Entries from May 2007 ↓

Everything is measurable?

Is it true that everything is measurable? Once we are able to qualify something: it becomes measurable. Let us take something immaterial, something intangible, and something we cannot see. Can you measure the love I have for you? Can I qualify the love? Indeed I can, and then I am able to measure the love I have for you.

You may be wondering why we need to measure everything. I would like to propose to you that it is only through measurement that one can progress. Let us suppose that you are completely loss in a forest that that you have no bearing as to where you are? In other words, you cannot measure where you are, where you are located? Would you able to progress? The sun direction or the moon or stars would then be a beacon from which you would judge your position. Thereafter you might progress and move to get out of your lost situation. Thus the importance of measurement in what ever we do.

In the nutshell: No progress or improvement may be achieved without measuring your performance.

I came across the term of immeasurability in the value delivered by IT in a recent article which I recommend you to read.

“The rather radical-sounding position I take is that all “immeasurability” is just an illusion caused by three basic types of misunderstanding about measurement problems:

  • The object of measurement (i.e., the thing being measured) is not understood.
  • The concept or the meaning of measurement is not understood.
  • The methods of measurementproven techniques used by science&151; generally are not well understood.

Once IT executives are coached in each of these areas, they seem quite capable of solving their own measurement problems.”

Pierre Chandon

Pierre Chandon Professor of Marketing at INSEAD France completed a study with four other US based Marketing professors on the theme of ‘When Does the past repeat itself? The Role of Self-Prediction and Norms.”

I found the findings from the study to be very interesting and the concepts in human behavior in normative & non-normative activities to be enlightening.

“Everybody becomes more average” is supported by the study and it would seem that there is a regression towards the norm.

Professor Chandon has also written a few articles on obesity and eating habits.I recommend you to read his papers. Understanding how much we are ‘mindless’ most of the time in our behavior is mind blowing.

Only a month ago, while discussing with a group of supermarket owners, I insisted with them in creating in their customers the pattern of behavior which will bring them back to shop at their respective stores. These habits once acquired become hard to break.

“What we know is that some habits are very hard to break. Anyone who has tried to lose weight or tried to change a habit knows it’s very difficult. So we’re interested in what can we do to make people change their habits,” Chandon says. “And one very simple thing is to ask people if they’re going to do it again next month. This has a very strong impact on whether people repeat what they normally do, or do what they think they should do.”

The study covered “normative” activities such as exercising, and non normative ones, such as grocery shopping. “When we ask people to predict whether or not they’re going to go grocery shopping, there’s really no norm about how often you should go grocery shopping. Just by asking people that question reminds people what they have normally done in the past and, as a result, they’re more likely to repeat it in the future.” So where there is ‘no ideal behaviour’ as is the case with grocery shopping, asking people to predict their future actions increases the likelihood that they will repeat their past behaviour. ( INSEAD: Assistant Professor of Marketing Pierre Chandon)

Robert Herbold

“Seduced by Success” written by Robert J. Herbold offers interesting insights in maintaining your business on course and ever renewed.

He has been the Chief Operating officer of Microsoft and an executive of Procter and Gamble.

A summary of the 9 Traps to identify:

1. Neglect: Sticking with yesterday’s business model

2. Pride: Allowing your products to become outdated

3. Boredom: Clinging to succesful branding after it becomes stale and dull

4. Complexity: Ignoring your business processes as they become cumbersome and complicated

5. Bloat: Rationalising your los of speed and agility

6. Mediocrity: Condoning poor performance and letting your star employees languish

7. Lethargy: Getting lulled into a culture of comfort, casualness and confidence

8. Timidity: Not confronting turf wars, infighting and obstructionists

9. Confusion: Unwittingly providing schizophrenic communications

I found the stories developed in the book most interesting.Of particular interest is the story of Sony as opposed to Apple ‘s IPOD.

Reflexion Dominicale

 

Jn 14,15-16.23-26.
Si vous m’aimez, vous resterez fidèles à mes commandements.
Moi, je prierai le Père, et il vous donnera un autre Défenseur qui sera
pour toujours avec vous : Jésus lui répondit : « Si quelqu’un m’aime, il restera fidèle à ma parole ; mon Père l’aimera, nous viendrons chez lui, nous irons demeurer auprès de lui. Celui qui ne m’aime pas ne restera pas fidèle à mes paroles. Or, la parole que vous entendez n’est pas de moi : elle est du Père, qui m’a envoyé.Je vous dis tout cela pendant que je demeure encore avec vous ; mais le Défenseur, l’Esprit Saint que le Père enverra en mon nom, lui, vous enseignera tout, et il vous fera souvenir de tout ce que je vous ai dit.

 

Aujourd’hui, nous fêtons à Maurice la fête de la Pentecôte et  la fête des mères. J ‘étais emporté par la belle chanson de « Maman » que nous a interprété une fille de la chorale de la messe de ce matin. Un vrai moment de bonheur a été dégagé par cette voix si mélodieuse et captivante. La chanson m’a poussé à avoir une pensée de gratitude infinie pour ma mère.

 Dans la lecture de l’Evangile du jour,  j’ai retenu que ‘si j’aime, je reste fidèle’. Pour ainsi dire, la démonstration de mon amour est dans ma fidélité. Or le Seigneur, tout en sachant combien l’acte d’aimer et de rester fidèle est difficile pour nous faibles humains, nous fait un grand cadeau en nous léguant l’Esprit Saint, notre Défenseur.

Comme c’est toujours le cas, l’accès au bienfait divin passe par un acte de foi. Il faut croire  pour voir ; faut il voir pour croire? Si généralement, j’ai réussi à réaliser mes souhaits, c’est bien en croyant dans mes capacités et à l’aide que j’ai pu recevoir pour arriver à mes fins. Ainsi, croire à la puissance de l’Esprit Saint, le paraclet, pour nous défendre dans notre faiblesse à tenir notre fidélité, nous aidera à grandir notre amour pour Dieu.

Dans la pratique, que signifie pour moi aimer Dieu ? N’est- il pas être fidèle résolument à ses commandements ? Aimer= fidèle à.

Electrosmog

 

I came to know the term Electrosmog on reading Joel de Rosnay recent paper, le carrefour du future, on Colony Collapse Disorder (or CCD). It is a poorly understood phenomenon involving the massive die-off of a beehive or bee colony.

It is frightening to read the Apocryphal quote: A chilling prediction about the importance of bees to mankind popular in the press recently is “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” This quote has been attributed to Albert Einstein, however the original source for this quote has not been reported and the earliest known use of the quote is from 1994.

At the same time I was fascinated to read the pages of Wikipedia on the subject. I am feeling guilty to use my mobile phone now.

Reflexion Dominicale

Lc 24,46-53.
Il conclut : « C’est bien ce qui était annoncé par l’Écriture : les
souffrances du Messie, sa résurrection d’entre les morts le troisième jour, et la conversion proclamée en son nom pour le pardon des péchés à toutes les nations, en commençant par Jérusalem.
C’est vous qui en êtes les témoins.
Et moi, je vais envoyer sur vous ce que mon Père a promis. Quant à vous, demeurez dans la ville jusqu’à ce que vous soyez revêtus d’une force venue d’en haut. »
Puis il les emmena jusque vers Béthanie et, levant les mains, il les bénit.
Tandis qu’il les bénissait, il se sépara d’eux et fut emporté au ciel.
Ils se prosternèrent devant lui, puis ils retournèrent à Jérusalem, remplis de joie.
Et ils étaient sans cesse dans le Temple à bénir Dieu.

 

 

Ma semaine passée était marquée par une rencontre de Cadres Chrétiens à laquelle   j’ai tenu à y assister. Grande fut ma surprise de voir le nombre restreint de l’assistance ce vendredi soir. Nous n’étions que 7 présents.

L’agenda de la rencontre était  d’avoir une réflexion sur les évènements que nous vivons dans le pays en ce moment, dans l’optique de la lettre Pastorale de Mgr. Piat.

 Voyons nous une espérance chrétienne ? Comment pouvons nous être signes et témoins de cette espérance chrétienne dans ces moments de difficultés?

Le petit nombre permit des échanges intimes et approfondis. C’était une occasion de faire connaissance avec des gens que je n’avais jamais rencontré et surtout d’ecouter leur préoccupations,  appréhensions, angoisses, solutions, possibles denouements de la conjoncture  difficile actuelle du pays. Nous avons beaucoup parlé de la misère de la population des pauvres, de la ségrégation raciale marquante, étirements du tissu social du pays, et des effets pervers apportés par la politisation des tous les secteurs de l’économie. Eric Desjardin, animateur des Cadres Chrétiens, nous fit lecture d’un article de Lindsay Riviere : Risques et périls, paru dans le journal « l’express » qui résume bien le tableau plutôt sombre de la situation économique et sociale du moment.

Où est l’espérance Chrétienne dans tout cela ?

La fête de l’ascension de Jésus, que l’église nous propose ce dimanche, m’a fourni pas mal de réflexions sur cette espérance. Certes, les apôtres  étaient revitalisés de revoir le Messie après sa passion et mort sur la croix. Ils avaient probablement été boostés par Sa présence. Et maintenant à Bethanie, de le voir partir encore une fois devrait renouveler l’angoisse et le sentiment de perte. Tout au contraire, Luc nous signale «Tandis qu’il les bénissait, il se sépara d’eux et fut emporté au ciel. Ils se prosternèrent devant lui, puis ils retournèrent à Jérusalem, remplis de joie. »

Comment et pourquoi donc ?

Le fait d’etre remplis de cette espérance que Jésus leur a donné, a fait nul doute, la différence.

La lecture de St Grégoire qui vit 1500 ans de cela m’a également éclairé sur cette espérance. Fort de ce don d’espérance je suis certain d’affronter les vicissitudes de ma vie.

« Voilà, mes frères, ce qui doit guider votre action ; pensez-y continuellement. Même si vous êtes ballottés dans le remous des affaires de ce monde, jetez pourtant dès aujourd’hui l’ancre de l’espérance dans la patrie éternelle (He 6,19). Que votre âme ne recherche que la vraie lumière. Nous venons d’entendre que le Seigneur est monté au ciel ; pensons sérieusement à ce que nous croyons. Malgré la faiblesse de la nature humaine qui nous retient encore ici-bas, que l’amour nous attire à sa suite, car nous sommes sûrs que celui qui nous a inspiré ce désir, Jésus Christ, ne nous décevra pas dans notre espérance. » St Grégoire.

 

Far East Transportation Association & Glocalisation

One of my many cherished memories of my working career was participating and helping to build an international net work of Freight Forwarders. FarEast Transportation Association ( FETA), now better known as FFSI network. I am happy that the organisation is flourishing and answering to the evolving needs of the international community of independent Forwarders.

I was called upon by the present Director Danny Angeles to write a few lines on the magazine which was published for the silver jubilee of the network.

*

If I told you that more than 25 years ago, a bunch of far eastern forwarders under the very able leadership of Francis Ng created the term and idea of Glocal or Glocalisation without naming it. Would you believe it?

This concept, the brainchild of our dear leader Francis and a few others, is still very much a reality and is being sucessfully implemented by a number of companies. The concept is today even being taught by Business gurus. I quote wikipedia “ Glocalisation” as a term, was first popularized in the English-speaking world by the British sociologist Roland Robertson in the 1990s, and later developed by Zygmunt Bauman.”

I dare say, that in 1981, dear Francis, Lawrence, Dany, the founders of Feta, were ahead of the world leaders by some ten years. Something to be proud of, my dear fellows!

That same year, I happened to bump into Francis, who I knew from before, in London outside a Chinese restaurant in Soho. We discussed shortly about the project of forming a network of worldwide Freight Forwarders. I immediately embraced the concept and joined into the network. A Glocal freight forwarders network was born: a very strong local Freight Forwarder with a Global outreach through a very close network of sister counterparts sharing common values.

Ever since being part of Feta, I’ve had unbelievable experiences which will never be erased from my memory. The association with Feta gave me joy, happiness, a sense of personal achievement for my learnings, friendship building and personal growth and was also fruitful for the companies for which I was producing financial results.

I got a shot of the Feta Virus. It had infected my blood and I was positively contaminated in my being. I now call all those who are infected with the virus brothers and sisters of FFSI as we all carry the same virus of loyalty, diligence, friendship, honesty, sincerity, fairness and openness within the frame of the FFSI organisation. I now realise that the Feta Virus has the FFSI glue to bond the members.

From where I nest now, retired and worn out physically, I still cannot free myself from the Feta Virus.The glue is sticking. I often get to skype or chat with so many of you despite being out of business for a number of years and keep tracking your expansion and development.

Congratulations to all of you. I am with you in spirit on this very auspicious day and moment. May I wish that FETA’s virus continue to infect more Forwarders in the world and carry on bonding them with the FFSI glue for the mutual benefits of your own companies and the customers? Long live FFSI!

YKK?

If YKK was mentioned what would you have thought? Hmmm…YKK a zipper…You are right it is perhaps the biggest brand name of a zipper. The association of the zipper to Dr. YKK is so creative. The creative Dr. YKK is known as the world mind unzipper.

I had the immense pleasure to have met him a couple years ago in Mauritius and Malaysia and to listen to his seminars. All along the years since, we kept in touch with each other all so often. Now YKK has embarked in a new adventure: he has decided recently to continue his career in Sydney Australia.

Dr.YKK (Kam Keong Yew, Ph.D) is an acknowledged Distinguished Talent on creativity and a former creativity adviser to Lego. He has been described as an energetic speaker, a provocative mind unzipper, an entertaining laughter guru, a masterful story-teller and bestselling author all rolled into one. This together with his wide international exposure and diverse work experience enable him to connect well with his audience.

Creative Thinking

Most entreprises waste untapped potentials which may be released by the practive of creative thinking.Using skillfully designed yet simple exercises with profound impacts, Dr.YKK interaction with his audience allow them to discover their latent creative thinking skills. The powerful de-briefing opens their minds to the practical application of their newly re-discovered skills in idea generation and solution finding. Be warned that your mind once stretched may never return to its original dimensions! The elasticity, the stretching skills once acquired stays.

Business Innovations

Supported by latest stories and surveys of global business innovations, Dr.YKK provides convincing evidence that the most profitable business in the world is selling imagination. He shares principles, provides practical techniques and involved his participants on the what, why and how of business innovations. You leave the session with a new found confidence and skills of being able to stand out from your competition. With the right processes in place World Class entreprises are continously benefiting from business innovations brought by their own staff at all levels. Higher motivation of the staff and a spirit of belonging to the company are thus experienced. The payback of creating the culture of business innovation exceed many folds the investment.

Creative Strategies

Many multinational corporations have found Dr.YKK’s pre-strategy planning session as an invaluable exercise in mind opening and out-of-the-box thinking. It acts like a catalyst that elevates their corporate planning to a whole new level. The managers become more enthusiastic and better equipped to face the challenges ahead.

He is available for keynote speeches, workshops and facilitation sessions.

Is Morality Innate and Universal?

This posting is not for the zapper reader as it is a rather long one. It caused some deep reflexion on my part when I read the text as it addresses some very contemporary subjects. Do take some time to read it through.

Harvard psychologist Marc Hauser’s new theory says evolution hardwired us to know right from wrong. But here’s the confusing part: It also gave us a lot of wiggle room. Extract from DISCOVER

You argue that humans have an innate moral faculty. Can you describe what you mean by this?
The basic idea is to ask about the sources of our moral judgments. What are the psychological processes involved when we deliver a moral judgment of right or wrong? The crucial issue to keep in mind here is a distinction between how we judge and what we do. In some cases, our judgments may align very closely with what we would actually do, but on occasions they may be very, very different.

The second point is to draw on an analogy with language and ask whether there might be something like a universal moral grammar, a set of principles that every human is born with. It’s a tool kit in some sense for building possible moral systems. In linguistics, there is a lot of variation that we see in the expressed languages throughout the world. The real deep insight of Chomskian linguistics was to ask the question, “Might this variation at some level be explained by certain common principles of universal grammar?” That allows, of course, for every language to have its own lexicon. The analogy with morality would simply be: There is going to be a suite of universal principles that dictate how we think about the nature of harming and helping others, but each culture has some freedom—not unlimited—to dictate who is harmed and who is helped.

What is the evidence that we draw upon unconscious principles when making moral decisions?
Let’s take two examples. A trolley is coming down a track, and it’s going to run over and kill five people if it continues. A person standing next to the track can flip a switch and turn the trolley onto a side track where it will kill one but save the five. Most people think that’s morally permissible—to harm one person when five are saved. Another case is when a nurse comes up to a doctor and says, “Doctor, we’ve got five patients in critical care; each one needs an organ to survive. We do not have time to send out for organs, but a healthy person just walked into the hospital—we can take his organs and save the five. Is that OK?” No one says yes to that one. Now, in both cases your action can save five while harming one, so they’re identical in that sense. So why the flip-flop? People of different ages, people of different religious backgrounds, people even with different educations typically cannot explain why they think those cases differ. There appears to be some kind of unconscious process driving moral judgments without its being accessible to conscious reflection.

What is the evidence that infants already have a moral code ingrained in their brains?
I don’t think we’re ready to say. Studies have shown that infants as young as 15 months are sensitive to the beliefs of others—true versus false beliefs. That’s crucial to the moral domain.

There’s also this from the work of Elliot Turiel [a cognitive scientist at the University of California at Berkeley]. He said, Look, there’s a very important distinction between a social convention and a moral rule. Children by at least the age of 3 or 4 understand that distinction. Here is a simple way of putting it. If a teacher comes into a classroom and says, “Today, class, instead of raising your hand when you want to ask a question, just ask your question. Don’t raise your hand.” If you ask kids, “Is that OK?” kids will say, “OK, fine.” If you tell them, “In our class, we raise our hands to ask questions, but in France they never raise their hands. Is that OK?” “OK.” So it’s basically open to authority; it’s culturally variable.

There appears to be some kind of unconscious process driving moral judgments without its being accessible to conscious reflection

So that’s a social dimension. But now imagine the following situation. The teacher comes into the class and says, “If you’re annoyed by a child sitting next to you, just punch him!” You’re going to have moral outrage. You can’t say that! If you say, “But in France they do,” they’d say, “Well, the French are weird; the French can’t say that.” So it’s completely not open to authoritarian override, in a sense, and it’s not culturally variable. So you get this kind of fundamental distinction that’s coming on fairly early. But first the question is: How does the kid know that it’s in the moral zone as opposed to merely the social zone? We don’t know.

Why would natural selection have favored the evolution of an innate moral code within our brains?
One possibility is that these principles that I’m describing were not selected for morality. They were favored for other aspects of social cognition and are simply borrowed by morality. What does morality do at a very general level? It sets up, either unconsciously or consciously, rules for navigating the social world. Now, why might it be unconscious? It might be unconscious for exactly the same reason that language is unconscious at some level.

Imagine that every time you would try to talk to me, you had to think about adjectives, nouns, verbs, and where they go. Well, you would never say anything. This conversation would take 10 years to complete. Whereas if it’s unconscious, well, you’re just jamming through all this information, because the structure of this stuff is just natural to you. My guess is that there is some aspect of morality which is very much like that. If every time you were confronted with a moral issue you actually had to work it through, you would do nothing else. So there’s something highly adaptive to the unconscious aspects of not having to think about these things all the time.

Of course, one of the things that makes morality adaptive is that it does allow for a certain level of within-group stability and, therefore, allows for individual fitness to be enhanced from a genetic perspective. So if I live in a world of defectors, I have no chance, whereas if I can find the cooperators and cooperate with them, my own individual fitness will be greatly enhanced. So I want to know who are the individuals I can trust and those I can’t trust. At that level, there’s been, of course, greater selection for any kind of social group to have certain kinds of principles that allow for group-level stability.

You draw an analogy between Noam Chomsky’s theory of a universal grammar and your own concept of a universal moral code. But moral rules, as described in your book, differ across cultures. For example, some societies permit intentional murder, such as honor killings of women who have transgressed that society’s sexual codes. How do you explain this?
Let’s focus on honor killings. In this country, in its early stage of colonization, the South of the United States was colonized in part by Celtic herders, Irish, and Scotsmen, whereas the North/Northeast was colonized heavily by German potato plow farmers. That kind of colonization set up very different cultural psychologies. The South developed this very macho policy toward the world—if somebody took your cattle, you were going to kill them. That was crucial to your livelihood. Whereas nobody is going to steal a crop of potatoes. If somebody takes a few, who cares? What that machismo led to were these cases where if a man’s wife was caught with somebody else, it was not merely permissible for the man to kill his spouse, it was obligatory. Now, let’s take the Middle East. They, too, have honor killings in cases of infidelity. But who does the killing is completely different. There it’s not the husband. It’s the wife’s family who is responsible for killing her. There are rules for permissible killing. Who does the killing is simply a parameter in that space of permissibility.

You mention honor killings in cases of infidelity, but sometimes the victim may simply have been caught in public talking to a man who is not her husband. As a Western woman raised in the liberal tradition, I think that is immoral. Yet in societies where honor killings are acceptable, the decision to kill the woman is deemed morally correct. Why?
Let’s go back to language. You’re a speaker of English. In French, the world “table” is feminine. Why? Isn’t that weird? Isn’t that incomprehensible? For an English speaker, that’s the most bizarre thing in the world! It’s incredibly hard to learn. Yet are the French weird? They’re not weird. They speak another language.

The analogy to language is to me very profound and important. When you say, “Look, it’s weird that a culture would actually kill someone for infidelity,” it’s no different than us making a language that’s got these really weird quirks. Now, here’s where the difference is crucial. As English speakers, we can’t tell the French: “You idiots. Saying that a word has gender is stupid, and you guys just change the system.” But as we have seen historically, one culture telling another culture, “Hey, this is not OK. We do not think it is morally permissible to do clitoridectomies, and you should just stop, and we’re going to find international ways to put the constraints on you”—now, that’s whoppingly different. But it also captures something crucial. The descriptive level and the prescriptive level are crucially different. How biology basically guides what people are doing is one thing. What we think should happen is really different. That just doesn’t arise as a distinction within language.

 

Isn’t there a big difference between nuances in language and the varying ways in which different societies define murder? A definition of murder seems much more fundamental to human behavior than whether the French language applies gender to nouns and English does not.
That’s a great question. I think the way to unpack it is in the following sense. Look, everyone speaks a language. Everyone has a moral system. You can also say, “Look, every language has certain abstract variables, like nouns and verbs.” That’s true. Now, what I would say is that every culture has got a distinction about intended harms, about actions versus omissions. There are abstractions about the nature of action which play a role in the same kind of way as nouns and verbs do.

My guess is this: It’s a hypothesis. There’s a huge amount of other work to be done. In the end, I will bet that the analogy will only go so deep. Morality could not be just like language. It’s a different system. But my guess is that there will be unconscious, inaccessible principles that will be in some sense like morality. They will not be part of a child’s education, and there will be a richness to the child’s representations of the world in the moral area that will be as rich as they are in language.

If every time you were confronted with a moral issue you had to work it through, you would do nothing else

Are there moral principles that hold true across all societies?
People want to say things like “do unto others [as you would have done unto you].” You see it everywhere. So there’s some notion of reciprocity, and that includes both the good and bad. If I have been harmed, there is some notion of revenge which certainly seems to be part of the human psychology. Some level of, “If somebody does something nice for me, I should do something nice back to them” also seems part of the psychology. It may be evolutionarily ancient. Work that we’ve done on animals suggests some kind of reciprocity, some ancient level of cooperation. So is there a generic rule that says “don’t kill others”? No, there’s not, because that rule is always adjoined to a caveat, which says, “Well, we kill some people, but not everybody.” It’s always an in-group, out-group distinction.

What impact does religion have on moral behavior?
I think that for many who come from a religious background, religion is synonymous with morality. Some people think that if you’re an atheist, you simply have no morals. That is just wrong. There are an awful lot of people who are atheists who do very, very wonderful things. As an objective question, do people who have religious backgrounds show different patterns of moral judgments than people who are atheists? So far, the answer is a resounding no.

Do you mean that people give the same answers to objective tests of moral reasoning regardless of religious background?
One hundred percent. So far, exactly the same. Here’s an example that comes from MIT philosopher Judy Thomson. She was interested in a question of whether the fetus has an obligatory right to the mother’s body. So she gives an incredibly apocryphal, crazy example: A woman is lying in bed one morning, and she wakes up to find a man lying in bed unconscious next to her. Another gentleman walks up to her and says: “I’m terribly sorry, but this man right next to you is a world-famous violinist, and he’s unconscious and in terrible health. He’s in kidney failure, and I hope you don’t mind, but we’ve plugged him into your kidney. And if he stays plugged in for the next nine months, you will save him.”

You ask people, “Is that morally permissible?” They’re like: “No, it’s insane. Of course not.” Well, that makes [Thomson’s] point exquisitely. It would be nice if she said, “Sure, I love this guy’s playing; plug him in.” But she’s not obligated to do so. Now let me make it like the abortion case. She says, “Yes, I love this guy’s violin playing!” Two months into it, she goes: “You know what? This really is a drag,” and she unplugs. Now people all of a sudden have a sense that’s less permissible than the first case. But here, people who are pro-choice or pro-life do not differ. So the point is, if you take people away from the familiar and you capture some of the critical underlying psychological issues that play into the real-world cases, then you find that the religious effects are minimal.

Do other species have any form of moral faculty?
Certainly sympathy, caretaking, cooperation; those things are there in some animals. The crucial questions are, “Do animals have any sense of what they ought to do?” and “To what extent will animals judge transgressions of others as being wrong in some way?” How we’d ever understand that, I don’t know.

Neuro Marketing

The latest trends in advertising and marketing use neuroscience, and look beyond influencing our choices to directly affecting our brains at a physical level. Technology to monitor and alter brain waves dates back to the 1970’s. Current research uses functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to map the brain’s responses to stimuli. In 2001, “The Brighthouse Institute for Institute for Thought Sciences” gave birth to the BrightHouse Neurostrategies Group, the first neuromarketing company, based in Atlanta. Last week, neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield told the Institute of Direct Marketing how marketing can create new neuronal networks in the brain. Critics say using neuroscience to directly manipulate the brain is unethical and will be used to control our thinking, and voting too.

Marketing interest in learning more about the brain has also been spurred by Jerry Zaltman’s landmark book, How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market, which explores in some depth connections between the brain and marketing theory and practice.

Two recent articles have attracted considerable attention among my colleagues. U.S. News and World Report cover story was “Mysteries of the Mind” by Marianne Szegedy-Maszak. The article told about researchers’ findings that 95% of mental activity involved in a decision occurs outside of consciousness. Considering that most marketing concentrates on the conscious mind, that’s a notable finding to say the least.

The other article appeared in the Los Angeles Times,Searching for the Why of Buy” by Robert Lee Hotz. Ponder this statement Hotz makes when discussing what brain imaging was telling researchers:

My interest in Marketing and the latest technology used has taken me to the website of Centre for Cognitive liberty & ethics. Emory University’s study on the subject is fascinating and I expect a lot of development in this field. The test and the results of the Pepsicola and Coca cola branding memory in the brain are indeed very interesting. Did they use the technology for the Bush election? Who knows! The roads between ethics and science once again are crossing. The big question remains: How much is being used unethically without the knowledge of society?