get agitated, then the information probably wasn ’ t important. (Hint: even if it was).
TaaL: Don ’ t look now, but you have a smoke-filled world. Since very few get excited about it, everything must be ok, right? The potential 6 th planetary mass extinction, the acidification of your oceans, the consignment of your future climate to hellish extremes, are all treated as subjects of esoteric trivia. Nobody looks around them and sees their conspecifics panicking, so they don ’ t either. The average human gets far more worked up over losing a soccer game than losing an ecosystem, because he ’ s surrounded by others screaming about the same goals.
The Bottom Line: We edit our beliefs to conform with those around us, not to conform to reality. This is unconscious and automatic.
Summary: We have a strong tendency to listen to and believe statements coming from authority figures, like priests, politicians, professors and CEOs. Nor does it stop there: we will often subjugate our judgment to those who merely present themselves as authority figures. This phenomenon has its origins in our species being social mammals (just like the groupthink in the previous slide). Just as any group of social mammals will look to each other to ascertain whether there is danger, we are programmed to look to the “ leader of the pack ” for guidance.
So, as uncomfortable as it sounds, we DO inherently believe in authority figures, as the famous and controversial Milgram experiments evidenced 59 . Sixty-five percent of volunteers delivered what they thought were fatal doses of 450-volt electric shocks to human subjects under calm assurance to continue by the experiment 'administrators' (fake doctors in lab coats). The other 35% of participants still delivered high voltage shocks to the point of unconsciousness but refused to administer the
“ highest level ” shocks. Interestingly, none of these 35% insisted that the experiment itself be terminated, nor left the room to check if the victim was
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