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If you follow #MixedMentalArts on Instagram, then you know that Bryan Callen has been reading about Jesus. Unfortunately for Bryan, his first attempts at Bryan’s Book Club have succeeded in doing one thing and one thing only: putting Bryan to sleep. And then, Bryan tried pontificating about these ideas to young men and women in their 20s…and they were more interested in the Tequila. It turns out that missionary work is hard work.
Fortunately, Bryan Callen has been reading about Jesus. Specifically, he’s been reading Stephen M. Miller’s Complete Guide to the Bible. It turns out that changing people’s beliefs is tough stuff. Jesus made his own beliefs as crystal clear as he could and still people didn’t get them. People like Saul didn’t get Jesus’ beliefs so much that they persecuted him. Then, Saul got them so much that he not only converted he changed his name to Paul and went around trying to help other people get “The Good News.” 2000 years later a lot of people who think they get Jesus’ message still don’t get it. In short, teaching is hard. It requires patience and persistence. You have to teach the same old lessons in new ways and break them down to make them clearer and clearer. In fact, that’s the exact same problem with moving scientific ideas. There are a lot of people who THINK they get science but have actually missed its core message.
Humans tell stories. That’s what we do. We tell stories about ourselves, about each other and about reality. The problem is that because we ALL have naive realism all our stories make perfect sense to us. The key is evolving stories that do a better and better job of fitting reality. That’s what scientists like Spiros, David Sloan Wilson, Joe Henrich, Jon Haidt, Jennifer Jacquet and Carol Dweck do ALL day. The problem is that some scientists have become so obsessed with defining science in opposition to religion that they’ve literally forgot that science is a belief system and that its beliefs need to be promoted and made accessible to the general public. They cloister themselves in their Ivory Tower or their floating magnetic island named Laputa and then wonder why the public can’t relate to them and seems disinterested in what they have to offer. In the end, science wants converts. And if it wants converts, then it’s going to have to accept that it’s a belief system just like all the others…and that it will win or lose in the Marketplace of Ideas based on its ability to provide accessible value to the people. It’s time Smart Goes Pop and we made ideas lickable. It’s time we became evangelists for the best ideas from all times and places.
And this is where the real changing of the guard happens. For over 200 episodes, Hunter has bringing ideas to Bryan and now it’s time for Bryan to take those ideas to the people. How can Bryan Callen become the Savior of the World that he has always dreamed of being? Well, he has to diffuse innovations.
Fortunately, most of the books we’ve read basically have one core idea and then in true academic fashion endlessly belabor that idea with examples that are designed not to communicate to the general public but to appease other super obtuse academics. Take Thinking, Fast and Slow. What’s the main idea? There’s fast thinking and there’s slow thinking. That’s literally the title of the book. You may not be able to judge a book by its cover but you can certainly extract the core idea. And you can then slap that on a t-shirt which is exactly what Unikitty (@nicolepagelee) and the Unicorn (@madonna_matt) have done. You can buy that shirt here. And that is what scientific missionary work looks like. You wear a cool shirt with a core idea on it and people ask you questions. And then, you explain the idea and off they go. The crowd becomes a little wiser. And like the little idea bees that we all are we spread these ideas until the crowd is really freaking wise. And that brings us back to sleeping Brendan and all those 20 somethings. What do they want? They want success. They want to impress people. They want to do something super cool that saves the world. We have all the pieces to do that scattered across the 7.5 billion humans that make humanity. Now, the challenge is to make kintsugi. To take the broken pieces and fill in the cracks with gold.
Doubtless as we go out, we will be misunderstood. That’s the Life of Bryan.