Dont buy this book if you are interested in facts
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
Accurate information based of current research
Has Influence put you off other books in this genre?
No but it is pretty bad.
What do you think the narrator could have done better?
What character would you cut from Influence?
The entire section on social proof.
Any additional comments?
This book is very dated as its references make clear and while it does contain some information that may be useful, most of it is obvious in the extreme.
After discussing dodgy sales techniques, most of which are specifically outlawed in most civilised countries, the author also spends an inordinate amount of time discussing American college fraternity hazing behaviour and proclaiming this to be a universal tribal behaviour while ignoring the fact that this is almost exclusively an American behaviour. In other developed countries students go to university to well.. study. As a former lecturer I can tell you that in Australia at least, we don’t have fraternities or any of the abhorrent behaviour that goes with it.
Then he goes on to conflate this fraternity behaviour with military training. As someone who served in 2 branches of our military including a time undergoing special forces training, I am offended by this parallel between drunken college kids for whom the only obvious threat is a hangover, and servicepeople being prepared for the rigours and hardship of war. It should be offensive for anyone who has ever served. Having said that, even the harsher kind of generalised ‘stress’ treatments have been purged from our defence force with no loss of combat capability.
But wait, that’s not the worst bit -I then came to the section in social proof where Cialdini quotes ‘research’ correlating publicised suicides with airline accidents, I nearly threw up in my coffee cup. (I should mention that I am a postgraduate educated aviation professional and Human Factors specialist who studies behaviour leading to airline accidents)
He repeatedly lauds a researcher who found that when a suicide is publicised in the paper, airline accidents increase ‘up to 1,000 %’.
He then goes on to compound this nonsense by saying that after reading a depressing story an airline pilot might be tempted to ‘dip the nose’ on take off and commit suicide. Never mind that at the time of writing all large airliners had 3 cockpit crew (pilot, copilot and flight engineer) and that they undergo specific training (CRM) to notify the pilot flying of any non standard actions and if he or she doesn’t correct them to take over control of the aircraft. He then doubles down on this rubbish by saying he checks the papers before he flies and even buys more insurance, if there have been suicides reported. Presumably this is after he checks his horoscope, reads his tea leaves and interprets his rune stones.
That an academic would spout this kind of illogical drivel is reprehensible. The most basic research would show this to be nonsense or it would be raining airliners and yet in 2015, 3.2 billion people flew on the world’s airlines and there was not one crash involving a major airline/jet airliner and no
fatalities. Presumably all of the suicide prone pilots were on holidays.
Oh and another thing, in Australia we have not had a jet airliner crash – ever – despite having some of the busiest air routes in the world on our east coast. Presumably we are not subject to this ‘social proof’.
Airline accidents are the most thoroughly investigated occurrences on Earth and the results are publicly available. To believe Cialdini, the primary causal factor in all of them would be pilot suicide yet this is the case in only 3 commercial accidents in the last 50 years. Presumably engines that fail or cargoes that catch fire are feeling ‘social proof’ to commit suicide….
Cialdini owes an apology to anyone who bought this book and more importantly, to everyone involved in commercial aviation – the safest form of transport ever devised (including walking) .
Shame on you…
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