Random thoughts: An irrational mental block of mine

Since we’ve been publishing more articles on cognitive bias over at Better Humans, I’ve been looking out for more of my irrational patterns of thought.

And I found one.

Have you ever heard that software developers lean toward literal interpretation?

It’s been a long time since I was a full time software developer, but there are still some of those patterns of thought happening in my brain.

Here’s my issue.

I’ve been explaining to friends how we want to relaunch Better Humans as publication based on trust.

This is a classic programmer explanation where I tell you the feature (trust) and then leave it to you to determine why that feature matters.

What I really want to get at is “Better Humans should be the first place you look for personal development advice.”

And there happens to be a pretty good corrollary that lets me use the cliche Startup explanation technique: “We’re going to do <insert successful company name> for <insert new use case>.”

If you know the publication, The WireCutter, then this will make sense: “Better Humans is The Wire Cutter for Personal Development.”

I needed to buy a new router, went to the Wire Cutter, read their recommendation and reasoning, bought their recommendation. The experience saved me hours of debate and research. I did all that because I trust the Wire Cutter.

If you can’t tell, the Wire Cutter is a product review site.

Well, the problem with my Wire Cutter analogy is that not everyone has heard of the Wire Cutter. In fact, on a recent call, only half of the people I was talking to had ever heard of it.

If you’ve heard of the Wire Cutter, then you (probably) get that I want Better Humans to be a place that you trust, with comprehensive information on every personal development topic you might care about (fasting, pomodoro, GTD, etc).

But if you haven’t heard of the Wire Cutter… then the analogy makes zero sense.

That’s a long lead in for my mental block.

An alternative analogy is to use Consumer Reports.

Better Humans is Consumer Reports for Personal Development. I’ve tested that phrase and it works well. Most people get it. The phrase helps me communicate what I’m trying to communicate.

The block is that I don’t trust Consumer Reports. At all. I think it’s a scam.

The last time we bought a car, we used a Consumer Reports service called “Build and Buy.”

You literally pick all the features of the car you want and then Consumer Reports tells you where to go to buy it. Because we’re thorough, we picked out our car, found the car dealer and then called the car dealer to make sure our car was there. Yes they said.

Then we showed up on the lot. The car wasn’t there. It had never been there. The entire Build and Buy service was a bait-and-switch scam to get you on to a car lot.

I’m still mad about this — mainly because it was a complete betrayal of the Consumer Reports brand.

And so, when I say “Better Humans is Consumer Reports for Personal Development,” I choke.

The literal meaning to me is “we’re building a scam.”

Consumer Reports for Personal Development — it’s a phrase that works pragmatically to communicate but which is also literally the opposite of what I mean. So… what to do?

This isn’t actually a big problem. I just wrote it up because the block was interesting to me. I’m not going to use either phrase very often and when I need it, I’ll use the one that works better (Consumer Reports). So, like I said, not a real problem.

More so, just another reminder that brains are weird and that observing our own minds is interesting. Do you have any mental blocks like this?

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