08 October 2014

Books are better than blogs

text of a letter to an academic

I do not think that my blog is a good way of attracting potential associates. We need to publish and distribute hardback books.

I do not know how we would attract anyone like Christine Fulcher into reading my blog.

Christine Fulcher
of Oxford Forum
When Christine was in her late teens, she was interested in helping a genius. But if someone searched the web using the word ‘genius’, they would get thousands of hits, many of them about Einstein, some about Leonardo da Vinci and other geniuses, but they probably would not find my blog. Christine was not interested in parapsychology, nor particularly in mysticism or gnosticism, and would not have thought of looking for blogs about the problems of high-IQ people, although she is one herself.

So I do not know what keywords I would have to use to attract people like her who might be interested in helping a genius, and who are not necessarily aware that they have the problems that high-IQ people tend to have foisted on them.

In fact, the best way of attracting someone like Christine to come and become an associate would be by having plenty of our books on the shelves of university libraries, and on the shelves of bookshops in general.

There is a phenomenon in economics known as ‘framing’, in which the same cultural product can receive quite different reactions depending on the context. A famous violinist can give a performance at Carnegie Hall in which seats sell for $100, but if the same violinist gives his performance for free on a subway, few people take any interest. A famous professor like Richard Dawkins can write books which are published by a respected publisher and sell in the tens of thousands. If he was unknown, the text of those books, if available for free on the web, might only attract a few hundred readers.

Christine found my book The Human Evasion in the philosophy section of Heffers Bookshop at the University of East Anglia. The title attracted her, and my ideas rang a bell with her. By the time she had read something in the book to the effect that a genius might need help, she was determined to come and see me. After about six weeks, she had already corresponded with me, and she was ringing at the door of 118 Banbury Road. At that time, our books were published by Hamish Hamilton, and their reps were taking them round to bookshops automatically, along with all other current Hamish Hamilton publications.

For any chance of attracting people who are as interested and potentially long-term as Christine, we need to be publishing new books, reissuing all our old books in large quantities, sending thousands of free copies to university libraries in this country and worldwide, and promoting the books to bookshops so that they stock them, probably especially in university towns. For this we need hundreds of thousands of pounds, but any smaller contribution would certainly be welcome.

I appeal for financial and moral support in improving my position. I need people to provide moral support both for fundraising, and as temporary or possibly long-term workers. Those interested should read my post on interns.