David McRaney is a science journalist fascinated with brains, minds, and culture. David is the creator of the blog, the book, and the podcast called “You Are Not So Smart.” His most recent book is “How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Belief, Opinion, and Persuasion.” In this book, David writes “You are about to gain a superpower. A step-by-step script of how to change people’s minds on any topic without coercion, by simply asking the right kinds of questions in the right order.” That’s a pretty bold claim, but David has traveled the world to learn from experts in communication and human behavior such as scientists and psychologists. He’s also talked to 911 truther cult members, flat earthers, all kinds of people who believe just about everything to find out why they believe what they believe and when they stop believing it, what caused them to stop believing it, and to believe something else instead. It’s not exaggerating to say that it very well could change your life.
In this conversation, we explore disagreements, opinions, attitudes, beliefs, and how they’re different. We talk about the fact that humans are ultra-social creatures and how the groups we belong to influence what we believe. We talk about identity and about the potential that each of us has to change the world. I love this book and I’m super grateful to David for being a guest on The School for Good Living.
David McRaney [00:00:00] What if, instead of trying to win an argument as to whether or not one of us is doing it properly and the other is not, we entered into a conversation where we try to explore, why do you think we see it differently?
Brilliant Miller [00:00:12] Hi, I’m Brilliant, your host for this show. I know that I’m incredibly blessed as the son of self-made billionaires. I’ve seen the high price some people pay for success, and I’ve learned that money really can’t buy happiness. But I’ve also had the good fortune to learn directly from many of the world’s leading teachers. If you are ready to be, do, have, and give more. This podcast is for you. My guest today is David McRaney, one of my favorite authors. He’s a science journalist, fascinated with brains, minds, and culture. David created the blog, the book, and the podcast called You Are Not So Smart. And his most recent book and the subject of this conversation is How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Belief, Opinion, and Persuasion. I love this book so much, and it’s not exaggerating to say that it very well could change your life, especially if you’re a coach or a therapist. If you’re into helping arts, if you’re in sales, if you manage or lead people, or if you just want to understand yourself at a deeper level and communicate with and get along with other people better. In this book, David writes You are about to gain a superpower. A step-by-step script of how to change people’s minds on any topic without coercion, by simply asking the right kinds of questions in the right order. That’s a pretty bold claim, but this book is a sort of unified theory of persuasion, where David takes his incredible research. He’s traveled the world. He’s talked to many scientists, psychologists, and experts in communication and human behavior. He’s also talked to 911 truther cult members, flat earthers, and all kinds of people who believe just about everything to find out why they believe what they believe and when they stop believing it, what caused them to stop believing it, and to believe something else instead? In this conversation, we explore disagreements, opinions, attitudes, beliefs, and how they’re different. We talk about the fact that humans are ultra-social creatures and how the groups we belong to influence what we believe. We talk about identity and we talk about the potential that each of us has to change the world because each of us is already a part of networks, some of which might be ready to make a massive change. And we could be. The thing that’s required to change the world is possible. So as I’ve said, I love this book. I’m super grateful to David for being a guest at the School for Good living. Now, this is his second time. With that, I hope you enjoy and benefit from this conversation with my friend David McRaney. David, welcome back to the School for Good Living.
David McRaney [00:02:49] I am very happy to be here. As soon as I saw the invitation, I started to feel joy explode out of my body. I am so happy to be sitting in front of you right now.
Brilliant Miller [00:02:57] Well, thank you. Since we talked about a year ago, I’ve been looking forward to your new book, How Minds Change. And. When we talked, I just went back and listen to our interview and I ask you kind of why your work has a resonance with people that many others don’t. You know, there are many authors who are interested in these same things, cognitive biases and filters and illusions and things like this. But your work has found a very broad audience, I think, for a very good reason. And when I asked you to tell me why, do you remember what you said?
David McRaney [00:03:31] I don’t remember off the top of my head. But was it something along the lines of I actually am obsessed with this stuff?
Brilliant Miller [00:03:37] Yes, it was that you’re obsessed with it and that when you talk to a scientist or you talk to an expert in this field, like you’re basically begging them to help you understand your place in this kind of cosmos and this divine play, perhaps, that we’re a part of, and that that’s real, that that’s an authentic inquiry for you. That was one.
David McRaney [00:03:54] Yeah, for sure. Like I actually do. I’m very fortunate to have a career where I’m asking you to write along with me as I try to understand what in the world am I? What does it mean to be a person? What’s going on? And the more I do that, the more curious I become, and the more I get more questions than answers, which feels good to me. And I’m not. I don’t think I’m going to stop this for a while. It feels like and that’s that’s how this is why this book is for people who’ve been along for a while. It’s it goes farther and deeper than I’ve ever gone before with anything. Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [00:04:33] Yeah. Is amazing. And I just finished reading how minds change yesterday. And I really love this book. And although you don’t necessarily build it this way, a way, I look at it as it’s kind of an attempt at or maybe a successful attempt at a unified theory of persuasion, of a belief of understanding, you know this. But what did you talk about in some interviews I listened to you with that? This book started out as one thing and then it kind of told you what it wanted to be and it changed over time. And you say in the acknowledgments, that this book took a long time to write. So what did you think this book was going to be when you started? And what do you think it turned out to be?
David McRaney [00:05:12] Well, thank you. There’s a great question. I. But I mean that that’s not just one of those placeholders. Thanks for asking that. So I can think of what I’m going to say. That’s a question that I wish I had more chances to discuss. Yeah, I definitely didn’t want it to be called How to Change People’s Minds, because that was never the intention. I am I wasn’t really eager to get into persuasion at all, honestly, that in the end, I was okay getting there because I redefine what that word means for myself. But the the reason I wanted to what started the whole thing was I wanted to understand how it is. I used to run a Facebook page for a little tiny news operation, and I was able this is when Facebook was kind of new. And at the time the thing people were arguing about a lot was same-sex marriage because it had become an issue that was clearly about to hit its way up the Supreme Court. And the arguments people were having who were opposed to this were the kind of arguments that would spool out for weeks and people would get very angry and it was relentless. And then I was able to witness the change that took place. In when was soon as it became law and the attitudes and the norms started to settle out. The arguments just went and disappeared. And I was like, well, then what was all that about? And I had this. I saw some polling that showed that people had the majority of the country had been opposed. And then over the course of just a few years, it had flipped to the majority of the country being in favor and I imagine taking those people back a decade and having them meet themselves and what might happen if they were to discuss that issue with their own previous selves. And it made me think about my own previous self. Like if I look at that old diary, what would happen if I met that person? Would I get into arguments with them? And so I wanted to understand why do we do that? But also what happens inside of us when we change and I mean, at the level of neurons all the way up. And so I started asking around and it started I started to really get a sense that over the war, this is not something I can just go ask experts and then tell you what they told me kind of thing. It’s going to require a lot of syntheses and a lot of investigation. And that’s what the book started with. I’m just going to tell you how social change happens on the level of the brain. But it became something that honestly, I didn’t even know like I was telling this to the publisher recently. I don’t know what genre this is going to be put in. Like, I don’t know where are you going to stick it in the bookstore anymore? Because it’s a very it doesn’t really it’s just a book that happened to me and I let it happen and I feel okay with that at this point. Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [00:08:06] It’s one of these where, you know, you talked in our first conversation when I asked you my standard opening question, what’s life about? You said something like articulating the ineffable. Mm-hmm. You know, and I. I’ve walked around. I’ve taken a few walks the last couple of days thinking about that f ing the ineffable. And this is, I think, something that you’ve done like you’ve put new words to things, terms to things like this, deep canvasing or st. I never say this right. Yeah. Epistemology is st epistemology and these and these things that I think they’re not easily explained. It’s not, it’s not like a keyword. And people go, Oh, I get it. It takes a setup, an explanation, and things like this. Yet if my sense is, if people had more exposure to this, more understanding to this, if they were receptive to some of these ideas and how they connect. And I feel like I’m speaking very abstractly. But what’s I guess a great entree is the gray strawberries. Yes, right. I’ve been showing that to people and it’s been blowing my mind, even though I know showing it to them. But when you talk about maybe there’s just think the dress, the strawberries, the socks with crocs like any of that, because that alone is fascinating. But when we recognize that that’s happening on every issue all the time, it’s like, holy crap.
David McRaney [00:09:27] Yeah. I, what I love about what you just said to me was that matches my experience of how it got into the book. I had all this material that I, believe me, I was I felt like I was swallowing the ocean. There was too much. And I was realizing that not only was this like cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology but there are also philosophical conundrums that people much smarter than me have gotten lost within and never come back from. And I’m just wading into that world, and it’s doing it to me, too. And my books are stacking up around me and I’m feeling them slip through my fingers. But then sometimes I’m having those shocks of, Oh, it all makes sense to me. I got to get to a keyboard and then on the keyboard it’s not exact is coming out is rants and ramblings that aren’t coalescing. I had all the material and I had it in front of me in a way, and I knew where it had to be. There’s no way I can talk to you about how minds change and what persuasion is, and the stuff like assimilation to come, all that. I couldn’t talk to you about that without some sort of anchor that could create a which is exactly what the book’s about. Like some way for you to be able to assimilate before you accommodate. Yeah, but I didn’t have it. I just didn’t have it at all. And then. I wanted to do this little show about post-truth. I did this little live show in New York City in the great Jay van Babel, who wrote the book The Power of US, he wrote. I asked him, you know, do you know anybody up at NYU? I’m going to be at and I’m going to be in New York. We can grab people from NYU without having to fly people out. Is there anybody you think could talk about this post-truth thing I’m trying to put together? And he recommended Pascal Walsh, who had recently done work about the dress. And I was like, I don’t really know why. He’s like, no, you got to talk to him because he thing he sees this is as indicative of something bigger than just that dress. So I went to his offices and and then after that, I had I took a trip back to New York. Just spend time with him. That’s not a lot of time with him and his assistant, Michael Karlovic. And they may epiphany through what he was showing, I knew right away that’s how I’m going to get you into this material in the book. And if you want to, I can talk about it. But that’s how it entered the manuscript.
Brilliant Miller [00:11:51] Yeah. I want to come back to it for just a moment, because you make such a massive claim in this book that you say, let me find this this exact sentence where you say you are about to gain a superpower, a step by step script of how to change people’s minds on any topic without coercion, by simply asking the right kind of questions in the right order. Right. But part of what’s fascinating to me is that that claim comes on page 218 of the book.
David McRaney [00:12:18] That’s right.
Brilliant Miller [00:12:19] That’s not like that opening attention getter. Right. But I feel like, okay, so first of all, that’s a massive claim. And I the reason I wanted to go there is to say, okay, this thing that we’re talking about, about like strawberries or that are gray or this dress that’s red or goes going and studying with Pascal and so forth. I understand that’s all a part of it. But I just wanted to put a little context of that, that that’s a claim that you make.
David McRaney [00:12:43] Yeah, sure.
Brilliant Miller [00:12:44] So how you connect is for me, if you will. If you can.
David McRaney [00:12:49] Sure. Let me talk about the dress just briefly and why that’s important. And the strawberries, if you’re not familiar with the dress. But I’m sure you are. But to anyone listening,
Brilliant Miller [00:13:00] Which I wasn’t before this. Oh, wow. Great. I was amazed.
David McRaney [00:13:03] What color was it for you?
Brilliant Miller [00:13:05] It was white and gold.
David McRaney [00:13:06] That’s incredible. For me, it’s black and blue. And I have never I cannot do anything about that. That is what it looks like to me. And then for you, it’s. It’s white and gold. Yeah, I can I can imagine that there is a there’s a place where if we were to meet the new way to see it one way. And I saw it the other. And I attempted to convince you that you’re wrong. It would seem absolute like it would be so bonkers, it is so maddening. It would probably infuriate you at a certain point. And if you’re trying to do the same thing with me, the same thing. Right. The. Which is why it’s where that at in the book. Because what if instead of trying to win an argument as to whether or not one of us is doing it properly and the other is not, we entered into a conversation where we tried to explore, what do you think? We see it differently. And that opens up a completely different space, which is the same space we get to on to 18 where I’m asking, giving, asking you. You can do that with any topic you’d like. Where if we disagree on it, if I properly open up a space for us to explore why we disagree. We’re going to change our minds in some way or another. We’re at least going to understand a deeper or higher truth. No, the matter. The reason people see the dress differently. And there’s something mega viral in about 2015. And when I say mega viral, it was everywhere. Like there are celebrities tweeting about it. It broke Twitter. The Washington Post said this broke the Internet. This is the argument that broke the Internet, which is, you know, it pre-staged the kinds of arguments that would break the Internet going forward. And. It was an entree into a portion of philosophy in neuroscience that many people had never been exposed to before, which is that you know, subjective reality versus objective reality. And the way that we experience the model that our brain generates, not the thing that influences that model. We don’t have a 1-to-1 relationship with the outside world where we live in this representational space generated by some wet. Where inside of our skulls. The. The reason people see the dress differently is that that is an image. It’s not an actual dress. It’s just it’s some light entering your eyeballs, but it looks similar enough to address that. You coalesce it in your perception as, Oh, I’m looking at a dress, but it also looks like it’s an overexposed image. Before there are photographs and film and video and everything. If something, we have this system within the brain for when something’s overexposed, the brain will try to reduce the luminance a little bit so that we can get a more accurate idea of what we’re looking at. It’s not the truth of what’s going into our eyes. It’s something post-truth, which I love. So it’s a lie. Your brain tells you in an effort to give you something closer to the actual truth of the matter. There’s speculation as to why the brain would do this. Perhaps it’s for in low light environments, we can more readily see blood. Perhaps in overexposed environments, we can see things that are ripe and unripe. Lots of speculation, but we know that it does it. And if you ever looked in your closet and you see something that’s it’s dark in there, but you can still tell the difference between red, green, and blue. This is what’s happening because you’re not getting that information, really. You’re getting an altered version of it. That’s playing with the colors, turning some up, turning some down. When you’ve had and this is what Pascal and Michael studied. They did like 13,000 plus participants, very rigorous research. And luckily one had a history and vision science and the other had a history in sleep science. And so they already had a bit of knowledge about what might be going on. And what was going on was people who spent more time around sunlight. What I mean by that is the things that have been overexposed in their experience going so far have mostly been overexposed in sunlight. Other people have had things that have been overexposed in their life more often in incandescent light. Incandescent light is going to give you a yellow tint. And Sunlight’s going to give you a bluish tint. And so the brain will subtract that overexposure and leave behind what happens when you either take out blue or take out yellow? That’s why you see it differently. But unless, first of all, until you meet another person who sees it another way, you have no idea that you can see it differently. So that’s an incredible truth that arrives. And the other thing that happens is, oh, wait, we could disagree on something that is I have no choice over like it’s like tasting soup, but one person tastes peanut for one person tastes like peanut butter. And the other person, it tastes like chocolate cake. Like, how could this possibly be? And they created they recreated this with socks and crocs, which is a whole other story. But the and we can get into if you like but to get to the root of it quickly they created a model around this they called surf pad and surf pad stands for and we’ll be closing my eyes to remember in moments of substantial uncertainty in the presence of ramified or so for prior assumptions, you get disagreement, which means all the things that led up to this moment where the nature of the brain that I came into the world with, which comes from all sorts of things, from natural selection and evolution, the nurture of not just my childhood, but the culture and the institutions and the family that I was within. Then all the individual experiences that I’ve had, all of that goes to these. All that is the model that I take in the world that establishes my priors. When I’m in a moment where something arrives that’s novel or uncertain or ambiguous, I will try to reduce the novelty and make it seem familiar. I will try to take the uncertainty and make it seem certain. I will try to take the ambiguity and disambiguate it through those lenses. And I’ll arrive at a conclusion. And that conclusion is going to be a little bit different, but mostly like years, because most of those things are similar, but in some cases, it’s going to be so different that we will have a disagreement as to what ought to be what is the thing that I’m just this ambiguity. And that’s where our most intractable disagreements come from. And if you try to resolve that disagreement by saying, yeah, but my conclusions are the right conclusions, like your conclusions, the wrong conclusions, and let me show you why. And then I’m going to go grab all sorts of other stuff that that same process has led me to, to say I looked at all the information available, but these were the things that felt right and these were the things that seem to justify. These are the things that seem proper that you read, and see them, and it feels like you’re backing up your assumption. But the other person is going to have the same system that brought them to that conclusion. You don’t have how they’re going to apply it to all the new evidence you just put forth. And this disagreement is going to start seeming like it’s heating up and getting worse because you’re escaping the opportunity to investigate why you disagreed in the first place. And so I put that in the book. There are two who set up everything that comes after as to how you could have better conversations acknowledging all this. And I condense all this into a term they gave me at NYU Cognitive Empathy, which is when you disagree with somebody, whatever it is you’re disagreeing with, they don’t have a choice, really, in the fact that that’s how they feel or what they think, feel or believe at that moment. It kind of happened to them. And they may not be aware of why that is so. And you could offer an opportunity for them to explore that and you could exploit yourself. And that’s a different way of interacting with each other than we often find ourselves.
Brilliant Miller [00:20:27] Yeah, hugely different. Right. And not just this tendency to go find out more evidence to support the way we already see something, but then also agreement that, well, well, this person agrees and this authority agrees and this. And then both sides are doing that as well. And as you point out in the book, where we all well know if we’re honest that we can find evidence for anything on the Internet, even if it’s only 1%. But that that whole thing and like you were saying, how this just kind of happens to us, it’s like an automatic process or below the level of consciousness where, you know, again, this image of these grayscale strawberries that I see as red.
David McRaney [00:21:04] Oh, yeah, the strawberries. Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [00:21:05] It’s amazing how our minds fill that in as red and. Yeah, it’s just automatic.
David McRaney [00:21:12] Yeah. The strawberries are they. There’s a QR code in the book to see this, but you can Google it. You just type in the strawberries illusion. You’ll probably find it. It’s. It looks good. They look great. But what it is actually, it’s been overexposed and a little bit of a bluish teal tint. It’s very light. And so the brain is trying to turn down that overexposure. But normally when you turn down the overexposure of like a bluish tint, that means you’ve also kind of manipulated the red tents. And so they call it color constancy. So you feel like, okay, I usually when I usually do this, it usually messes up the red, let me turn up the red. And so you see this and of course, you’ve had lots of experiences with strawberries your entire life. You know, they ought to be red. And so when you see the image, you’re like red strawberries. But I have shown this in front of an audience before where like I zoom in and zoom in, zoom in and like, look, I promise you, there are no red pixels in this image. The reds happening in your mind it’s, you know, is going in your eye. But then again, everything’s happening in your mind. Like every color you’ve ever experienced is a manifestation of your brain. Color isn’t out there in the world. Color only exists in minds. And it’s a for many people it’s the first time you ever heard that or experienced it. And showing it through that illusion is great because you have no choice but to go with people. What do you mean? There are no red pixels.
Brilliant Miller [00:22:28] Yeah. And just to get right, there’s, there is this automatic process. It’s happening. It is not just with the way we perceive color, but the meaning or I think the value that we impart to different beliefs we have and things like that open up a space. It’s kind of like that. I think that saying attributed to Rumi that about our beyond notions of right and wrong there is a field. I’ll meet you there. Wow. This idea that you have really poetic idea of going beyond judgment and recognizing that we can find togetherness despite, you know, different starting points or beliefs or values. But with this, I wonder if this is what you talk about in the book. I think the word epistemic humility is then I have that right. Is that related to this perhaps?
David McRaney [00:23:16] Yeah. Epistemic humility and cognitive empathy are the same. The coin is two sides of the same coin. Like when I have cognitive my epistemic humility says that I could be wrong about anything. The great well stories I mentioned earlier, he, he gave me that wonderful thought experiment that I keep. Proselytizing is asking yourself, are you right about everything then? If the answer is probably not, then ask yourself then what are you wrong about? And if you answer with I don’t know, then ask yourself How come you don’t know? And then if you can’t quite put your mind around that last bit, ask yourself, how would you go about figuring out what you’re wrong about? And that’s an avenue toward epistemic humility. The suggestion that you’re doing, you’re kind of running on a good enough understanding of the world at all times, and you can always be refined. And in that refining process, you’re going to discover, Oh, I really didn’t know a lot about that. And I was making a lot of assumptions. Now that I have more information, it kind of seems different to me or, oh, it turns out there’s a lot of information that runs counter to my assumptions. Maybe I need to change what I think about that. That’s epistemic humility, of course. The other side of it is to say everyone’s doing that, which means when this person arrives in front of me and in the conversation space, I should have some empathy for the fact that they don’t know what they don’t know, but they do know what they feel because they can’t help but feel it. And the reason they feel that way is some of it may be by choice, the choices they’ve made leading up to this. But some of these things may not be by choice. This may be just how they found their way to that, to me. And along the path they picked up all these triggers. They picked up all these assumptions, all these expectations, these motivations from their social groups and so on. And so we were both looking at this one thing and they’re feeling something that I’m not feeling or they’re feeling on the attitude scale. They’re in the positive side. I’m on the negative side. I have empathy for the fact that they didn’t get there and come there to do battle with you just because you disagree. They can’t help it be where they’re at and then work together in that sort of shared space. That’s that’s something I’m advocating for through that term. Cognitive empathy. Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [00:25:30] It’s a beautiful thing. And you just touched on this idea and you have a chapter in the book called The Truth is Tribal Rights. And that I mean, that is a profound thing to recognize that we would rather be good members of our group than. To be right, even like, to be honest, maybe with ourselves, with other people like you. You cite this study about people who see lines of differing lengths that will if other people in the group like Confederates will swear they’re the same length, they will, even though they don’t truly believe they’re the same length. They’ll, they’ll agree. Oh yeah, they’re the same length.
David McRaney [00:26:05] Yeah, they’ll say so and so that famous ash that is the one thing that gets lost often when people use that as an example is that when they when people were asked afterward in the debriefing and look me, those people are still alive today, you can talk to them. They’re like, I didn’t actually think that line, but like I couldn’t say that I did that. And so they were having this sort of as compartmentalization, multiple self things taking place. Well some part of them believed that it was one way or another. Part of them was acknowledging that maybe they were. Pretending to you that there was signaling they were engaging in reputation management, but also they were off put by the fact I don’t even know these people, but I’m doing it anyway because I’m a social primate and I’m geared to do that with any fellow human being. And then there’s another thing that’s not in the book. There’s a thing called they saw a game that that is related to this. That’s one of the earliest studies in this war. They showed there was a football game where people had they had it was on these two Ivy League schools. And there were all these it was a very brutal game. A lot of people were hurt. There were a lot of infractions that took place. And the discussion on campus was about who did the worse? Who did who or who was most to blame for all that violence? Who committed the most violence? And people disagreed. Well, the researchers there were like, this is a great opportunity. What if we took people from both campuses and showed them the film and had them mark on a piece of paper all the times that one side did one thing and one side at the other. And you know exactly what happens next, right? You can intuit where this goes. Are people marking fewer infractions for their side than the other side or do they part way more for the other side that wasn’t even there? But they were looking at this wasn’t just that you could blame it on memory, but this is they’re looking at it. They were looking at a film of the game and they called the study. They saw a game. And that was, you know, a cheeky way of saying, yeah, they both saw a game. But their subject, what came out subjectively, is not the same. Like they had two separate realities, even though the evidence is identical. And I have the evidence right here, I can show it to you. This happens all the time in politics recently. We’re all watching the same video and you are astonished that it seems like other people are seeing a different video than you’re seeing. But the motivating factor there for them, I mean, these were these are people who are demographically almost identical. Like they came from the same backgrounds. They were going to schools that were mostly the same and some happenstance got them in one campus or the other. You know, they ate a sandwich that somebody else didn’t, you know. So who knows what happened there? Their dad said something and their other Ismael’s dad didn’t, and they ended up on a different campus. But because of just being on a different campus, they’re known as different subjective reality. And that subjective reality is motivated by belonging. And the great sociologist Brooke Harrington told me and I have it in the book, if there was an equal terms square of social psychology, of social science itself, it would be the fear of so social death is greater than the fear of physical death. If we’re tasked with it, we will sacrifice ourselves for the group and. And that’s and that’s true all the way down. So if it comes down to it, we will mortally sacrifice our actual life for the group, but also things that are lesser than, of course, that will sacrifice we’ll sacrifice accuracy for the for inclusion, for the avoid it for to avoid ostracism or to just be a good member. It seems irrational, seems illogical, but it’s neither. This is how we’ve survived for millions of years by making sure the group makes it, by doing things that ensure that we get to the next goal and some end. We just have never been put into an environment this epistemic, chaotic and complex where that where we might be tasked with, well, I’m going to believe a certain thing where I’m going to at least portray that I believe in certain things, because that’s going to help keep the group moving forward. It’s difficult to admit that this is true. It is definitely difficult to admit that you’re doing it day to day on a day-to-day basis. But as part of us, it’s part of our nature.
Brilliant Miller [00:30:14] Yeah, there’s a part of it that I find really kind of frustrating and exasperating. And then there’s another part of it I find kind of liberating. It’s like, Oh, okay, that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing. It’s a natural function that any person at any time and place who’s a part of such a group would likely do, if not, certainly do. And yeah, it gives me not only more understanding, but I believe more compassion. You know, that’s the idea.
David McRaney [00:30:40] And it’s not necessarily there ways that we have leveraged that to to to good ends, like in academic realms, sometimes legal realms, scientific realms that they’ve been able to think, okay, they’ve been able to naturally create environments where you satisfy your belonging goals by demonstrating your adherence to the accuracy or you satisfy your blind goals by demonstrating you want to reduce harm in the world or subtract poison from the world. There are ways to create these social triggers that reach really positive ends by satisfying these innate propensities, and in those places where we’ve done that, we’ve done some pretty incredible things, thanks to this desire to keep each other in check.
Brilliant Miller [00:31:28] Yeah. And you, you talk about argument, which I really appreciate this. This was a reframe for me where you write that disagreement isn’t a bug in human nature. It’s a feature for sure. And what do you mean? What do you mean by that?
David McRaney [00:31:45] Well, we evolved to reach consensus, but in mostly toward what our plans are like. Ah, this is something that was explained to me in detail by Hugo Mercier. He and Dan Sperber put together something called the interaction model of human reasoning. They have a great book called The Enigma of Reason. He has a follow up book called Not Born Yesterday, which is about appeal to authority. The and the bit Tom Stafford is is a misattributed Tom because these both of these things make up the peanut butter and chocolate of centers and other interviews that came out naturally in interview. And I love this phrase this is the peanut butter and chocolate of my comeuppance as a person. And the one came from Russia and the other came from Stafford. Stafford gave me something that he calls the truth when scenario and Mercier gave me something called the interaction model. And they both are. They work together in tandem to create this new way of looking at the world that I try to express in the book the truth. One scenario is that human, all the evidence suggests we evolve is in a group level process, is what produced this within us. And given the opportunity, we will bring our heads together to try to figure out how to reach consensus on things, whether that is a goal or a plan or it is to an interpretation or an agreement that what is or is not moral or immoral, what is or is not true.
Brilliant Miller [00:33:10] Well, this is how Wikipedia works, right? Because I’ve read things about like, is Wikipedia flawed? And can groups of bad actors influences of work, but things I’ve read say actually not that the truth will win out like the law of large numbers and people’s innate nature to find and reach consensus and so forth. Right. Because you I’m sure you’ve seen this where people will deliberately write false things in Wikipedia pages, but then the crowd seems to write itself somehow.
David McRaney [00:33:35] Yes. And I demonstrate this. So one of the things that that really changed my mind about how this works, because I used to proselytize how flawed and irrational we were. And I no longer do that. I honestly deconstructing and breaking apart my previous self and previous work in this regard. There’s something a lot of the research that often gets put into, like that first wave of science writing about rationality. It was things like predictably irrational thinking, fast and slow and my my book, which is sort of a coffee table book to go between those two. If you’re headed out of the bookstore, the you’re not so smart. And you and Alice Dunn were part of that wave, and it was just really fun to look at all those. That is to go look how silly we are and to think about how you could scale up the silliness. We would demonstrate in certain experiments, too. Well, that explains all the problems in the world. But then, thanks to Mercy and Stafford’s different lines of research, there’s this great thing I love to do. I do this in front of audiences now. And what I’ll I’ll usually have people do, like a confirmation bias game and a couple of different things to demonstrate our irrationality or propensity for reasoning, really weird motivated reasoning and so on. And then I’ll explain that in all the studies that I used to write about and everybody else wrote about, we would demonstrate how irrational and thought we were through research that was done on individuals. Now, yes, it was done on lots of people, but each person was being studied in isolation and in isolation. We reasoned in a different way than we do in groups. We reasoned in a very lazy and biased way, lazy, biased in the sense that we argue from our perspective, we argue from our values and our concerns, which is seems kind of okay when you put it that way. Even if we’re wrong or we’re off base, we’re trying to contribute to the argumentation pool, something that is uniquely ours. It is from our nuanced way of seeing things and all the experiences we’ve had. If we’re talking about like, should we go out in the woods tonight? And I was attacked by a bear in those same woods. You’d like me to be a little biased. You want me to tell you that? On the other hand, if you were the person who is extremely experienced as a camper and have had and have like killed bears in the woods and you know what’s up and you have your perspective. You want that person to demonstrate, to say something. Or if you’re the person who owns this property and knows these woods like the back of your hands, you want that person to be biased. All these all that’s good, right? And then lazy is in the sense that if unless we have time to really talk about this at length and over many different conversations, it’s going to be the easiest, most the thing you can eat most easiest, most easily justify as what’s going to come out first. The lowest level justification that you can produce is the first thing you contribute. So that’s one aspect of it. And then the other aspect is you once you are in a conversation space with other people, you will then all offload these arguments for the sake of evaluation. And there’s a completely different cognitive system that comes online for the evaluation of arguments and denied that evaluation space, which you end up is in these really bizarre, tilted things that happen in a lot of our online conversation spaces where everybody’s just producing arguments and dumping them into piles, but we’re not having that interesting. Let’s sit around the campfire, sit around the dinner table, walk outside the movie, talk to each other about what we think about it thing. Yeah, not in the way that we would if we were doing it face to face, because we often know when we’re having a discussion online, we aren’t having a discussion with each other, just each other. There’s a big audience who can who might chime in. So we enter into a more debate space because we think we start feeling like we’re at two different lecterns and there’s a giant Q&A session coming up which makes us change the way we discuss things. So what I do in lectures now, I often will talk about this and I’ll put something from a cognitive reflection task up. I like doing the if it takes five machines 5 minutes to make five widgets, how long would it take a hundred machines to make five widgets? I’m able to guessing it wrong. It takes five machines. 5 minutes to make five widgets. How long would it take 100 machines to make 100 videos? So then I ask that question. And I ask everybody to come to an answer privately. And everybody murmurs and talks. It’s fun. I love doing this. That’s it. Is there anyone who really thinks they have the answer to this question? I mean, you are very confident. You have the answer. One or two hands go up. I take a microphone out and I say, What’s the answer? And they’ll say, 5 minutes. And then you get that great reaction of the crowd of outgoing mayor of Wasilla. And I say, please explain your reasoning to everyone, and they’ll do the whole thing. Like if it takes five machines, 5 minutes, because my way is that it only takes one machine 5 minutes to make one widget and blah blah blah. You have 5 minutes. They explain it and everybody goes, Oh. And that’s what Tom Stafford has found in his research, is that a lot of these studies that were done at individuals like the Ways and Selection Task and the ball and bat problem and and so on, when you bring that into a group discussion, sure. If you had a lot of people in isolation, a small number of them get it right. And you could say most people get this question wrong, but in a conversation space, some people will, though, that few people who get it right can present their reasoning. And thanks to this evaluation thing, we’re very amenable to the reasons you came to your conclusions. And we will very readily go, Oh, I didn’t see it that way. Yes, that makes total sense. And you go from an environment where in like if I was doing a lecture in front of like 100 people, like most, the crowd is wrong. And then after one person explains themselves, everyone is right. And that is something that is the power we have. That is what arguing is for. There’s mercy. He told me. If we couldn’t do this, if this wasn’t how it worked, arguing would just disappear. It’d be like they said something like if. If we were all in the dark, if we were all. If we evolved in the darkness like a cave spider, we just wouldn’t have. We would have eyes. And if we had involved in an environment where this provided no benefit, we wouldn’t still do it. We wouldn’t be eager to persuade each other when we feel like we’re off base.
Brilliant Miller [00:39:51] Yeah. And your book gave me some hope about this. I love your description. You said that social media feels like soul poison. It’s like that is so right on. But there’s some redeeming hope here, including. And I forget the names of the people. One was the gentleman who who published the I think it was the blog Julius. And I don’t know if it was Meghan Phelps, Robert Abbott.
David McRaney [00:40:15] Abbott Ball and Meghan Phelps. Roper Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [00:40:18] Yeah. But that whole thing about they were having this conversation in public on Twitter so that people at least I think that people could hear these things and see it perhaps differently.
David McRaney [00:40:32] Yeah, they start the coverage. The conversation started in public and she was a member of Westboro Baptist Church and was one of their shining news stars because she was great at social media and she was very confrontational and sort of their whole thing was like, How can I get people to get angry with me so I can, you know, be angry with them online and we can have these arguments and this wonderful man have a ball. He he instead of meeting her at that on that level, engaged in compassionate, non-judgmental, listening over Twitter.
Brilliant Miller [00:41:07] Which is amazing. It’s really beautiful. I found this part of your book truly inspiring.
David McRaney [00:41:12] It’s I, I come to you almost a Pollyanna on this because I’m so optimistic, thanks to spending time with people like this. I spent time with, you know, Charlie Beech from the 911 truther community. He had a very similar experience. There wasn’t room in the book for that. I spent time with former members of all sorts of cults from Moonies on down. I spent time with anti-vaxxers and not the COVID anti-vaxxers, but people in the MMR anti-vaccine community. There’s just so much of it. I had to pick and choose who I was going to feature and. In her story. You know, this is Westboro is known for their incredible anti-Semitism and their incredible anti LGBT and all sorts of hate. And here’s a man from a Jewish background who is a scholar on these things, who meets her, as with compassion, who meets her with. You know, I kind of want to talk to you about this and see where you’re coming from. I want to see the humanity that you’re bringing toward to to this. And it’s it was so off putting that that she is there’s a part of her who could that couldn’t not. Accept that offer and. He would laughed with her. He made fun of her. They they trolled each other in a sort of a the kind of way you would with one of your friends who you don’t agree with on everything. But it’s okay because you’re friends. And he established that trust and rapport. You’re a person. I’m a person. Let’s try to figure out why it is we disagree on, as you think. And then, of course, there’s all sorts of people on Twitter trying to torpedo that, people who are trying to destroy the the the rapport they had established. They’ve they’ve pushed through it. Eventually, that conversation moved off into private messaging and eventually it moved off all the way into the real world where he physically would defend her in situations where protesters would be try to attack her. And that conversation just kept unfurling and unfurling to the point that she became aware that she had values that weren’t being served in the community she was within, but she was unaware that those values could have a home somewhere else. And he didn’t tell her to think that. He didn’t even Challenger in a way where that was his argument.
Brilliant Miller [00:43:24] Yeah.
David McRaney [00:43:25] She came to that on her own, just to the fact that he had kept holding that space open for her to come to that on her own. And that led gave her the off ramp to entertain the possibility that maybe it would be better to be outside of this community. And once she was outside the community, that’s when this in the rush of epiphany took takes place. Because once you don’t have that motivating factor, it’s just like the other day I saw a game study. Once those people are off campus, they don’t see they don’t look at games that way anymore. Why would they? They’re not motivated to signal anything. They’re social community. They’re not motivated to be a good member of that group anymore. Now, once you off ramp out of it, things that before she would never have entertained are information she would have interpreted through a certain lens. It was as if she was given permission to actually. Take a look at it for the first time to be someone you’ve never been before and everyone who’s who’s had left the community like that. I used to be on it. There’s another way I’d change my mind. I was under the impression that people started having issues with their beliefs and that encouraged them to leave these communities. But often what happens is that something is more along the lines of something deeper of value that they hold. That is that is more in line with the person they want to be or the way that they want to feel in the world. It’s it’s a it’s often something more fundamentally human. That is the crack that, as Pascal said, is the crack that lives in the light. And they f for all things like the Westboro was starting to do things like and anyone who’s really wants to hear the full story, I’ve got a whole chapter about this. And I spent time with Megan, but she also has a great memoir about this unfollow. They, you know, they were they were becoming much more draconian. They were saying what you could and couldn’t wear, where you couldn’t couldn’t work. They’re being really harsh to the women in the community. And that already had caused that was the friction that was bothering her. And then you have the another person from another community is like there’s another way to be, but I’m not telling you to be, but I’m letting you know there is another way to be and that that’s the same thing they have with Charlie, but in a different format. Same thing happened with the other people I’ve talked to in other conspiracy groups and cults and pseudo cults, and that off ramp gives them the opportunity to change their own mind, which is what takes place.
Brilliant Miller [00:45:43] Yeah. And part of what part of what is so inspiring to me about that is this idea that every one of us. Right. Because as you talk about like that, it’s another way of being is another possibility for living that opens up that we become aware of. And maybe that’s when our shift happens that we’re not trying to fit everything into this way. We’ve been, but we’re now aware there’s something else available to us. And usually or often that I think is part of another group that is like, Hey, this group has these norms or, you know, it’s okay to be this way over here, and then we’ll gravitate when we have a space to be ourselves without consequences, without these adverse consequences. But that idea of, of doing that and an argument as a way of finding sometimes our way where we don’t want to be, where we do want to be. And you I think this was Stafford that that scientist and psychologist that you mentioned who gave this metaphor of the equivalent of washing our hands. Oh, my God. That’s right. Well, you we love.
David McRaney [00:46:50] It so much. I just recently, you know, you’re in the middle of promoting everything. I thought it would be nice to let people hear that for the full conversation they have in Stafford, where that quote comes from. And I put it on the podcast recently, he he had done this work with the Ways and selection task and and everything I was mentioning earlier about isolation versus group reasoning. And I asked him, because I keep asking I was asking scientists this a lot. I was I was asking, do you are you pessimistic, cynical? Do you feel like we’re circling the drain here? Do you feel like democracy is crumbling? I hear this a lot, and I’m worried that it’s. It’s either a moral panic like it’s like or it’s or it’s true, or maybe it’s somewhere in between. But I’m worried about it. And I want to know what you think person who studies this professionally every day of your life. Yeah. And he gave me the answer, the most incredible answer, which was. Things have become very complex for human beings when it comes to information exchange. We have an incredible new information ecosystem in which every person can become a broadcaster. All I have to do is open up my phone and I am live to the world. Anything I think, feel or do. I can express and other people can chime in on it. Every politician who used to. We had to wait for them to walk out on the stage and talk to us, can just talk to us at any point in time. It’s a very different way to be in this kind of information environment is akin to, as one researcher, Kate Starbird put it. It’s like what happens after a natural disaster? Like rumors become a little more valuable in a space like that because you’re modulating by trust more than you are anything else. Is this a trustworthy source? For some people, that trust means you’re a scientist, an expert. For some people, it means you’re you have the same values I have. Trust is modulated in all sorts of ways. Just like after a natural disaster, you’re trying to find out where to get water and supplies. You modulate whether or not you believe the information coming to you based off of all sorts of things. My brother told me this. My this guy told me this. This firefighter told me this and so on. So this incredibly complex information ecosystem that we’re within is going to require a couple of things. And he likened it to. Germs have always been a problem for human beings, especially in groups. All sorts of problems come from the diseases that arise when people are in close proximity. But that became a serious problem when civilization advanced to the point that we had cities like you could approach London on a wagon and smell it, and over before it appeared on the horizon, there was a different way. And in that environment, sanitation became crucial. And we had to adapt to it. We had to improve sanitation. We had to figure it out. But also each person had to change the way they approached being a person in that space by learning to boil water and wash their hands. So both at the level of scale we had to learn and at the level of the individual, we had to learn a new way of being to deal with a problem that we had always dealt with before. But now it was existential. They said, we’re going to have to learn the generational equivalent when it comes to misinformation of washing our hands, because misinformation has always been a problem for human beings. It’s always been difficult to arrive at the truth. But we have sort of the equivalent of mass cities now where we’re trading information back and forth that’s going to require sanitation at the level of the platforms that are give us this power and the information equivalent of washing your hands as individuals.
Brilliant Miller [00:50:32] Yeah, it’s is really a beautiful way of first of all, it gives me hope instead of just seeing the world, you know, is is more polarized. And, you know, these tools we’ve invented are just making things worse and there’s no nothing’s going to change that and so forth. But, you know, we’ve as humans have overcome many things and there’s no reason to say we’ll continue to overcome everything. That’s been a challenge for us. But but at least framing it in that way of, hey, germs were real and and now this, this information ecosystem that we’ve created is real and it has real consequences. Like, I remember the first time I learned that people would put misinformation to cause, you know, like ethnic sorts of cleansings, like they would falsify a rape had happened and then it would incite violence against a group. And I was like, Holy cow, that is next level problems. But hearing what your you’ve learned about, you know, what’s, what’s available to us gives me it gives me hope and the value of of argumentation and sharing its worth. I debated before we started talking whether I would ask you about this or if I did, whether I would ask you on the podcast. But, but I think I want to now. Like I have. I have. Avoided talking about a lot of things in my life, you know, because I come from a prominent family where I live and and so forth. And we we owned businesses as a as a family. And, you know, we employ people and and things. I say, well, you know, I feel like I had to put out a little disclaimer. This does not reflect the views of the Miller family and so forth, that like I have consciously avoided talking about whatever religion or race or politics am. On top of all that I recognize, I’m very privileged. I’m in a very fortunate situation in a lot of ways and maybe out of touch with certain realities for people and so forth. But last night I sent my weekly newsletter and I included in it a story about Lizzo, about the recording artist who issued a public apology because her most recent single has Ableist Slur. I don’t know if you happen to see this and I’m.
David McRaney [00:52:40] Aware of all this.
Brilliant Miller [00:52:41] Yeah, right. And so she got that feedback over a weekend and by Monday had rerecorded and rereleased the song. I was like, That is amazing. And in her tweet, in Lizzo’s own tweet, she said, As a fat black woman describing herself, I have encountered all kinds of, you know, so forth. So that was my headline in my newsletter, What I Learned from a Fat Black Woman about apologizing, right? Using her words, not intending them derogatorily and so forth. Well, someone on my list who is black emailed me back and basically told me like I should know better. And that was highly offensive. And usually she looks forward to my messages, but this one was too much and so forth. And I just thought, am I wrong? Right. And and often I’ll take this long view of like, well, you know, who am I to say, who is anyone to say? And a generation or now, five generations from now, we’re going to look at it differently anyway. And morals are totally subjective and so forth. So I don’t know where I’m going with this exactly except to ask. I am curious to get your view on this one situation in particular, because I get like, right, we’ve owned an NBA team for a lot of years. And so, you know, my understanding is black people will call each other the N-word in certain circumstances. And that’s fine. It’s not fine for me to do that. Right. So I get there are certain ways people describe themselves. It’s not okay for me to say. But in this case, if I use the words from Lizzo’s tweet to describe herself, I use them in a headline like, Am I wrong in this circumstance.
David McRaney [00:54:15] If you’re wrong?
Brilliant Miller [00:54:16] No, I don’t. But I but I’ve been wrong plenty of times in my life before now. So that’s one thing I love from your book. When you say being wrong feels until we know we’re wrong. Being wrong feels just like being right.
David McRaney [00:54:27] And that’s paraphrasing Catherine. Catherine Schultz, who wrote a great book. I think it’s called Being Wrong or Being Wrong. Okay. So. Let me just let me just. Employee the the lessons of the book here. On a scale from zero to like ten being. Anybody who would question the fact that I put that in the headline really needs to check themselves in zero being, No, you’re right. I shouldn’t have done that. Where would you put yourself?
Brilliant Miller [00:55:00] Probably like a six. I’d say I’m like a six. Yeah, but I say that I’m not. This is helpful. I’m just adding more noise. But part of it is I acknowledge I didn’t I didn’t communicate that I was using her words. I didn’t put it in quotes. I didn’t showcase her tweet right there. Right. I didn’t reference it even I just linked to the tweet. So that’s why I’m like, yeah, I get why I think I get why she saw that, but I don’t think she gets why where I’m coming from. So I’d say, like.
David McRaney [00:55:26] I hear you when you tell me six, I think about it. I’m like. Why? Why aren’t you at eight? But what would you have? What would you say to if I to ask you, how come you’re not an eight or not? And you already told me that without prompting.
Brilliant Miller [00:55:38] Yeah, I’ve been wrong many times in my life before, and I know, like, values and mores shift right from decisions.
David McRaney [00:55:45] Notice the framing is a little different now. It was the first question was, do you feel wrong? No, that’s binary. Black, white. Yes. Right. But then when I ask, okay, well, how about we kind of put it on a scale that now you when you say six, what comes from the articulation of why it’s a six that doesn’t feel bad? That is a feel yes no at all. It feels like you’re saying, well, there’s a nuance here. I had an intention, and perhaps the way that I presented this to the audience did not clearly articulate my intent. And so it could be interpreted in many different ways. So with cognitive empathy for people who have who didn’t, who felt offended or who didn’t like it, or they felt a negative reaction to it. They’re interpreting it as you might have had nefarious intent or at the minimum had no consideration whatsoever for what anybody would feel. And that’s a valid way to to to respond to something like that, if that’s what they couldn’t help but feel from reading the the headline. Right. So it’s difficult to predict the the reaction to be able to have. And it’s a it’s a it’s a long process to try to cock every possible crack in holding the ship to keep it from sinking. That’s why we’re such lazy and biased prisoners. We just we do our best to put it out there and then offer the community to let us know. Or he could have done it this way. Right. And that’s what the community is trying to offer you is you could have done it this way. Some people are going to react so strongly that they’re not going to offer you that they want they want you to pay penance and and you have to respect that. They probably have a good reason for feeling that way. I imagine they may have had experiences where. This is just one too many of these for me, especially from someone I trusted. Yeah. Whereas other people have less intense reactions. And of course we’re geared to pay more attention to the strongest reactions in the group. But the attempt here is to give you a perspective of there was a way you could have done this that you didn’t. And I hope in the future you acknowledge that. And you’ve already articulated to me that you already have that lesson brewing inside of you.
Brilliant Miller [00:57:50] Yeah. Well, it just kind of it goes for me, like I take this view that, you know, I tell people a lot if if you can say it or you can think it, it isn’t true. It’s just a word. It’s just a thought. And it’s kind of maybe a mystical view and maybe it’s a way of avoiding responsibility or, you know, so forth. Because I think I don’t know how I made this a therapy session, David.
David McRaney [00:58:13] Okay, so.
Brilliant Miller [00:58:15] Let me let me let me just let me back up.
David McRaney [00:58:17] I would hope that we, all of us are willing to. The reason we invented the reason therapy exists because we had to create a professional class, permitted ourself an opportunity to engage in others in this way. But it’s something that’s available to all of us, and I’m totally okay being part of it.
Brilliant Miller [00:58:31] Well, I appreciate that. Well, let me let me take the conversation in a bit of a different direction, if I may, because I know we’re we’re about to an hour. And there is one other thing that I really wanted to get your take on. And it it relates to identity. Right. Because these things that we’re talking about, they seem to me to be all bound up, like when you talk about I love this, that you say beliefs and doubts are processes, not possessions. Which is really interesting to me. But what we believe and what we value, what we believe, what we doubt, what we value is so much a part of who we know ourselves to be. It’s a part of our identity. And this whole thing about when these are more malleable than we think, than we tend to think they are, that we can consciously, I think and all this ignores the whole issue of free will and it’s its own whole rabbit hole. Right. But I look at two people who are very public or who are public. Alan Watts is one and Tony Robbins is another. That, as I understand, they have very consciously created a persona. And many people. Many people do. Right. And Todd, is it Todd Herman with alter ego? And, you know, many people talk about this, but I remember watching Tony Robbins stand on the edge of a stage one time and talk about how he created himself. And he said, I didn’t just wake up this way. One day I created this Tony Robbins. And then I remember in Alan Watts’s autobiography when he talked about for him at boarding school in England as a teenager, one of the games he would play, which I thought this was remarkable for a teenager, was they would identify all the personas they left him and his friends, and then they would deconstruct them, create another one, and then like live that for a while and see how it felt. And I just thought that was so remarkable. And this is obviously, you know, I’ve changed my name legally and I coach people and help them with their behavior change and achieve the lives they want to be living because they want to achieve and so forth. So where I’m going with all this is with with everything you’ve written in this book, How Minds Change. There’s a lot of it that we can use to change other people’s minds or help them change their minds. There’s a lot that we can use to change our own minds and be who we want to be and live what we want to be. Well when it comes to identity. It can be so hard to change who we know ourselves to be.
David McRaney [01:00:49] Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [01:00:49] What? What’s your take on how. I know you don’t write like a chapter necessarily on identity, but what? What’s your take on how this is useful when we want to change who we know ourselves to be, the life we’re living.
David McRaney [01:01:02] It’s a great question. And I am saying great question to give myself a chance to think.
Brilliant Miller [01:01:09] I know that’s a vague it’s a vague question.
David McRaney [01:01:12] It’s only vague because this is vague. It’s only vague because this is the we’re dealing in so many levels of abstraction that we’re starting to get out into that space that Ellen once often talked about. So you spend all your time thinking that, and all you think about is thinking. If you use symbols and words to articulate everything in your mind, you are limited to what can be expressed in those in words. And as you’ve alluded to several times, you know, there is a space beyond that that is difficult to get to. It’s the reason we have psychedelics and meditation and all these things that turn down the default mode network so that we can access it. When you. Get really great at meditation and get into a long standing practice of it, or you micro doze for a while or you get some takes, some heroic mushroom doses and stuff like that. The outcome of all that often is this crisis of identity. This and the reason there’s a crisis of identity from the neurological standpoint is that all of those things affect, affect, all those things. All those things affect the default mode network. And we talked about this last time we were we were together. The default mode network is obviously anything I’m discussing here is something we’re still studying. And will there be we’re just on the edge of trying to make sense of it. But it seems the default mode network is a portion of the brain that helps us to put a border around our selfhood and see it as separate from the entire environment around us. And there are levels of that where there’s me and there’s you and there’s us and there’s them and there’s human beings and there’s animals, and then there’s people on earth. And then the stars are there’s all sorts of divisions. We’re involved, these different kinds of borders, almost concentric circles around our world. But it is inside that all those concentric circles. What’s that? Real live really difficult to get to and the default mode network often all it offers is that a race is the concentric circles that are in sort of the the topography of the little map thing we’ve got inside our brain and that is lets us go. And depending on who you are and what you’ve experienced, where you’re at, and if you’re at a concert or you’re at home or whatever you’re doing. It’s a moment we are like, okay, no borders now what? So you get that very common. We’re all one feeling or there is, or it’s just one big chaotic system of vibrating, undulating weirdness. And I’m I’m a a consistently vibrating portion of it, which is something I could consider different from the rest of it. Alan Watts has something about this too. I love 11 going all out on this kind of stuff. You know, the, the, the, the whirlpool in the stream could be looked at as a separate thing from a stream, or it could be looked at as a process within the stream. If the whirlpool thought of itself as I am the whirlpool, how true is that to it? And that’s similar to us. We’re the manifestation of a repeating pattern that is, we’ll repeat for a while and then will dissipate back into the rest. In the book. The only thing when I get into this, I talk about the being ultra social primates where very identity is often that which identifies me as us, not them. And I consider that an unavoidable. But at the same time, man, there’s a lot of grossness that comes from doing that all the time. You’ll get in. You can get trapped in it. The one way to expand out of that is to be try to be a part of as many groups as possible. That way you’re kind of like, I acknowledge, I can’t help it, so why don’t I try to hack it? And many of the people that I spent time with who were able to. Get closer to the person they they truly feel they are was by being spending a lot of time with lots of different groups and they didn’t feel that pain of ostracism for disagreeing with any particular one of them. It’s also possible to do that by having a very rich pool of friends who see things in lots of different ways and who are maybe the super opposed the way you see as well. The. Desire to forge another identity. I think if you were to pull it from a million different philosophical and spiritual viewpoints, this in and of itself might be fraught with. It’s almost like maybe you’re asking the wrong question. Have you ever done this before where you are? You ask a question and the answer comes back and it reveals that you were making a lot of assumptions to even think that that was a question that they had an answer to. My intuition is that I we have all these cognitive systems that that it was very good for this entity that we that we come into the world as to create an avatar by which to make sense of things and to operate within. And that helps us do stuff that keeps us alive, but it also limits us from a certain kind of thinking and feeling that you can only get through through things like mathematics and physics and things that that take you out of the picture because you’re trying to examine truths of the world through different kinds of languages that you that we’ve created. I think there’s a way of doing that also for self like and I think you’ve got you’ve you’ve brushed against it several times in the conversation talking about getting out in the field beyond the things. And, and though I’m a huge proponent of articulating the ineffable, it’s in the service of building a better language than I have available to me at the moment. And so I think that. You know, to do to bring it strangely back. Like if you ever go to a movie with somebody that you adore, a good close friend or a partner, and you love the movie, and then when you get out, they hate it. And at first you’re like, How dare you? And you, you defend the way you feel about a movie. But then you love the person. You care about them, and you trust them and you respect them. And so you have the conversation. And in the conversation you move a little bit more their way and they move a little bit more your way. And so therefore, there was a third way that was available the whole time.
Brilliant Miller [01:07:14] Right.
David McRaney [01:07:16] I think that’s true of self as well is what I’m trying to get to.
Brilliant Miller [01:07:20] Yeah, well, this this malleable quality is so remarkable. And when we I think when we recognize that what we believe at some level is a choice. Right. And one specific example of this with to go back to Tony Robbins, I remember watching an early, early video of him talking to an audience, and he talked about a way he had achieved this phenomenal success even at this early stage of his career. He said he wanted to be a millionaire by 25. He was he wanted to own an island. He does. He did back then. And he said that he conditioned himself through state, you know, like affirmations, repetition and intensity. He would tell himself if people don’t get the information I have to share with them, they will get hurt. And I was like, That’s amazing. I guess some level that sounds strange, right? That sounds really, really strange. But it’s also understandable that if somebody tells themselves, like this human being standing in front of me must grasp the communication I have for them, or they will get hurt, perhaps physically, maybe emotionally or financially or some other way. But if that’s what he’s telling himself, so he’s deliberately, as I understand it, and I might be misquoting him, but I don’t think so, that if that’s what he’s telling himself and that’s what is then driving him like that’s so ingrained into his nervous system and that’s how he shows up in a room is like, I have something that will enhance that. Not only will it enhance the quality of your life, it will avoid you experiencing pain that it’s like, if that’s what he’s telling himself every single day, over and over again, to the point you hear him talk and he’s got a gravelly throat because he practices not just affirmations, but incantations. He says it with this intensity. I’m like, in a way that’s kind of crazy. Another way that’s genius, you know? So that’s part of this. With identity, we can tell ourselves something and it can feel like B.S. But maybe if we push past that disc, that uncomfortable part, and it becomes just how we operate day to day. I know that’s very unusual, but that’s also why I think someone like Tony Robbins achieves success. That’s unusual because he’s willing to do things that are so far outside what most of us would ever consider reasonable.
David McRaney [01:09:23] Is that all I hear from that is, you know, I can agree I can disagree with with Tony Robbins on whatever, in the same way that I could disagree with anyone who proselytize as anything. But if you take someone who’s, say, a missionary, a religious a deeply religious person who wants to proselytize, go door to door, wants to do missionary trips and so on. What they’ve added to their life is intentionality. Right. And this is what this is what Tony Robbins is saying and what you’ve just communicated to me. Like he’s he established an intentionality. And you don’t have to agree with Tony Robbins or be Tony Robbins to give yourself the gift of intentionality you care to say to, instead of going with the flow of everything. And even though that’s a nice thought to to just give it just give way and lie in the river and go where it takes you. This If identity in one format is saying, this is who I am and this is who I am, not in another format, it’s saying these. This is the intention that I bring to this interaction, whatever it may be. And the intention becomes the identity, the intention itself. And then that opens up another space to have a deeper intention as that provides feedback and you ab test yourself going forward. But it’s living on purpose. It’s, it’s, yeah, it’s, it’s purposely attempting to not create a specific outcome, but to create a specific intention that you bring to things and whatever outcome comes from it. You know, the intention had some sort of influence on it and that feels like there’s something there. To me, it seems like there may be something in that.
Brilliant Miller [01:11:04] Yeah, me. Me too. Right. Because there’s this idea of achieving goals from one point of view is supremely useful. But from another point of view, it’s. It’s like an empty game, right? Because I guess it depends on what you want from the goal. But I think many of us pursue goals, especially in our western materialistic society, thinking it will bring us happiness, will bring us some level of fulfillment and whatever metric matters, you know, appreciation or significance or whatever, wealth and status and influence. But then we get there and we realize, Oh, that that wasn’t it, it must be something else. And stories about this or many, right, like this might be apocryphal, but I’ve heard, you know, the astronauts who went to the moon, that that was their goal for years and years and years. And then they achieved it and they came back and they were depressed because what do you do after you’ve gone to the moon? You know, they become alcoholics.
David McRaney [01:11:50] How do you how do you eat a hot dog after you’ve been there? How do you look up at the moon after you’ve been to the moon?
Brilliant Miller [01:11:56] Yeah. Yeah. So this idea that and that’s maybe but.
David McRaney [01:12:01] That’s another watch thing. Do you know here’s the whole thing about the living that way is like listening to a, uh, a symphony, too, just to hear the last note, you know?
Brilliant Miller [01:12:10] So now I like that. And that idea of an intention as opposed to a goal, although, you know, goals can be valuable, but an intention lasts far beyond the achievement of any specific goal or it can. And I think there’s something really beautiful about that.
David McRaney [01:12:25] And Adam Grant told me that’s not a namedrop. That’s Adam Grant said something that blew my mind. He said, Identity should be based on values, not beliefs. And he just made it. That simple is like just that, like. And then values can change. Values change immensely as you age if you move in the world in a way where you’re open to the change but like Mike drop suggestion to me was I would prefer I think it’s better to forge an identity based that comes on the blossoms that are valued not one that blossoms out of belief. Those are some short and sweet answers to that question.
Brilliant Miller [01:13:02] Yeah, I think that’s really cool. Well, this brings me to maybe this kind of final part of this and relates to this idea of choosing what we value. You know, we can choose what we believe. But I love what you said near the end of the book about networks. Right. Because we are we’re social we’re very social creatures, ultra social, as you point out. But that every one of us and that’s to me, as I read it, it really squared with something I’d learned from Buckminster Fuller talking about Trim Tab, and every one of us can, by exerting the slightest point of pressure at the right point in the universe, at the right time, at the right time, in the right way, it can change the course. I think it’s a beautiful belief, whether it’s true or not. I don’t know how you’d ever test it, but like any one of us could be that grain of sand that tips on any issue that that’s important to us, that our internal compass is urging us to, you know, to follow. And so you talk about this idea of networks and how we can and I love that your image of the hammer, we can keep banging, right? But maybe we can just conclude with this. And with all of that, it was kind of a maybe a messy setup. But this idea that we can choose these values and where we choose to hammer and lead to a change, perhaps for. For all of humanity.
David McRaney [01:14:21] Yeah. This. There was a framing in the beginning of this research about the idea of influencers and mavens and trying to get your message to the people who have the most cloud and all that sort of thing. But the the the network science that’s emerged from an immense amount of research and all this. And I, I, I lean on Duncan Watts for this. Duncan Watts as the person who explained this the most fully to me. There are a couple of other people that I mentioned in the book, who helped with that. Networked human beings. If you look at it almost like a molecule model, like you would have in chemistry class, like little balls with sticks connected to them like each that’s nodes and connections. And in a human network, you have each person’s a node each. The connection between each person is the line, the little stick, and those connections can be strong or weak. And obviously, it’s not just like y it’s very nuanced how strong and weak and they cluster up to you can have a group of people who are clustered and then there’s only one connection out of that group into another cluster group. And you keep zooming out now, now, and you get this beautiful, almost neural network looking thing, this very complex molecule-looking thing of how humans are connected. And one of the modulating factors inside of that is yours. There are also many words was the best, but it’s like your propensity for every one of us has a threshold for conformity. Like you were talking about the Asch study with the lines. Some people very readily agreed with the Confederate, and some people resisted much more than others. I think of it as if you’re trying to get if you’re ever. I had this strong memory one time when I was trying to get into a classroom and there were a bunch of people waiting to get in. And then at some point, the professor opened the door and was like, What is wrong with you? There’s nobody in this classroom. And then we all just went in. We’re like, What was that? And but for the network scientist I spoke to said, know, yeah, this is about internal signals, external signals. And I promise, I promise I’m answering your question, but I’m getting there, which is when the first person who arrived, they were going on their internal signal. They may have been in a situation like that before. They may have lots of social anxiety, all sorts of stuff, but for whatever reason, they didn’t open the door to look inside. They just stood and waited because they figured the door was closed for a reason. But the next person that arrives, they can’t just go on their internal signal. There’s one more person there. And so they’re like, Well, that person’s waiting for a reason. Now they might be the kind of person who would just open the door anyway. But turns out in this one particular instance, their threshold for conformity was pretty low. And they said, okay, there must be good reasons person standing if they stop the next person that comes up to that room. There are two people waiting and that’s pretty much all it takes for most of us. Most of our thresholds for conformity. If there are two people doing it already, we’re like, Well, obviously there’s a reason to be here, but some people aren’t. Some people are super either rebellious or very early adopter-type people. They would check anyway. But if it just so happens that the next person that comes up isn’t like that, you know, you’ve got three people waiting and it’s almost guaranteed you have a cascade and now everybody that shows up becomes somebody who makes the cascade stronger for the next new person that arrives. And it’s going to require some very humongous new strange information for the cascade to collapse. And that’s when the person opens a door. I’ve seen that you see it go in the other direction in behavior that’s sort of a cascade of not behaving. It’s also a cascade of behaving like a party. These are I’ve seen this many times where you’re at a party and everything seems to be going great, and then you turn around the right leaves, the room is gone.
Brilliant Miller [01:18:02] Yeah.
David McRaney [01:18:02] Same thing though. It’s thresholds of conformity. There are few people, you have a bunch of people having a party. A few of them are ready to go. A few of them would like to go, but they don’t want to be the first person to leave. So somebody leaves. Then they’re like, Well, one person left. It’s okay for me to leave. That person leaves. Now, every threshold of conformity starts getting satisfied to believe that somebody who had needed more than two people leave, leave, they leave. And then now there are people who had no intention of leaving. But nine people have left the party and they feel kind of weird for not being part of it and the whole thing empties out. This is how human beings work when it comes to thresholds of conformity and trying to decide what we’re going to do in certain situations based on internal and external signals in a gigantic network of new beings, like an institution of egos, you know, like a friend, group, family, institution, community, culture, nation. It scales up what you get. Excuse me for once, I gather when you scale up like that, it seems like and there was some early research that made it seem like if you want to impact great change, you need to find the people who have the most connections and get them to be to demonstrate that change. But research, deep research seems to suggest not a good way to do things maybe every once in a while, but it seems like a good way to do things. But everything lines up perfectly and it just so happens that the network was shaped a certain way around that person. The way Duncan Watts explained it to me was. And this comes from his research. We also had a conversation about you. You’re driving down a road. You might as well be driving down a road. They have a cigaret. They smoke cigarets. They toss a cigaret out into the forest every time they drive through there and nothing ever happens for years. And then one afternoon they do it. And it causes a forest fire that burns down six counties. It was never the cigaret that had anything to do with it. It wasn’t that particular person. It was the susceptibility of the forest at that particular point where it landed. And that could have been influenced by drought conditions. It could have been influenced by some sort of firefighter thing where they weren’t doing the same kind of work they had done in the past. It could be just the natural chaos of the forest and things that had in in a certain way and created a patch that was susceptible to it. When that fire starts there, it dries out the sort of the surrounding area and that becomes more susceptible and the fire spreads and boom, it goes everywhere. And as he put it, the spark that started the fire could have been as small as a cigaret ember or as humongous as a lightning bolt or even an atomic explosion. But it wasn’t the thing that started it that had the impact. It was the susceptibility of the network to change. And since all of these interactions between human beings, their connections are forming and breaking and mutating constantly. It’s very difficult for any of us to know the nature of the network. But if you have this strong passion for. Trying to reduce some sort of harm. Pull some poison out of the system. A some sort of thing that you feel like is the change that should take place. And this has happened all throughout our history with many social movements. The what seems to be true is that the people who create that change are the people who never stopped trying to strike at the system and network science. They call it their turn. They’re going to hit the the percolating local cluster, the percolating vulnerable cluster, which is a high minded way of describing. There’s a group of people who are connected in just the right way where if one of those people changes in a particular way, it changes the people around them, just like the classroom example and a cascade of forms that so strong that it bounces out into a neighboring cluster and saturates it and saturates the next one and all of those together is this percolating cluster, meaning that it’s susceptible to it cascade it should a change take place within that one particular place in the network? You don’t know where that is. You don’t know who those people are. Exactly. And it could be people who are influential or not influential, you know.
Brilliant Miller [01:22:10] So it could be like Rosa Parks.
David McRaney [01:22:12] That’s exactly it. And so the the the advice toward the in the book is what matters is you never stopped striking at the system. And if you have to do it your entire life, you take the hammer and you pass it down to the next set of hands. And that’s how you that’s how you initiate the change that eventually cascade and change the world. And that seems to be the case in every instance. And what I like about it, as far as optimism is concerned, is you don’t have to be anybody special for that to be for that to be the thing. You don’t have to have a giant speaker. You don’t have to be anything except a person who is devoted to that project, to that issue, to that passion.
Brilliant Miller [01:22:51] Yeah. That is so powerful that. That idea that every one of us. Is powerful is total logical. There is a but I remember hearing Alice Walker once said that something like the the biggest way that we give up our power is by believing we don’t have any. Hmm. And. And, of course, if we don’t think we have any, then we’re less likely to act or. Or to cause as a result of some kind. But there’s one follow up question that I have for you on this, which is which is this idea of certainty? Because I think it’s easier to take action if we have a high degree of confidence that our action will, in fact, affect a certain outcome. Right. And you in your book, you talk about certainty is I think I have this right here, that it’s an emotion. The certainty is an emotion. Right. And that was about making it I guess I am today. Everything is about Tony Robbins. He was the first one to point this out to me that you can generate certainty within yourself, even in the opposite and absence of evidence. Like that is life changing. But it’s again, it can be delusional. The proof is, of course, but what’s your.
David McRaney [01:23:59] But certainty is delusional, no matter which way it goes. Like all in the sense that their subjective reality is itself a grand illusion. Well, I mean, certainty, as I was described to me by the great scientist, Robert Byrd. And it’s a it’s an emotional state. You have no choice. And in some in some domains depends on which way we’re talking about it. The Tony Robbins version of disaster consumers by choice. In some regard, though, I question whether or not Tony Robbins has a choice but to believe that they’ll give me some sort of hall of mirrors in terms of presenting the the. It’s like bumping your knee against the table and feeling pain. Oftentimes it happens in the way I want it. What I’m trying to frame it as is it something that happens to you? Is the it’s a waiting of the ASOS is an associate of architecture and in the mind of the neuroscientists talk about it in terms of weight and when it gets weighted in a certain direction, you feel this emotional twinge of certainty or the lack thereof. And if you feel the emotional twinge of certainty, then you will assume this information encoded in your brain is in the domain of truth. And if you feel the lack of that certainty, you feel that that the emotion that that information occurred in your brain is false. And his research demonstrated all sorts of ways in which people he would have people read their own writing about something like it was I think it was predicting something to do with the space shuttle. I forget exactly what it was, but it was it was basically a historical event and people read something about it and then he would check in with them later and have them look at their writing. And depending on how they had changed as a person or how they interpreted the event or how it was talked about in the news, they would sometimes deny the fact that they that that was their handwriting and say it was a trick. But the reason they were denying it was because their emotional sense was I cannot help but feel certain or uncertain about this, which leads me to, without my choice, feel that’s either true or false. And therefore I must justify and rationalize why I feel that feeling. So that’s the way I talk about certainty in the book. I, I don’t I don’t know. How am I familiar with this concept of generating your own certainty in that regard? I’m not saying Robbins is wrong. I’m saying I don’t know enough about it to to to wrap my articulations around it. I, I think that I am familiar, though, with the idea of intense self-talk, and I have talked myself into certainty before. So maybe I am here. I am doing exactly what I asked earlier. You’re offering me space to talk myself out of my position, which, by the way, I’ve watched hundreds of videos and people do this and it’s incredible to watch. And I’m doing it right out in front of you, I hear. I have I can imagine African-American situations where I didn’t know exactly how I felt about something, but after weeks of self-talk, I put myself into a position where I felt absolutely certain that somebody had either done me wrong or that that I had made the right decision or that I had made the wrong decision. And at the end of that, all that internal self-talk, I had moved myself into an emotional state where I could not help but feel otherwise it would take somebody else to challenge me to get out of it.
Brilliant Miller [01:27:11] So yeah, well, what you’re saying here, I think if I, if I understand Robyn’s larger teaching is that through an awareness of where we’re placing our attention, what the meaning we’re generating is what we’re saying about it. Oh, that was a good purchase. So that was a bad purchase or good call or whatever then. So we’re aware consciously of where our attention is. We’re aware of what we’re making the meaning and what we’re doing with our body, like in every moment. What’s our posture, what’s our breathing, what’s our relaxation or our attention? Like these things, if we bring them under our conscious control that we can actually generate independent of any external stimuli, a certain emotion. I was like that to me is actually profound. And, you know, things like, what’s that? The Amy Cuddy the power pose and things like this. I seen that where I think my experiences, there’s some profound truth in that. And as you talk about certainty as an emotion is just another emotion like love or rage or whatever that if especially if we’re willing to accept responsibility for the creation of our experience, that we can generate these emotions. And then as I studied some stoic philosophy, I learned the Greeks believed there were such thing as proto emotions that I think are like you’re saying, if you stubbed if you hit your knee on the table, it will hurt. If someone fires a gun behind you, you will startle. But after that initial yeah.
David McRaney [01:28:39] That’s that’s in line with William James and that’s in line with Burden told me that he wished he had a better word than emotion because he felt like it was it was not quite that it was more akin to him it something more like hunger is the way what it was. So he basically was saying proto emotion in a way, and that it was the in the sense that you can’t help but get hungry in a certain situation. You can’t help you feel certainty, but it’s a feeling. And he wanted to really express that because certainty often doesn’t feel like a feeling. Don’t the idea that it’s in that space because through self-talk I can make myself happier or I can make myself angrier because of. SATER Yeah. And the suggestion that you’re making here is an interesting way to think about it, because if I can affect my emotional state through self-talk and reflection, I can probably affect my certainty state as well.
Brilliant Miller [01:29:25] Yeah, it’s pretty, pretty remarkable. Well, David, one thing I want to be sure to let you know before we end this conversation is as an expression of gratitude to you for sharing so generously of your time and wisdom with me today and everyone listening. I’ve made $1,000 Kiva loan on your behalf to a group of women entrepreneurs who are in. These women are in Tanzania and Kenya. They’re called the Solar Sisters. This loan is part of a larger loan that we crowdsource $200,000 loan that will enable over 500 women solar entrepreneurs to provide electricity and clean cookstoves. I’m sorry. It was it’s actually Nigeria and Tanzania. Wow.
David McRaney [01:30:05] So that’s incredible.
Brilliant Miller [01:30:07] Yeah. Is that isn’t that a cool thing? Technology that makes possible.
David McRaney [01:30:12] That’s incredible.
Brilliant Miller [01:30:13] Yeah. So thank you for that. And finally, I do want to ask you where people can go. I know David Mack, Radio.com, I can find you on Twitter. If you can find your book, hopefully at any local bookstore near them or of course on.
David McRaney [01:30:29] Its how minds change the name of the book it’s please support your independent and local bookstores, your favorite bookstore and get it there first if that’s where you’re going to get it. If you’re the you want to get it from anywhere else, it’s available everywhere else as well. And you can find out more about it at David. Mark Macomb I’m going to keep updating the page for it because there’s a QR code in the book which gives me the ability to keep changing where it goes to or keep changing what’s there when you get there. And then my other stuff is all under. You are not so smart. The podcast, the website, and on Twitter, I’m just at David McCranie. You can find me there.
Brilliant Miller [01:31:03] That’s awesome. I know by the time people hear this, the book will be out and you will have done some pre-purchase, like an online workshop. And these are.
David McRaney [01:31:12] I’m going to do a workshop and I’ve got a video I put together with a bunch of persuasion experts. Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [01:31:16] People can maybe find out, about David Mechanics as well.
David McRaney [01:31:20] I’m going to put a bunch of extra content there because they are nearly half the size of the book is material that I cut out and I’m going to work on that a little bit and make it something that I’m going to put as extra content on the website going forward.
Brilliant Miller [01:31:34] Very cool. Well, I love your work so much. And I love in our last conversation when I asked you what’s life about? And you used a description of being able to create a little brick that other people can use to build something or yeah. Including their lives. And I think you’re doing that in my estimation. You’re doing that admirably. So please keep it up.
David McRaney [01:31:55] Thank you so much. I value our conversations and I think they’re just the best. And I really appreciate having a chance to sit with you and go places. And like we’ve said in the conversation there, things I’d never thought about until I had this conversation with you, which is the best thing about it all. So thank you so much. Immense gratitude for.
Brilliant Miller [01:32:17] Hey, thanks so much for listening to this episode of The School for Good Living podcast. Before you take off, I want to extend an invitation to you. Despite living in an age where we have more comforts and conveniences than ever before, life still isn’t working for many people, whether it’s here in the developed world where we deal with depression, anxiety, loneliness, addiction, divorce, unfulfilling jobs or relationships that don’t work. Or in the developing world where so many people still don’t have access to basic things like clean water or sanitation or health care or education, or they live in conflict zones. There are a lot of people on this planet that life isn’t working very well for. If you’re one of those people, or even if your life is working, but you have the sense that it could work better. Consider signing up for the School for Good Living’s transformational coaching program. It’s something I’ve designed to help you navigate the transitions that we all go through. Whether you’ve just graduated or you’ve gone through a divorce or you’ve gotten married, headed into retirement, starting a business, been married for a long time, whatever, no matter where you are in life. This nine-month program will give you the opportunity to go deep into every area of your life, to explore life’s big questions, to create answers for yourself in a community of other growth-minded individuals. And it can help you get clarity and be accountable to realize more of your unrealized potential. It can also help you find and maintain motivation. In short, is designed to help you live with greater health, happiness, and meaning so that you can be, do, have, and give more. Visit goodliving.com to learn more or to sign up today.