Part 2: Diffusion of Innovations
© by Frances T. Shure, 2013
Frances Shure, M.A., L.P.C.
Editor’s Note: Frances Shure, M.A., L.P.C., has performed an in-depth analysis addressing a key issue of our time: “Why Do Good People Become Silent – or Worse – About 9/11?” The resulting essay, being presented here as a series, is a synthesis of reports from academic research as well as clinical observations.
In answering the question in the title of this essay, last month’s segment addressed the observation that resistance to information that substantially challenges our worldview is the rule rather than the exception; the various forms of fear that underlie this resistance, our American “sacred myth”; and the observation that many of us unconsciously relate to our governmental leaders as parental figures on whom we project our (often unmet) needs for a protective parent.
Here, in Part 2, Shure expands her analysis with an anthropological study on how new ideas become accepted in societies and a look at the possibilities for acceptance of the truth about what really happened on 9/11.
Anthropologists and rural sociologists have observed that consistently within diverse cultures there can be found groups that vary in their openness to new ideas and technology—groups that fall within a neat bell curve. In each culture, a few adventurous members (only 2.5%) readily adopt innovations. These venturesome folks are called “innovators.”
The opinion leaders (13.5%) come next. Called the “early adopters,” they are influential and respected members of the society. They listen to the innovators, and then, upon reflection, may change their mind-set and adopt the innovation.
The “early majority” (34%) switch after listening to the influential early adopters, and the “late majority” (also 34%) adopt the new way only because it is practical to do so. The “laggards” (the last 16%) may never change their minds.
These percentages hold for situations as disparate as the sale of a new technology from Silicon Valley to a new, paradigm-shifting idea for improving the safety of drinking water in a traditional village in Peru. It makes no difference.1