You are not in control

When people say the SARS-CoV2 virus is “clever” or “a master of deception”, a “hit and run killer” or even “highly unpredictable”, they make it sound like it has agency, intention and instrumentality.

But, it doesn’t have a plan. It doesn’t know what it’s doing. It doesn’t think. Its existence is not the product of directed, intentional fate.

It exists as a consequence of a series of random unfortunate events, that are controlled by natural, universal laws—laws that apply everywhere and to everything, with no special exemptions or amplifications for humans—given variety by the input of chance.

The virus isn’t clever. It doesn’t think.

It’s hard as humans (with our massive prefrontal cortex that seems to be able to explain everything back to us) to come to terms with the idea that most things in the universe (including our lives) aren’t planned. We’d like to think that we can control stuff, but even our existence is a consequence of the same natural laws.

We tend to put ourselves at the centre of everything. But we aren’t special. We are also an accident. What makes us us is as simple as a shuffle of genetic attributes during meiosis , a few random mutations, and the luck of the draw in the grand sperm race at fertilization.

Not sure where I’m going with this… I think I am just tired of people talking about the virus and thinking that they are in control or the virus is in control.

Like everything in life, we are making it up as we go along.

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It’s a conspiracy… or did I?

One in eight Australianstransmedia-baby-232x300 believe Microsoft founder Bill Gates is somehow responsible for the coronavirus and the 5G wireless network is to blame for spreading the disease. 

And the same number of people believe the pandemic is being used to force us into getting vaccinations.

Seven in every ten Americans believe that there was a second gunman, and one in three believe that there is a deep state working against Donald Trump. 

Whether it’s coronavirus, the second gunman in the assassination of John F Kennedy, the faked moon landing or the myth of climate change, conspiracy theories are everywhere. 

And while there is no doubt that we should be sceptical of systems, of institutions, even of people’s motives, it is also important to be rigorous in how we assess particular claims. 

So, why do people believe in conspiracies?

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Returning to the world – Post COVID-19

several people at a party

Photo by Wendy Wei on

I have been doing a lot of media about how we are going to adjust to the world, Post-COVID-19. Here is a summary of the questions that I responded to.

Last week saw the release of a study by Vox Pops Labs and the ABC that suggested that as coronavirus restrictions are eased or lifted, only about one in eight Australians would attend a large event even if they could, fewer than one in five would get on a plane, and only 40 per cent would go to a bar or restaurant.

Is this the response you’d expect from Australians?

Very much so. In a period of six months, Australians have been overwhelmed with crises; we had an unprecedented bushfire season over summer, our cities were enveloped in smoke for weeks, and we’re now experiencing an illness that for most of us is a mystery; even the World Health Organisation referred to it as “uncharted territory”. We are grappling with so many unknowns, our natural reaction is to be cautious.

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We live in extraordinary times

As we are regularly being told at the moment, we live in extraordinary times.

After an unprecedented bushfire season – followed by our most populated cities being enveloped in smoke – we are now experiencing a health crisis that the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) referred to as “uncharted territory” as they combat the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) throughout the world.

It’s not surprising then that many of us in Australia and in developed countries are feeling that the things that we have taken for granted – effective health systems, security and safety and our feeling of being sheltered from outside forces – are crumbling around us.

You could say we are facing, literally, an existential crisis.

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It’s Valentine’s Day, so go and buy me something!

Sea_otters_holding_handsToday is Valentine’s Day, and it seems that the marketing of the day, and of many occasions throughout the year, has stepped up substantially over the past couple of years. Many believe that Valentine’s Day (or VD for short), is now simply feeding our consumerist culture. But there is probably more to it than simply marketing gone mad – although marketers are pretty good at tapping into our very human vulnerabilities.

The need to love, to be loved and to belong is central to our idea of happiness. Being in love, and loving someone, is bound up with perception, imagination and a desired reality.

Much marketing is based on exploiting both our imagination and our desired reality.

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It’s Valentines Day, babe… what are you buying me?

adult aged bouquet buildings

Photo by Quintin Gellar on

Valentine’s Day is coming, and for many, it seems that the marketing of this particular day and of many occasions throughout the year – such as Halloween, Easter and Christmas – has stepped up a gear over the past couple of years. Many believe that these events are simply feeding our consumerist culture, and to some degree they are right.

In its own way, Valentines Day is a prime example of segmentation and targeting, where marketers develop a marketing mix to suit the key target markets. Segments work best when the consumer opts in and actually buys the product, rather than when it is a constructed demographic that is targeted by marketers. In my MBA classes, I regularly remind students that marketers don’t choose segments; the customer chooses to be in a segment through their behaviour. And this is all that is happening on Valentines Day.

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Why we make and break New Year’s resolutions

sport fitness workout resolution

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It’s an arbitrary date of a calendar developed by mathematicians and introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, but on 1 January each year, many of us like to think about how we might change one (or some) of our less appealing habits.

We could instead have picked 1 September, which was the start of the Byzantine year, or 25 March, which was the start of the legal year in England from the 12th century until 1751.

But humans love a ritual, and the start of the Gregorian year seems like a perfectly sensible time to try something different.

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The psychology of online shopping: Are you a slave to the technology?

Quick answer… more than likely, although you would never admit it.

selective focus photography of woman holding black cased smartphone near assorted clothes

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Online shopping has revolutionised the way we buy so many day-to-day items. The online world has so infiltrated the way we shop, that for the most part, we simply don’t realise how ubiquitous it is.

Whether it’s jumping on to the Myer website for the Black Friday sales, buying a digital subscription on Spotify, catching an Uber, downloading a movie from Google Play, choosing your seats for the theatre and then collecting your tickets at the box office, ordering and then getting your pizza or burger delivered by Deliveroo, or buying our coffee beans from our favourite Single Origin provider, nearly all of us at some point are using the online environment to buy a good or a service. Australia is currently the 10th largest e-commerce market in the world by revenue. E-commerce in Australia will continue to grow. The market size is estimated to be A$35.2 billion (US$ 25.2 billion) by 2021, but this probably only represents the tip of the online iceberg.

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How sales get us to buy stuff


Photo by Artem Beliaikin on

If you’re one of those people who line up for the Black Friday sales, jump online for Singles Day, or are thinking that you’ll line up outside Myer or DJs on Boxing Day for the “real bargains”, rest assured, you are not alone (as you probably noticed).

Just like the thousands of people who line the harbour in Sydney or squeeze into a tiny spot down at The Rocks just to get a glimpse of the New Year’s Eve fireworks, or the crazy Melbournians who sleep outside for days for AFL grand final tickets, we’re all victims of some basic psychological factors.

The need to belong

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Hitting them where it hurts

In this episode of Listen to this, we look into how young people can change the course of history, how advertisers should probably choose where to put their money, and the ins and outs of ethical behaviour in marketing.

Listen to this – Hitting them where it hurts

women holding a planet over profit sign

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