For Christmas and Hanukkah last year, I sent out, what had been determined (through literally tens of minutes of exhaustive research) as, the world’s greatest joke. And I only managed to offend four people from New Jersey. Funny is easy, reasonably clean is real hard. Anyway, by popular demand I offer this year’s Christmas compromise:
A Priest, a Minister and a Rabbi
A priest, a minister, and a rabbi want to see who’s best at his job. So they each go into the woods, find a bear, and attempt to convert it. Later they get together. The priest begins: “When I found the bear, I read to him from the Catechism and sprinkled him with holy water. Next week is his First Communion.”
“I found a bear by the stream,” says the minister, “and preached God’s holy word. The bear was so mesmerized that he let me baptize him.”
They both look down at the rabbi, who is lying on a gurney in a body cast. “Looking back,” he says, “maybe I shouldn’t have started with the circumcision.”
I’m also attaching a link to what’s been called by many as the world’s funniest video. I confess that I’m a fan of Whose Line Is It Anyway, but I’ll let you be the judge.
Global warming? Doubt it.
I recently wrote the following as a BLOG solicited by Valley Forward Association
The percentage of Americans who believe global warming is happening has dropped from 80 to 72 percent in the past year according to a November 09 Washington Post-ABC News poll, even though most people still support a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.
A Pew Research poll in October 09 found public belief in global warming declined significantly since April 08. The belief that global warming is human-caused declined from 47 per cent to 36 per cent. And a Gallup Poll from last March said basically the same thing.
A Yale University study looked at this situation and concluded — most of us just don’t think much about it much.
Yale found public opinion about global warming has actually been pretty stable for almost two decades. Two-thirds of Americans tell pollsters that global warming is occurring and most agree it’s at least part human-caused, and the same two-thirds generally support government action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
That’d be really good news if we felt strongly about it — but we don’t. For the past 20 years only about 35 to 40 per cent of the US public worry about global warming “a great deal”, and a third consider it a “serious personal threat”. Unless they’re truly pressed, few Americans volunteer global warming as a serious threat, and air and water pollution are often rated higher.
Public opinion about global warming has remained largely unchanged through periods of both intensive media attention and neglect, like the activist Clinton years and the skeptical Bush years.
So why the heck aren’t we excited? First, the threat is distant and tough to visualize — the enemy’s hard to see. Not like picturing guys in caves in Pakistan thinking of new and creative ways of annihilating us. Second, people have a psychological need to maintain a positive view of the existing order of things, whatever it is. The devil you know vs. the devil you don’t know. Public opinion is highly resistant to education or persuasion. Most Americans aren’t alarmed enough to pay much attention, and raising the PR and media volume often backfires. Painting visions of global disaster leads people to question the science. Simply put, you can’t fight perception and emotion purely with science and data. (There’s a communication solution around this called precautionary advocacy but that’s another column for another day.)
In part, the recession has obviously led us to prioritize the economy over environmental concerns but notably, the declining concern about global warming predates the financial crisis.
Most Americans give less credit to experts than we’d like to think and the fact is that expert consensus, has a less sterling track record than most of us might like to admit. Take breast exam screening for instance?
But a majority of Americans still support reasonable efforts to reduce carbon emissions even if they have doubts about the science.
On that previous note, have you ever wondered how we have come to the point where so much Bull****, fake news, and wrong information makes it to the mainstream? Me too. Agnotology is a term that means the study of culturally-induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data. It’s a term that highlights the increasingly common condition where more information leaves people more uncertain than before. More often it’s intentional – consider the tobacco companies. It’s sometimes called ‘the study of ignorance’. And it’s now in Wikipedia.
Semantics, Linguistics and Lies, Oh My
I didn’t plan to set a theme this month but Harry Shearer is a comedian that you’ve probably heard (Simpsons) and possibly seen (A Mighty Wind, This is Spinal Tap) who also delivers a smart take on our use of language. There’s a lot of truthiness here.
Essence of Great Communication
A good piece in BusinessWeek by Marc Benioff was written with sales in mind but utterly helpful to anyone who’s interested in communicating well with any kind of audience. It’s simple and covers the foundations of transparency, media, storytelling, metaphors, consistency, presentation skills and confidence.
Competence, Confidence and Caring
The New York Times recently posted an interview with William Green the CEO of Accenture, a management consulting firm. It’s a large and successful company with an interesting and somewhat unorthodox Chairman. The kind of guy you’d probably want to work for.
Why are those people so mad at you and why do they hate this project?!
Emotion, Outrage and Public Involvement is a two-day training course that helps you avoid the pitfalls, understand the psychology and gives you the tools to dig your way out of those really uncomfortable and career limiting public situations. The class is offered in several locations in 2010 including February 4 & 5 in Las Vegas. Contact me for more information, or if you’d like to bring it in-house to your folks.