Red Cliffs Of Dawlish

Red Cliffs Of Dawlish
Red Cliffs Of Dawlish

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

The Perils of "Everybody Knows."

If only words were such apprehensible objects and hence so apprehensible problems... but it's a deceptively simple "transitive" mistake to make and it's so frequent.

I grabbed the above image from this source (and hence reference it appropriately) where they're talking about the meaning of a "missionary": I'd answer by saying if you saw someone struggling up a flight of stairs on the London Underground with a heavy suitcase (or often a pram or sometimes a disability etc), then you'd take a choice to ask if they need help and lend a hand until they're up the stairs. Seems good enough to me to use a simple example. More useful, I'd argue than a missionary would be an "Anthropologist": Someone who seeks to understand the actual culture they insert themselves within BEFORE attempting to provide their skills or provide their help and areas of expertise perhaps? Namely good intentions are at the start of such voluntary endeavours to "make things better" but without an understanding they may err otherwise. I have a friend who went to Turkey in a similar voluntary vein, and it will be interesting to find out how it went: They're nice people which tends to find some success but I think it's also more of a lottery concerning success with only such a basis.

In fact something I've been troubled a lot by recently: "Everybody Knows..." seems to be the default of most of the people I talk to, and often on different subjects this "Everybody Knows..." attitude dominates how the conversation goes. In particular, on Brexit, "Uncertainty" and indeed "Everybody Knows... That Nobody Knows," is equally seductive and prevalent. People who appear most confident of their point of view tend to be heard and possibly more persuasive than a simple: "I don't necessarily know, however..."?

I realize I fall foul of this way too much too. Better to be silent, listen then think in silence and consider how much do I actually know? How many words and excessive talking on things I don't really know a lot about is certainly something to feel an "inner-cringe" about. I remember the first Brexit models or papers I came across, the problem could be "solved in an afternoon in Westminster by repealing the 1972 European Communities Act; whereas today 10 years of continuous and flexible work is required across multiples of policy making areas." It's just like thinking the world is in the cup of my palm. Fast forward to after the Referendum and "oh dear" *To be said in David Attenborough's natural history narrative voice* when an animal does something that does not turn out with the reward it was seeking (missed sex/loss of food/a rival competitor intruding). As such the response of the animal is to transform from it's habitual in autopilot mode or second gear and stimulate an increased response rate either to loss or to gain.

I would guess humans behave in this way when posed with an apparently important question (perception of loss/gain) and hence provide a view that they feel is confident and more certain as it applies to them (at least) than uncertain? To say, I know enough to know that I really don't know at all or else realize that many questions are so open-ended that they could be answered in thousands of different ways all of which would be plausible or subjectively equally applicable.

Namely, people provide a heightened stimulus response, that falls into the "I'm an expert" phase. Politicians seem to be expected to perform this trick then equally expected to be "lying" but "allowed to be lying about being an expert" because they're "obviously partisan" and hence I'm sure you know the rest, as they say! Pretty much useless.

Coming back to missionaries and converting people, I think a good indication of someone who actually is an expert is the back to "I Know Nothing" phase. Unfortunately this does not sound like that sought after "stimulated response" and secondly it can be confused for "hedging" when it's actually very careful and cautious communication of complex ideas - it should be evident that conversion is not a priority, an attempt to help explain and understand, is. And of course, it requires that the parties in communication share a sufficient knowledge level, which seems always to be assumed but never actually tested on the deficient communicator's side of the conversation.

Interestingly a lot of the reactions of people concerning the Referendum is either:-
  • "Experts? Pffft! What do THEY know..."
  • "Ha! See!! That's what happens when experts are ignored, BAD THINGS happen."

Above, Mark Carney is being assessed for "independence", namely his role as an expert is being considered in contention to his possible role as a partisan actor. There's a few good (understatement) blogs on this subject at by Dr. RAE North. Now donning our "Anthropologist's hat" let's look at what can be for the time-being be labelled "False Experts" and we'll see why the former response is seen from people:-
Another opportunity to see this reversal from "knowledge" towards "coercion" is exhibited (it's almost laugh out loud by this compromised and crooked institution's consistency in this vein):-

Theresa May has two clear options on Brexit – neither of them easy

The interesting thing here is an inversion: The behaviour of "our fake expert" above is to induce the former reaction but at the same time hold some truth concerning the latter reaction. Now if we take the opposite direction to the above where expert who acts like a politician is this time replaced with a politician who acts like an expert:
I think enough is known of Farage to not expand from what is written in the blog above. But the effect here now is an inversion:  "our politician acting as an expert" to convert people (ALSO) is easy to identify, he points out that everyone is an expert and dismisses "bad things" of the "fake expert" and promote the "Pfft! Experts..." but at the same time as inadvertently ensuring that as time progresses "bad things" do happen or would happen with people like him at the helm of decision-making!

Brexit: plus ├ža change

Fortunately "Complete Bastard - The Hero We All Deserve" flies to the rescue and explains this particular inversion very well and expands the point from Farage to the entire Leave Campaign rounded of by Vote Leave and their failure to "master the Brexit Argument".

Interestingly, not an expert view, but one that manages to capture the major flaw in both the above types of behaviour without fully appreciating it and neither from an expert nor politician but in a very "I know nothing" but at least I have some "common sense" to use even if there's a good number of "leaps of faith": When people try to "convert" other people they're invariably whether or not they realize it, are acting in a "coercive" way: "Everybody Knows..." is a terrible form of self-deception and group-deception. There are some things "Everybody Knows..." but everybody realize they don't need to talk about those things or else bore people. Brexit has been talked about far far too much by far too many people in a way that has been dominated by "Coercion" motivation.

Keep calm and Brexit on: History suggests leaving Europe is great for Britain

There's a number of different connections here. But I have to pick one that is at present most important and most urgent and hence discard the rest for sake of brevity (much like Brexit!!):-

Even if this last article touches on a core "truth" at the very heart of this argument, it fails to deal with the very serious consequences that the "fake experts" are able to continue trading off: "Bad things!"

There we really do need a real expertise that acts as such. And people in their millions muddling along in the middle of the communication of knowledge will likely never begin to understand through all the cacophany of "converting" going on that leads to those two opinions of experts: How can two different opinions both be right and wrong at the same time?! The simple answer is: Asking The Wrong question(s) is likely.

In a crazy way, the inversion that both sides through avoiding improving the quality of arguments, create it seems unintentionally, "equal each other out" and that "core" above just peeps through might be somewhere within the numbers where the Referendum result lies?

But what is most important and most urgent now?

Read this:-

Hopefully it's the first thing Theresa May, upon becoming our new Prime Minister, will advice her new Cabinet to do on Wednesday. I don't think the difficult answer is very comforting, but it might suggest that where there is a clear assessment of loss or gain, then such a Referendum choice on so large a single argument (without multiple divisions of it) will necessarily lead to a scope of enormously magnified loss or gain depending on the correct or mistaken decision-making taken by our new government.

The Referendum was won by Leave it seems without expertise, but the process of Brexit cannot be successful without the right expertise applied correctly.