• Leonardo Da Vinci painted it. He is the foremost Renaissance artist. Artist’s credibility adds to the paintings popularity.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte hung the painting in his master bedroom in 1800. This – I think – was the first tipping point of making the painting one of the most popular paintings in the world.
  • 1804, Mona Lisa is hung in the Louvre – and others can now glimpse at the painting that Napoleon slept with.
  • But the real tipping point for the paintings popularity only hit in August of 1911 – when Mona Lisa is stolen. Stolen from heavily secured Louvre which experts said was impossible. No one knows who stole it or how. Conspiracy theories abound. The painting is talked about in every newspaper.
  • After 2 weeks of much fan fare, Police arrest Guillaume Apollinaire on suspicion of theft. He is the only person they have arrested. Apollinaire implicates Pablo Picasso. The rumor of Picasso stealing the Mona Lisa adds in a lot more fuel in making Mona Lisa very very popular.
  • Picasso is questioned and released. Guillaume Apollinaire himself is released after 5 days. Everyone is still clueless as to who stole the painting. But conspiracy theories abound.
  • Two years after the theft, the Mona Lisa is finally found when an employee working at Louvre tries to sell it to an art gallery in Florence for $100,000.
  • When the Mona Lisa is returned to the Louvre, it draws massive crowds. People visit the Louvre only to see this one painting.
  • And then it hit the Paris Hilton effect. Its popularity added to its popularity. So much so that most people don’t know why it is popular in the first place.

Credits : Reddit user ‘wisard’


What money cannot buy

July 27, 2010

If the economic downturn has clouded your mind with worry, then our new sister site, What Money Cannot Buy, is for you.  Over the past few weeks, What Money Cannot Buy users, a positive, resourceful group of individuals, have submitted dozens of simple pleasures and priceless moments that make them happy and don’t cost a dime.  So ignore the gloomy news forecasters and get your bliss on for free.

Here’s a sample of 44 entries that were recently submitted to the site:

  1. Realizing you were smiling the entire time you were talking to someone, right after you hang up the phone.
  2. The warm coziness of my own bed after I return home from a long business trip.
  3. Playing Rock-Paper-Scissors to settle a decision with one of your friends.
  4. When a wild animal is tame enough to eat food right out of your hand.
  5. Crying on my sister’s shoulder.  Without the help of my family and close friends, I would be lost in a world of emotion, stress, and confusion.
  6. Picking and eating fresh fruit right off the tree.
  7. The joy of watching a baby smile.
  8. The proud look on my 4-year-old son’s face when he learns a new skill.
  9. The bittersweet emotions that rush through your body on the very last day of high school.
  10. Time with the love of my life.  Last May, my husband of 27 years was diagnosed with cancer and given 3 to 6 months to live.  We prayed, cried, loved, and laughed.  Now, 11 months later, we are still savoring every smile, kiss, and breath.  We know these moments will end sooner rather than later, but we are so grateful for the time we do have together.
  11. The rush you get when you’re driving on the open road and your favorite song randomly plays on the radio.
  12. The comforting sound of my father’s car pulling into the driveway when he finally returns from a long business trip.
  13. When my baby girl looked up at me and said, “Daddy!” for the very first time.
  14. Seeing two elderly folks who are madly in love.  It’s a sight of love that has surpassed the tests of time.
  15. Kissing in the rain.
  16. The feeling of cool morning grass under your bare feet when you walk out to get the newspaper at sunrise.
  17. Beginner’s eyes.  You’ll never see it again for the very first time.
  18. The sound and sight of ocean waves.
  19. The feeling you get inside when you go out of your way to make someone’s day a little brighter.  Doing something nice and unexpected for somebody else doesn’t always require money, and often the gesture has more meaning when it doesn’t.
  20. A good photograph of a special moment.  It transforms the moment into a tangible keepsake and helps make the memory of that moment last a lifetime.
  21. A rainbow breaking through the storm clouds on a calm, rainy summer afternoon.
  22. The exhilarating rush of adolescent love.  Those magical moments of adolescent lust and affection that only you and one other person rightly remember.
  23. The little kicks and pokes I feel daily as I enter the last month of my first pregnancy.  It’s truly remarkable!
  24. Sharing a good laugh with friends and family.  Some of the most memorable moments in my life have been moments spent in laughter.
  25. The excitement of swinging on a swing as high as you possibly can.
  26. The simple fact that I can read the sincerity in her eyes when she says, “I love you.”
  27. The awesomeness of skipping rocks across water.  It doesn’t matter how old I get, this one never gets old.
  28. The tears of joy that flow when you see your beloved for the first time after a 10 month deployment to Iraq.  All the months of struggle and loneliness are washed away the second he gets off that plane.
  29. The soothing comfort of an old familiar smell.  Earlier today pulled into my parent’s driveway after being away for over a year.  I could smell familiarity in the air – the scent of the pine tree in the neighbor’s yard.  And as I headed through the front door, more familiar smells consumed my senses.  Gosh, it feels good to be home.
  30. The keen wisdom my grandfather has acquired slowly over the course of 86 years, and the amazing stories and life lessons he shares with me every time I visit him.
  31. A first kiss.  The sweet rush of butterflies in your tummy when you kiss someone special for the very first time.
  32. When you look into the eyes of your best friend and know, without a doubt, that you can trust her.  You can see it in her eyes and you can feel it in your heart.  She has no ulterior motive.
  33. The first sight of daffodils poking through the snow after a long, hard winter.
  34. The realization of true love.  The warm feeling you get many years after your first kiss when you realize you married the right person.
  35. The surreal beauty of watching lightning strike in the distance.
  36. An unexpected compliment.  It seemed like just another dreary Monday morning, but when she walked into my office and said, “I love your shirt! That color looks great on you,” it brightened the rest of my day.
  37. A peaceful, romantic picnic with your significant other on a warm sunny day.
  38. The joy of telling an interesting true story.  One of the most enticing roles we lead in life is that of a storyteller.  There are few things more satisfying than telling a true story that others enjoy listening to.
  39. The feeling of self-confidence is unquestionably priceless. It cannot be purchased with money, but it can buy you more opportunities and take you farther than any amount of money ever could.
  40. The excitement of a white Christmas.
  41. A pillow fight with two of your best friends.
  42. When my cat snuggles up on my chest while I’m laying on my back.  He’s so warm and fuzzy and cute.
  43. Grilled steak and potatoes home-cooked for me by my husband on a lazy Friday night after I’ve had a long week.  Nothing beats sitting at home in my pajamas and eating my favorite food, made by the man I love, with the man I love.
  44. When the song on the radio ends right as you pull into the driveway.

If you enjoyed these simple pleasures and priceless moments, be sure to check What Money Cannot Buy every day for a quick, fresh dose of positive content.




Content from Sternberg, R. (1994). In search of the human mind. New York: Harcourt Brace.

1. Lack of motivation. A talent is irrelevant if a person is not motivated to use it. Motivation may be external (for example, social approval) or internal (satisfaction from a job well-done, for instance). External sources tend to be transient, while internal sources tend to produce more consistent performance.

2. Lack of impulse control. Habitual impulsiveness gets in the way of optimal performance. Some people do not bring their full intellectual resources to bear on a problem but go with the first solution that pops into their heads.

3. Lack of perseverance and perseveration. Some people give up too easily, while others are unable to stop even when the quest will clearly be fruitless.

4. Using the wrong abilities. People may not be using the right abilities for the tasks in which they are engaged.

5. Inability to translate thought into action. Some people seem buried in thought. They have good ideas but rarely seem able to do anything about them.

6. Lack of product orientation. Some people seem more concerned about the process than the result of activity.

7. Inability to complete tasks. For some people nothing ever draws to a close. Perhaps it’s fear of what they would do next or fear of becoming hopelessly enmeshed in detail.

8. Failure to initiate. Still others are unwilling or unable to initiate a project. It may be indecision or fear of commitment.

9. Fear of failure. People may not reach peak performance because they avoid the really important challenges in life.

10. Procrastination. Some people are unable to act without pressure. They may also look for little things to do in order to put off the big ones.

11. Misattribution of blame. Some people always blame themselves for even the slightest mishap. Some always blame others.

12. Excessive self-pity. Some people spend more time feeling sorry for themselves than expending the effort necessary to overcome the problem.

13. Excessive dependency. Some people expect others to do for them what they ought to be doing themselves.

14. Wallowing in personal difficulties. Some people let their personal difficulties interfere grossly with their work. During the course of life, one can expect some real joys and some real sorrows. Maintaining a proper perspective is often difficult.

15. Distractibility and lack of concentration. Even some very intelligent people have very short attention spans.

16. Spreading oneself too think or too thick. Undertaking too many activities may result in none being completed on time. Undertaking too few can also result in missed opportunities and reduced levels of accomplishment.

17. Inability to delay gratification. Some people reward themselves and are rewarded by others for finishing small tasks, while avoiding bigger tasks that would earn them larger rewards.

18. Inability to see the forest for the trees. Some people become obsessed with details and are either unwilling or unable to see or deal with the larger picture in the projects they undertake.

19. Lack of balance between critical, analytical thinking and creative, synthetic thinking. It is important for people to learn what kind of thinking is expected of them in each situation.

20. Too little or too much self-confidence. Lack of self-confidence can gnaw away at a person’s ability to get things done and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Conversely, individuals with too much self-confidence may not know when to admit they are wrong or in need of self-improvement.

Beautiful Sunset

June 17, 2010

Just planned to read today after work and was blessed with clear skies and one of the most amazing sunsets I’ve seen

From Drop Box

The Misconception: You prefer the things we own over the things we don’t because we made rational choices when we bought them.

The Truth: You prefer the things you own because you rationalize your past choices to protect your sense of self.

The Internet changed the way people argue.

Check any comment system, forum or message board and you will find fanboys going at it, debating why their chosen product is better than the other guy’s.

In modern consumer cultures like America, people compete for status through comparing their taste in products. (You can read more on how that works here: Selling Out).

Mac vs. PC, PS3 vs. XBox 360, iPhone vs. Android – it goes on and on.

Usually, these arguments are between men, because men will defend their ego no matter how slight the insult. These are also usually about geeky things that cost lots of money, because these battles take place on the Internet where tech-savvy people get rowdy, and the more expensive a purchase, the greater the loyalty to it.

Fanboyism isn’t anything new, it’s just a component of branding, which is something marketers and advertisers have known about since Quaker Oats created a friendly logo to go on their burlap sacks.

There was, of course, no friendly Quaker family making the oats back in 1877. The company wanted people to associate the trustworthiness and honesty of Quakers with their product. It worked.

This was one of, if not the first, such attempt to create brand loyalty – that nebulous emotional connection people have with certain companies which turns them into defenders and advocates for corporations who don’t give a shit.

In experiments where people were given Coke and Pepsi in unmarked cups and then hooked up to a brain scanner, the device clearly showed a certain number of them preferred Pepsi while tasting it.

When those people were told they where drinking Pepsi, a fraction of them, the ones who had enjoyed Coke all their lives, did something unexpected. The scanner showed their brains scrambling the pleasure signals, dampening them. They then told the experimenter afterward they had preferred Coke in the taste tests.

They lied, but in their subjective experiences of the situation, they didn’t. They really did feel like they preferred Coke after it was all over, and they altered their memories to match their emotions.

They had been branded somewhere in the past and were loyal to Coke. Even if they actually enjoyed Pepsi more, huge mental constructs prevented them from admitting it, even to themselves.

Add this sort of loyalty to something expensive, or a hobby which demands a large investment of time and money, and you get a fanboy. They defend their favorite stuff and ridicule the competition, ignoring facts if they contradict their emotional connection.

So, what creates this emotional connection to stuff and the companies who make doo-dads?

Marketers and advertising agencies call the opposite of fanboys hostages.

Hostages have no choice but to buy certain products, like toilet paper and gasoline. Since they can’t choose to own or not to own the product, they are far less likely to care if one version of toilet paper is better than another, or one gas station’s fuel is made by Shell or Chevron.

On the other hand, if the product is unnecessary, like an iPad, there is a great chance the customer will become a fanboy because they had to choose to spend a big chunk of money on it. It’s the choosing one thing over another which leads to narratives about why you did it.

If you have to rationalize why you bought a luxury item, you will probably find ways to see how it fits in with your self-image.

Branding builds on this by giving you the option to create the person you think you are through choosing to align yourself with the mystique of certain products.

Apple advertising, for instance, doesn’t mention how good their computers are. Instead, they give you examples of the sort of people who purchase those computers. The idea is to encourage you to say, “Yeah, I’m not some stuffy, conservative nerd. I have taste and talent and took art classes in college.”

Are Apple computers better than Microsoft-based computers? Is one better than the other when looked at empirically, based on data and analysis and testing and objective comparisons?

It doesn’t matter.

Those considerations come after a person has begun to see themselves as the sort of person who would own one. If you see yourself as the kind of person who owns Apple computers, or who drives hybrids, or who smokes Camels, you’ve been branded.

Once a person is branded, they will defend their brand by finding flaws in the alternative choice and pointing out benefits in their own.

There are a number of cognitive biases which converge to create this behavior.

The Endowment Effect pops up when you feel like the things you own are superior to the things you do not.

Psychologists demonstrate this by asking a group of people how much they think a water bottle is worth. The group will agree to an amount around $5, and then someone in the group will be given the bottle for free.

Then, after an hour, they ask the person how much they would be willing to sell the bottle back to the experimenter for. They usually ask for more money, like $8.

Ownership adds special emotional value to things, even if those things were free.

Another bias is the Sunk Cost Fallacy. This is when you’ve spent money on something you don’t want to own or don’t want to do and can’t get it back.

For instance, you might pay too much for some takeout food that really sucks, but you eat it anyway, or you sit through a movie even after you realize it’s terrible.

Sunk Cost can creep up on you too. Maybe you’ve been a subscriber to something for a long time and you realize it costs too much, but you don’t end your subscription because of all the money you’ve invested in the service so far.

Is Blockbuster better than Netflix, or Tivo better than a generic DVR? If you’ve spent a lot of money on subscription fees, you might be unwilling to switch to alternatives because you feel invested in the brand.

These biases feed into the big daddy of behaviors which is most responsible for branding, fanboyism and Internet arguments about why the thing you own is better than the thing the other guy owns – Choice Supportive Bias.

Choice Supportive Bias is a big part of being a person, it pops up all the time when you buy things.

It works like this: You have several options, like say for a new television. Before you make a choice you tend to compare and contrast all the different qualities of all the televisions on the market.

Which is better, Samsung or Sony, plasma or lcd, 1080p or 1080i – ugh, so many variables!

You eventually settle on one option, and after you make your decision you then look back and rationalize your actions by believing your television was the best of all the televisions you could have picked.

In retail, this is a well-understood phenomenon, and to prevent Buyer’s Remorse they try not to overwhelm you with choice. Studies show if you have only a handful of options at the point of purchase, you will be less likely to fret about your decision afterward.

It’s purely emotional, the moment you pick. People with brain damage to their emotional centers who have been rendered into Spock-like beings of pure logic find it impossible to decide between things as simple as which cereal to buy. They stand transfixed in the aisle, contemplating every element of their potential decision – the calories, the shapes, the net weight – everything. They can’t pick because they have no emotional connection to anything, no emotional motivations.

To combat postdecisional dissonance, the feeling you have committed to one option when the other option may have been better, you make yourself feel justified in what you selected to lower the anxiety brought on by questioning yourself.

All of this forms a giant neurological cluster of associations, emotions, details of self-image and biases around the things you own.

This is why all over the Internet there are people in word fights over video games and sports teams, cell phones and TV shows.

The Internet provides a fertile breeding ground for this sort of behavior to flourish.

So, the next time you reach for the mouse and get ready to launch and angry litany of reasons why your favorite – thing – is better than the other person’s, hesitate.

Realize you have your irrational reasons, and so do they, and nothing will be gained by your proselytizing.

100% credits to : http://youarenotsosmart.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/fanboyism-and-brand-loyalty/

The brain’s reward for getting a concept is a shot of natural opiates

Neuroscientists have proposed a simple explanation for the pleasure of grasping a new concept: The brain is getting its fix.
The “click” of comprehension triggers a biochemical cascade that rewards the brain with a shot of natural opium-like substances, said Irving Biederman of the University of Southern California. He presents his theory in an invited article in the latest issue of American Scientist.

“While you’re trying to understand a difficult theorem, it’s not fun,” said Biederman, professor of neuroscience in the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

“But once you get it, you just feel fabulous.”

The brain’s craving for a fix motivates humans to maximize the rate at which they absorb knowledge, he said.

“I think we’re exquisitely tuned to this as if we’re junkies, second by second.”

Biederman hypothesized that knowledge addiction has strong evolutionary value because mate selection correlates closely with perceived intelligence.

Only more pressing material needs, such as hunger, can suspend the quest for knowledge, he added.

The same mechanism is involved in the aesthetic experience, Biederman said, providing a neurological explanation for the pleasure we derive from art.

“This account may provide a plausible and very simple mechanism for aesthetic and perceptual and cognitive curiosity.”

Biederman’s theory was inspired by a widely ignored 25-year-old finding that mu-opioid receptors – binding sites for natural opiates – increase in density along the ventral visual pathway, a part of the brain involved in image recognition and processing.

The receptors are tightly packed in the areas of the pathway linked to comprehension and interpretation of images, but sparse in areas where visual stimuli first hit the cortex.

Biederman’s theory holds that the greater the neural activity in the areas rich in opioid receptors, the greater the pleasure.

In a series of functional magnetic resonance imaging trials with human volunteers exposed to a wide variety of images, Biederman’s research group found that strongly preferred images prompted the greatest fMRI activity in more complex areas of the ventral visual pathway. (The data from the studies are being submitted for publication.)

Biederman also found that repeated viewing of an attractive image lessened both the rating of pleasure and the activity in the opioid-rich areas. In his article, he explains this familiar experience with a neural-network model termed “competitive learning.”

In competitive learning (also known as “Neural Darwinism”), the first presentation of an image activates many neurons, some strongly and a greater number only weakly.

With repetition of the image, the connections to the strongly activated neurons grow in strength. But the strongly activated neurons inhibit their weakly activated neighbors, causing a net reduction in activity. This reduction in activity, Biederman’s research shows, parallels the decline in the pleasure felt during repeated viewing.

“One advantage of competitive learning is that the inhibited neurons are now free to code for other stimulus patterns,” Biederman writes.

This preference for novel concepts also has evolutionary value, he added.

“The system is essentially designed to maximize the rate at which you acquire new but interpretable [understandable] information. Once you have acquired the information, you best spend your time learning something else.

“There’s this incredible selectivity that we show in real time. Without thinking about it, we pick out experiences that are richly interpretable but novel.”

The theory, while currently tested only in the visual system, likely applies to other senses, Biederman said.

Edward Vessel, who was Biederman’s graduate student at USC, is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Neural Science at New York University. Vessel collaborated on the studies and co-authored the American Scientist article.

JUNE 20, 2006

Everyone whom I seem to talk to these days, says, the glorious days of IT are over. Looking at this statement from a different perspective, makes me feel that, this is not true somehow. The days of easy money are definitely over. But as the global marketplaces and industries move towards automation of their daily tasks, the demand for IT will sustain. IT looks like a field which is mature in itself, but its not at the level where it should be. We come across clumsily designed systems all around. The reason is, the limited budgets IT department gets to work with. This makes me think, about what kind of jobs would have a very good demand a couple of years from now!
The kind of jobs that merge business with IT and make the business understand the value of IT. An individual who has strong business skills as well as technology, could be invaluable to an organization.
He could be described as a technical BA, but the title doesn’t do justice. He could be more accurately described as a software evangelist( in simple words an Internal sales guy), who can sell the product to the business and set expectations with them. This is a very niche space, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we see a lot more demand in this space.