Thursday, May 25, 2006

Spot the Anonymous Writer!

I think there are three factors upon which depends the amount you appreciate a certain product:

1) The quality of the product
2) Your impression of the person producing the product
3) Whether you've paid for it or not

The first of these factors speaks for itself -- you're bound to appreciate a better product more than a worse one. No surprise there.

The effects of the other two factors are often underestimated.

People tend to appreciate something that comes from someone they believe is good more than something of the same quality from someone they don't know. For example, if Scott Adams were to write an anonymous guest post on this blog, I doubt people would find it quite as funny as they would were he to post the same thing on his own blog. The reason is quite simple -- you've conditioned yourself to believe that he's funny and that I'm not. I suppose he could write a post that's little more than the English translation of the national anthem of Burkina Faso and you'd drive yourself crazy trying to figure out where the joke was that you were missing. You're sure it's there -- you just can't find it! (You then take this to be an example of his brilliant "joke hiding" skills and praise him even further!)

Ever wondered how a famous author can come out with a terrible book and people still read it? Or how a great band can release a tuneless album and still have it go platinum? I sometimes believe famous artists will purposely bring out a truckload of rubbish, just so that they can sit back in their plush leather recliners and watch people make a mad scramble for it. Bottom line -- if you like someone, you'll even like his crap.

People also tend to appreciate stuff that they pay for more than stuff they get for free. I suppose the "If I've already paid for this, I might as well try to enjoy it" routine plays its part here. If I've got something I don't like for free I can easily throw it away; if I've paid for something I don't like it's not that easy to let go off.

This is the main reason why people guffaw at comedy shows by famous stand up comics. Half the time, they aren't even all that funny. But they have two major points in their favor -- they're famous and you've paid an entry fee! Try telling the same jokes at the water-cooler the next day and watch people stare blankly at you.

Oh, by the way, Scott Adams already guest-writes on this blog. Now go find out which posts are actually his!


ruhey said...

We are too conditioned to believe that...hehe;)

nice post...

Arnold said...

ruhey - thanks

KT said...

Look who's dreaming! Scott Adams is way up there man. Maybe you should start using BOCTAOE. That will probably the closest you will get to Scott Adams.

Kunal said...

I demand you apologise to Scott Adams for this offensive insult!

_ð!®†ß¤¥ said...

Conditioning is a part of 'going with the flow'.. Anyone who DOESN'T go with the flow, is bound to appreciate something worth appreciating, without caring for the source. Anyways, good analysis. Too bad Scott cant sue u..

Anna said...

Scott Adams has already written an anonymous post on your blog!!
As if you would keep mum about it if that were true!!
You would announce it first thing!

Arnold said...


kunal - Dear Mr S. Adams, I am truly sorry I allowed you to write any of the posts on my blog. I also apologize for ever having referred to you as 'funny'.

Yours Sincerely, Arnold

facesmasher - well, he certainly can't after my letter of apology above

Anna - I'd have crowed about it earlier, but I didn't really think it was a big deal....