Inertia and The Status Quo



inertia decade outdated
proof majority breakthrough
adopt stick (2) productive
flaw cancer to the contrary
admit declare empathy
vote forced champion that cause
ossify reliable switch (2)
tend regard skepticism
alter attitude substitute
layer evidence persistence
peel manner propaganda
tread dismiss brainwash



Decades after the medical establishment declared that smoking caused cancer, many smart, educated people continued to smoke.

Eventually however, the majority of them do quit.

After a new, technology breakthrough makes doing things faster, cheaper and more reliably and productively, many individuals stick with the old way. . . until they finally adopt it.


And it doesn’t matter how flawed or outdated someone’s favorite ideology is. He believes in it with all his heart and clings on tightly, dismissing all facts, proofs and evidence to the contrary given by scholars.

They still vote for the same political party or candidate who champions that cause.

They go one like this (sometimes their whole lives) until finally, the situation gets so bad, that they are forced to switch.


Numerous works, idioms and proverbs encapsulate this. Inertia. Ossification. He’s set in his ways. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Don’t rock the boat.

An observation by the English scientist Isaac Newton explains this behavior: An object in motion tends to remain in motion; an object at rest tends to remain at rest.

On a social level, it means that we hate to admit we were wrong.

Human Nature

It’s human nature.

We are not alone in this regard: cats, dogs and monkeys behave similarly as well.

Computers don’t operate in this manner. They can change completely and instantly, simply by altering their programming code.

Gradual Change

If you want to change people’s attitudes (provided you are “right”), you need more than evidence — you need persistence — and empathy. You need to keep presenting new and different facts, peeling off one layer of doubt at a time, one layer of resistance after another, and gradually substitute the old belief with the new.

But we all have to tread carefully — dictators employ this in the form of propaganda to brainwash their subjects. Adaptation must be balanced with a healthy dose of skepticism.

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1. Many people know that smoking is unhealthy, but they continue smoking. Yes or no? Why do they still smoke?

2. Do most people immediately adopt the latest technology? Why don’t they adopt the latest technological developments?

3. What can you say about the proverb, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”? What about “An object in motion tends to remain in motion; an object at rest tends to remain at rest.”? Can you give examples?

4. What is a social explanation?

5. Does everyone eventually change? How do people change?

6. Change is always good, and the status quo is always bad. True or false?


A. Do you know anyone who resists adopting new technology or buying the latest gadgets (devices)? Why are they like this?

B. What can you say about different political parties and their supporters? Do people often vote for different parties and candidates?

C. Everyone hates to be wrong. No one likes to admit they are wrong. Have you, your friends and coworkers been like this?

D. Does the government use propaganda (at school, on TV)?

E. Will it be more important for people to change, in the future?

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