Who’s reality is it anyway?

Communication is such a tricky thing. What we intend to communicate and what we believe has been communicated can be interpreted differently by the receiver of the information depending on their world view.

I had a post which was extremely divisive in this respect; you were either in one camp or the other. I thought I had communicated a neutral, mater of fact account of what happened (this view was confirmed by opinions expressed from readers who fell in my camp). But readers from the other camp reported a completely different interpretation of the story – a negative one. Their world view had overlaid a kind of filter over the story so that they saw a different picture. I was surprised by this result but what surprised me even more was that all the people I spoke to from the other camp all used the same filter to interpret the story. Their world view was remarkably consistent with everyone else’s from their camp.

The corollary of this is that the same story can have different consequences depending on the world views of the receivers. And if you are clever enough, you can tailor your story to appeal more to one world view than another thereby manipulating the owners of that view. This seems obvious enough – just ask any public relations or marketing practitioner – but what it confirms is that we are not rational beings. We like to think we are but it is just an illusion.

The frightening thing is that the world’s destiny is being decided by totally irrational leaders.

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