Who controls your Cognitive Map?

Cognitive Map

“..elites in a society typically maintain their power not simply by controlling the means of production (ie money), but by dominating the cultural discourse too (ie a society’s intellectual map). And what is most important in relation to that cognitive map is not what is overtly stated and discussed – but what is left unstated, or ignored. Or as he wrote: “The most successful ideological effects are those which have no need of words, and ask no more than a complicitous silence.

Quote from FT article on 20th August 2009 by Gillian Tett

Gillian Tett is chair of the editorial board and editor-at-large, US of the Financial Times. She is also a Social Anthropologist by training and one of the very few people I have heard link that area to Leadership and Business. The article linked above is a telling story which can help us understand how we got into such a global financial crisis around that time.

She has often referred to this around the idea of “controlling the cognitive map”. I recommend reading around the concept of how we construct out intellectual or cognitive maps both as individuals and societally.

In the UK and USA right now, the part of the quote I put in bold is one that I find quite chilling in terms of our social discourse and the cognitive maps we seem to carry individually and as groupings in society.

Perhaps if we all learned more about about how we end up developing such maps so as to understand how we can allow our minds to be controlled, then we may start thinking, acting, even voting more clearly.

A few earlier posts you may wish to read would include: “You cannot eliminate your biases“, “188 Cognitive Biases“, “A coaching tool from the 13th century“, “What are you risking due to your biases?“. Above all, remember, “the map is not the territory“.


Also published on Medium.

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