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Human brains are very associative. Always bringing bad news will make the amygdala resonate and incorporate your likeness into a black neural net of bad feelings. But if you have good news, no matter how fantastic, spread it widely, you will be part of a white and shiny neural network reinforced with dopamine. Your friends and associates will think good of you, as positive and upbeat, even though you are a liar. Amygdala tickler be shunned, dopamine injector is welcome any time.


Call me stupid, but I have no interest in this No-Shit-Sherlock School of Brain Science or their "findings".

For $1.00 including postage and packing, I could have supplied the following data:

1. People regularly want to feel better about themselves (regardless of any evidence to the contrary).
2. People read/hear about something they believe will make them look good/smart to others in the group if they pass on this information.
3. People pass on this information pronto.
4. People sit back and bask in their elevation amongst the group, presuming they are getting pats on the back for passing on the snippet.

It doesn't take brain scans to work this out. I guess these researchers are doing this "work" so they can eventually make a fast buck off equally dunce-headed advertising agencies, who are always trying to find ways to short-circuit the techno-viral route to inciting spend-spend-spend on useless products.

I bet a part of my brain lights up when I see a busty woman walk by. Whoopee-doo.


I really hate to see this end, but wow, this is like Christmas for me. The past two days have been the heart of the matter, and I figure it's only going to get better.

Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and so on are about being popular. It's like being in high school all over again. People will produce stuff they think will get noticed, people find that stuff, and they pass it on so they can get the residual attention and approval.

It depends on whether someone wants to go back to high school or not. I suspect the majority do.

On getting complaints about not accentuating the positive on DOTE, that's really interesting. Anyone can find 'accentuating the positive' anywhere they look, with virtually no effort. Why do they need it here, too?

But that's the thing, also. I think part of being realistic is always being open to whether or not one is wrong. I look at 'positive' articles about the environment, energy, the economy, government, and so on - and it only takes a few minutes fact-checking to see that it's all a bunch of tripe. There have been plenty of blog posts here doing the same - look at what is considered 'positive', and find out why it's BS.

Most people want to believe the future will be better, or at least okay. I personally see no evidence of it, and I've looked.

I'm open to evidence suggesting otherwise, though. But 90% of the info that is out there is meaningless trivia (Bieber), and the positive is always spin, poor logic, or insane fantasy.

Can anyone here name ANYTHING genuinely positive about future trends?

Dave Cohen


Yes, I agree with everything you said. So much for psychological science in the 21st century.

But rather than make the good points you made, I used the article as a vehicle to make a larger, more important point. Very conveniently for me, that article appeared this week. Not that such articles are rare; they are not.


-- Dave

Ken Barrows

Instead of "don't be so negative," we should tell our friends "don't be so unrealistic."


@Dave - Yep, you're spot on as always. I just couldn't resist a big grump about all this inane "research". And I should have added that I am making voodoo dolls for everyone who has ever sent you hate mail.

@Jim - ...name ANYTHING genuinely positive about future trends? I got one. HIV.

Alexander Ač

Ironically, some apocalyptic nonsensical end of the world dates (22.12.2012) can become viral. (At least in regards of number of people) But maybe sudden end of the world is definitely positive for these "viral brains"... they are waiting for it!


Dave Cohen

Re: apocalyptic nonsense going viral

See "train wreck" or "O.J. Simpson"

-- Dave


Reminds me of a story from a Zen Master: I used to care what other people thought of me until I realized they seldom thought of me at all.

On that note, I shit-canned all social media and have never felt better.

Mike Roberts

I don't get this. The brain is attuned to (i.e. can recognised, subconsciously) information that might be helpful, interesting or amusing to others? That implies that all information intrinsically has some mystical quality of being helpful, interesting or amusing to others. Of course, the stuff that goes viral doesn't have any of those qualities in reality, only in virtuality. In addition, how do advertisers ensure their "information" has those qualities?

Sounds all bunkum to me, but I may have misunderstood the research, as reported. But, who cares?


"The research ... could lead to more effective public health campaigns, more persuasive advertisements and better ways for teachers to communicate with students."

I wonder which outcome above will have the most research money spent on developing these 'findings'?

Considering that we are all born salespeople (brand 'ME') then it's not too difficult to work out.


@Jim: "Can anyone here name ANYTHING genuinely positive about future trends?"

Let me consult my internal spinmeister:

We've forestalled the next ice age with our unthinking combustion of fossil carbon? Kind of overdid it, though, I guess.

But in all seriousness, no, I can't think of anything.

Chris Goodwin

ANYTHING genuinely positive about future trends ?

All trend following assumes consistency, with just "more" or "less" of the same factors of production, consumption, taxation, waste, crime, etc. Run any insurance company.

"Interesting" things, which include (more or less genuinely) "positive" things, are novel/innovative/unexpected things - not contained in an identified "trend". Because new, they are also risky, and so must be supported by a generous helping of hope: i.e. doubt.

People hate uncertainty.To be honest about risk turns most people off.

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