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How Tony Abbott Got Elected!!

Ok, I’m not sure that I need to comment much further than the actual quote here:


“Imagine that you find yourself in a group of six people, engaged in a test of visual perception. You are given a ridiculously simple task. You are supposed to match a particular line, shown on a large white card, to the one of three comparison lines, projected onto a screen, that is identical to it in length. In the first three rounds of this test, everything proceeds smoothly and easily. People make their matches aloud, in sequence, and everyone agrees with everyone else. But on the fourth round, something odd happens. The five other people in the group announce their matches before you—and every one makes an obvious error. It is now time for you to make your announcement. What will you do? If you are like most people, you think it is easy to predict your behavior in this task: You will say exactly what you think. You’ll call it as you see it. You are independent-minded and so you will tell the truth. But if you are a Human, and you really participated in the experiment, you might well follow those who preceded you, and say what they say, thus defying the evidence of your own senses. In the 1950s Solomon Asch (1995), a brilliant social psychologist, conducted a series of experiments in just this vein. When asked to decide on their own, without seeing judgments from others, people almost never erred, since the test was easy. But when everyone else gave an incorrect answer, people erred more than one-third of the time. Indeed, in a series of twelve questions, nearly three-quarters of people went along with the group at least once, defying the evidence of their own senses. Notice that in Asch’s experiment, people were responding to the decisions of strangers, whom they would probably never see again. They had no particular reason to want those strangers to like them. Asch’s findings seem to capture something universal about humanity. Conformity experiments have been replicated and extended in more than 130 experiments from seventeen countries, including Zaire, Germany, France, Japan, Norway, Lebanon, and Kuwait (Sunstein, 2003). The overall pattern of errors—with people conforming between 20 and 40 percent of the time—does not show huge differences across nations. And though 20 to 40 percent of the time might not seem large, remember that this task was very simple.”

Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein


Ok, that may not be enough, but I also have this (Sherif being the man who was conducting the experiments, not the person arresting the people who have down something wrong!):

“Sherif also tried a nudge. In some experiments, he added a confederate—his own ally, unbeknownst to the people in the study. When he did that, something else happened. If the confederate spoke confidently and firmly, his judgment had a strong influence on the group’s assessment.”

Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein

Now, I suspect that sounds like someone we all know!

But this is the thing. Every time you assert that Tony Abbott is a complete idiot, it may have just as much effect as all the rational argument you’ve tried.

After all, when one thinks about it, this was his tactic during his time as Opposition Leader. And it seems to be his only tactic as Prime Minister. “In assessing my goverment I’d give it an A+, because, well, we’re the government now, and when you compare us to the previous mob, you’d have to say that we’re not the sort of government who changes our leader… Or our minds, no matter what!”

Anyway, Richard Thaler is coming out with a new book on behavioural economics, which I’ve always intended to write about in one of my blogs, but I get distracted by current events. One should never be distracted by current events. Which – strangely enough – is sort of what behavioural economics tells us about the whole human race.

Yep, I think that the important thing is to focus on the birth of our new potential leader. Princess Whatshername. She is only three people away from the throne. And, while I haven’t watched “Game of Thrones”, I understand from someone who watches it, that it’s closer to reality than “Big Master Block”, and that being that close almost guarantees an arranged marriage and a bloodbath.

Poor thing.

Personally, I think she should be called “Charlotte” because my wife told me that she’d call her that and that my suggestion of “Peggy Sue” wasn’t ever going to even be considered.

I didn’t like to point out that her grandfather is Charles and he didn’t turn out all that well and that Charlotte could be called “Charlie” for short, but not for long because good Queen Betty would put a stop to that!

Mm, I’m wondering about that Nudge thing, and how my wife’s assurance just left me not even thinking that “Peggy Sue” was an option…



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  1. Matters Not

    Perhaps she might be called ‘Toni’? After all …

  2. eli nes

    each of us learns from the senses in varying depths. Once learned it is fixed by constant reinforcement through repitition.
    the abbott and murdoch sold his message to every ‘sense’ unchallenged within the media and in private. QED
    the unemployment has been terrible for months, yet no media has used the story and no labor comments have fanned the flames
    the chinese fta allows up to a billion to be spent without scrutiny. Yet the papers are full of any cheating chinese had better confess.
    spain and korea had economies multiple times worse than ours but they got the ship contract worth billions(in my small town unchallenged by labor) the contracts are over budget and up to 3 years late? once again the media is, at best. short on details
    robb and the unseemingly hasty signatures did they contain some submarine activity??? short on details?
    it took nearly 3 years of constant lies and innuendo to topple gillard and the toppler?? short on ideas???
    let us not fool ourselves abbott is alive and well on the way to a second term this time with a chance of a senate majority.

  3. paul walter

    Rossleigh- a man who doesn’t watch “Game of Thrones” can’t be all bad. Exceptthat all the ones who watch it, watch it out of conformity and the likes of you and I don’t watch it, also out of conformity, in this case masked as ashow of contrarian independences (bet you didnt watch “Brady Bunch”, when you were kid, either).

    eli nes, your post is transcendent. Only someone like you could understand my feelings as to it, and me you.

    Back to Rossleigh, the tests demonstrate empirically just how sheep-like the People are and how far Behavioural Science has both progressed and been diverted/perverted from its original mission of advancing rather than limiting human understanding.

    Depressing, ain’t it?

  4. Loz

    This last 18 months has been depressing.

  5. diannaart

    Tony Abbott…. we’re not the sort of government who changes our leader… Or our minds, no matter what!”

    Agree completely. Except for when the government back-flips, politics being such a popularity contest…

    However, Rossleigh, your point regarding peer pressure is valid, look how the Libs love to bang on about having no factions. Any who dare to differ wind up on the back-bench? …and the mental gymnastics that Malcolm Turnbull must practise every day.

    @paul walter

    …hmmm … generalisations about how people are sheep-like…

    I watch Game of Thrones because I started reading the novels before the TV series – I’m not sure what type of conformist this makes me… particularly, as a former workplace whistle-blower who was punished accordingly, I often think about conformity and the costs worn by the maverick. Tricksie subject, conformity.

  6. paul walter

    Thx, diannaart. You’ve just salvaged my day.

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