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Newsletter - June 2007

The Reality Gap  
I hooted with laughter in the Supermarket the other day, startling a disparate group of people nearby. As an aside - I thought it interesting that a moment of expressed joy engenders a variety of expressions in other people.
However, I digress. I was reacting to my reading of the script on the label of a bottle of wine which read:

"Inspired by
the beautiful...waterfalls
of the nearby Yosemite Valley".

Why was I laughing? - At the wafer-thin, tenuous link between two concepts... How does inspire specifically link x with y?
What was the specific inspiration? Water gurgling downward? The noise of water hitting water?
What did the inspiration specifically lead to...?

Erm, I can think of another process much closer to home that, ahem, 'inspires' me in a similar way, but that is usually linked to the after effect of drinking wine! OK, too much detail already!

And how 'nearby' is nearby? Fifty feet or fifty miles? I wonder if the falls are even in sight of the likely industrial scale bottling plant. It's a matter of interpretation...

There is another product sold which I also enjoy. An admittedly good quality cheese where the wrapper quotes:

"...reflects the integrity and preference
of those bygone ages
...".

H'mm I thought; Cheese ON the wrapper as well as inside then. Reflects? did they show it a mirror before wrapping it?

Of course I'm being picky - but I'm no means the first to separate out the marketing 'spin' from reality. The 1970's BBC TV show The Goodies scripted a very funny episode on marketing, telling it as it is, rather than the dressed up, rose tinted and fluffy world of advertising. My favourite slogans from the programme were:

"Mr Rudyard...makes exceedingly lots of money"

and

New Mold washing up powder:
Use it - or we send the boys round!

So we are affected to some degree by the words that products and services use for advertising. But how do we choose whether or not to buy into the illusion? How do we recognise there is an illusion?

The reality gap of what you hear and what is meant can be represented by NLP language patterns called Complex Equivalents, where one thing denoted actually stands for another thing and Cause-Effects, where an apparent cause effects something else - whether it actually does - to any degree - is another matter.

So this use of language - Shooting from the lip - is quite widespread, from marketing, business and of course, politics. Recognising this Spin is extremely useful - at least in attempting to preserving one's own sanity and at best, in buying a cheese with flowery language. The danger is to think that spin is the 'right' explanation for anything. Sooner or later, One will fall through, with a bump, into the reality gap.

And as the marketing blurb used to promote Karate aftershave once said: "Be careful how you use it", because, once upon a time, spin was called propaganda.

More soon!

regards,

Steve

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