Monday, March 31, 2014

Da Vinci's Demon's Blood of Brothers shows us how Big Talk can turn the tide on anyone

Lorenzo de'Medici as he appears in "Blood of Brothers."
I am so glad that Da Vinci's Demons is back on Starz! I know it doesn't follow the actual history of the character of Leonardo Da Vinci all that well. However, I do like the times when his inventiveness is allowed to be used in a real life situation. In "The Blood of Brothers," the clever idea for the week is to employ brass panels, which are used to surround the city center in order to amplify Lorenzo's voice (Lorenzo Medici is Leonardo's patron and basically the ruler of Florence). With Lorenzo's brother, Giuliano, dead there's rioting and mayhem in the streets as the people do not know of the fate of their ruler or (for that matter) what's going on.

So how does the idea come to fruition? Well, Leonardo observes members of the conspirators whipping a crowd into a froth. Only the thing is, you can't hear what their saying. Basically only the people directly around the podium are able to hear anything at all. This gives Leonardo the genius of applying the principle of Big Talk to win arguments.

And you know what? Big Talk is actually a real thing.

Here's the observation/study behind this statement:

Pairs of people were shown two sequences of images. One had an image that the pairs were supposed to notice, but both sequences went by quickly. Much of the time, people were unsure which sequence contained the target image. Afterward, each member of the pair made a guess as to which sequence contained the target image. If the pairs disagreed, they had to follow one of two procedures. One group exchanged written communication only. Another was allowed to talk. Neither side did badly. However, the written communication only pairs came up with better results. The reason the verbal communicators did so poorly? Big Talkers drowned out the silent minority.

The people who were allowed to talk did not improve their accuracy, but they radically improved their own opinion of their accuracy. In other words, people talk themselves into believing that they're right. More talk doesn't convince them otherwise, so they're lacking vital data that the silent pairs had. So basically, talking obscures the situation. Outside of this study, this kind of behavior goes on in any number of scenarios. Just think of the last time you couldn't get a word in edgewise because someone was talking over you about something.

Well, employing this principle is exactly what Leonardo Da Vinci did in "The Blood of Brothers," and it worked like it should have (and was absolutely brilliant to boot). Lorenzo's speech outshouts anything the conspirators can say, the mob listens, events turn around quickly as the people of Florence proclaim their allegiance to the de'Medici family, and the conspirators all get rounded up and summarily executed.

The lesson here is this: for a debate to be fair, both sides need equal time. One side shouldn't be allowed to outshout the other. The side that does get outshouted is probably going to lose. It doesn't even matter if they're right. That's just how humans roll.

"Blood of Brothers" was a fantastic end to the whole plot arc that we can now assume goes in the direction of Leonardo and his quest for the Book of Leaves. If only all shows could be this clever. If you have time, check out the new title credits for season 2. How can you go wrong with a lead-in of the Mona Lisa?

Da Vincis Demons titles season 2 from HUGE on Vimeo.


  1. Starz does come up with some really good shows. I like series that not only feast the eyes but boggles and challenges the mind as well.

    Oh and did you see the season finale of The Walking Dead last night?

  2. Haven't seen the show - don't have Starz.
    Makes sense. The talk loud and passionate, convincing themselves and everyone around them.
    Ironically, there's a saying that in an argument, he who talks the most is usually wrong...

  3. I'm so proud of the whole cast! I remember when they tweeted me a year or so ago when the show hasn't yet started and they didn't know the show would be such a worldwide success. Love what both Tom Riley and my dear Eliott Cowan did with their characters.
    So far the second season has been great!

  4. Haven't see this show yet, but because of your post, I'm going to hunt it down. Interesting concept, Big Talk. I was married to a big talker...but never mind that. I did see a whole afternoon of Game of Thrones. I hadn't see most of last year's episodes so yesterday, I
    feasted. Can't wait for the new season to begin.

  5. Big Talk via Rush Limbaugh and Fox "News" has really screwed American political discourse over.

  6. This program is so far afield from the factual Leonardo that I just couldn't get into it.

  7. @Sheena: I did see the Walking Dead season finale last night! I'm going to write about it for Wednesday. How are Rick and the crew going to get out of the lair of the cannibals?!

    @Alex: Good luck with A to Z!

    @Dezmond: I do miss Giuliano but the show does capture my imagination.

    @Em-Musing: It's very enjoyable.

    @Pat: I agree

    @Stephen: It's not supposed to be fact but more of a vehicle to showcase the brilliance of a man and an age. A show like Da Vinci's demons needs you to just sit back and enjoy it for what it is and not hold it to the truth of actual historical events.

  8. Yeah, they've been doing that big talk on cable news channels for years. That's why things have gotten so polarized.

    I keep meaning to get into this show, but I just jettisoned three series that I used to watch due to lack of time. I guess I'll have to succumb and get Netflix and get caught up.

  9. Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are sad, ugly examples of speakers who shout to drown out voices of reason and fact. I really wish we would teach people from an early age how to truly LISTEN to what someone is saying, to reason out one's own opinion (NOT rationalize), and to think clearly and debate civilly.

    I know (sigh)-- fat chance that will ever happen.

  10. Wait, another show I haven't heard of until now? I bow my head in shame. :)

  11. That's fascinating stuff! We all know it's like to having someone talk over us and win the argument through sheer volume.

    I saw one episode of Da Vinci's demons but it was somewhere in the middle and I was totally lost about what was going on. I'll have to go back and watch it all from the beginning.


  12. Haven't seen the show, but I'm trying to watch some TV at least.