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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 04-Jun-10

 


Friday 04-June-10

The pleasure of mystery

One of the disappointing things about science is that it reduces the world, and us, to the mundane. Magnetism isn't magic -- it's just a field effect. There was no godly act of creation -- we're just jumped-up monkeys who evolved out of the primordial soup. Consciousness and the self are just patterns of neural firing.

Whilst science has its benefits, we still like a good mystery. It engages us. It fills us with awe. It makes special meaning and adds excitement in an increasingly predictable world.

Mysteries are unknown and may be unknowable. They can also be comforting, saving us from having to think too much. Strange events can be dismissed as 'fate' or the will of a deity. We can just shrug and not worry too much.

Mystery is also useful in changing minds. Things that we know and understand can be safely ignored, but the unknown grabs our attention, either as a possible threat or a potential way to satisfy needs. If you present others with dry facts, they may be ignored or forgotten. The uncertainty of a mystery, on the other hand, creates the tension of intrigue and interest, motivating them to think and act.

One way of presenting a mystery is to tell a story. Stories have twists and turns that keep the listener guessing right to the end. Another way is to pose a problem that has no apparent easy solution, then to lead the people on a journey of discovery.

So go on then -- be mysterious!


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