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August 01, 2006


Steve G

As you say, it's a wretched effort. I was particularly struck by his observation 'It is, to me at least, almost incredible that the proposal to introduce an identity register in the UK should be so extraordinarily controversial. But it is.'

Assuming (possibly rashly) that he means what he says here, the fact he didn't foresee that ID cards were going to be pretty controversial here and still, apparently, still finds it 'almost incredible' that many people can't see their merits hardly says much for his understanding of much political thought in modern Britain.

It is, after all, one thing to say you can't understand why many people unfortunately fail to share your appreciation of the merits of a proposal; it's completely different to find it surprising that they do and your idea is, in fact, highly contentious.


We might reasonably hope that before consulting his instinct, a PM might appraise the facts, weigh up the advice in his briefs, compare the situation to others that he's met during his wide reading of history and varied experience of life, cross-question his advisers, and reflect thereon. Then his instinct could have a useful basis to work on. Alternatively, he might be rather ignorant, none too bright, intellectually lazy, and incapable of concentration, and so just ask Campbell and Mandy how his actions might play in the headlines in the Sun. Princess Toni indeed.

Charlie Whitaker

Judgement isn't a fiction - it's the hallmark of intelligence, surely, involving as it does the unsticking of (mental) processes that have gotten stuck. Computers can't do it; they don't know if they're stuck or not. While I'm a firm believer in method, all the systematising in the world won't do you any good without selective application based on experience. I suppose the use of judgement might feel like instinct to some.

Paul Davies

Universal suffrage?


I don't think you can extrapolate from what Blair said to assuming all politicians are like that.

I think that all he means is that he himself makes decisions by instinct - which is what most of us suspected anyway! That's why he's been so poor at policy but so good (initially at least) at reading the public mood.

We might see a change in decision-making style when Gordon Brown comes to power. And after a while people will then assume all politicians make decisions like him!


No, I must agree with the author here and I've come with supporting societal evidence.

The idea of pure instinct being just as good or *better* than rational thought is a festering mind-virus in our global society, there's no doubt. It doesn't just affect the UK but the entire world. Consider authors like Malcolm Gladwell who attempt to vend their theories of "thinking less" to the unwashed masses.

These sorts promote with ease their anti-intellectual concepts like "Blink" (http://www.amazon.com/Blink-Power-Thinking-Without/dp/0316172324) just as charlatans of old have sold their snake oil and hair tonics to hapless dolts. Its subtitle is astonishingly transparent: "The Power of Thinking Without Thinking". Yet few "think" about the sinister implications of that title for just a moment more than a blink.

A hundred years ago, they might describe this societal phenomenon an unforgivable intellectual indolence coupled with apocalyptic shamelessness. Now, it's so common that powerless teachers find themselves being condemned by their own insubordinate students to *make* them want to learn.

On the optimistic side, relativistic nihilism can only progress to a limit before such complacency against universal entropy yields systemic collapse and a desperate need for change. Whilst the spread of the virus is now assured in this generation, fear not that the antibodies of the next shall usher in a comeuppance.

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