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Chuck Brands

Chuck Brands's Public Library

16 Apr 14

"I get a lot of emails form people asking me how they can learn to persuade others.

Learning about the ways people (honestly and dishonestly) influence you is one of the best things to learn early in life. But it’s never too late.

The go to book on the subject is Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Cialdini has spent a lifetime researching the psychology of compliance.

The book highlights six principles of persuasion, which most commonly and effectively are used by compliance practitioners.

We all employ them and fall victim to them, to some degree, in our daily interactions with neighbors, friends, lovers, and offspring. But the compliance practitioners have much more than the vague and amateurish understanding of what works than the rest of us have. … It is odd that despite their current widespread use and looming future importance, most of us know very little about our automatic behavior patterns . Perhaps that is so precisely because of the mechanistic, unthinking manner in which they occur. Whatever the reason, it is vital that we clearly recognize one of their properties: They make us terribly vulnerable to anyone who does know how they work.

These principles work via near automatic response – a “nearly mechanical process by which the power within these weapons can be activated, and the consequent exploitability of this power by anyone who knows how to trigger them.”

This principle suggests people will be nice if you are. Therefore, if you do something first, by giving them something or doing something nice for them, it is more likely to come back to you. The key is to go first. And, at least in this case, size doesn’t matter. Something as small as a pen has been shown to influence people well beyond its monetary value.

Reciprocation is the basis of cashing in points, calling in a favor, owing other people one, etc.

The reason it works so well is that you have two choices, you either act in a socially approved way by giving in to a request or decline and face (perceived or real) shame. And we want to say yes because this is a way to avoid confrontation.

Reciprocation also works on multiple levels. We are more likely to trust someone who trusts us. We share secrets with people who share secrets with us.

One way to resist this is to refuse the initial favor or gift. Once you accept, it becomes a lot harder.


Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment.

It’s easier to get people to comply with requests that they see as consistent with what they’ve already said (especially in your presence.) This is the basis for one of the best interview hacks, I’ve ever seen. If you ask people to state their priorities and goals and then align your proposals with that in mind you make it harder for people to say no.

If you start to see yourself as a devil’s advocate for example, you will reinforce that idea by acting like a devil’s advocate.

Consistency is also the basis for the Ikea Effect and why a little pain makes something more attractive.

Say less at work and you’ll be more flexible when things change. Also examine why you want to comply and if things have changed. And keep a decision journal so you can see how often you’re wrong — there is no point holding on to bad ideas.

Once you’ve got a man’s self-image where you want it, he should comply naturally with a whole range of your requests that are consistent with this new view of himself.

Social proof

we…use the actions of others to decide on proper behavior for ourselves.

Ever wonder why TV shows use laugh tracks. It’s so you know when to laugh. I’ll let you sit on that one for a minute.

People will more likely say yes when they see other people doing it too. This is amplified in situations of uncertainty, where we look to others for cues on what we should do. This can be dangerous. If you are in an emergency, you might look around you for clues on what to do and how to act. Others, of course, might do the same thing. This is why, in an emergency, you need to give explicit instructions. You should always point to someone in a crowd, and say, you call 911. Point to another person and ask them to do something.

Cialdini writes:

In the process of examining the reactions of other people to resolve our uncertainty, however, we are likely to overlook a subtle but important fact. Those people are probably examining the social evidence, too.

Consider walking into a restaurant in a foreign city. You’re starving and have no idea “what’s good” here. Luckily, there happens to be a section of the menu labelled “most popular dishes,” and that’s exactly what you’re likely to order.

Social poof is not all bad. It’s one of the main ways we learn in life. I’ve written extensively on this one before.

You prefer to comply with requests from people you like more than from people you don’t like. Go figure. One way people exploit this is to find ways to make themselves like you. Do you like golf? Me too. Do you like football? Me too. Although often these are genuine, sometimes they’re not. One way to get people to like you is to establish quick rapport.

This is the basis for tupperware parties. Who can say no to a good friend?

You also like people more if they like you. This is why Joe Girard, the world’s “greatest car salesman,” sends every customer a holiday card with the message “I like you.” And you know what, it works. People go back to him.

Oh, and by the way, I like you.

This relates to our tendency to be persuaded by authority figures, that is people who demonstrate knowledge, confidence, and credibility on the topic. Something as simple as informing your audience of your credentials before you speak, for example, increases the odds you will persuade the audience. Beware of those wearing uniforms or engineering rings as those are rather overt signs of authority.

We’re taught from a young age to listen to those in charge. And most times this works out ok but sometimes it doesn’t.

Consider this, the co-pilot is never supposed to let the plane crash no matter what, even in a simulator. The pilot, however, is the authority figure. So in simulators they’ve had the pilot do things that are so obviously wrong that an idiot would know that what he’s doing would lead to a crash. But the co-pilot just sits there because the pilot is the authority figure and a meaningful percentage of the time the plane crashes.


It is easy enough to feel properly warned against scarcity pressures, but it is substantially more difficult to act on that warning.

We all want something other people don’t or can’t have. If you offer people something rare or scarce, they are more likely to want it.

I just bought a book off amazon and interestingly on the page they said “Only 2 left in stock.” That’s scarcity. I better order now, or I might have to wait. And I don’t know about you but I really don’t want to miss out."

15 Apr 14

There is an epidemic of gun violence in the US. To put it in perspective, England reports 45 gun homicides per year. England’s culture is similar to ours— they hunt, collect guns, value marksmanship; they have gangs, drugs and poverty. Our population is 5 times England’s, 300 million vs. 60 million.

If we had England’s gun laws, which are based on public safety, we could expect 5 times their gun homicides or 225 gun homicides per year.
We have 10,000, over 4,300% more.

Because American gun laws are based on maximizing sales for the gun industry, not public safety.
As a result, our gun laws are not sane.

How are they accomplishing this?
7 of Our Non-Sane Gun Laws and Non-Sane Gun Policies:
Click to show

7 of the NRA’s Main Tactics to Achieve Their Goals:
Click to show


There is NOT A SINGLE RATIONAL ARGUMENT to support any of the INSANE gun laws that we currently have or to OPPOSE any SANE gun law we would have. For the facts contact us at:

NGVAC’S Solution: An Economic Strategy

To return sanity to our gun policies, NGVAC will create an economic lever strategy. NGVAC is harnessing the consumer buying power of 9 million victims (the loved ones of those who lost their lives to guns), their supporters, 5 million gun assault survivors, their supporters and many of the 100 million Americans whom polls consistently show support sane gun laws. We will prevail because our side outnumbers the NRA’s extremist side by minimally 100 to 1.

Join Us

The economic lever gives us a winning strategy. The NRA understands we are a real threat, one they have never faced before. They will savagely fight us—spread disinformation, invent facts, start rumors, challenge us in every way—no matter the ethics.

How You Can Help

15 Apr 14

"NREL Senior Scientist Daniel Friedman notes that the light-absorbing perovskite cells have "a diffusion length 10 times longer than their absorption length," not only an unusual phenomenon, but a very useful one, too.
Perovskite Is Flexible, Easier to Manipulate
In this photo, a scientist in a white lab coat holds a syringe in his right hand as he prepares to apply a liquid to a device that looks like an aluminum-foil-lined burner of a stove. Enlarge image

NREL Senior Scientist Kai Zhu prepares a perovskite solar cell in his lab, using a precursor solution that converts from a liquid base to an absorber in a device. Perovskite has shot up the conversion efficiency charts faster than any other solar cell material.
Credit: Dennis Schroeder

The new cells are made from a relative of the perovskite mineral found in the Ural Mountains. Small but vital changes to the material allow it to absorb sunlight very efficiently. The material is also easy to fabricate using liquids that could be printed on substrates like ink in a printing press, or made from simple evaporation. These properties suggest an easy, affordable route to solar cells.

By playing with the elemental composition, it is also possible to tune the perovskite material to access different parts of the sun's spectrum. That flexibility can be crucial, because it means that the material can be changed by deliberately introducing impurities, and in such a way that it can be used in multijunction solar cells that have ultra-high efficiencies. Multijunction solar cells are an NREL invention from 1991, but because of high material costs, standard multijunctions are used mostly in outer space applications such as satellites and the Mars rovers. Cheaper multijunction cells based on perovskites could radically change this.

In four years, perovskite's conversion efficiency—the yield at which the photons that hit the material are turned into electrons that can be used to generate electricity—has grown from 3.8% in 2009 to just north of 16%, with unconfirmed reports of even higher efficiencies arriving regularly. That's better than a four-fold increase. By contrast, efficiencies of single-crystal solar cells grew by less than 50% during their first five years of development, and most other types of solar cells showed similar modest improvements during their first few years."
"Perovskite shows promise to be a whole lot easier to make" compared to most other solar cells, said NREL Senior Scientist Joey Luther, who works with nanomaterials. "It doesn't require high-temperature processing. You can just dip glass into two chemicals and get the material to form on it."
The theoretical maximum efficiency of a perovskite-based solar cell is about 31%, meaning that of all the solar energy contained in the sunlight that hits the cell, 31% is converted to useful electrical energy. Multijunction cells based on perovskites could attain higher efficiencies still.

"The goal shouldn't be to stop at 20% efficiency," Luther said. "The goal should be to try to get to 28% or higher. In the lab, the best cells need to be almost perfect at small scale. Then the commercial people can stop at whatever efficiency is economical for them to deploy."

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