HIT MAKERS by Derek Thompson is a new book showing that “hits” in music, movies, and books depend on Chaos theory: a “Happy Days” alignment of people, culture, ideas, and timing. Since we have moved to a Twitter society of many choices and low attention span, people tend to gravitate to fewer things by following what is most popular (instead of what is best.) This creates an environment of many failures and fewer successes, with a “microscopic few” reaping most of the benefits. Essentially, we are bewildered by choice, and look to social media to direct us…while social media platforms spy on us and direct our attention to those things which generate the most profit. (Junk food, prescription drugs, blockbuster cartoon movies, bestsellers.) An interesting sociology and psychology/marketing book with the subtitle, “The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction,” it reveals why things become hits (songs/movies/books/ideas.) Mostly it’s the right alignment at the right time. The song “Rock Around the Clock” was a dud when first released. Then, with a different venue, (due to its being the opening song in Blackboard Jungle,) it went viral to become the first and biggest rock song of all time. Same influences could be cited for The DaVinci Code or Fifty Shades of Grey, which went viral not simply due to controversy but because celebrities mentioned them, and an aura was created by influencers and fan fiction sites. The author narrates, displaying an ability to maintain interest through an engaged curiosity and fascination with his subject. Recommended for anyone who wants to know how culture and social media affects buying decisions, and also for those who don’t realize why and how they are being manipulated.
In addition to satire and mystery, I’m author of a novel based on The Power of Now, and I believe that people should be accepting and forgiving, but there is a danger in accepting falsehood. People who teach their kids that the Earth is flat are lying to them and restricting critical thought. Eckhart would agree, and he is a proponent of not letting your thoughts define you: that you are not your thoughts. The future of work requires technical skills. Burger flipping jobs will go to robots. Tell a recruiter you believe the Earth is flat and he will say, “good luck and goodbye.” There is objective truth; not all things are relative. Science facts are not decided by vote, or even observation. Read “The Beginning of Infinity,” which shows how science works: not by observation leading to theory, but rather by speculation leading to testing leading to theory. All areas of science come into play, and the purpose is to create better explanations for things observed. A good explanation is hard to vary, a bad explanation (like flat earth theory) is dismissed because it is disproven by other means (including observation from space.) All areas of science disprove it, including geology, astronomy, chemistry, biology, math, etc. Ignorance goes hand in hand with violence. Einstein said that. So did Elon Musk, who is in direct competition with NASA, and is now soliciting tourists to go to the moon. Malala won the Nobel Peace Prize, after being shot in the head by the Taliban (ignorant people), and she said, “one book, one teacher, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.” The book she meant was a science book.