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Communicating The New: Methods to Shape and Accelerate Innovation by Kim Erwin

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CHAPTER 1: Theories, writers, and references for “Finding the conceptual center”

On “knowing what you know”

The 95 percent figure for unconscious brain activity is bandied about on various Web pages. But the origin of this highly specific number is more of a story, and thus difficult to cite. As explained to me by Professor John Bargh, a social psychologist at Yale University, it starts with his article, “The Automaticity of Everyday Life” (Advances in Social Cognition, Vol X). This article is the lead article, which then includes commentary by other academics responding to Bargh's research; lastly, the book ends with a closing response by Bargh himself. It is in this closing response that the “95%” figure emerges. But it was intended, he clarifies for me, as a lighthearted reference to the “99.44% pure” slogan of the Dove soap ad, in a response to criticism by Dr. Roy Baumeister and Kristin Sommer—not as a serious measurement. Bargh states, “I think it is important not to take at least my and Baumeister's figures too seriously,” as they were part of a friendly debate between social psychologists. Numbers aside, Bargh and other neuroscientists continue to maintain that the vast majority of brain activity is automatic or unconscious—numbers as high as 99 percent have been floated—but ...

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