“The second principle of magic: things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed.” – James G. Frazer, Born Jan. 1, 1854.
It goes this way with the sharing of ideas, too.
Contact with the mental machinery of other people often alters our own internal landscapes.
Often, this happens without us realizing it – and often ends with us incorporating those foreign concepts into our own identities so deeply, that we falsely remember them as having always been there.
There are a variety of ways to make an idea sticky.
This quote itself contains one. Did you catch it?
Another is to create a connection between your new information, and information you know is already in the reader's mind.
The more connections you make, the more embedded it becomes, and feels to your audience like this truth is obvious and has always belonged in their brain.
You are literally grafting it in with physical brain matter that connects individual neurons between each other.
The same muscular “pump” that bodybuilders become addicted to also happens in brain tissue, too – experienced as an “aha” moment. The bodybuilder’s muscles bulge bigger, and your reader's brain literally becomes smarter.
And as you carefully create and assemble these new lattices and scaffolds in your reader's mind over time, what you build is a control panel of sorts.
It can have lots and lots of levers and buttons that you can use to trigger feelings and memories and even complex ideologies – but most importantly is the big, round, red button that triggers what we really want to do all of this for in the first place.
The letters on that big red button read, “OBEY”.
Want more? Here’s a short list of tips and tricks to use this principle to cram some of YOUR info into your audience’s mind without them realizing or objecting…
As mentioned above, connecting your information to something you know the audience already understands or believes is the goal. This method it more of a slight edit in their mind than a new addition. Easier to consume means easier to retain.
1. Also noted above was the method used in today’s quote. Make sure your information has a context that lends importance. If the adage being quoted wasn’t labeled “The Second Principle of Magic,” I doubt it would be as compelling.
2. Emotional context counts, too. Tell a story or anecdote that evokes an emotional response that you want to color the new information you want to share. Anger, fear, hope, joy, whatever. Connect that mental experience to your stuff.
3. Metaphors help people learn. If you have a complex thing, explain it using a simpler thing as an analogy. “This software is like training wheels on a bike,” for example. When it comes to teaching things, people will gravitate to who has the better metaphors.
4. Metaphors can also be used to apply negativity to ideas or beliefs you want the audience to reject or resist. “Trying to tackle this yourself is like trying to go fishing with a soup spoon.” That’s a silly example, but you get the idea.
BONUS: Attribution can work for the positive or negative association. Quoting a famous or historical figure who said a worthwhile thing lets you piggyback on their authority. Mocking statements that disagree by connecting them to disreputable sources, or even cartoonish caricatures can accomplish the opposite. You can see this a lot in memes, for example.
That’s all for today. Come back tomorrow for more, and leave a comment if you like it. Thanks for reading!