Combined Arms Consulting

Not Born Yesterday

Review by - Dr Leon Levin

Reviewed: 07 Mar 2024

Not Born Yesterday

By Hugo Mercier

Rating: 2/5

Message Creation,



Not Born Yesterday

Not Born Yesterday

Why people are not as gullible as we think Not Born Yesterday explains how we decide who we can trust and what we should believe and argues that we're pretty good at making these decisions.

In this lively and provocative book, Hugo Mercier demonstrates how virtually all attempts at mass persuasion-whether by religious leaders, politicians, or advertisers-fail miserably. Drawing on recent findings from political science and other fields ranging from history to anthropology, Mercier shows that the narrative of widespread gullibility, in which demagogues and charlatans easily mislead a credulous public, is simply wrong. Why is mass persuasion so difficult? Mercier uses the latest findings from experimental psychology to show how each of us is endowed with sophisticated cognitive mechanisms of open vigilance.

Computing a variety of cues, these mechanisms enable us to be on guard against harmful beliefs, while being open enough to change our minds when presented with the right evidence. Even failures-when we accept false confessions, spread wild rumors, or fall for quack medicine-are better explained as bugs in otherwise well-functioning cognitive mechanisms than as symptoms of general gullibility. Not Born Yesterday shows how we filter the flow of information surrounding us, argues that we do it well, and explains how we can still do it better.

These are important lessons that can be translated from the macro geo-political sphere into the corporate space, both when marketers and leaders engage with people outside the organization as well as communicating with people within. How we construct the message is critical to be able to gain the support of the very people that we rely on to succeed. As such the threads of this book add significantly to the art or persuasion and should be considered.

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