarchical society that came to rule the world until now. Where state, bureaucracy, police, army, school and hospitals where all being governed by a very hierarchical system.

We are to bring down all of this relic Napolean Armies now. Together with our new Network Society we bring forth the fourth paradigm shift. The old capitalistic society will soon be replaced. Let the revolution commence!

4. Netocracy

Today we stands before the fourth paradigm shift. The Network society. What Alexander calls Netocracy in his now 12-year-old book.

— Where social status generates money instead of the old way.
— Where old top down Media will mean less if it isn’t interactive.
— Where our identity is our social network.
— Where Attention Rules. Attention = Credibility * Renown.

How do you increase your Attention
–> Does lots of people already know you — Concentrate your energy on doing good credible work
–> If you already do good work — Put all your energy on becoming famous and renown


I have long thought what we can do to connect the world. So that we together can save the human life on planet earth. What Alexander says rhymes very well together with my own thoughts on the subject.

I for one will work very hard to make this new society a reality.

/Michael Sillion
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Top 10 Heroes of 2011

I’m going to present a list of 10 persons that inspired me or touched me in some way during the year of 2011. They are presented in a top 10 style of way in no particular order other than what I am feeling right now.

Number 10 — Will Day

After seeing Will Day giving his speech on TEDxWWF about the current state on Earth and the enormous challenges we face I was convinced that we need do something drastic to save us. Neither our politicians nor out biggest companies will do enough in time. It’s up to us to do it in a big crowd-sourced projects together for a big Epic win that is required of us.

Sustainability is not just a buzzword but the single most important thing we will do if we are gonna be around in another 1000 years. Although you can’t tell in the same way that the Romans couldn’t tell. our age is coming to an end: The Age of Oil
See Will Day and his speech here:
Is the world’s current economic model really sustainable?

Number 9 — David Eagleman

I am also a Possibilian now. I found David Eagleman and his 2 speeches thorough the School of Life. I then went on to buy and read his book Icognito. He is a very charming neuroscientist brings forth the message that there are many wills in our brain that act in conflict with each others making the decisions that we late take credit for. The unconscious rule us. We are just along for the ride 🙂

Number 8 — Mark Zuckenberg

After seeing “A Conversation with Mark Zuckerberg” from Web 2.0 Summit 2010 I was really impressed with the real Mark even though The Social Network is one of my favorite movies. He was one of the things inspiring me to push forward into the unknown.

There is an interesting interview where he talks about the real events from creating Facebook

Number 7 — Richard Dawkins

I have never seen or read anything from directly from Richard Dawkins before. Last year I saw my first documentary staring Charles Darwin featured by Richard Dawkins called The Genius Of Charles Darwin. I was really taken by his charm and intellect and we really feel with his frustration to argument with the creationists. There are even some extra interviews to see and the one that stands out is where Richard and Steven Pinker has over an hour long conversation standing still talking about the evolution. Now I am big fan of Dawkins to say the least.

Number 6 — Steven Pinker

We move right on to the man mentioned in the prevision interview with Dawkins namely Steven Pinker. He has been called the Rockstar of science and I can see why. Last year he published his book “The Better Angles of our Nature“. I haven’t read this insightful book book but I have seen his talk from the Royal Geographical Society on 1st November 2011. You can see it here in 3 parts. First he presents the his research with a lots of statistics from his book, then he sits down and talks to Matt Ridley and last the audience get to ask him questions. The last part is the best if you are only going to see one of them 🙂

It all combines downs to that we are living in the most peaceful and non-violence years in all of human history.

Top 5 to come next

This concludes the first part of my top 10 list of my personal Heroes of 2011. Stay tuned for top 5!

/Michael Sillion
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