Understanding others’ mental states is a crucial skill that enables the complex social relationships that characterize human societies. Yet little research has investigated what fosters this skill, which is known as Theory of Mind (ToM), in adults. We present five experiments showing that reading literary fiction led to better performance on tests of affective ToM (experiments 1 to 5) and cognitive ToM (experiments 4 and 5) compared with reading nonfiction (experiments 1), popular fiction (experiments 2 to 5), or nothing at all (experiments 2 and 5). Specifically, these results show that reading literary fiction temporarily enhances ToM. More broadly, they suggest that ToM may be influenced by engagement with works of art.
Key to any worthwhile public relations effort, Mr. Werner believes, is getting to facts about what people actually think about an organization, product or cause. “They are ingredients which are far more important to an organization’s standing with the public than all of the tactical stunts of publicity that stick out and create attention as a program.
“The north star of your course should be other people’s opinions. Walk across the street and look at your store as other people see it. Instead of thinking about a broad, hazy public, think rather in terms of the many different publics your organization meets and serves, their differing needs, likes and dislikes.
“Good public relations thinking – two-way thinking – digs up the reasons why the public feels as it does about a business.”
Here’s a talk from Charlie Munger. He’s Warren Buffett’s very close business partner who Warren would never have been as successful without. I’ve read and listened to a lot of what he’s written and said. He is extremely smart in that he’s able to notice things other people might now, and he’s also well-educated so that he has a lot of raw material to work with.
Also, here’s something that strikes me as relevant, probably due to the use of incentives, and the fact that it’s a good example of systems thinking, and Charlie would like it:
In 1986, new federal legislation, the Toxic Release Inventory, required U.S. companies to report all hazardous air pollutants emitted from each of their factories each year. Through the Freedom of Information Act, that information became a matter of public record. In July 1988, the first data on chemical emissions became available. The reported emissions were not illegal, but they didn’t look very good when they were published in local papers by enterprising reporters, who had a tendency to make lists of “the top ten local polluters.” That’s all that happened. There were no lawsuits, no required reductions, no fines, no penalties. But within two years chemical emissions nationwide had decreased by 40 percent. Some companies were launching policies to bring their emissions down by 90 percent, just because of the release of previously withheld information. — Thinking in Systems, Donella Meadows
Jevons Paradox says that as a resource can be used more efficiently, more of it ends up being used overall. That is, the better the deal you’re getting, the more you’re interested in buying.
This example of real-world compounding reminded me of another example: software. There’s an interesting quirk about software — the more you have of it, the more you need.
Let’s trace through one recent path of the software industry. We start with a website.
A website is a great idea. Websites (code) make it easy to distribute information. There’s so much information that people create dynamic websites (more code).
Dynamic websites are useful, but once you’ve got dynamic data, you want the data available via API (even more code) so that outside developers can build applications (lots more code).
To help with this, you build an API management layer (tons more code), which produces information about all these other applications.
You want that data combined in a dashboard (still even more code) alongside data from all of the other software that relates to your business (which is even more code than all of the other code so far).
Anything that cannot go on forever must stop. But there doesn’t seem to be any reasonable end in sight. This is one small piece of the software industry that points to a bigger trend, which seems to contradict common sense. People intuitively understand supply and demand. But here, supply creates more demand.
Life is but a dream and I’m sitting all alone
Looking for the day when I’ll, make it home
Make it on my own, so I’m off to roam
Another place’s past, Paris, London, and Rome
Old blue eyes, that’s what I’m'nna be
Cuz I did it all alone, me is my team
Can’t escape the past, so I’m betting on my future
Cuz today’s wasted and tomorrow’s such a creature
Like you never seen, idea, or a dream
Gotta skim along, searching for the cream
Of the crop, of wheat, of fields of gold
When the sky parts open, and you’re standing all alone
Your people done left cuz they ain’t right
And the sky done broke, and you’re empty, and the night
Is all that remains, and the pulse in your ears
Beats in your head, drumming up your fears
Gonna beat this how? Dunno
Tin for a heart, and on my back, clothes
Not rags, not riches, something in-between
As I look back on what I’ve never been
If it was all a dream, then I hope I never wake, but I’m
Shooting for tomorrow, tryin’a kill yesterday
Tryin’a kill father time, I must be crazy
Facing my future, tomorrow’s just a baby
And it’s time for a change, something kinda smells
Thoughts clearer now, ringing of a bell
I won’t look back, salt for regret
Heavy is my heart, not tin but lead
Can’t stand not to fly, won’t get dragged down
And in my lead safe I know that I will