Monday, May 27, 2013
Sunday, May 26, 2013
"Know how to sell your wares. It is not enough that they have intrinsic merit, for everyone does not bite the substance nor look within."
This was the first time I can recall consciously thinking about the reality that it's not enough just to have a good product. When people buy through direct mail, infomercials, or the Internet, no one "bites the substance or looks within."
In other words, it's not the product that sells the prospect; it's what you tell him about the product that motivates him to buy. This was an important first step in shedding my naive belief that if my book was as good as I thought it was, everyone would rush out to buy it.
"Most go where there is a crowd, and go because they see that others go."
Baltasar Gracian's words gave me the idea for the ad campaign I implemented to market my first book. I put a lot of thought into molding a perception that the book had created a worldwide frenzy.
My objective was to make the reader of the ad feel that he was missing out on something big, something that everyone else seemed to know all about. The strategy worked better than I ever could have imagined.
The common term for this phenomenon is "madness of the crowd." It's the same phenomenon that has fueled stock-market bubbles throughout history.
"Also, to offer a thing only to connoisseurs is a means to universal interest, because people either believe themselves to be such, or, if not, they find the lack incites desire."
Subtle or not so subtle, it's always a good idea to let prospects know that your product is only for individuals who are special. The vast majority of people who read your ad see themselves as a cut above the rest of the population.
But, as Baltasar Gracian pointed out, those who feel inferior might still buy because they desire to raise themselves to a new level. Everyone wants to be considered special.
Friday, May 24, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
Sunday, May 12, 2013
The Goldberg File
By Jonah GoldbergMay 10, 2013Dear Reader (Note: This parenthetical's original jokes were revised twelve times by the State Department, removing all references to readers, dear or otherwise),
I'm pressed for time this morning as I'm in Kansas (actually Missouri at the moment). I'm speaking to the Americans for Prosperity chapter in Topeka at lunch.
Even as Boston buries its dead, just as they must do from Cairo to Thailand, Americans are instructed not to notice the inevitable progression from Islamic-supremacist ideology to aggression and murder. The See No Islam campaign entails such inanities as portrayal of the Brotherhood as a “largely secular” outfit. Thus, few of us have heard of Banna’s odes to “the art of death.” To know them is to see the farce in President Obama’s sudden angst over hunger-striking jihadists, and in the renewed vigor of his quest to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
Gitmo is unusual only in the heightened necessity of this routine. Jihadists frequently attack the guards with weapons improvised and hidden in their cells. The Holy Koran, meanwhile, is not wholly Koran — jihadists often use it to pass each other messages. No surprise there: Islamic supremacists take the book to command war against infidels — under the crazy notion that scores of verses like Sura 8:12, Allah’s command to “strike off [the unbelievers’] heads and strike off every fingertip of them” in order to “cast terror into [their] hearts,” actually mean what they say.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
...firing a gun in self defense is not the same thing as crimes prevented by a gun. Since most crimes prevented by the presence or the possible presence of a gun are only known to the perpetrator, the place to start is with criminals. Who are hard to pin down unless they are already in prison.
Where possible, criminals try to determine whether a homeowner will make an armed response to a disturbance. Rattle the doors, start the dog barking, and fade into the darkness. If the homeowner starts poking around with something that could be a gun – scratch one possible target off the list.
Of course, criminals are human and make mistakes. A half million times a year a criminal encounters an armed "victim." The usual result is pretty much an "Excuse me, Mac, you know the way to Albuquerque?" That is, the perp makes some excuse and does the "getaway quickstep."
From media reports, about five percent of the time, the perp lays down and plays nice until the guys with the handcuffs come to take the perp off the citizens hands.
But about one time if five, more or less 100,000 times a year, a citizen will pull the trigger on a criminal plying their trade.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Monday, May 06, 2013
What should we learn from the Kermit Gosnell trial?
Abortion rights advocates have argued that there is nothing to see here. Move along. This is what illegal abortion looks like, they say.
But Gosnell’s clinic was not illegal. It was a licensed medical facility. The state of his clinic was well known: there were repeated complaints to government officials and even the local Planned Parenthood. He wasn’t operating under the radar but in plain sight, and he received referrals from abortion clinics up and down the East Coast. Gosnell performed plenty of abortions within the 24-week limit in Pennsylvania and worked part time for a National Abortion Federation–accredited clinic in Delaware.
Sunday, May 05, 2013
I wonder if the same sort of thing might account for "zero tolerance" rules that wind up with kids being suspended from school for pointing a finger and saying "pow".America's Autoimmune CrisisI think you could write a pretty good book on the idea behind my column today. I write:Is the American body politic suffering from an autoimmune disease?The "hygiene hypothesis" is the scientific theory that the rise in asthma and other autoimmune maladies stems from the fact that babies are born into environments that are too clean. Our immune systems need to be properly educated by being exposed early to germs, dirt, whatever. When you consider that for most of human evolutionary history, we were born under shady trees or, if we were lucky, in caves or huts, you can understand how unnatural Lysol-soaked hospitals and microbially baby-proofed homes are. The point is that growing up in a sanitary environment might cause our immune systems to freak out about things that under normal circumstances we'd just shrug off.Hence, goes the theory, the explosion in asthma rates in the industrialized world, the rise in peanut and wheat allergies and, quite possibly, the spike in autism rates. There's also a puzzling explosion in autoimmune diseases. That's where the body attacks healthy organs or tissues as if they were deadly invaders.Which brings me to my point. If you think of bigotry as a germ or some other infectious disease vector, we live in an amazingly sanitized society . . .I then go on to suggest that the absolutely ridiculous obsession with racism on college campuses and elsewhere is a kind of autoimmune crisis.One thing I didn't get to (I found the idea of the Klan laying siege to Oberlin College too funny to ignore) is the obsession with the "Muslim backlash" in America that continues to elude us.When you suffer from an autoimmune disease your body thinks healthy organs are in fact somehow invasive threats. Last week, Eric Holder's response seemed like an autoimmune misfire. Americans get blown up by jihadi immigrants and the body politic's response is to unleash antibodies in search of anti-Muslim bigotry.This is of a piece with the Left's instinctual, visceral need for terrorist attacks to be committed by white, Christian, conservative men. There's some glitch in their metaphorical genetic coding that makes them want to fight the wrong threat. Some liberal writers remind me of obsessive-compulsive hand-washers. They have a plausible concern -- dirty hands -- but they take it to the point where they wash their hands into bloody stumps for fear of a wildly exaggerated threat.In every year since 9/11, there have been more hate crimes against Jews than against Muslims in this country -- by a wide, wide margin. And don't get me wrong, I don't think America is bad for Jews. Quite the opposite: Without America, it's possible the Jews would simply be gone. This country is, in many ways, more Judaism's savior than Israel is. But to listen to the Left, anti-Semitism in this country is a weird hang-up but "Islamaphobia" is an epidemic. There's a Marcusian flavor to our autoimmune crisis. Herbert Marcuse's shtick talked up "oppressive freedom," "repressive tolerance," and "defensive violence" as ways of saying that American liberty was really tyranny and Marxist oppression was really liberating. It was all verbal alchemy, transmogrifying bulls*** into eggheady gold. The problem, alas, is that it worked.
Saturday, May 04, 2013
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
A good reason not to trust "scientific consensus"?
Stapel was an academic star in the Netherlands and abroad, the author of several well-regarded studies on human attitudes and behavior. That spring, he published a widely publicized study in Science about an experiment done at the Utrecht train station showing that a trash-filled environment tended to bring out racist tendencies in individuals. And just days earlier, he received more media attention for a study indicating that eating meat made people selfish and less social.
On his return trip to Tilburg, Stapel stopped at the train station in Utrecht. This was the site of his study linking racism to environmental untidiness, supposedly conducted during a strike by sanitation workers. In the experiment described in the Science paper, white volunteers were invited to fill out a questionnaire in a seat among a row of six chairs; the row was empty except for the first chair, which was taken by a black occupant or a white one. Stapel and his co-author claimed that white volunteers tended to sit farther away from the black person when the surrounding area was strewn with garbage. Now, looking around during rush hour, as people streamed on and off the platforms, Stapel could not find a location that matched the conditions described in his experiment.
The key to why Stapel got away with his fabrications for so long lies in his keen understanding of the sociology of his field. “I didn’t do strange stuff, I never said let’s do an experiment to show that the earth is flat,” he said. “I always checked — this may be by a cunning manipulative mind — that the experiment was reasonable, that it followed from the research that had come before, that it was just this extra step that everybody was waiting for.” He always read the research literature extensively to generate his hypotheses. “So that it was believable and could be argued that this was the only logical thing you would find,” he said. “Everybody wants you to be novel and creative, but you also need to be truthful and likely. You need to be able to say that this is completely new and exciting, but it’s very likely given what we know so far.”