According to the legend, after a fruitless 10-year siege during the Greek Trojan war, the Greeks constructed a horse and hid a force of men inside. They then pretended to sail away and the Trojans pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. That night the Greek force crept out of the horse and opened the gates for the rest of the returning Greek army to enter.
The term ‘Trojan horse’ is often employed in popular speech as a metaphor for sympathising with a person’s point of view to crate the psychological ground by which to establish the merit of your own perspective. This approach can work because when people feel their position is threatened the likelihood is that they will either attack or defend their position in retaliation. If our intention therefore is to engage in effective communication then we should first ensure that we make every attempt to try and ‘loosen the psychological ground’, of what can be a difficult idea for most to consider. The Trojan horse method can certainly aid in this regard if skilfully employed.
Before embarking on outlining some of these arguments however, we would be wise to first take a thorough inventory of our own personal lifestyle choices and communicative approach to ensure to the best of our ability that our own house is in order so to speak. If we do not do so and act in haste to communicate this idea with others then we could forever alienate many to the positive prospect of using the scientific method for social concern.
Leading by example in this manner could also be said to be a form of communication as well of course so it seems worthy of outlining several noteworthy aspects of this personal interrogation.
Commanding intellectual and personal respect
Fixedness and dogmatic persistence to cling to any unsubstantiated beliefs is an anathema to the scientific method and can be extremely damaging to human and environmental well-being as well as a obstacle to social progress. For advocates of the scientific method for social concern it is perhaps even more vital for us to do our utmost to ensure the scientific efficacy of our claims on any subject we choose to comment on for two reasons.
The first is that the inherent nature of the method we advocate requires both an open mind to new ideas, whilst simultaneously using a rigorous scepticism regarding the facts supporting our claims.
This point is outlined in the following excerpt from the book ‘The Demon haunted world’ by Carl Sagan:
In aiming to perform such an analysis, we should always strive to maintain a constant and honest assessment of our personal opinions and the opinions of others to ensure that we only use the most credible possible sources possible on which to base our judgements.
This sentiment is well expressed in the following video ‘Symphony of science’:
There are many pitfalls to which human thought can fall victim and many fallacies which can give the impression that something is true when it isn’t. This is the whole point of science; to strive to gain an closer approximation of the truth by testing out our ideas against the benchmark of nature.
One practical suggestion to make in this regard is to recognise our propensity for cognitive bias and fallibility and place an emphasis on the importance of delaying our conclusions until we check the counter argument of any particular subject or claim being made.
These points and others are outlined by Richard Feynman in the following interview:
The second reason to ensure we use only the most credible of sources for any point of view we express is one of personal relations. The opinions and viewpoints we express over seemingly unrelated topics will undoubtedly draw an association toward our promotion of the NLRBE by extension as well. If these associated views are shown to be lacking in credibility then this will likely arouse suspicion in others toward the credibility of the NLRBE.
Striking the common ground
Although it is important to elevate critical thinking in general and to question ideas there is a time, place and manner by which to do so. This requires a deft and varied amount of communicative skill, diplomacy and tactical repertoire. Some of these methods are outlined in the article ‘An effective communicative approach’.
An inclusive social movement
It seems to me at least, that many of the issues and topics discussed online and in general public discourse become moot once the case for an NLRBE can be properly established. This is why I try to make it my personal priority to focus my efforts on the avocation of this new social model.
The reason this communicative stance is so important is worthy of a brief recap, which may hopefully help in your own communications:
Whilst we may disagree with each other over politics, business, religion, philosophy, morals or ethics, we all have the same needs. We need food, warmth, clothing, shelter, nutritious food, clean air, clean drinking water, positive relationships, good health care and the means by which to learn about the world around us.
For these needs to be met in a sustainable way for all, we require a decision making method that people from different countries, cultures and backgrounds can use in collaboration to come to some sort of agreement and work together eventually. The decision making method that has shown efficacy consistently in this regard over generational time is the scientific method.
We use science every time we open a door, turn the lights on, call a friend on the phone or go on a car journey and is responsible for raising the standard of living of humanity to levels that would have seemed like witchcraft not too long ago. This method has however never been liberally applied to our social system in a holistic and humane manner as the technology did not exist to achieve this ambition on a global scale until very recently in our history. Were we to do so without the artificial and technical limitations inherent to the use of politics, money and business, we could raise the standard of living to levels far in excess of what even the wealthiest currently experience today, ushering in an age of sustainable, global access abundance to meet the needs of all the worlds people.
I have yet to find a person who can disagree with this general outline regarding what decision making method is best for delivering the global collaboration clearly needed to address the issues now facing our interconnected planetary species.
If the actual state of current technological capability to solve human problems can be divulged to the general public in a digestible and intriguing way then the question of why we are not using this technology for human concern can be left for people to ponder further in their own time. This method of Socratic questioning seems to be the path of least resistance and one capable of striking common ground with the most people possible.
This perspective does not mean that everyone must become an expert in every area of science, or that anyone would be forced to accept this economic model, or that all the decisions in such a system would be made by an elite group. It simply means that if you want to address a problem in such a society, then you will need to learn about the field of study that pertains to that problem you are trying to address and demonstrate repeatable test results to your peers before your idea is adopted. Once again this is a reasonable proposition to almost everyone but runs in stark contrast to the decision making arena of politics and monetary economics and is precisely why such a system is often very hard for many to consider in a world immersed in politics and business.
The simplicity of the argument for the NLRBE is made in the following video by Peter Joseph, which can be an excellent tool to use as a brief and simplistic introduction to the idea:
Time is precious
Regardless of what we choose to spend our time doing we would do well to remember that every second we are doing something, is another second we will never get back to use on doing something else which could be a potentially far more beneficial use of our time in initiating the much needed shift towards a more peaceful and sustainable social system.
The Trojan Horse communication method
It is my disposition that it is far better to agree wherever possible on at least the level of frustration and concern felt by those we are communicating with, leaving periphery issues to one side if at all possible. This approach should not be taken as simply ‘ducking the issue’ at hand, but rather one of tactics. As the old saying goes, ‘pick your battles’.
There is no guarantee that such subtle tactics will always work of course but we must go with the most likely chance of a positive result. So considering that we tend to be drawn to those who are friendly, welcoming and open to our perspective and share our values, if we align with these as best we can then the person we are communicating with will be far more likely to consider the overall point we are making in due course.
Some of these tactics are outlined by Jacque Fresco in the following examples:
This may seem like manipulation and that is because it is precisely what it is! We are all trying to do this more often than we either realise or care to admit and there is actually nothing wrong with it in my view. As with most things it depends on your intentions in doing so.
As long as we keep our own epistemological process in mind, accepting that we could be wrong in our opinion and be willing to change it if better evidence is presented, then certain tactics in conversation should not be seen as a negative thing, but rather as a positive method of interaction that could be potentially useful in shifting humanities collective social values for the better.
What does the term ‘value shift’ actually mean?
We are all hypocrites to some degree in a price system. We want to see a world based on the intelligent management of the Earth’s resources and the meeting of human need sustainably without the need for a price tag; and yet we have jobs. We want a world without war and yet our taxes pay for the armies and Navies which fight them. It is simply a sliding scale of degree as to personal circumstance and where we are in the social hierarchy as to what we can actually achieve inside a socio-economic system predicated on waste, inefficiency and self preservation in which those with the most money-have the most say.
That being said it should also hopefully be obvious that if you hold and promote unsubstantiated, abhorrent or violent perspectives, drive a hummer, sell arms and eat steak for breakfast lunch and dinner whilst also claiming to support an NLRBE and that all of these clearly unsustainable, detrimental and socially offensive practices should be overlooked because we ‘live in a price system’ is obtuse in the extreme. Not only is this a complete cop out it also hinders your ability to argue for a new sustainable economic model based on the intelligent management of the Earth’s resources as well.
For sanities sake it is worthwhile to keep in mind that radical change of the sort we advocate is usually painstaking, gradual and takes a great deal of poise, patience and leading by example in difficult circumstances. Occasionally a change in someone’s values looks like it happened in the blink of an eye, but all that really means is that you did not see all of the incremental steps before this ‘crystallisation’ effect took place. This perspective may help make the tactic of ‘planting seeds’ an easier strategy to adopt.
The role of satire in shifting values
The issue of effective communication is a complex one and even having said all that I have thus far regarding the importance in establishing empathy with someone where possible; we would be foolish to ignore the major role that satire can play in breaking down communication barriers and helping to shape new perspectives.
This usually only happens with issues the person in question already sympathises with, or is as yet undecided about, helping to cast them in a new light. For this reason using this approach can be difficult to judge regarding where the person you are communicating with stands regarding the issue at hand. None the less it remains a great tactic for slipping in behind the defences of our concious mind and laughing at our own internal contradictions and failings, allowing the space for personal values to shift.
Some of my personal favourites in this style of communication are included below:
Culture in Decline:
Other useful methods which can help to establish a rapport with others could be to try asking more questions in conversation, or to agree with the feeling behind the need being expressed by the person at the time and going on to help to give a fresh perspective on how this need might be met.
This point and many others related to this method of approach are outlined by Jen Wilding in the following talk:
(Once again the point of effective communication is further expanded upon in the article ‘An effective communicative approach’)
So back to the theme of ‘striking the common ground’ via the ‘Trojan Horse’ method. Here are some of the arguments that could be used in certain instances in this regard:
Economic uncertainty, outsourcing, automation and the age of the ‘prosumer’
Due to the exponential rate of technological development the likelihood is that many of the jobs we would have never been able to imagine of as being done by machines, increasingly will be.
It has been the case that with the technological leaps of the past that new labour sectors have emerged in their wake. Technological unemployment is therefore sometimes labelled by it’s critics as the Luddite fallacy, which can be understood by clicking on the following link:
Basically this states that as areas of the economy become automated, human beings retrain in new sectors and employment keeps up pace with technological development (though this does not factor in the retraining time and expense incurred in lost earnings in the interim of course).
However, even the most notable economists and academics are finally facing up to the fact that the speed of the rate of this exponential trend in technological development is now starting to outpace our capability to retrain in new sectors. For a deeper insight and understanding of this topic I recommend visiting the following website:
And by watching the following documentary ‘Will work for free’:
So the future certainly seems more unpredictable than ever with regards to the sanctity of many jobs we have come to think of as sacrosanct in the economy. This trend looks like it could pave the way for more creative and life enhancing job roles to come to the fore in the future labour market, with tasks of a repetitive or information crunching nature being increasingly taken over by machines.
This point is made in the following talk by Daniel Pink regarding his book, ‘A whole new mind’:
These trends bring with them another challenge; zero marginal cost. The age of the ‘prosumer’, which is an increasing convergence of producers, distributors and consumers via such avenues as 3D printing, the internet of things and the collaborative commons are gradually edging their way into the market; making utility items, gifts and other products cost increasingly less with serious knock on effects to all areas of the economy.
This point is expanded upon in the following video by Jeremy Rifkin:
A change in economic reality = A change in educational incentives
Given that extrinsic motivation has been shown to work for the sort of jobs that are likely to be phased out through automation (please see the article ‘A change in educational and social incentives’ for more information on the topic of human motivation) what should our response to educational approach be, for these uncertain times that lay ahead?
Education shapes the future of our economy to a large extent (please see the article ‘Education reflects culture and culture reflects education’ for more on this topic) so it seems that an educational approach geared towards fostering creative skills, autonomy, mastery and purpose would be the most appropriate response regardless of your socio-political or economic persuasion. This requires an educational and business model more akin to the approach outlined in the talk by Daniel Pink above.
An educational model attempting to promote many of these attributes is Montessori Schools:
An education fit for the information age
In the age of open access to information the population at large must be well adept in evaluating the validity of the information to which they are exposed as the subsequent actions taken by them can have serious and detrimental consequences for both themselves and everyone else in society.
The readiness to take the word of an authority figure or settle on an opinion based on a logical fallacy must be mitigated for via the promotion of critical thinking in our educational institutions, regardless of our preferred socio-economic model, if the overall health of society is our collective goal.
A point well made in the following video by Brian Dunning from www.skeptoid.com:
An amusing summary of some of the most common logical fallacies we are susceptible to is summed up in the following info graphic:
A global educational movement to initiate the teaching of critical thinking as a subject in Schools worthy of further investigation is ‘Thinking Schools’:
An education fit for democracy
Democracy in its various incantations is not merely ‘mob rule’. There are stipulations in place in the form of constitutions and rights via the rule of law to ensure (supposedly at least) that the will of the people is carried out.
This point and others are outlined by Federico Pistono in the following video:
If this were your preferred system of societal governance, then the backbone of such a structure is still contingent upon the general public’s ability to think critically about the leaders they elect. If this is not the case, then the integrity of any society will be compromised, as the people will be far more likely to accept weak arguments from incompetent leadership, leaving themselves and their society open for a potentially hostile takeover.
Given this set of criteria, it would surely make sense to ensure that children are encouraged in our schools to question illegitimate authority, spot logical fallacies and become active participants in the process of their own education.
An educational approach with this aim in mind is Democratic Schools:
The argument from a religious perspective
Most people of a religious persuasion tend to focus on the aspects of their faith that call for a more peaceful, charitable and compassionate approach to their fellow man.
The ‘Trojan Horse’ approach in this instance would be to appeal to this disposition in the guise of establishing a socio-economic model capable of delivering on these aims. Eloquently expressed by Jacque Fresco in the following clip:
I have had the opportunity to try this approach on several occasions. Even acting as a member of the congregation in a Church environment and using some of the chapter and verses in the Bible to get across the need to address the inadequacies of our current social system and have received an equally positive and negative response when doing so.
The positive response is usually along the lines that they agree that we should be doing the best by our fellow man by observing the ‘golden rule’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule) as outlined through various religious teachings and state that these sentiments should be conveyed in deed rather than merely words.
The negative response tends to be that they are waiting for the next life and plan to get there through faith and prayer, or perhaps that this world is evil and they are waiting for a messiah to come and save us from ourselves.
I have found there is little that can be done with the latter response, but at least this general tactic of approach garnered a positive response from a sizeable amount of those of a religious persuasion. Whereas my previous hostile approach was only ever met with an equivalent hostility and zero success.
I appreciate the issues that many people have with religious dogma and faith based allegiance. Especially when it leads to the sort of cruel and despotic acts it historically has, and continues to show it’s ability to do. Once again however, the question should be what we want to achieve and what our primary method of approach is in doing so. The most relevant question then becomes what works when delivering the idea of an NLRBE to bring people from all backgrounds and cultures together.
Attacking their position will surely only make them increasingly hostile to the idea of an NLRBE and we can not possibly think that such religious views will have to be overcome in full before we can arrive at such a social condition. If that is the case then I find the prospect of the NLRBE extremely unlikely indeed.
Perhaps we will never overcome mankind’s belief in superstition and mysticism but personally speaking, if we can ultimately get to the stage where we can at least say that we are housing, clothing and feeding everyone on Earth and are no longer at War with each other then to put it frankly, I don’t care.
Whilst on the road to such a world however, any particularly extreme or harmful practices, religious or otherwise should not be tolerated, overlooked or go unchallenged. It seems that we should perhaps reserve our condemnation and criticisms for these moments rather than the vast amount of time spent on attacking those who are the peaceful proponents of the more morally sound aspects of their particular faith. This is not to say that we can not or should not criticize bad ideas and there is certainly a time and place to voice concerns over religious belief so please bear in mind that I am merely talking within the context of conveying the important need for a transition to an NLRBE.
For example, let’s for argument sake entertain the notion that we establish an NLRBE. In a world with no money, no poverty, no war and the needs of the human population met, the need for religious faith would likely be greatly diminished as there is no longer the need for charity or praying for a peaceful world or an end to poverty.
If after these issues have been addressed, people still wish to follow a particular faith then so be it. As long as we rely on the methods of science to ensure that human needs are met in the most sustainable and efficient manner possible rather than superstition, then people can (of course) follow whatever faith they like.
This is clearly a massive topic and one with various tangents so I will not dwell on it further, but rather I will leave some of these points for you to consider within the context of communicating the concepts of an NLRBE.
Are the ‘Trojan Horse’ arguments above enough to establish an NLRBE?
Well, the short answer is no.
And the long answer is not that much longer either in fact, and it is this:
Why leave things down to chance, when we have a better alternative on offer?
The NLRBE is an alternative which we could adopt, were we to adapt our values and behaviour to support such a system. This is something we have done before and which, with the right educational approach, we can do again. We have seen massive changes in social attitude and practices over the course of human history and in the last hundred years especially, so it seems that there is no reason to think that we cannot do so again in the next hundred.
For example the following study shows that, in the initial stages of transition at least, you may not need that many people in favour of shifting public opinion, for an inertia effect to start to take place in social attitudes:
A system disorder
The corrosive effects of the current socio-economic system will not be solved within the paradigm which created them. The entire edifice of our ‘economic’ system is based on increased consumption and the preservation of inefficiency. This leads to waste, competition and gaming strategy inherently by default.
Given such an underpinning the collaborative and interconnected approach needed to address the many issues now facing humanity collectively is diametrically and structurally opposed by our competitive and consumption driven socio-economic system and must be overcome. Not via protest or appeals to authority per se, but via an active change in our personal and collective values in each and every aspect of our lifestyle and habits.
From what we buy to who we buy it from, where we buy it, how we buy it, who we bank with, where we live, how we live, what we eat and how we act in our everyday lives, we must strive to make the necessary changes that both undermine the current system and build the new one from within the old. This will provide a far smoother transition to a sustainable socio-economic system.
If an NLRBE should never come about, then at least you can say you lived a life in accordance with what you thought was right in your short tenure of this planet. This, if nothing else is an achievement to be proud of.
These points regarding transition are expressed in the following talk by Peter Joseph:
This tactic of the welcoming of organisations who share these concerns, but perhaps do not see the necessity to advocate the NLRBE explicitly, is outlined in the following talk by James Phillips:
And in the subsequent presentation series:
Creating the psychological conditions for the emergence of a new train of thought
Although the case to move society and its’s educational approach toward the promotion of the ideas listed on this site could be made in the manner of the ‘Trojan Horse’, it should also be stated that, at the right point in discussion it is worth noting whether it is even worthwhile in continuing on with the current model, considering the damage such practices are having to human and environmental well-being.
This approach is essentially the ‘knockout punch’ and one only worth going for when empathy has been established along with some facts regarding the current state of technological capability in addressing human and environmental problems as well if at all possible.
The very last thing on the list of beneficial communicational tactics in my view is the avocation of an entirely new economic framework which would essentially render the use of a monetary system obsolete. This is too far outside the frame of reference for most to consider and something which involves a great deal of poise, patience, conversational skill and shrewd judgement to impart correctly.
Dismounting from the ‘Trojan horse’
Having recommended the following approaches in this article, it is critical to note that it is probably not worthwhile discussing these issues with anyone who is already deeply entrenched in their current world view. It is far easier to go for the ‘low hanging fruit’ if at all possible. That is, people who already sympathise with the general point regarding the current socio-economic paradigm being outdated, deeply flawed and no longer fit for purpose to those who are actively seeking alternatives. Essentially, the ground work has already been done in this instance and it is therefore far easier to communicate these ideas to people who sympathise with such a disposition. This is outlined further in the article ‘An effective communicative approach’ and is yet another reason for going into schools with this idea.
As is pointed out in the ‘Action in Education’ section of this site children do not have as much ‘mental baggage’ and blockades stopping them from considering these ideas. They still dare to dream of a better future and this is why advocates of the NLRBE should hopefully see the vital importance of taking this information to them in an engaging way.
An organisation with a kindred ambition in mind is Young pioneers. One of Young pioneers aims is in the promotion of positive social endeavours and sustainable practice to young people. You can find out more by visiting their website at:
For the reasons stated above a change in economic and social incentives, as well as an equally dramatic shift in educational policy is required to face the many interconnected problems now facing humanity. If the educational models outlined in this article and on this site were adopted, the seeds could start to be sewn for the susceptibility of public opinion and general social discourse for such a transition in human life to take place.
A summary and example of some of these teaching methods are featured in the following documentaries:
‘The forbidden education’:
And ‘Education for a sustainable future’:
With these points in mind please be sure to visit the ‘Action in Education’ section of this site to see how to go about enacting this much needed change in your local educational institutions.