The messages within my latest book “The Psychoic Revolution” are generating plenty of traction at the moment. This month I have had many invitations to talk on the subject. They included a guest appearance on BBC One Sunday Morning Live, interviews on BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Radio Guernsey, RNIB Connect, and articles in the Sun, Metro, Soul & Spirit, and Female First.
In a nutshell I explain in the book how our words are a poor approximation of our thoughts. This is why we confuse ourselves and others. This is why fake news stories are more likely to be believed than true ones.
In the good old days a newspaper headline was designed to sell the whole story and the newspaper. Now the headline is the story.
The ambiguity of our language and the rapid growth of social media has created a perfect storm. Now we are at the mercy of the news manipulators and every country in the world is concerned about this. The rise of populism is evidence of how our thoughts and emotions can be manipulated by others, sometimes for good, and sometimes to pursue dark agendas.
The genie is now out of the bottle and there is little that anyone can do about this. Perhaps the best start is to try and understand how and why this has happened so that we can protect ourselves from the worst effects of fake news.
This is a summary of where I believe we are right now, and was prepared by my author consultancy.
Humans are more gullible today than in their 10million-year history and struggle to differentiate between truth and the most “blatant” lies, one of the UK’s leading physicians has claimed.
Evolution has robbed mankind of its innate intuition and has left it largely unable to spot fact from fiction, Dr Stephen Simpson, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, said.
Prior to the emergence of speech, some 50,000 years ago, anatomically modern Homo sapiens relied on body language and ‘gut feeling’ for survival.
Understanding facial expressions, mannerisms and physical responses, and trusting an instinctive ‘hunch’, was essential to avoiding – or initiating – violent conflict.
But as speech evolved during the Upper Palaeolithic period, or Old Stone Age, and as physical threats diminished over subsequent millennia, our reliance on non-verbal communication started to wane.
Today, those in-built “bullsh*t radars” are so inadequate that modern humans have become almost entirely dependent on and susceptible to the spoken and written word.
Digital transformation and the advent of social media have and continue to accelerate the rate of biological devolution.
It has left society more trusting than ever before and may explain our inability to easily distinguish between real and ‘fake’ news, Dr Simpson, an elite mind coach and a practising doctor for more than 40 years, said.
Speaking at the London launch of The Psychoic Revolution, his new book which summarises the claims, he said: “The evolution and ‘modernisation’ of verbal communication has introduced incalculable benefits to the human race, but so too has it robbed us of one of the most important, and invaluable, tools.
“Modern day man can no longer rely on its innate intuition, which has eroded – slowly at first and in more recent years at phenomenal speed – to the point that it is withered, weakened and now largely obsolete in most aspects of our life.”
Dr Simpson, a TEDx speaker and bestselling author whose new book offers a guide to boosting our intuitive abilities, added: “Where once we could recognise threats and identify good people from bad through our ancient bullsh*t radars – revealing body language and expressions – we must now make unconsidered assumptions based on what others say and write.
“We have by definition become a more open, trusting and more gullible society than ever before, which in turn leaves us more susceptible to the machinations of online trolls and fake news creators, to the propaganda of extremist groups, and to the blatant lies we hear on a daily basis by some manipulators of truth in power.”
Studies have long shown that biological intuition – often called a hunch or ‘gut feeling’ – does exist.
Experts believe it is controlled by the ‘limbic’ and ‘reptilian’ parts of our brain that have been around since prehistoric times and that it is responsible for helping us to reach faster, better and more accurate decisions about people and situations.
Before the advent of speech, however, Dr Simpson believes that intuitive ability to read people was up to 10 times stronger than what it is today.
By interpreting body language and physical gestures without the “ambiguity and deception” of language, Homo sapiens would have had far greater intuition or ‘psychic’ power than what we have today.
Our inability to spot fake news and our susceptibility to extremist and governmental propaganda are among the byproducts of weakened intuition in modern society.
His hypothesis draws upon a 40-year career in medicine, a lifelong interest in biology and psychology, his corporate experience of leadership and motivation in the workplace, and upon his own independent studies as a Master Practitioner and trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) spanning more than a decade.
Dr Simpson, who runs a Harley Street practice and counts British professional poker player Chris Moorman – the all-time leader in career online poker tournament earnings – among his clients, said: “The evolution of language is a double-edge sword in biological terms.
“The problem is that when we gain a new skill we tend to lose an old one. It’s a little like GPS – now we can navigate within an inch of A to B but remove the technology and we’re all lost as we’re losing the skill of navigation.
“Our innate intuition is now so minimal and so infrequently used that people are fast losing the ability to read one another and to recognise truth behind the lies and deliberate manipulation and deception of language.”