The Magic Word That Turns Off Our Brains

You should always be learning more, because no one sails through life without making sacrifices.

That’s why I recently decided to learn more about “false becauses.”

A false because is pretty self-explanatory: a because that gives incorrect information.

A true because might be: I woke up because my alarm went off.

An absolutely false because would be: I woke up because carrots are vegetables.

Here’s an example of the false because in action: Back in the 70’s, a group of psychologists decided to find out how many people would let them cut in line to use the photocopier.

First, they had someone go to the front of the line and ask, “May I cut you in line?” 60% of the time, the person in line let them cut. Another person would ask, “May I cut you in line because I am running late?” Those who gave this reason were allowed to cut 94% of the time. Giving a specific reason for needing to skip the line made other people much more likely to oblige.

But the psychologists decided to test something else, too. What if they gave a nonsensical reason to cut in line? A third person now asked, “May I cut you in line because I need to make copies?”

Even with this phony reason (surely everyone in line is waiting to make copies!), 93% were allowed to cut, just about the same percentage as those who said they were running late!

There’s something about the word “because” that triggers an “oh, okay, that makes sense” in our brains. We don’t even think about it. We like “becauses,” well, because they provide an explanation.

But if we can justify a behavior by using the magic word “because,” we can convince ourselves to do nearly anything, even if it makes ZERO sense!

Now when people say “because,” it lights up blue in my head, and I always ask myself if the “because” makes sense.

It almost never does.

And that made me wonder – what are the false becauses I am telling myself? Can I not start my own business because I don’t have a ton of money? Can I not exercise because it takes too much effort? Can I not publish a book because I am too busy? Do any of my reasons make sense, or are they just part of a story I’ve been telling myself?

What about you? What are the false becauses holding you back?

I hope you’ve learned something from this post. You should leave a comment, because the word “comment” starts with a consonant.

PS: Re-read the first sentence of this blog post. Did you vaguely agree with this when you first read it? What do you think of it now?

17 thoughts on “The Magic Word That Turns Off Our Brains

    • Perhaps the first sentence makes sense in some very “lateral thinking” way, but I tried to make it nonsensical! I like the because you stuck in there 🙂


  1. Great post 🙂
    I went back and read the first sentence again, and this time I knew it for a “false because”. Originally, it was just vaguely mystifying and made me read the post… perhaps the whole point to a false because, it gets your attention.

    Also, yes, my life would have worked out differently if I wasn’t constantly writing my own script chock full of false becauses 🙂


  2. Hhaha, this is good. I have not thought anything yet at the first sentence above, except that ‘sacrifices’ don’t really fit in. My amore often mocks my ‘because’ sentences and now I know why. Thanks!


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