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  • The human brain works at collecting patterns. Phrases seem to make
    sense to us if they fit a certain paradigm. That's how many causation
    vs. correlation fights happen. And people will then hold onto some
    idea if it fits the microcosm they live in. Actually, it doesn't have
    to fit. They just think it has to fit and if they expressed it out
    loud then usually a close friend or family member could pull up a few
    instances for them that they lived through that precisely counter that
    belief.

    "Chocolate makes me happy."

    "What about that time you ate so much chocolate you hurled?"

    "No, but generally, it makes me happy."

    "What about the time at the movies when you just finished a box of
    chocolates and then Neo was dying and you cried?"

    And so on.

    Studies show that if it rhymes or has rhythm, the saying will stick
    even harder and be more likely to be perceived as true because it's
    like meant to be because it sounds so alike. Like "Birds of a feather
    flock together." (Rhyme) and Like "It takes two to tango." (Rhythm)

    Studies show ideas appear more true if the ideas can show allusion to
    known facts. Like "Opposites attract." Because personalities are JUST
    LIKE magnetic poles.

    Studies show pushing a concept to an extreme makes it true in that
    instance which makes many believe it's true when it's not as well.
    Like "In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king." and "Dead
    men tell no tales."

    This is even true when the extreme is just a really large number (a
    million seems to be good enough) or vague size which lends someone to
    think, well, if there's enough of them.... Like "Many hands make light
    work."

    At this point you may be thinking, yes, some are true. Or you're
    thinking, yes, that's sometimes true. But sometimes true isn't true.
    It's an excuse. It's an anecdote. Something that's only "sometimes
    true" requires framing to be true. Otherwise we let security
    consultants get away with saying, "Our product is effective at
    detecting most malware." which sounds to most people as "All malware
    except we can't say all for liability reasons." Maybe it does detect
    most of the malware they had access to in the laboratory but then
    that's re-framed it, hasn't it? So for it to be true we needed to add
    "laboratory" and "malware they had access to".

    As an exercise, let's take the following expression from a recent article
    and dissect it:

    "Most security experts agree that just because something is not 100%
    bulletproof doesn't mean it is worthless...."

    First, "Most security experts agree" makes it sound like a truth.
    Secondly, it uses the extreme to 100%. Third, it makes no logical
    sense because bulletproof is a thing like pregnancy - it is or it
    isn't. There are no percentages of bulletproofness nor pregnancy. You
    can't find anyone "a little pregnant". So if you need bulletproof,
    either it is bulletproof or it isn't and therefore worthless.

    So back to things sales and consultants and so on say in
    their wisdom. They say things that sound true but aren't until
    re-framed. They say things that sound true because they manipulate our
    sense of "true". And far too many people fall for it. And that's a
    problem. If they fall for it and buy one washing powder over another,
    so be it. But if they fall for it when they should be protecting
    someone or something then we all should have a problem with it.

    But there's no stopping it. So be aware of it. You don't fall for it.

    The world has too many parrots and not enough pirates.
    (There's one for you.) So think carefully before taking such advice
    as true advice.

    (picture with permission from www.marta.com)
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