I have intended to write about the Devil Unbound project for a while now and finally sit down to do it. Weird name, I know, and that weirdness is intentional. The point is to make people think about what they perceive as good and evil.
On the website for The Devil Unbound, I explain that its purpose is to show how disinformation and misinformation are two of the leading causes of social decay and that critical thinking is the best tool to pursue happiness.
The style in which the articles on that page are written may appear pessimistic and judgemental, and that’s because they are. The main idea is to judge bad ideas harshly but to apply that judgement critically, using the fundamental of sound philosophy.
The Devil and I are not looking to offend anyone’s sensibilities, but know that that is inevitable when complex topics are discussed. As a result of this understanding, we ask no forgiveness from the people who might be insulted by our presentation, if not by the project’s name.
I, or we, as a representative of the devil, ask that you engage us in conversation whether you agree or disagree with our points – especially if you disagree.
“Therefore, if conversations about significant issues like happiness and critical thinking and how misinformation affects them are challenging endeavours, then I’m up to the challenge. , The Devil, Lucifer or Satan, as some people know him, is a symbol of opposition. He represents challenges to rules that undermine true liberty. However, this Devil you come to see here attempts to take on those rules armed with moral philosophy and correct thinking.”
A condemnation of one part of a system isn’t necessarily a commendation of its opposite. I constantly encounter men who are offended by criticisms of patriarchal systems of power, to whom I say: your “masculinity” isn’t under attack by anything except your insecurities. Perhaps, a matriarchal order is a viable solution to our problems – we haven’t tried it before – and we should question why that is. But, a more critical question is: why does the idea of a female-led society scare so many men? And at a fundamental level, I might add. We should all wonder why some men are afraid of strong women.
For the sake of honesty, and before I continue, I also need to add that I was not always immune to that kind of thinking; it took conscious effort to change it.
From what I can see, from the implications in the remarks of the men with whom I’ve had this conversation before, fear of having women in power is a reflection of guilt. There is deep-seated guilt in some men about how they’ve treated women and how they will continue to treat them while they hold the social upper hand. Moreover, when you understand you’ve done something wrong, you know there are consequences. Many men fear the oppression they have perpetuated.
In my dialogues with friends and colleagues, I encounter arguments for the continuation of male-dominated societies that invoke nature and religion. The natural view, which often comes in the form of “it’s always been this way,” is the most popular contention and easily countered by an appeal to the naturalistic or genetic fallacy. That something has “always been that way” doesn’t qualify it as optimal or even good for the current state of humanity.
Evolutionarily, for example, humans engaged in behaviours we now see as heinous. Felines and some primates currently entertain infanticide to preserve their genetic lineage or manage the cost-benefit discrepancies of rearing single-parent offspring. There is good evidence that humans did the same in the distant past. And killing babies is only one example amongst hundreds of how “things that were that way” changed to improve modern society.
And the religious argument is just that, religious. According to the Roman Catholic Church, contraceptives are worse than the AIDS epidemic Africa suffered in the absence of condoms.
Some argue that the relegation of women to the status of second-class citizens has social utility, a mistake that has cost us primarily by increasing poverty and causing overpopulation. The ramifications of keeping half of the human race in a state of inferiority will continue to be detrimental to our progress for decades or centuries—a direct reflection of human stupidity, according to economics. One has to ponder how different it would be if women had complete control of their reproductive systems from the beginning. And I’m not talking about sex, but about making babies that might have had to die to accommodate a caveman’s ignorant dispositions or a cavewoman’s fear of raising that baby alone. Sadly, even today, the vast majority of single-parent households result from men’s lack of accountability.
Others assert that this is the best time for women in history, and while this is true, they ignore that any particular point in history was once the best time for anyone. “Having it good,” as people love to say, doesn’t preclude the need for improvement. The emancipation of slavery in the United States was once the best possible time for African Americans. Still, we can agree that their experience has improved since January 1 of 1863. Furthermore, we need to recognise that it still needs improvement. When you think about it, we don’t have to go back too far to see how we treated autistic people before we decided to understand their condition, and we still have much to know about them and how to be good for them.
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Now, the least sophisticated arguments come as personal attacks. References to my masculinity or my political views seem to lessen many a boy’s fear when in the presence of strong women. I pity you if you’ve not stood beside a woman as her equal or if you haven’t trusted a woman to be as strong as you are. Worse, if you haven’t had a woman give herself to you out of sheer desire and not for the expectation of symbolic rewards, I feel sad for you because you haven’t correctly lived.
I’ll repeat it, a condemnation of a part of a system is not a commendation of its opposite. Your “masculinity” (notice the quotation marks to indicate the sarcastic value such a word has when referencing your weakness) isn’t under attack by anything except your insecurities. The point isn’t for women to control you or to treat you the way you’ve treated them, it’s about their chance to be equal to men, and if this still bothers you, that’s a you-problem.
Unless you’re dead, which would make your reading this much more interesting, there is likely something you want, and often you have to convince someone to give it to you or help you get it. Social transactions happen all the time. The mechanics behind these agreements are the same, from asking a friend for a simple favour to brokering international peace treaties. So I give you Three Essential Steps to Being More Convincing
Understand that these three steps are not the only prerequisites to being more persuasive, nor are they easy to take. I will admit that these are probably the three more challenging approaches to persuasion.
Knowing how people think
How people think is more important than what they think. Two people can be offered the same evidence and arrive at different conclusions. Similarly, two people can face the same problem and attempt to resolve it in different, often contradictory ways. These differences in conclusions and approaches to life show you how people think about themselves and their environment. As I said before, it is not easy to understand how people think – their thinking is affected by past life experiences and current circumstances. However, we tend to reveal how we feel subconsciously through our language.
Pay attention to the words people use for their relationship to events, ideas, and other people. For example: if your friend says that he “feels” that something is wrong or that she feels that something should be a particular way, they are likely thinking emotionally. Physical gestures, or what people love to call body language, is critical to figuring out a person’s thinking baseline. If your interlocutor touches their chest or abdomen when talking about a pertinent issue, it may imply that they have strong feelings about that issue.
DISCLAIMER: these cues of emotion and their meaning can change from person to person. Even the words we use to describe how something affects us depend on personal and historical context. One word or one gesture is not enough to determine a baseline – clusters of cues are always necessary.
How a person structures statements or questions can also reveal their thinking patterns. Someone asking “How does persuasion work?” is thinking about the mechanisms behind the process, while someone asking “why does persuasion work on me?” might be worried about being vulnerable to external influences.
Understanding how someone thinks is not easy, but if you pay attention to their behaviour and use yours to elicit the proper reactions, you can get a good idea of how they arrive at conclusions.
It is a good exercise in developing emotional intelligence to practise asking good questions that reflect how you think. Pay close attention to the feedback you receive from others.
Understanding that logic is subjective
While the definition of logic presents some of us with the notions of proper reasoning and straight-thinking, it is bound by the context surrounding the person entertaining it. Remember that two people can arrive at different results after observing the same evidence or deal with the same problem differently. Logic and reasoning are dependent on the data available to the individual and their interpretation of it. This last year has seen a resurgence in conspiracy theories and what I call denialism. The only logical conclusion based on sensory information is that the earth is flat to the most committed of the so-called Truthers.
Because it is subjective, logic is affected by emotion more than anything else. Critical thinking is not natural to humans. Critical thinking starts with an attitudinal shift from wanting things to be true to wanting to know the truth despite how we feel about it.
Using the way people think about life and how they approach logic to formulate your approach to persuasion
I will leave this last part for you to investigate and practise.
It has been two years since my last story, which means I have, once again, broken my promise to keep my writing consistent on all platforms. I do not want to imply that I have stopped writing altogether, only that my hand has been occupied with a project that demanded focus. Since my last post here, I have published a book and come very close to a second volume about an event of great significance in my life – even if I lacked awareness of that significance until recently.
The book will make for a different story in itself, and I might find it acceptable to share its name at the end of this write-up, given that self-promotion also becomes acceptable. What draws me here today is the desire to share an indulgence that many believe should be an apprehension: I count a convicted international criminal as my friend, mentor, and business partner. Several of my acquaintances and friends insist I am mistaken in giving my trust to a man involved in the most significant financial crime of its kind in history.
Kolt Curry, as the media and the financial world know him, was arrested in August of 2013 and subsequently held in a high-security prison for his involvement in a massive market manipulation scheme worth (allegedly) one-hundred-and-forty million dollars. Along with several associates (mutual friends), Kolt resided at MDC Brooklyn through the duration of his court trial, which culminated in his release at the end of 2015. Acquitted on all charges relating to the market manipulation scheme, Kolt was discharged with a sentence of time-served after an almost three-year-long ordeal that could, if appropriately written, fill several four-hundred-page books.
At this point, I will insist that you search his name and read the media’s [mis]representation of his character and the characters of those other friends implicated in the case, and that is also material for another story…
People often ask me why I trust Kolt as much as I do, and my answer is always the same: he has a better-calibrated moral compass than most people I know. His moral code isn’t reliable because he has never done anything wrong; on the contrary, he has broken most laws I know, and he has accepted the lessons of his transgressions and used them to create a better version of himself. Kolt’s new and current investment is in rebuilding himself and others through endeavours that provide value to anyone who encounters them.
We are close to launching a business that now includes his surname as a senior managing partner. This new company’s focus is on helping people and businesses understand and achieve their goals. With the help of my eldest nephew, a talented and disciplined entrepreneur, we are setting forward on a mission to help as many people as we can. And yes, we are doing this work for profit, and it feels fantastic.
There are many more reasons I trust my criminal friend, not the least important of which is the beneficial knowledge he can impart to me as we move forward into this new journey. I have spent my adult life studying persuasion and manipulation methods – my passion has almost always been in understanding communication, primarily how our communication affects our choices. Kolt is a master of that communication, and whilst he might not know precisely the techniques he uses to get into people’s heads, he is, in fact, very good at using them.
Kolt, and my nephew Xander Ellis, who is another reluctant part of the case because his father also resided at Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn for the duration of the trial, wield the power of decades of work done in the lab, the streets, and inside the legal systems.
We promise to the knowledge our work has produced to change the world for the better.
UPDATE:Xander, Kolt, and the rest of the team continue to work together to change the world. Our newest project has introduced us to the emerging world of artificial intelligence and promises to be one of our most significant accomplishments yet. Since this story was published, we have written a different book – an accurate account of Kolt’s life and the case that changed the financial world.The latest book is scheduled for publication on September 2021.
There are many reasons we fail to persuade others. A failure to persuade can result from something as basic as your delivery to more complex factors like environment and context. Imagine trying to convince someone to go for a long walk by the beach with you when it rains; yes, it is possible, but the weather affects your approach and potentially the outcome of your persuasive attempts.
We can, rightfully, spend hours talking about the importance of environmental factors to communication. Still, I want to discuss one particular aspect of proper leadership that is often ignored or downplayed in our current social climate – the use of force.
Now, you need to understand that my definition of force does not imply or include the use of violence.
Physical or psychological aggression is never desirable in balanced social conditions. Force, in this case, is the use of personal authority to imply that someone must do something to achieve optimal effects. Sometimes, and though it can be challenging to know when these times come up, we need to exert our power over others to lead them in the right direction. We need to apply the right amount of pressure.
The failure often happens in assessing circumstances of an interaction correctly and knowing how much pressure to apply in our communication with others. Power dynamics are of critical importance to social cohesion, and we have to understand how to manage them.
Think of managing insubordination in a well-established business hierarchy. Depending on why the chain of command is defied, the boss must curb the enthusiasm of the employee’s disobedience. Imagine a coach who needs to get a refusing athlete to play well with the rest of the team. In both cases, regular communication has failed, and the people in charge must exert a different kind of pressure on the people betraying the rules. In both cases, failure to apply the correct type of force is detrimental to the group and its members.
It is the definition of force that matters to persuasion and leadership, and we need not be afraid to use it strategically. It is a worthwhile exercise to think about what conditions require the proper application of pressure. Obviously, those conditions are also affected by a plethora of factors about the individual and their environment.
I want to leave you with this: Kindness is ultimately the right approach to resolution, but it is essential to be ready to stand firm in defence of our principles; especially, when the most important of them, like kindness, is threatened.