"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Friday, 20 August 2010


I have just returned from a weekend in Belgrade attending the wedding of Serbian friends - and have neglected this blog, so I now intend to make amends.

The image, by the way, is a detail of one of the mosaics being made for the adornment of the walls of the church of St. Sava, in the process of being built in that city.


It is said that dog owners get to look like their pets over time. Perhaps cat owners also grow to look like their feline friends. But have you ever noticed a couple grow to look alike over the years they live together?

For many years I commuted by train to London for my work. A couple regularly traveled on the same train. They would arrive at the platform together in the morning, and I would see them meet up together on the London platform to go home. They were a very devoted couple, both quite short, dumpy (meant in the politest way, not meant to offend), and clearly comfortable with each others' company without feeling the need for constant chatter.

The years went by and I stopped the commute, when I set up in business locally. And what a relief it was, to not have to join the crowded train, stand for miles of the journey, put up with coughs and colds all around me, and the increasing annoyance of listening to other people on their phones and of the jangle of their walkmen (who remembers those?!) from badly fitting earphones.

Many years have passed. I am now retired. And guess what? The other day I saw the very same couple - obviously now retired - walking together down our high street. And they now look so alike I was amazed. And clearly still happily together. But what is going on here?

Apparently it is true - people who live together really do get to look more like each other. Why? Partly apparently because of shared diets and nutrition. We are, after all, what we eat, so it is said. But much is due to the fact that we imitate facial expressions and are susceptible to other social influences. And, incidentally, couple who end up looking like each other tend to be happier!

This is not just quirky information with no significance. In fact social influences can determine the way our society develops.

I am reading Nudge, the bestselling book by Thaler and Sunstein, the book I would love to have written myself, as it explains how human behaviour can be changed by.....nudging! This has enormous potential significance for our future and is a fascinating read. Do get it. Depending on who reads this and the action they then take, this book will change our lives for ever, for better or worse.

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