Story Warriors #020:  Tim Ash On Our Primal Brain and “The Big Lie”

Story Warriors #020:
Tim Ash On Our Primal Brain and “The Big Lie”

“There’s no such thing as a rational decision.”

“As humans, we believe we’re special,” says Tim Ash, an authority on evolutionary psychology and digital marketing.

“Traditional western thinking is that reasoning is our highest attainment, and that’s what makes us qualitatively different from other animals,” Tim says.

“Socrates and those like him basically said that we need to tame the wild horses of our emotions, that which undermines us,” and our ability to do that is what makes us qualitatively different from other animals.

“It’s just not true!” he says.

“It’s the big lie.”

At least 95 percent of our life is on autopilot, according to Tim, and it’s stuff we inherited from, and share with, the earliest forms of life on earth.

“So if you’re going to understand how we really work, you have to retrace that whole evolutionary arc.”

That’s exactly what Tim did in his eye-opening book, Unleash Your Primal Brain – Demystifying how we think and why we act.

Tim’s had his eyes wide open since he was a child.

As Russian Jews, his parents were among the few to be able to emigrate from the Soviet Union in the mid-70s.

Thanks to his Uncle Saul in New York, his parents found work in Albany, NY and showed up there in mid-February.

“My parents immediately stuck my younger brother and me in public schools. We didn’t speak a word of English,” Tim says.

Within two years, Tim won the fifth grade spelling bee. “And the winters in Albany were at least nicer than Moscow,” he laughs.

But nicer climates awaited. Tim went to UC San Diego, where he majored in computer science, and soon became an early mover in digital marketing.

He was co-founder and CEO of SiteTuners, a strategic digital optimization agency where he developed expertise in user-centered design, neuromarketing and persuasion.

“You can’t fake persuasion,” he says.

“Either total strangers show up on your site and they act, or they don’t,” he says.

“So we figured out what really works. A lot of it was based on this evolutionary psychology stuff, durable principles on how people really make decisions.”

Central to that, of course, is storytelling. It plays a central role in the primal brain.

“We can’t resist stories. They’re like a back door, a trap door, into our heads. They very quickly dismantle any notion of objectivity, because we get caught up in syncing up with the storyteller and experiencing that story.”

In this episode of Story Warriors, Tim shares some awesome mojo on the primal brain, evolutionary psychology and persuasion in storytelling.

It’s a fast-moving, dynamic conversation with a guy that Entrepreneur Magazine listed among the Top 15 Online Marketing Influencers To Watch and who Forbes called one of the Top 10 Online Marketing Experts.

Are you ready to explore your primal brain while going inside the mind of one of today’s thought leaders?

It’s right here on Story Warriors, the podcast for crafting great stories.

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