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#385: Debunking Myths

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, September 3, 2010
Updated: Friday, September 3, 2010
Why is it so hard to get clients, or colleagues for that matter, to believe the findings of assessments or research? Some people seem to stick to what they think they know and not open up to new evidence. Am I just not presenting it in the right way?

The saying "Logic can't displace what was learned by emotion," means that once someone is emotionally invested in an idea, it is hard to present facts and expect them to change their minds. Speaking of minds, we all know that we only use 10% of our brains.

This is not true. And it never was. It is a myth that even many doctors believe, having heard it so many times. Whether started by misinterpretation or intent, certain "facts" are hard to change in people's minds. The 10% (or 5% or 15%) of our minds that we use is likely Dale Carnegie's misinterpretation of Karl Lashley's experiments with rats in the 1920s to see how much of the brain could be removed without impairing function. Even though the result was that very little of the brain could be removed without impact, some rats could relearn tasks with most (but never as much as 90%) of their brain removed. And so the myth was born, for purposes of self improvement, that we used only a small amount of our potential and, through diligent effort, we could improve ourselves.

Repeated enough times, this 10% has become a "fact" that, even now, you are probably thinking that you need to see some hard evidence that the 10% is not true - even though you never saw any "evidence" that the 10% number was true.

Tip: Be prepared to back up your findings with logic and fact, but most of all, bring an understanding of where the "myths" came from that you are trying to overcome. Only when you understand why someone believes something will you be able to develop a strategy for debunking those myths.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  education  knowledge assets  learning 

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