Is it just me, or does every best seller/big insight is about dashing our 'conventional wisdom' all to heck?
Freakonomics, Everything Bad is Good for You, Small Giants (which I'm loving), Small is the New Big, Paradox of Choice, The World is Flat, The Long Tail and now A Perfect Mess...just to name a few...it's like we are begging authors to tell us that everything we once believed in is wrong. I mean, really, how interesting would books that proved exactly what we already know be?
And, the more controversial the diet or exercise program, the more popular it seems to become. Forget fat! Carbs are the killer! Aerobics? Terrible for you...try stretching and breathing.
This stuff isn't new, but it can teach us a couple of things:
- If you want to write a best seller, take something that people hold sacred and profess the exact opposite. ;)
- Stuff that appears opposite of the way we expected it to appear catches our attention
- "Conventional wisdom" does not mean truth nor wisdom
In fact, all of those counterintuitive "truths" will be disproven someday themselves.
One of the subjects that fascinated me in university was post-postmodernism. You see, modernism was the idea that traditional things were becoming outdated and that people needed to advance and go forward with art, science, etc. Post-modernism was the 'counter' movement that said, "Nah, by rejecting the traditional, we live in opposition to our history, so we should transcend that dichotomy." One was absolute, the other was anti-absolutist. A professor of mine once said:
"There are no absolute truths"
Which she followed with an ironic giggle and broke into a post-postmodernist diatribe. Post-postmodernism? Well, it's kind of the counter-countermovement that says that the other stuff is all just rubbish and we just 'are'...kind of a return to normal...ish. As well as a very ironic look at a movement (postmodernism) that tended to reinforce everything it was trying to eclipse.
Whew! I kept getting lost, too. That's when I decided to look at each experience as it is...and stop trying to over-analyze things in macro-truths and theories. And people will almost always act in the opposite way you want/expect them to in the end anyway. (you see I said "almost always" - no absolutes. ;))
So, yes...counterintuitive is good, but it really only offers an additional perspective and should mostly act to demonstrate that, well, nobody knows the answer to everything.