Living in the Age of Stupid: How to comprehend Brexit, Trump and the Anti’s

See the French translation

Today the world woke up to a vote by the British public to move backwards and leave the European Union. This decision went against strong overwhelming advice from economic experts, against the strongly-worded advice of the UK’s business leaders and the widespread consensus of the mainstream political establishment. It was a decision based on emotion, fed by fear of immigrants and a faceless bureaucracy people could not understand, relentlessly blasted via social media circles.

It was a decision that makes perfect sense in the Age of Stupid.

We are indeed living in the Age of Stupid: a time where dialogue is dead, where fear is the main decision-making motivation and where we seek to confirm our bias with short emotional messages flaring continuously across our closed Internet tribes. Those whose ideas differ from ours are banned from discussions or routinely ganged up on by insult mobs; experts who provide challenging evidence are personally attacked; and trust is found, not in the leaders, scientists and technologies, but rather the activists with story-telling campaigns.  With anecdote taken as evidence, there is no longer a search for understanding or knowledge in exchanging ideas – in the Age of Stupid, people search for the right crowd saying the right thing to confirm their righteous beliefs.

A Social Media Chokehold

Social media has made facts optional across many issues where Stupid is on the ascendancy.

  • People concerned about the risks of vaccinating their children (a position no credible scientist supports) find each other via Google search tools and share emotional stories of personal tragedies.
  • Those who want to feel good about themselves are drawn into circles promoting organic food on the basis of taste, quality and the environment (despite evidence to the contrary and the potential catastrophic consequences on the ability of agriculture to provide food security without modern technology).
  • Xenophobes are finding tools to ‘mainstream’ outrageous racist opinions, spread hate and condone (no less, promote) violence.

Our comfortable western lives mean we don’t have to think, our schools don’t have to teach and the consequences of our bad decisions won’t actually affect us.

And our leaders know it (… so they don’t have to lead).

At the same time as the population is struggling to adapt to the new on-line communications tools (and the opportunists who are exploiting them), there is a leadership vacuum. Expedient functionaries lack the courage to make necessary decisions, stranded in a political structure demanding dialogue and consensus but lacking the capacity to deliver it given a population driven by emotional factionalism. In response, the Age of Stupid is producing its own, social-media grown gurus who exploit the confusion and vulnerability to undermine trust in political and economic establishments.

Political extremes ‘liked’ a million times are still extreme

Caricatures like Donald Trump have built a tribe of xenophobes (against Mexicans, Muslims, immigrants … please add an other local scaremongerable scapegoat) who, lacking proper exercise in rational discernment and disgust toward the political institutions, find themselves susceptible to emotional jingoism while united in a perception of a movement of like-minded people. This idealistic return to some hard to specify better past (much like the anti-technologists in the organic industry, chemophobic NGOs and anti-vaxxers), to “Make America Great Again!” plays on the vulnerability and uncertainty prevalent in a large percentage of uneducated, middle-aged white American men. Trump has been able to elevate Stupid from the trailer park liquor store to become a politically awkward force ready to fight for their newly focalised celebrity guru.

Trump has been able to elevate Stupid from the trailer park liquor store to become a politically awkward force ready to fight for their newly focalised celebrity guru.

In countries from Austria to Greece, from the Philippines to France, the mainstream centre is melting and we are witnessing a polarisation of the extremes on the far, xenophobic right and the far left, now occupied by radical ecologists. Social media in the Age of Stupid makes anything that you want to believe suddenly make sense.

After eight years of austerity, economic decline, increased immigration and decline of services, any public is prone to emotional exploitation. Like Goebbels use of the nascent communication media of radio and cinema in 1930s economically depressed Germany, the population has yet to wake up to the exploitative opportunity of the new social media tools. Without a qualified, trusted mainstream media, an unvetted population is getting volumes of unfiltered information delivered to them in direct images from “trusted” sources (friends and tribal gurus), and are themselves propagating these messages to their followers, without any concern for fact-checking or responsible communication practices.

The opportunists’ abuse of social media makes 1933 seem tempered and limited.

Because a Donald Trump or a Rodrigo Duterte make some lunatic declarations on twitter or Facebook, does not mean that it is true, no matter how many millions share or favorite it! 12650869_456429131226825_5137865773739698428_nOrganic agriculture will never be able to feed a growing global population, no matter how many friendly Internet gurus with books to sell or diet plans to hock tell you so. No matter how many times Nigel Farage growls it, Turkey and Syria are not about to join the European Union.

But still the tweets and posts flow in the millions to those who want to hear it.

The anti’s have taken over the asylum

In the Age of Stupid where I have lost trust in the authorities, where I do not have to listen to ideas that differ from what I want to believe, and where social media offers me no-fault alternatives by gurus who seem to care about me, saying “No!” is the norm.

  • “No!” to the European Union and their hordes of immigrants
  • “No!” to vaccines and medicines sold by an evil Big Pharma
  • “No!” to the threat of Mexican drug-dealers and Radical Islam
  • “No!” to chemicals, pesticides and GMOs
  • “No!” to scientists and experts who say things I cannot understand

People without trust in science, institutions or authorities find comfort in saying “No!” For the expedient politician, this translates into only one tool in the policy arsenal: The Precautionary Principle.

  • Unless science can confirm that a medicine is safe, the answer is “No!”.
  • Unless you can prove to me that you are not like those other corrupt politicians, the answer is “No!”
  • Unless authorities can assure me that a herbicide farmers need won’t give me cancer, the answer is “No!”
  • Unless British politicians can convince me that there will be a place for my child in a good school and a job for me not being given to an immigrant, the answer is “No!”

Of course the joke is that I don’t trust these authorities, so the answer will never be “Yes!”, but the process still needs to go on. The contrapreneurs have managed to push precaution to the front of the policy queue so that “No!” is the only possible outcome. With the rise of the activist NGO, Stupid has assumed the right to lead, and policymakers have the burden to comply. The rest (industry, scientists, consumers, the developing world …) don’t matter. Precaution as a tool only works in one direction; towards “No!”.

Social media has created a “club” mentality – until I choose to follow you or like you, you really don’t matter to me. Until you can prove that something is safe, or convince me that it is in my interest, you are not legitimate. Until you say what I want to hear, I am not going to listen to you! This sounds absurd to a rational thinking person, but for those deeply entrenched in the Age of Stupid, it is just so. Just Google the phrase: “Not in my name!”.

The Remain Camp in the UK failed in their referendum because its leaders were not like me (had not earned my trust), were unable to convince me that staying in the EU was in my interest and did not speak to what I had wanted to hear (to reassure me about controlling the hordes).  What they needed to do, strangely, was really quite simple: Let me know that I was going to be OK! Boris Johnson, at the front of the Leave Camp had done just that. He might just make a good Prime Minister (… at least a hell of a lot better than the last one!)

The need for affirmation

People are confused by the myriad of information and emotion they face on a daily basis. No longer able to trust their leaders and experts, they feel vulnerable. If I am uncertain, afraid and vulnerable, I do not seek knowledge or truth – I crave affirmation: That I am OK. Is my food OK? Is it OK to vaccinate my baby? Will my job be OK? I go onto Google with the question: Am I, or will I be OK? Depending how I phrase my question, Google will send me to a circle (an Internet tribe) that will tell me what I want to hear (affirmation), reduce my vulnerability, and hence earn my trust.

I trust those who think like me, share my concerns and are like me (not the experts, the rich businessmen, scientists or politicians). Why should I trust my doctor when David Wolfe tells me I don’t need to take medicine? Why should I trust an FDA regulator when the Food Babe tells me all I have to do is eat organic and I will be healthy? Why should I trust David or Jeremy when Nigel tells me that Turkey and Syria will shortly join the EU?

As Ragnar Lofstedt had said more than a decade ago, we are living in a post-trust society. Since then, social media has created trust filters to meet our concerns, affirm our deepest, darkest thoughts and, well, mix a bit of fear in (to make us reach out to trust our tribal gurus even more). This though has led to some interesting consequences.

13227230_1738656256404422_1085066014626572468_n
Some stressed-out vulnerable protesters (source)

When I went to this year’s March Against Monsanto, the people there were suffering significant angst and dread – causing them to turn to comforts like cigarettes (and why I offered them free hugs). The anti-GMO, chemophobic tribal gurus have made their followers so afraid and enraged that while they turn to them for trust and affirmation (and donations, subscriptions and on-line purchases!), they are getting more and more stressed and vulnerable. Trump supporters are looking to their leader to deliver on his promises of greatness (… walls, expulsions and some lamentable pogroms). Incoming Prime Minister Boris has promised the UK population (at least the half so vulnerable as to reach out to him) a land flowing with milk and honey … from the billions of available pounds now available to solve all problems.

What will happen when these “Gurus of No!” cannot deliver? They will likely become those institutions that they themselves hated – losing trust and influence to even more radical opportunists. In the Age of Stupid, with the focus on returning to some Golden Age in the past, people rarely look to the future.

I firmly believe that success has come as a surprise (that Stupid has moved faster than the strategists had ever dreamed possible). The organic industry cannot grow near enough produce to meet the market their fear campaigns had so successfully generated (thus creating the obscene moves to colonise Cuban and African agriculture); the Trump campaign was meant to be a reality-TV exercise with somebody eventually voting the Donald off of the island (or firing him); and the British Leave campaign? They hadn’t even planned a celebration event last night.

The future is daunting in the Age of Stupid, where the contrapreneurs’ hopes and dreams are recklessly pinned on returning to the past. Today, the 24th of June, is a day where so many young people (like my daughter and many of my students) received their university diplomas and set out on their professional lives. This generation of graduates has to look over this massive Wall of Stupid to see their futures, realise compromised dreams and rebuild the mess we have created.

It is a sad day for them.

Image source: twitter

41 Comments Add yours

  1. Thank you for a very interesting piece. Plenty to contemplate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Chester Draws says:

    I personally was for Brexit. You know what, I don’t particularly like being called “stupid” because of it. I most regards I am one of the elite, and I’m not in your “stupid” category for anything else: vaccines, organic food, populists etc. Only on this one thing, apparently, do I become stupid.

    Calling people names because they disagree with you is actually part of the problem. Condescending, rather than persuading, doesn’t work. Argue your case. If you lose, tough, lose with good grace.

    (Did you call the British stupid when they didn’t join the Euro zone? Lots of the elite did. Turns out, the elites were wrong.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. riskmonger says:

      Apologies Chester if you took it personally – I use the word “stupid” because I know it is strong (in the tone of the film A Fish Called Wanda), but it refers to an information management process that is causing us to no longer be able to recognise or discern if our thinking is correct or not. It is not meant to be name-calling although I know full well the power it has. I define the Age of Stupid at the beginning of the blog as a result of a process that prohibits dialogue and confirms my bias.
      The first line of my next blog on the How to deal with stupid’ series, Part 7, starts with the line: “What if I am the stupid one? How would I know?” The point is, I lack the means to know – I get all of my information from my tribe, in a silo that confirms my bias, feeds my fears and builds my trust. The problem is the process – where I only find experts that agree with what I want to believe, only surround myself with people who affirm my views and ban those who disagree, or call them names!
      I was equally critical of the Remain camp – of using fear and attacking the Leave camp as wholly racist – see a FB post I had written four days before: https://www.facebook.com/riskmonger/posts/501977700005301?ref=notif&notif_t=like&notif_id=1466443714992860 That being said, Farage should be charged with incitement to violence and bigotry.
      We have more information than any time before in history, but I don’t believe it is making us smarter – rather we are selective on what information we wish to accept, which sources to cite or listen to, and which ones to ignore. Some very intelligent people are falling victim to the age of stupid.
      I am afraid as long as the process of cherry-picking facts and ignoring expertise for the security and trust of our little like-minded tribes, things will get worse, more extreme and less logical, ie, more stupid.
      I don’t think I actually declared that my position was the smart one – not being British, I have no view, but being a European, I have concerns for an EU without the UK. I wrote on the problem of the process without dialogue of the capacity to listen. If we face the fact that we have no real way of knowing if our views are not actually the stupid ones, maybe we can start to tackle the sources behind the Age of Stupid. That is my concern, because the way things are going, the UK leaving the EU will be nothing compared to a world with a President Donald Trump.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. AlainCo says:

        Emergence of bad analysis (ie stupidity) among intelligent people is well described by Benabou groupthink theory
        http://www.princeton.edu/~rbenabou/papers/Groupthink%20IOM%202012_07_02%20BW.pdf

        this is natural among connected group of actors, like academics, politics, media, who suffers from others disagreement.

        good or bad brexit as bremain is caused by erroneous arguments, irrational fears.
        EU is sure guilty because it have suffered groupthink induced by fearmongers salesmen of fear.

        sadly it seems the problem is the size of the group, meaning that we have to dismantle UNO, EU, USA before they install a northkorean system with nobody out of it.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. riskmonger says:

        Thank you Alain – this article is amazing and brings in so many rich concepts (information aversion … somehow different from information avoidance? or Contagious ignorance, collective apathy, patterns of denial …). I wish I had “enough brain” to follow his logical proofs (I would love to test the precautionary principle accordingly!).
        To say the least, it has been a busy month for me and I missed a chance to share my horror at a US professor who was fired last week for disagreeing publicly with his colleague (apparently some universities do not allow you to dispute a colleague’s poor research!) – this fits perfectly the arguments in Groupthink.
        Will definitely be following this up – so many ideas to play with!!!

        Like

      3. AlainCo says:

        note that groupthink theory propose few interesting effects :
        one is that the MORE DAMAGING is a groupthink for the supporters the MORE IT IS DEFENDED
        (only people who can escape damage are free to reject groupthink)

        another is that groupthink trickeldown the hierarchy of power.
        When your boss guide your future, it is worthless to disagree with him.

        Same for EU, for media, for markets moves… never play against the market said a trader to me. never play agains a deluded voters should says a politician.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. riskmonger says:

        I have some time during the summer – I would like to apply this to some more recent environmental health issues (the author used events from early 2000s like Enron). I think the Endocrine Disruption debate is a good case study – after gaining fame from early pronouncements on declines in sperm counts, several of these activist scientists from the 90s could not get the data to support their populist claims, so they started to harden, deny data and expand the idea of EDCs into other areas. As they had post-docs researching under them starting to publish, the pressure grew even more to be right … to the point of becoming absurd.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. David says:

    Sorry sir, I disagree and I congratulate the Britisch people.
    The EU is an undemocratic moloch of autistic bureaucrats and lobbyists.
    Their main failure is an insane energy and climate policy.
    Not based on science but the religion of the green church.
    Hijacked by other bureaucrats not to “save” nature but to limit freedom and free trade.
    The EU has to reform into a trade Union. Because of it’s size it will never be able to function as a democracy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. riskmonger says:

      I agree David – the EU has had a dreadful recent history of destructive regulations resulting from lamentable compromises made inside Brussels with no thought of how it would affect real people outside of this little Bubble where I myself roam. In several FB posts, I advised that British farmers would have better opportunities outside of the EU.
      That will have to be for another blog though. This one was more on how the process of managing information has gone woefully bad. The Remain camp also abused facts in favour of fear and experts were ignored on all sides. Gove even said the experts don’t matter and that the British people had had enough of listening to them.
      We seem to be unable to have informed debates or dialogue now, but rather a series of camps hurling insults and scare-tactics at each other. That is what I refer to as the Age of Stupid.
      Before we can “fix” Brussels, we need a reasonable tool to exchange ideas … that is a tough one!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jack says:

    I am not a Brit, so I’m not the best person to argue for or against Brexit. While I certainly don’t condone the xenophobic antics of Trump, I do see the parallels about seeking simple problems to complex problems. As H. Mencken said “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” Toss in some ideology and you’ve got a viable stupid movement. My view on Brexit is that there are plenty of people that are tired of unelected, faceless bureaucrats regulating their lives. I’m sure there’s some xenophobia involved, but it goes much deeper. No doubt, as David says, we need a table were actual conversations occur, not a food-fight of accusations.

    Like

    1. riskmonger says:

      Nicely put – Mark Twain once said: All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure. There is a lot of both going on but I am not willing to accept their success!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Smile Of The Shadow says:

    I find it funny that an article complains about fact-light social media shares being the “problem”, when this is posed exactly as a fact-light social-media share. Lots of complaining about a certain political persuasion and then calls them dumb.

    The other side is not stupid. They’re not underresearched. Social media on these topics HEAVILY leans toward all the positions the article writer espouses. It’s about the opposite in reality. But… to think there, I suppose would be called stupid.

    You can’t reason with points like this, so the only response at this point is to say “I know you are, but what am I?” Because that’s less childish than a sore loser.

    Like

    1. riskmonger says:

      Thanks for the comment, I think… as I mentioned in previous responses to other comments in this chain, it is the process that is making people unable to discern – indeed, I may be the stupid one, but with social media (the tribes I select to follow, the dissenters I choose to ban or block), I may never get the chance to figure out my bias and ignorance.
      So yes I use social media, I study it and I teach it as a communication tool to millennials … in other words, I get how dangerous it is in confirming people’s bias and prejudice, including my own.
      In the Age of Stupid, nobody thinks they are the stupid ones because everyone is finding facts that confirm what they want to believe. There is no dialogue and no means to know other views – my experts are the right ones.
      So you can call me a hypocrite for using social media to complain about it – that’s no biggie as you see, since I cannot tell you for sure that I am not the one who is stupid (by the way, I have no interest in the outcome of the Brexit campaign, have also criticised the fear-mongering of the Remain camp … but I merely worry how much further Brussels will fall under the force of Stupid without the British).
      I am not a sore loser yet – when President Trump gets inaugurated, come back and we’ll have this conversation.
      We have to learn to listen to others and not be so sure that the other is stupid.
      This communications structure promoting preselected ignorance scares the shit out of me. Maybe we should be aware of it … but then again, that is putting too much hope on others (who aren’t like me!).
      Thanks for listening and being open … I hope!

      Like

    2. Graaaahl says:

      ‘Social media on these topics HEAVILY leans toward all the positions the article writer espouses ‘
      I see the opposite actually – the MSN comments columns for instance, appear to me to be 80% knee jerk racist, misogynist, anti -EU and anti everything bile. But, perhaps we’re both victims of the ‘Hostile Media Effect’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hostile_media_effect

      Like

      1. riskmonger says:

        Indeed – in the Age of Stupid, all dialogue is dead. How do I know that I’m not the stupid one, and that the others (whom I refuse to listen to) are right. I don’t have the means to discern that in my tribe. Since this was written, we saw it worsen – I don’t even have to accept the reality.

        Like

  6. David says:

    This is not mathematics, where problems have a clear definition and solution. Professors in economy may have different views. Also no double blind experiments are possible. So, the opinion “Brexit” or Remain is partly made of intuitive, qualitative and emotional arguments.
    The future was never known. So, the main issue is not being politically “left” or “right” or whatever, but to have a system which is “self cleaning” : a system where discussion is possible, rational arguments are not suppressed and errors are corrected.
    Right now the EU shows the opposite: it’s fundamentalistic nature. Politicians admit that the EU is not functioning very well and they plead for more integration rather than concluding this just caused the problems.

    Like

    1. riskmonger says:

      The EU, for me, has always been a process, something that started as a coal and steel union and gradually enlarged and broadened its scope and objectives. By nature, it is thus agenda driven.
      What I have seen in the last decade is the rise of the regulatory agenda – campaigners come to town with a goal (eg, make the EU chemical free, get the EU to block business interests, stop global trade agreements …) and with each revision of each regulation, the actors here, out of touch with the interests of the common, working person (fisherman, farmer, shop-keeper, factory worker), are pushing their agenda inside a Bubble.
      A lot in Brussels needs to change – one point is to control the agenda-driven groups from using Brussels to push their campaigns. On the day Britain voted, I posted the following meme that shows where I feel Brussels is: https://www.facebook.com/riskmonger/photos/a.353026971567042.1073741828.175173916019016/503033223233082/?type=3&theater&notif_t=like&notif_id=1466795451707990meme

      Like

  7. David says:

    Recently I stumbled upon a funny book:
    “the basic laws of human stupidity” by Carlo M. Cipolla.
    Stupidity is defined as “actions that cause a loss or harm”.
    Cipolla analyses actions between individuals, people and society…. and puts the results in a coordinate system.
    Main laws are:
    “the percentage (d) of stupid people in each group is a constant”
    also
    “stupidity as a human property is independent of any other property” .

    Cipolla’s conclusion is that “smart” people hopefully limit the effects of stupid peoples actions.
    And “smart” is defined as actions that are beneficial for each party.

    Like

    1. riskmonger says:

      “Only two things are infinite …”
      I have no idea what smart is … or who is smart (I believe that many “smart” people can do stupid things) … but this week I have been getting a big dose of what stupid is

      Like

  8. rmno says:

    The result In England really tells that the common man in the street says that there is something wrong with the EU as an institution.
    The distance to the common people is formidable and the spending is insane only to maintenance this monster.

    It must come to enormous changes however, if it’s ment that basic democratic principles shall govern the EU’s future.

    I’m happy for the result, because such a reformation without a full blown stroke in the mouth would never start.

    (Sorry for my bad english, im Norwegian).

    Like

    1. riskmonger says:

      I think any government is responsible for waste and stupidity on a large scale but it is easy to identify it in outside governments that everyone has to pay for.
      Defending the EU today at any domestic level is an impossible task. Cameron promised it so he would not lose too many votes to UKIP – did he have no idea of the obvious consequences?
      The EU has a serious legitimacy issue

      Like

  9. David says:

    @Riskmonger
    We notice a common hangover-reaction as an after party result. Also we see the fear of uncertainty.
    But in a few days optimism may evolve when people begin to realize new opportunities.
    Intriguing however is that young people are anti-Brexit. Are they less critical? Brainwashed by education?

    Like

    1. riskmonger says:

      The millennials I come in contact with do not see borders, nation states or healthcare as important. They tend to think globally and are not afraid of migrants. The stereotype “Leave” voter was the pensioner or working class ‘Little England’ type. These are obvious stereotypes blown up in the media but look how the campaigns targeted their messages.

      Like

      1. David says:

        Young people are healthy and their parents have paid the bills so far. In these respects they are ignorant. One of the biggest threats to our society is the energy and (linked) climate policie. Why? Because they have no scientific basis. Wind and solar will never be able to deliver enough power to maintain our lifestyle. (cheap) energy is the foundation of freedom and prosperity. Allready we notice concern by environmentalists that a Brexit may cancel climate change funding.

        Like

  10. Olaf says:

    Brexit is the Result of over 30 years of Media + Political Propaganda against the EU.
    The EU is no less Democratic than the British Political System.
    MEP’s are voted for by the British Public by PR.
    MEP’s then vote for the Commisioners.
    Law by the EU can be blocked by VETO.

    I’m quite happy for all those who want to eat GMO food to support Monsanto and the rest of the Chemical food Industry,as long as they don’t try to force me to eat it.

    The People that voted for BREXIT are not stupid they are just misinformed,which is not surprising with an Education System that deliberatly keeps the Population Dumb.

    The Leave campain wanted Control Back,what are they controlling now,nothing!

    Never mind just eat some more Mc Donald’s & KFC’s,our American Friends will love you for it.(Burp)

    Like

    1. riskmonger says:

      The misinformation, on both sides, was astounding. That people allowed the misinformation to grow to become influential is what I called a result of the Age of Stupid. Until there can be a means for facts to matter more than rhetoric and clever communications tricks, we will have more results like this.

      Like

    2. David says:

      hi Olaf, I am 71 years old (former electronics engineer, math teacher)
      This is also the age of emotion , brainwashing and romantic delusions.
      Virusses are known to modify DNA, causing mutations and evolution.
      Why forbid Monsanto what virusses are allowed to do?
      It looks like a school subject is badly missing: counting your blessings.
      Things are getting better all the time but we are made to believe that the eco-system is collapsing.
      We are told that the climate will cook us by the end of the century and therefore we must place millions of tons of steel in the sea with no measurable effects. But many climate models exist that show CO2 influence is neglectable.
      Activists demand divestment of fossil technology however if Shell cs. close the valves we all die.
      Nobody is able to predict the details of Brexit. But politics is like football (Brexit as well 🙂
      If results are below expectation the leaders have to go. The EU did not deliver.
      And I doubt they are capable of learning.
      see: http://www.davdata.nl/math/thanks-uk.html

      Like

      1. riskmonger says:

        The leaders are going … problem is that the new ones are hardly any better!

        Like

  11. SJM says:

    What astounds me about the Brexit is how a 48:52 margin is taken as a ‘majority’ – that seems fairly and squarely ‘undecided’ to me as a reflection of the national opinion, when one takes into account the constituency ‘noise’ and the turn-out. Even in EU voting terms that wouldn’t register as a qualified majority and so would be back into discussion. I also wonder how the results of a public referendum can now be taken to over-ride the UK’s long-standing constitutional democracy principle of Parliamentary sovereignty. What next – laws by petition? Shouldn’t the next step be to say to Parliament, OK the country is clearly undecided, so as the elected (democratic) representatives, you the political leaders decide (free vote), and then take it to the Lords for confirmation? Isn’t that how UK law-making and treaty alignment is supposed to work?

    Like

    1. riskmonger says:

      Exactly – a change in UK law has to be voted via the British Parliament. It seems like the Conservatives gave up … especially as it is becoming more and more clear that the Leave camp had lied so blatantly and have no idea on how to implement Brexit. Perhaps they are setting Gove and Johnson up for a big fall and then reverse course (talk about brinkmanship!).

      Like

  12. mikerestin says:

    The progressive way.
    Make them keep voting and recounting until you get the result you want.
    Now that the EU is on its way out we can get rid of the useless and lying UN.
    The UN failed Korea, it failed Vietnam and now is in the process of doing its damage in the Middle East.
    Hopefully Trump will help get the world back on track.

    Like

  13. An interesting article, but one which – in my opinion – misses the point.
    People are doing all of these “stupid” things because they don’t believe the “smart” things work for them, and equally they don’t believe the “smart” people have their interests at heart.
    A significant part of the organic movement is based on distrust of multi-national corporations owning the food supply chain.
    A significant part of the vaccine movement is distrust of a profiteering, overly expensive health care scheme in the United States.
    A huge number of Brexit voters chose “Leave” because they haven’t seen any benefit from EU integration, and in fact the opposite.
    A large number of Trump voters – certainly at the beginning part of his campaign – voted for him because they are economically suffering and have been for a long time. No small number of the “anti-immigrant” vote is due to anger over their jobs being shipped overseas – having overseas labor shipping into the US is the last straw for them.
    The ultimate root cause of this “stupidity” is the failure of the ruling elites in the US, UK and Europe to understand that policies which enrich the elite class but doesn’t similar enrich the lesser classes – don’t lead to “smart” behavior as defined by said elites.

    Like

    1. riskmonger says:

      Thanks for your comment ticketstopper. I think we are on the same page – without dialogue and engagement, then it comes as no surprise that large populations are alienated. My point is that it worsens when they only listen to, and trust, those in their tribes.
      My section on the need for affirmation seems almost too simple. If the elites could take the time to reassure – to reaffirm that the nervous or vulnerable population would be OK -I think a lot of this mess could have been avoided. Boris Johnson let his voters know they would be OK if they left. It is what they wanted to hear – in the Age of Stupid we are always able to find, somewhere, what we want to hear.
      It is the loss of trust in experts, scientists and authorities that adds fuel to the fire.

      Like

  14. David says:

    [It is the loss of trust in experts, scientists and authorities that adds fuel to the fire.]
    1. science is a misleading conception. Some things we know exactly (energy) , other subjects are under investigation (climate) and therefore need scepticism and debate. Note : subjects we don’t know at all belong to the church.
    2. scientific institutes should display honesty by mentioning the certainty of knowlegde (see 1.)
    At present ECN, the leading Dutch energy institute, promotes renewable energy to power the nation. This however is impossible.
    The ECN are liars. Now, who else can be trusted?

    Like

    1. riskmonger says:

      These are good points David – I am against forcing scientists to reach a consensus (which is the trend today) but the democratisation of expertise has its limits. I don’t think that Jenny McCarthey is an expert on vaccines and she should not get the media and public attention that she enjoys. People with no toxicological background feel they have a right to advise on chemical policies.
      Of course lines get more grey – I have defined activist science as those scientists who start out with an agenda and use NGO PR machines to push their celebrity – I am thinking of Seralini or Goulson here.
      What “science” needs is the means to be sceptical – to challenge itself (ECN needs to be challenged in the most robust way!) – but the latest moves (citizen science, consensus, firing scientists who challenge their colleagues) seems to point in the other direction … towards stupid. I am putting the touches on my blog on post-normal science where I will get more into detail here.

      Like

      1. David says:

        I very much look forward to your publications !

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Conny says:

    In the Age of Stupid, “antis” is spelled “anti’s”. 😉

    Like

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