Saturday, July 28, 2007
Is the default human being spontaneous? Can a man, caught in daily thoughts, switch to a completely different mode within seconds? How willing is one to do stupid things in the present of completely strangers?
Yesterday we did a little experiment in Nuremberg.
Probably you know this old song with the refrain "mana mana". The question was how many out of ten passers-by would sing along when being addressed with the words "mana mana".
Our rule was to avoid any explanation or greeting but just to stop the stranger with a gesture and confronting him/her with "mana mana".
The result was surprising to me. 7 out of 10 strangers replied with the correct answer "doo doo doodoodoo".
For the first second you could see a mixture of panic and complete puzzlement in their eyes. "What the hell does this guy want from me?". This period was followed by a second of thinking intensely what to do. And in the third second they started to smile and sang. We then walked on immediately leaving a smiling person behind.
It was obvious that working people (a waiter and a taxi driver) were not able to switch to stupidity-mode immediately. A group of Japanese people were totally confused and not able to say anything.
The best person was a cop. We confronted him with "mana mana" and he stared at us with his best stern cop-look. Two seconds later he screamed to a passer-by "could you please take you dog on a leash?" and continued to look very cool.
We counted it as a failure and walked on. But after 10 metres we heard the cop-voice again. The sternness was gone and the voice was singing "doo doo doodoodoo".
For me the experiment was a clear indicator that most people are funny and the all-days-mud that covers it often is not very deep. You just have to begin to dig from time to time.