The Influential Mind: By Tali Sharot
Tali Sharot is a neuroscientist who takes us on a very unique journey on influence. She states that there is influences all around us whether they are negative or positive. These influential sources could stem from our own family, friends, social media, the classroom, work, etc. We can assume that anyone has the power to influence but she allows us to question how equipped we really are for this influential role? Just because we feel like we have the gift of gab does not mean that others will necessarily agree with our thoughts and opinions. Sharot explains that our minds are encoded at such a young age and they continue to be molded by experiences, knowledge, emotions, people, places, things, and opinions. Our brains are wired to receive information and filters it through an intensive process which contributes to our uniqueness and creativeness. She catches the reader’s attention by using many different examples throughout the chapters that consist of political views, data, medical statistics, social media, facts, and figures.
I really enjoyed reading all the chapters because they each make you think outside of the box. It allowed me to be vulnerable for a while as I processed all the information she was putting out. She used examples in chapter 1 about president Trump stating that vaccinations cause Autism in children and how for a moment she felt a sense of fear for her children. She states that Dr. Carson said there was no valid proof linking vaccinations with Autism. President Trump used his platform to tell the story about his friends child who was fine until he received his vaccinations in which later, he got sick which was followed with an Autism diagnosis. Due to the power that president Trump has people couldn’t help but possibly take it as a true statistical fact. Sharot admitted that a sense of fear came over her regarding her two children although she didn’t completely agree with the correlation of vaccines and autism. This was a perfect example about how we can be swayed or influenced by powerful people who have a huge platform.
Chapter 10 was by far my favorite chapter because we go back and discuss early humans, ancestors, written language, print, radio, television, etc. These developments helped transmit different ideas to the world using images and sounds where they could express their opinions. Although technology continued to progress evolution was still working at its own speed. The human brain didn’t change much and still processes information the same. When compared to early humans our brains are very much like theirs instead of different. The only significant change would be in our frontal lobes as stated by Sharot. Many of the motivations, desires, fears, and emotions that shaped their beliefs and actions also shape ours. The fact that even after so many years and constant change around us we are very similar to early humans because our brains still operate the same way. To me that was very interesting to know that although we are now in a different time period those before us were just like us in a sense just with limited technology and tools, but their mental capacity was the same. To me that was a very simple but important realization that the world keeps going but evolution operates on its own time. This related to many of the lectures because we discussed motivation, addictions, performance, and rewards which all have something in common, the brain. The brain is a powerful, unique, and has allowed us to achieve so much especially during our evolution. It all starts within the brain whether it be a thought, idea, emotion, realization, or awakening.
Sharot goes in depth about the power of confirmation and the weakness of data. We aren’t convinced with data because we feel that it can be manipulated. Introducing fear is a weak approach to instill persuasion and we use it often even during an argument to try and get the other person to listen to us. I remember as a child my church use to use bible verses in order to persuade me to a specific way of thinking and once questioned they would instill fear of going to hell if we didn’t abide by the word. Luckily that became old quickly and I was able to create my own understanding of the world around me. I will take what I learned in this book and apply it to my personal and everyday life. Some ways that I will apply it is by being more open minded to others views about the world. I want to be able to take scientific facts and study them and come up with my own conclusions of things whether it pertains to health, income, covid, etc. Lastly, I want to be able to hear others out in order to understand their perspective on things which could ultimately help me see things in a different light. Being laid back and open to new things allows us to grow as individuals while expanding our curiosity and knowledge.
Sharot stated these three sentences that really resonated with me, “your brain makes you who you are. There is power in words and there is power in people’s opinions. People love stating their knowledge or opinion because it causes an increase in their reward system.” These sentences prove that we all have the power to influence someone else and we should always choose to be a positive influence in a world full of such negativity and hate.