Dr. Harry Beckwith, Jr. feared the health dangers of microwave ovens and most drugs other than aspirin, and disapproved of all cold cereals. “The same nutritional value as a Sears’ catalog” he once huffed.
This same man, however, smoked a pack of Winston cigarettes every day and followed a diet heavy in butter, eggs, and fourteen-ounce slabs of fatty red meat.
On October 22, 1978, he died. He was only 64 years old. His death certificate predictably listed the cause: “Arteriosclerosis.”
What was Dad thinking?
That’s a phrase we use often. But many years in the profession of persuasion convinces me that my thinking about thinking has been wrong.
I regarded thinking and feeling as separate, even in where thoughts and feelings originated. Our thoughts come from our heads, our feelings from our guts.
Many marketers learn the limits of pure thinking when they find they have a feature-rich product–say, a lawn and garden tractor–that is superior to another–say, one made by John Deere. The marketers create a poster listing the respective features of the two tractor and ask prospective buyers to “Just compare.”
Those prospects compare. And buy a John Deere anyway.
“That’s not rational,” the marketers shout, as if “not rational” represents a foolish exception from our everyday pattern.
But if we human beings were rational, no sane doctor would smoke, overeat, and ingest large amounts of eggs, butter, and fat-laden red meat. Yet the most intelligent and rational man I’ve known did all of those things, and died too young.
So I’ve changed how I think about thinking. We now have 3D imagery that shows that our brains’ emotional and rational centers act in constant cahoots. What we do is neither thinking nor feeling, but a hybrid. A French professor described this hybrid as “emorationality.” But “feelking” might be better. (Let me know what you think/feel about it.)
We should do one more thing. We should not treat thinking as superior to feeling. People who lack empathy, for example, routinely make decisions that harm themselves. And people constantly buy products or services because of their feelings. I buy Nike products, for example: their basketball and running shoes, and golf balls, shoes, gloves and clubs. I have no convincing evidence that these products represent the best in their class. But they come from my beloved native state of Oregon, and buying them makes me feel reconnected to Oregon, somehow.
Our hearts do most of our thinking, don’t they?
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Because of an intense two-week engagement in South Africa May 1-13, I will be posting only Monday (May 2 and 9) and Friday (May 6 and 13) during these two weeks. Thanks for reading, Harry