2010-12-14T20:43:21+01:00

Epidemics, Few, Connectors, Mavens, Salesmen, Context, Stickiness, Immunity and the Point

I finished reading a book about epidemics best described by the author:

One of the things that motivated me to write The Tipping Point was the mystery of word of mouth - a phenomenon that everyone seemed to agree was important but no one seemed to know how to define.

Here are the parts for various reasons interesting to me:

  • p19 Economists often talk about the 80/20 Principle, which is the idea that in any situation roughly 80 percent of the "work" will be done by 20 percent of the participants. In most societies, 20 percent of criminals commit 80 percent of crimes. Twent percent of motorists cause 80 percent of all accidents. Twenty percent of beer drinkers drink 80 percent of all beer.
  • p79 The subtle circumstances surrounding how we say things may matter more then what we say.
  • p82 and what's more, those movements were perfectly in time to each person's own words - emphasizing and underlining and elaborating on the process of articulation - so that the speaker was, in effect, dancing to his or her own speech.
  • p100 In other words, we don't have to understand what we are looking at, or absorb what we re seeing, in order to keep watching. That's what many people mean when they say that television is passive.
  • p115 Simply put, this means that small children have difficulty believing that any one object can have two different names.
  • p132 The Law of the Few says that there are exceptional people out there who are capable of starting epidemics. All you have to do is find them.
  • p151 The Power of Context says you don't have to solve the big problems to solve crime.
  • p152 The essence of the power of Context is that the same thing is true for certain kinds of environments - that in ways that we don't necessarily appreciate, our inner states are the result of our outer circumstances.
  • p155 Most psychologists believe that nature - genetics - accounts for about half of the reason why we tend to act the way we do. His point is simply that there are certain times and places and conditions when much of that can be swept away, that there are instances where you can take normal people from good schools and happy families and good neighbourhoods and powerfully affect their behaviour merely by changing the immediate details of their situation.
  • p158 All of us, when it comes to personality, naturally think in terms of absolute: that a person is a certain way or is not a certain way. But what Zimbardo and Hartshorne and May are suggesting is that this is a mistake, that when we think only in terms of inherent traits and forget the role of situations, we're deceiving ourselves about the real causes of human behaviour.
  • p162 If we constantly had to qualify every assessment of those around us, how would we make sense of the world?
  • p162 The psychologist Walter Mischel argues that the human mind has a kind of "reducing valve" that that "creates and maintains the perception of continuity even in the face of perpetual observed changes in actual behaviour".
  • p163 The reason that most of us seem to have a consistent character is that most of us are really good at controlling our environment.
  • p177 To be someone's best friend requires a minimum investment of time. More than that, though, it takes emotional energy. Caring about someone deeply is exhausting.
  • p179 The figure of 150 seems to represent the maximum number of individuals with whom we can have a genuinely social relationship, the kind of relationship that goes with knowing who they are and how they relate to us.
  • p186 Peer pressure is much more powerful than a concept of a boss. Many, many times more powerful. People want to live up to what is expected of them.
  • p188 Wegner argues that when people know each other well, they create an implicit joint memory system - a transactive memory system - which is based on an understanding about who is best suited to remember what kind of things.
  • p197 Innovators ... Early Majority ... Late Majority ... Laggards
  • p203 ... he or she has to find some person or some means to translate the message of the Innovators into something the rest of us can understand.
  • p222 The central observation of those who study suicide is that, in some places and under some circumstances, the act of one person taking his or her life own life can be contagious. Suicides lead to suicides.
  • p240 For the adopted kids, however, the results are downright strange. Their scores have nothing whatsoever in common with their adoptive parents: these children are no more similar in their personality or intellectual skills to the people who raised them, fed them, clothed them, read to them, taught them, and loved them for sixteen years then they are to any two adults taken at random off the street.
  • p273 The phone network is so large and unwieldy that we are increasingly only interested in using it selectively. We are getting immune to the telephone.

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