If you have ever wondered why you couldn’t convince your wife to buy that Ferrari, or why your customers don’t seem to ‘get’ what you are desperately trying to sell them, it’s really not your fault. Our Chief Mathematician revealed these mysteries through the power of maths/physics/scientific proof.
Below is his brilliant presentation during our last idea-sharing meeting.

Knowledge Transfer and the Problem of Perception: The Achilles Heel of Logic

Writing 1+1=3 on a blackboard.

This is somewhat related to a lot of what Kenneth has said about generating big ideas. Before I start explaining my concept, I will briefly explain 3 mathematical concepts –self-organizing systems, Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, and the Chaos theory– and I’ll use those in my explanations. They all sound very highflying but the concepts are very simple.

1. Self-organizing Systems

Self-organization is a process of attraction and repulsion in which the internal organization of a system –normally an open system which continuously interacts with its environment while maintaining its state– increases in complexity without being guided or managed by an outside source.

The brain perceives things through a self-organizing system; it is not linear.

Imagine you are standing in front of a box of sand. If you start pouring water into that sand, it will form a particular pattern and start flowing along those particular lines. Even if you pour in more water, it will essentially continue to flow along only in that pattern.

In the same way, the brain is a self-organizing system. When information goes in, it flows only in a particular pattern.

2. Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem

What is it? It states that any logical system has statements which are simultaneously true and false.

Let’s use language as an example, because language is a logical system.

In language, there are some statements that are both true and false. A very famous conundrum is, “If God can do everything, can He create a stone which He cannot Himself roll?”

If it is true, then this statement is false. BUT, if this statement is false, if you think about it, it is also true.

It is a basic problem of language because any logical system will always contain those kinds of statements which are both true AND false.

That is Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, which brings us to the limit of logic. Gödel’s incompleteness theorem shook the mathematical world by showing that logic itself is incomplete.

3. Chaos theory.

The chaos theory, in essence, states that even a small change in a system can cause a very big change in the outcome.

Now, I’ll begin to connect all these concepts to the main idea I want to share with you, which is the problem of perception, and the Achilles heel of logic and knowledge transfer.

How do you transfer knowledge?

When you transfer knowledge, how do you do it? Normally, you talk and try to come to a logical conclusion.

Many times it works, but sometimes, it doesn’t.

For example, if someone tells me that this is a chair, I could argue that it is not a chair but a table. But if someone says that it is an elephant, I wouldn’t know how to explain that it is not an elephant because it is so different.

When you face the kind of problem that you cannot even begin to explain how to explain it, it means that it is not a problem of logic. It is a problem of perception.

What is perception?

Perceptions are the patterns which are formed by self-organizing systems. If you apply logic to this, and yet your perceptions are different, you won’t reach any conclusions.

You have to go back and look into your perceptions, not logic, because, as Gödel’s theorem has shown us, logic has flaws.

Even if your perceptions are even slightly different, they may lead to very different results. However small the difference in perception may seem, because of the Chaos theory, you will reach very difference conclusions and obtain very different results.

In order to transfer knowledge in the right way, you have to understand first that there are limits to logic. Proceed logically and if you cannot do it logically, don’t argue more! Go back and check whether or not your perceptions match.

You don’t have to change your perception in order to understand where the other person is coming from.

You don’t need to change your perception –you just need to understand the other person’s perception.

For example, in many Eastern countries, when you give someone money, they count it in front of you. But, if you go to a Western country, if you were to count your money in front of the person who’d handed it to you, they’d feel offended. Although you may understand it, your perception is different.

Hence, having a perception is different from understanding a perception.

O.K. Why is this important, again?

I’m glad you asked.

When you plan your marketing strategy, you need to understand the perceptions of the customers’ in your particular niche –this is why the customer avatar is so important.

One area in which knowledge transfer and perception affect business very deeply is information marketing, which we do a lot of. It involves packaging your information in a way that is not only logical, but falls in line with the perceptions of your target audience.

Isn’t it fascinating that science always has an answer for everything?

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