BS Shorts #20: 07.04.22
More Cleese and Sutherland
A dynamic duo: John Cleese & Rory Sutherland
I fulfilled a lifelong ambition interviewing John Cleese last week. Clearly many of you tuned in to the pod too from the responses I’ve had; so thank you firstly!
I’m afraid Basil Fawlty has been my alter ego for all my adolescent and adult life. John’s comedic influence on my psyche knows no bounds. Maybe there’s some link here to my BS interest and flawed human beings.
Basil’s rage, mania, irreverence and damn fine rudeness continue to fuel my own sense of the surreal. There is no finer comedy.
Our discussion with Rory on creativity was playful and unpredictable, as you might expect. While we riffed on all sorts (Rudolf Hess and Rory’s Mum, making fun of Hitler, woke culture and Brexit & Remainer certainty obsession), the pillars of the conversation gave it its principal structure; and they’re why I encourage you to listen if you haven’t already:
How to be childlike and playful
The power of the unconscious
Solo creativity vs in teams
And for those of you who want a reminder of what real creativity brings, here’s Monty Python’s Minehead by-election sketch which we had a laugh about in the show:
The Rory Sutherland Effect
I feel that to secure one’s place in the BS pantheon, one needs to have an effect or bias named after one. This is not quite the opening to Pride and Prejudice, but stick with it.
Rory S talks so much great BS that one can barely say TED before his wisdom is upon our screens. The man is brilliant and prolific. And because of this, his is the vessel on which many hoist their sails.
I’ve noticed in recent weeks commentators attributing all sorts of research experiments to Rory. Only today a newsletter credited Rory with Richard Thaler’s interrogation of The Endowment Effect, questioning wine collectors’ feelings on the cost of drinking a bottle.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Rory Sutherland Effect in action. Hey, if you’ve got it, flaunt it.
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The altruism conceit
There’s an acceptable trade-off in charitable contribution, is there not, which allows us at least a warm glow, if not a concert hall named after us, when we do something good. The marathon and adventure tourism industries are built on this premise. And why the hell not?
The strong social narrative that one shouldn't seek recognition and praise for one's charitable work is nonsense. But it's considered vulgar and selfish. A few years ago, David Beckham's emails were leaked detailing his upset at not getting more acknowledgement for all his efforts with UNICEF. And why shouldn’t he? I doubt the thousands of children whose lives have been improved through his work give a monkeys; or they certainly wouldn’t begrudge him a gong.
It’s impact that counts first and foremost, less denying people a selfish emotion in the process. Let Becks have his cake and eat it.
I discussed the social narratives that we entangle ourselves in and much else about happiness and its design on the pod with Professor Paul Dolan, Head of Behavioural Science at The LSE.
Next week with Chris Rawlinson
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