My case in point comes from this article in the ABC news where the waterways on the Gold Coast were rated as having extremely poor water quality. When this was put to the mayor his response was:
"it's as much the lack of rain as it is the new development, I believe," he said.
Well you know, isn't it funny that this year has been about the wettest year the area has had for decades.
We have had flooding and strong rains even in the dry season. The journalist didn't pull him up on that, and it just gets said as if its true. It seems that noone has the capacity to examine the answer they get and just accept it: "oh well then"
This is not an isolated incident; with politicians, company executives and community leaders often pulling a fish out of their arse to answer questions.
This is of course why I could never succeed in politics, because when asked a question I answer it as best I can. It seems that all our leaders are adept at pulling out some distracting bit of bullshit which preferably bears only a passing resemblance to answering the question.
So my question is: is this because people are stupid (and swallow anything), people don't think and only after go "oh hey..." (sort of related to stupid) or because both the leaders and the media collude to put any old shit up as the justification for problems and to allow them to continue?
Which takes me back to my previous statement at the start of this:
"never attribute to malice what can be explained adequately by stupidity"
In my own life I'm often agape at the complete nonsense people seem to believe and the lame ass explanations they have for phenomenon.
Dad worked as a salesman and owned and operated his own businesses. During my school holidays I'd naturally be press-ganged into helping the family business. About the only thing I didn't like was hearing his same old stories said to each customer and the same old micron-thin flattery and ass kissing when we went into each client location. I'd groan and not want anything to do with it.
I realised later that this was because I saw this as a pathetic attempt to suck up, and expected people to be a wake up to that and (rightly) be a bit insulted at being treated like idiots.
The thing is that in the main, they never did.
This lead me to wonder at just how much shit you could get away with. You can toss off answers to valid questions and get an "ohh .. well then" response that indicates people have been satisfied.
I'd just shake my head and wonder what the bloody hell was wrong with people, can't you see that you asked about X and got an answer of something totally unrelated? I would wonder what was wrong with their logic.
As I grew older (and more experienced, though perhaps not yet wiser) I came to think that there was a few likely explanations for this:
- people are genuinely thick and have simply memorized the question (perhaps having been furnished with a few "trick questions" by a wiser friend but not having any clue what it meant that any answer would do
- people's attention span was so incredibly short that they forgot the question and just "looked up to the salesman as someone who knows" and nod in agreement as he hands down the tablets of stone
- none of it meant anything to do with logic and it was some sort of ritual joust and it was the speed of the riposte which indicated who won (irrespective of accuracy)
So I wonder about just how much planning and forethought really goes into things and how much is just "do what makes the powerful more powerful and the majority can play with their toys".
Back when we had
- a world population of under a billion and
- much lower demands on resources
- much less impact on the environment from our actions
- less dependency on our systems to survive
even then I'm not sure it'll be any change, as has been said before
"plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" [the more it changes, the more it's the same thing]
Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr