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February 07, 2014


Neil Wilson

Hear, Hear.


Why are people more interested in politics than social science? You answer the question yourself. Politics is tribal, and what happens to your tribe matters. As for social science, well, as Sheldon Cooper so rightly insists, it's mostly hokum.


It is also harder and harder to sell any serious spoken word programme pitches to even Radio 3 as they plummet ever more downmarket in search of the Classic FM demographic.

And BBC4 seems to spend most of its documentary budget on sending a handful of stars (the omnnipresent Montefiore, Januszcak, Oliver, that annoying posh boy they despatched to Egypt....) to stand around in front of historic buildings and deliver shallow and often inaccurate inanities.

In the 1960s you would have had Bertrand Russell talking to AJ Ayer about Wittgenstein now we are all gobsmacked when Russell Brand says something half-intelligent to Jeremy Paxman.

O tempora, o mores....


50% of the British population has a cognitive ability between 90 and 110. Another 25% is below 90. That's why most people are a lot more interested in wrestling than in social science and philosophy. Only 5% of the British population is over 125. That's why only a few have any potential to be much interested in "rational inquiry about evidence and values."

And another thing: could it be more tribalism than rational inquiry that motivates the proprietor of this blog to avoid inquiring too deeply into the above sorts of evidence?

George Hallam

"Politics" as wrestling: spot on.

I have been using this analogy for the last year. My inspiration was 'Newsnight'. In particular, Jeremy Paxman’s role as referee.


I remember telling Kate Hopkins she should give Vince McMahon a call. On the other hand, I think that even Vince McMahon would be disgusted by our Thursday night farce - and he has featured woman-beating, necrophilia and an old woman giving birth to a hand.

Churm Rincewind

I'm not sure that Question Time is tribal rather than simply populist.

By way of illustration, see:



Roger: In the 1960's you might have had Bertrand Russell talking to A J Ayer about Wittgenstein, but there were 120 people watching it. The rest had gone to the pub or had an early night.

S. Stachura

"proper politics, based upon rational inquiry about evidence and values"

What about interest (class or other)? It's the essence of politics for me - instead of resolving conflicts with violence, we talk it through and compromise.
For me "rational" politics would be just that; irrational politics would be in addition obscuring reality with ideological viewing glass.

Removing interest from politics, not very marxist :)


Not sure it is fair to blame the voters. The wrestling analogy is fair but why has politics descended to such? Probably because there is little to choose between protagonists - just like the wrestlers. Possibly because their economic options are very limited and there are no longer foreign lands to be exploited - all the old ways for a nation to get rich are finished and the new ways are equally open to everyone. Parliament has become a tar pit and those in it are destined to become fossils.

The radio programmes are pretty good but 'sociology professors' conjures up to me an image of beardy types with leather elbow patches or lunatic American academics. I fear any appearance on television is likely to be a turn-off, an image problem definitely.


I say that a lot of people would watch programs to be informed, but they aren't given the chance to do so. And even a decent, well moderated debate can be informing, rather than just a series of canned soundbites by said effluvia. If you set it up properly it would be popular enough just seeing people having an argument.

Deviation From The Mean

I remember such human diseased effluvia such as Christopher Hitchens and David Aaronovitch also being on QT. At least Galloway was arguing against war and the elite!

The most striking thing about QT and every BBC political programme is how middle class it tends to be, and how the working class are almost invisible.

But I guess politics should be left to the rational experts and we should just accept whatever these gods say! Is that how politics works by the way, clever man, who doesn't know the price of a loaf of bread, in pullover looks down test tube and hey presto here comes the perfect solution to a political issue!

(War is politics by other means?)


Is the BBC leading the 'dumbing down'/populism of politics; Yes! Paxman has become a turnoff as Newsnight went downhill over a couple of years ago; but just as worrying is the R4 PM programme at 17:00 hrs. On the way home maybe we want to catch up with the real news but what we have instead with Eddie Mare is a personality 'takeover' of news populism, trivia bits and pieces ,court trials,crazy stories,polarization of issues ... an appalling collapse of BBC journalism at prime time run by some silly down market editors ( probably ex-R5) abusing our BBC culture paid for by us. If I could take out a law case I would sue the BBC for breaking their R4 obligations between 5 -6 every evening.


"..proper politics, based upon rational inquiry about evidence and values."


Yes, proper politics, as once practised in the...er..um..

I think you are confusing politics with political science, two very different spheres.

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