Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Availability Heuristic.

We in advertising, we in the modern world, suffer from something scholars call "the availability heuristic." Actually, to be blunt, the availability heuristic explains much of the underpinning of Donald Trump's campaign.

"The availability heuristic is a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to a given person's mind when evaluating a specific topic, concept, method or decision."

Some people call it recency.

That notion that you're most responsive or reactive to what's happened most recently.

The availability heuristic is what causes investors to over-react to financial news. It causes every television meteorologist to proclaim every winter storm, "snowpocalypse," and every over-heated sportscaster to trumpet every heavyweight fight as the "match of the century."

On Saturday, we were strafed once again with hyperbolic proclamations about the coming of the Manichean showdown between the forces of good (us) and the forces of evil (anyone with a funny last name.)

It pays, in my mind, to try to train yourself to take a longer view of events, trends, blips, downturns and upticks. Remember when Google+ was going to change marketing as we know it? When Facebook likes were more important than a succinct definitional message? When so-called "interactive" advertising was going to kill: a) Advertising; b) Marketing; and unalterably change 200,000 years of homo erectus history?

As Dooley Wilson sang in "Casablanca," 

[This day and age we're living in 
Gives cause for apprehension 
With speed and new invention 
And things like fourth dimension.

Yet we get a trifle weary
With Mr. Einstein's theory.
So we must get down to earth at times
Relax relieve the tension

And no matter what the progress
Or what may yet be proved
The simple facts of life are such
They cannot be removed.]

You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.
And when two lovers woo
They still say, "I love you."
On that you can rely
No matter what the future brings
As time goes by.
Moonlight and love songs
Never out of date.
Hearts full of passion
Jealousy and hate.
Woman needs man
And man must have his mate
That no one can deny.
It's still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die.
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by.
Oh yes, the world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by.

Calm the fuck down, in other words. Or in the words of my preturnaturally brilliant daughters: "Get over yourself."

As for the poor deranged man who set the relatively harmless pipe-bombs in New York and New Jersey...

Forty-one years ago, on January 24th, the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional Puertorriquena (FALN) killed four people and injured 53 with a bomb in Fraunces Tavern on the corner of Pearl and Broad Streets.

Four days later, the Weather Underground set off two bombs, one in Washington DC and one in Oakland.

On March 1, in Nairobi, Kenya, the Kenyan People Liberation Front killed 26 and injured 60 on a bus from Nairobi to Mombasa.

On March 4, the Palestinian Liberation Organization killed 18 people with a hostage-taking at the Tel Aviv Savoy Hotel.

The FALN struck again on April 19, injuring four people with four bombs set off within 45-minutes in Manhattan.

Baader-Meinhof terrorists made news bombing a West German embassy in Stockholm on April 24.

On July 4, a bomb in Zion Square, Jerusalem, killed 13 and wounded 77.

On August 5, the Japanese Red Army took 53 Americans hostage in Kuala Lumpur.

A week later the Provisional IRA killed 5 and injured more than 50 with a bomb in a Belfast bar.

This is getting boring, so I'll skip ahead a few months.

On December 23, US CIA Station Chief Richard Welch was shot to death outside his home in Athens by "Revolutionary Organization 17 November."

The year ended as so many dreams do at LaGuardia Airport in Queens, NY. On December 29, 25 sticks of dynamite were placed in a parcel locker between two luggage carousels. 11 died and 75 were injured in the explosion. The crime remains unsolved.

If you're worried--and Donald Trump hopes you are--that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, look at it my way. It's always been hell. And handbaskets are merely accessories.

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