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Andres Aullet


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Should we teach our kids about how advertisement (public relationships, marketing) works?

Let's face it, advertisement works.

But let's also admit it, it is not as simple as a creative ad shown during the superbowl or a picture on a magazine that we find funny and incidentally reminds us of some particular brand of chips, or insurance company.

As far as i know (admittedly a much more thorough research can be done), advertisement works because it exploits a few flaws in the way our subconscious work:

- we remember things best when emotion is evoked while we learn them (fear, anger, excitement). And this is due to the chemical changes that these emotions induce in our brain.

- we decide mostly with emotions, and not with reason. This seems counter intuitive to most people

- we live with the ever present contradiction of trying to be unique and trying to be like others. We like to be singled out if we are wearing nice clothing, but we hate being singled out if our pants happen to rip.

- being rejected by our peers, or not being part of the in-group we admire, actually hurts, pretty much in the same way (neurologically) as a punch in the stomach hurts

- anything repeated frequently makes a stronger memory, easier to recall, and a memory that is easier to recall is trusted more (and feels more familiar) regardless of it's veracity

- novel experiences are considered riskier than familiar experiences, regardless of their real inherent risk

So all these factors are merged with a product and tweaked to make that product appealing and familiar to us, without us fully understanding why it feels appealing and familiar.

Now, recently the target of the advertising industry are increasingly younger kids. And I would venture to say that if many adults don't fully understand why advertisement works, then even less kids would be expected to know

Should we include in a kids education: at schools, in church sermons, at dinner table conversations, an explanation of what advertisement is and why it works? What would be an argument against teaching this?


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    Oct 25 2012: On a base level I am skeptical that resources should be utilized institutionally to accomplish this goal of education.

    On a compassionate level, I would prefer to focus on transcending our inabilities to control our insatiable appetites for 'things'...transcend this culture of looking for happiness 'out there'.

    Maybe this is inline with what you are seeking. If you are exploring ways to improve the lives of children by arming them with education. My angle would be to arm them with mindfulness.

    I like the idea, however, of finding a creative way of educationally instilling in children how we are only utilizing our conscious minds about 5% of the time. And the significance of this. This will in turn lead them to seek ways of improving this limitation. It may lead to an increase in consciousness, which naturally leads to less seeking for happiness 'out there'.
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      Oct 29 2012: Hi Eric,

      Thank you for your comments. Yes i think you understood me correctly, I am looking for means of improving the lives of children by arming them with education.

      I share your fear that government intervention most of the time produces undesired results, and hence making this a matter of public education curriculum may make it problematic. I do think though, that many of the hurdles can be overcome, and that just like public schools of today do a good job at teaching them the nitrogen cycle, or the water cycle, maybe with time they could also teach them the subconscious decision making process. And I think this could do wonders to arm them with tools to defend themselves and grow more independent

      And I also agree with you, in the sense that we are only aware of a small fraction of what's going on in our own brains (and hence we are conscious of a very small part of our mental experiences), and that learning about this and enabling people to become more aware of themselves, I too think it would be of tremendous significance

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        Nov 1 2012: take this with a grain of salt, it's coming more from intuition than hard logic.

        I don't think public schools have a relationship with the public that would be aligned with teaching this kind of thing...teaching this would be counter-productive to the growth of capitalism I reckon, and I feel that this wouldn't be in line with the current public school systems' interests, as they exist today in the USA.

        in the end...great question/discussion.

        1) I would prefer to focus energy in transcending this materialistic society
        2) I would focus on increasing the public awareness of the benefits of mindfulness and meditation, and other techniques that benefit our consciousness
        3) the vehicle could come in the form of some non-profit, cyberspaced strategy, perhaps married to some physical institutions
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      Nov 2 2012: Hi Eric,

      Be careful about that 5% stat - it is totally false. It's a little bit of misinformation that got injected into public usage by pseudo scientists and journalists mis-quoting real scientists for sensational effect.

      You may well have a basis for using it in the correct frame, but without backing it up with some explaination, the misinformation will be heard in preference to what you are actually saying.

      It is absolutely essential. that a brain is not totally activated at any particular time - the only fully-activated brain is one of someone in the throws of a grand-mal siezure.

      Can you provide some context around your 5% statement?

      I agree that cyberspace has the key to propogating resistance to brand-programing of world views, but it is not something that needs to be organised. Simply advocate, and the message will find its own way through the network.

      You all keep making the mistake that such things need to be forced on children through a mistaken assumption that education is a dominance function. It is not. It is more akin to communality.

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