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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Freakonomics, the Herd Mentality, and the answer to American idiot culture

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So at the first of the month, I landed a new job.  It’s grunt work, a lot of hand eye coordination but not much brainage happening.  We’re allowed to listen to stuff and so, I loaded my tablet with audio books, music, a couple movies, then ventured into the world of podcasts.  The first one I looked for was Freakonomics.

Three years ago the book of the same name was required reading for a microeconomics class I took in college.  I devoured the book.  It was funny. It made me think and look at things differently.  A lot of the mind shifting I’ve done lately has Freakonomics at the bottom of the shift.

So there I was, listening to old podcasts and giggling to myself as my eyes and hands did their thing. Then the presentation they named “Riding the Herd Mentality” queued up to play.  They talked about how shaming sometimes works in changing people’s perceptions of things, like traffic in Bogota Columbia. How the wordage on signs either encouraged people to do things they shouldn’t, or discouraged people from other things they shouldn’t, simply on how the statement was presented.  And why keeping up with the Joneses only works to a certain point.

Quite honestly, I think this may be one of the more important things to read or listen to when you think of a society as a whole and the sociology behind it.  It explains why the way we word things hasn’t stopped the behaviors we’re trying to educate about. And suggests we might be supporting the behavior to continue. Such as rape culture, the patriarchal backbone of so much of our society, and the silencing of those outside the norm.
You can get the podcast on iTunes or through your favorite podcast app. The ‘cast mentions Stitcher as their sponsor, but it’s available anywhere you can get NPR programs.  Also, on the website they have the full transcript if you’d rather read than listen:

If you have the time, I can’t recommend it enough.