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Be afraid, be very afraid

So much of our buying behaviour is about insuring ourselves against a scary world and a frightening future. The technique is so common, you’ve probably heard it all before.

But for the uninitiated, when it comes to fear, the marketers’ approach goes something like this:

Step 1. The Problem

  • Invent a problem
  • Promote the problem
  • Get someone in authority to convince consumers that it must be a problem

Step 2. The Solution

  • Create an easy and stress-free solution (the product)
  • Perhaps add a bit of science and maybe some stats to give it some credibility
  • Argue that all that they were doing is responding to consumer needs.

It’s so ingrained in the marketing discipline that the simplified model taught in most undergraduate classes refers to “problem identification” (by the consumer) as the first step in consumer behaviour.

Law's on lethal domestic violence should be reviewed - nationally

This article was first published on The Conversation website.

The law’s response to lethal domestic violence in Australia raises complex issues. It requires a delicate balance to be struck between ensuring a just response to those who kill in response to prolonged family violence while simultaneously ensuring that those who kill an intimate partner in unmeritorious circumstances are not minimised, excused or justified by the court system.

The psychology of cash and credit

 

Although the concept of credit has been around for thousands of years (the Latin word, credere, means ‘to believe’), legend tells us that the first credit card appeared in 1949 when Frank McNamara, head of the Hamilton Credit Corporation, went out to eat with Alfred Bloomingdale. 

At the end of the meal they realised that no one in their group had any cash, so McNamara had to call his wife to bring cash to pay for the meal. It was then that he had the idea for a card that could be used at multiple merchants. 

The regional battle for the heart and soul of Islam

Australia is facing a new regional challenge as its northern neighbours increasingly join a global trend towards a more fundamentalist form of Islam. While this shift in religious orientation does not present a direct threat to Australia – at least for the time being - it is already complicating Australia’s regional relationships. The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, an absolute monarch and one of the world’s wealthiest men, recently announced his country would adopt strict sharia punishments. These will include whipping, amputation of hands for theft, and stoning to death for illicit sex (such as adultery and homosexuality) and apostasy (abandoning Islam).

Beware the confirmation bias

Working on the ABC Radio National program, Talking Shop, has reminded me how important it is to not just look for evidence that supports your position. Knowing that you are broadcasting to a diverse, highly intelligent, and sometimes strongly opinioned audience, is a good reminder to be confident in your arguments, and also in your opinions.

Doing the show has reinforced the idea that we do need to be vigilant about the confirmation bias, which is the very human tendency to focus on data and information that confirms our currently held beliefs, and ignore (or dismiss) data that challenges it.

Indonesian democracy may rest on election

When Indonesia's 180 million voters go to the polls tomorrow, they will be deciding whether Indonesia continues, more or less, with further developing its democratic experiment, or whether it turns away from a relatively open society that is necessary to allow democracy to flourish.

While the choice might appear to be obvious to anyone committed to democracy, to many Indonesians, the option of returning to a more authoritarian style of government still appeals.

Full article here:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-08/kingsbury-indonesian-democracy-may...

Baird must revisit mandatory sentencing laws

This article was first published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 21 April 2014.

Following last week’s resignation of Barry O’Farrell and the appointment of Mike Baird as premier, it is now time to get back to the key criminal justice issue in NSW: the prevention of alcohol-fuelled violence. 

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