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Explaining is losing (but only in politics)

Written By: - Date published: 6:24 am, April 9th, 2018 - 48 comments
Categories: greens, Politics - Tags: , ,

It is often said that people (voters) have short attention spans – imagine a class of school kids. Get the message across, plain and simple – teachers follow tested guidelines for effective pedagogy and, of course: repeat, repeat, repeat. Unfortunately, nothing in politics is plain and simple and to claim otherwise is lying or propaganda.

People are not as stupid as some like to think but they all have their biases. They will easily jump to conclusions that are based on and confirm their biases. We all do this.

Context (background) is hugely important in getting the right message and the message right. People love to shoot (at) the messenger and the message gets lost; this is often deliberate.

A political party obviously wants to get its message out, understood, and well-received. This means that they have to build a good rapport with their audience. This is particularly important for the Greens because they do not conform to the simple left-right paradigm and thus are easily misunderstood. A prime (but not fine) example was the recent announcement by the Greens to hand their Question Time over to the Opposition (i.e. National). Almost everybody’s first (and lasting) reaction was: WTF? And that includes many a bewildered Green supporter! Similar charges could be laid at Labour’s doorstep regarding the CPTPP.

Political parties need MSM to get their messages across. Without MSM it is like this Zen kōan:

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Simple catchy headlines are the lifeblood of MSM because they bait entice readers to click on the article and spend more time on the website, which indirectly or directly increases revenue – it is no different in supermarkets and shopping malls. Obviously, this click-baiting does little towards explaining the contents or the message of a political party. In fact, it is very common to be quite misleading and to create a false impression or expectation. And just like supermarkets or shopping malls, MSM are not necessarily for or against a particular party or brand, they are simply trying to make money!

Trying to explain a well-intended political decision or policy announcement afterwards is more like installing smoke alarms while the house is burning down around you: too little, too late.

It takes time for people to get to know you, to understand you, to warm up to you. You have to take them gently by the hand and guide them, step by step. One misstep, one stumble, and the trust is gone, often for good. Others will make sure of that.

Without taking this time to ‘educate’ people, to explain itself so that their messages may be received as intended, a political party is asking for trouble and resistance, every step along the way. Alienation with the electorate is a death sentence in politics.

It is a real shame when good information or a good opinion gets ignored and squandered because of poor preparation and delivery (communication). Never forget that people’s attentions spans are short and their patience thin.

So, please can I ask all progressive politicians and all radical thinkers & activists to build a good rapport with the general public, through MSM and other channels, so that their good work does not get lost in fighting a rear-guard action, damage control, and wasting the most precious of resources of all: time. In addition, there is a dearth of public intellectuals in New Zealand who can be instrumental in breaking down complex issues into pieces that can be understood by the general public without resorting to spin or framing, over-simplification, or banality unlike so many MSM opinion pieces.

This Guest Post is by Standardista Incognito.

48 comments on “Explaining is losing (but only in politics)”

  1. Sacha 1

    Political communication requires more than ‘rapport’. And headlines are not written by political parties, though the framing supporting them certainly can be.

    The left needs to do better at articulating the overall concepts that give context for media stories. The right have been doing that so well for several decades that you will notice even lefties talking about ‘taxpayers money’ now rather than public funding. Time for the shoe to be on the other foot.

    • Incognito 1.1

      By “rapport” I mean a conversation that leads into dialogue & debate. It also means a mutual understanding and respect and a kind of connection that goes deeper and further than just consuming letters & words.

      Yes, clear articulation is very important; be specific & clear with the messaging and the intentions and thinking behind all of these. This means to be honest & transparent and, ultimately, be accountable for all of it. By “accountable” I don’t mean that you should be punished or penalised when something goes wrong, and it will, but that you take responsibility and learn from mistakes and do better next time.

      It really is down to the basics and then upwards & onwards …

  2. Robert Guyton 2

    Explaining isn’t losing; The phrase, “explaining is losing” is a weapon used by Right wingers when they know “I’m not listening !” would sound too, too childish.
    The most perfectly crafted headline can only do so much; people, as you said, aren’t stupid and pride themselves in knowing what’s going on, in everyday life and in politics.
    Explaining can be counterproductive when the tone is defensive or strident, but clear, assured explanations are powerful agents for enlightenment when they are well-aimed and well timed. I reckon.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1

      +1

    • Gosman 2.2

      Complex narratives don’t usually get cut through to the electorate but by all means try to do so in future.

      • Robert Guyton 2.2.1

        “clear, assured explanations” are “complex narratives”, Gosman?
        Nice re-interpretation there!

        • Gosman 2.2.1.1

          What you think is clear and assured isn’t necessarily what others regard as clear and assured.

          • Robert Guyton 2.2.1.1.1

            Yes it is.

            • Robert Guyton 2.2.1.1.1.1

              Was that “clear and assured”?
              Yes.

              • Gosman

                Give me an example of a clear and assured explanation for a policy that you support but one that has a degree of complexity that means it is often misunderstood by the electorate.

                • Robert Guyton

                  Policies are generally complex by necessity – make one too simplistic and it won’t stand up to scrutiny. I suggest separating policy into its parts and explaining each clearly and assuredly.

              • weka

                😁

    • Chris 2.3

      As soon as I hear that phrase I think of slater.

    • mikes 2.4

      “…people, as you said, aren’t stupid…”

      Have you talked with any people recently?

    • Incognito 2.5

      I am 100% with you Robert.

      There’s explaining, there’s educating, and there’s defending and being (put) on the back foot.

      A little explaining is perfectly fine, necessary even, but it requires proper groundwork and ought to be done at the right time & place. As with planting, the flower and the fruit are sustained by the root; with good preparation you’re more likely to get a good result 😉

      An effectively delivered message that builds on well laid-out prior explanations is more likely to be understood and received as intended; it becomes more than a message and like a tool to build a step to the next level.

  3. Ad 3

    There’s too much of the governments’ few public supporters having to suck it up while the government does such a poor job of communicating and continues to stumble.

    Amongst the many self-inflicted wounds, the petrol tax/not tax/cumulative tax argument has been the worst.

    I was gong to write a post about it, but thought I’d hold off until budget – which better come off like a goddamn miracle.

  4. esoteric pineapples 4

    I think the left has to become more aggressive and strategic in holding much of the main stream media to account for not fulfilling its journalistic role. It could take a leaf from the “tax payers union” book and form a ginger group to highlight media bias and inconsistencies at every turn. Of course, the challenge would be to get one’s views published! Media aren’t going to want to quote someone criticising them. But one can start by doing press releases and forwarded them to all news agencies including Scoop and cultivating particular journalists who are sympathetic. As one can see from the Tax Payers Union, it’s not hard to start such a group. All you need to do is give yourself a name, have a spokesperson and start putting out press releases every day.

    • Keepcalmcarryon 4.1

      We need media watch type investigative journalism to highlight how out of kilter and trash our media has become.
      Let the public see what fools they are being played for.
      This in turn requires public broadcasting which needs better funding which labour were starting with RNZ but were scuttled by the right wing embedded In the media already.
      That and stupidity.
      And so the vicious cycle repeats unless major change is enacted.

    • Tuppence Shrewsbury 4.2

      so not building a rapport with the media as they aren’t reporting on what you want reported and are reporting on what you don’t want reported?

      Go for it, see how that goes

    • cleangreen 4.3

      Well said esoteric pineapples,

      “The left; – could take a leaf from the “tax payers union” book and form a ginger group to highlight media bias and inconsistencies at every turn.”

      Could not agree more as we need a strong voice and strong “advocacy” to reach the masses now with the principles and policies of the new Government as today a leading media expert says Labour will suffer as time goes by if their message is not heard soon as there is no clear policy that is coming out that people can embrace.

      So we must face reality here as labour are loosing the media war now since the Minister of broadcasting screwed the whole RNZ plan up to make us a voice within RNZ which is now likely to be scrapped sadly.

      We need to hold Clare Curran responsible for her stupid errors in judgement as she is still acting very obstinate; – stubbornly adhering to an opinion, purpose, or course in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion without showing any remorse.

    • Muttonbird 4.4

      Although The Standard isn’t yet visible enough, right here is a good start.

      The Standard is read by journalists and political analysts and the better of thoughts expressed here do make it out occasionally. We already know this. Just need to grow it – the better expressed thought, that is.

      We need to keep re-enforcing the voice of the left with well-argued socially conscious ideas and firm rebuttal and dismantling of the moronic conservative click-bait.

      And stop the petty bickering – you know who you are!

      In terms of watching the media, someone else will have to look at the Herald because I have just removed it from my phone and favourites bar! Drastic action I know but, not buying into Incognito’s supermarket analogy, it is my form of boycott.

    • Obtrectator 4.5

      “Media aren’t going to want to quote someone criticising them.”

      Quite so. Case in point: the Herald suddenly stopped enabling comments on its articles a year or two ago.

    • Incognito 4.6

      The Government newsroom needs to get their act together, as Tim Murphy recently argued, but I don’t think they’d need to become more aggressive and certainly not towards hardworking journalists who already are under a lot of pressure.

      https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2018/04/04/102308/beehive-newsroom-needs-to-move-the-story-on#

      To reach the largest audience the MSM are needed but also other channels of direct and indirect communication should be explored. That said, the MSM is not the enemy! They too are struggling.

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/102844502/give-us-some-of-that-broadcasting-cash

      I believe a good relationship with MSM will pay off in the long run and possibly change the reporting from the highly polarised content & style to a more interesting one in which multiple angles and nuances become the norm rather than the exception. Polarisation has benefitted some, of course, and it still does so we can expect resistance to any change from the BAU.

      I believe people are tiring of the same-old-same-old ways of mudslinging, gotcha interviews, and DP. They want to be taken seriously and listened too and talked with, not talked to, by politicians, as grown-ups, not like children. MSM has an essential role to play for this to happen and I think they could benefit from this too; a ‘win’ all around 😉

  5. Carolyn_Nth 5

    As an ex teacher of diverse age groups from rising 5 years to adults, I couldn’t easily get past the first sentence.

    Get the message across, plain and simple – teachers follow tested guidelines for effective pedagogy and, of course: repeat, repeat, repeat.

    Well yes to the first part about evidence based teaching and learning. But it’s not that plain and simple as “repeat, repeat, repeat” indicates.

    Basically the main aim of education in a democracy is to teach people to be critical thinking, independent learners: i.e. to teach people how to learn.

    There is some repetition involved – but repetition of the rote learning kind is only good for certain kinds of leanings, and too much of it is authoritarian brainwashing.

    Spaced leaning is very important. ie trying something out, then coming back to that task and repeating the activity at intervals.

    I agree with some other things in the post.

    • ianmac 5.1

      Yes Carolyn. It is a long time since good teachers used “repeat,repeat,repeat.” Most people have long memories of that which they understood but forget quickly that which relies on repetition. (Is repetition nagging?)

    • Incognito 5.2

      My bad. Perhaps I should have written practice, practice, practice. To become critical independent thinkers & learners takes an awful lot of practice and repetition (!), which is indeed structurally quite different from rote learning; it is a stepwise process of development.

      Anyway, this post is not about the intricacies of pedagogy as such. I would love to hear what other things in the post you disagree with because I value your opinion.

      • Carolyn_Nth 5.2.1

        Thanks, Incognito. I’m pondering on further comment, but may not have time for it today.

        I’m always interested in topics about communication. So an important post.

        • Incognito 5.2.1.1

          No worries and I hope to be around for a while and look forward to your comment.

    • mikes 5.3

      “Basically the main aim of education in a democracy is to teach people to be critical thinking, independent learners: i.e. to teach people how to learn.”

      Maybe from your individual perspective.

      The state wants obedient taxpayers, not critical or independent thinkers.

  6. David Mac 6

    I think the ‘explaining is losing’ thing relates to the water we throw on our communication with detail that obliges our listener to swap over to the other half of their brain. It’s the difference between “Mr Mac in an emergency ABS applies the brakes more efficiently than 99.8% of human beings.” and “Mr Mac the ABS modulating valve in the control module is oscillating at 1000 pulses per second.”

    The first way lets me custom make my own explaining to suit me. I visualise my teen daughter getting her license soon and borrowing the vehicle.

    The 2nd way, the amazing technical aspects of ABS systems, the explaining is all done. Communication wise, I only have ‘Wow that’s fast’ to respond with. Gets me no closer to buying into the message, lost in the explaining.

    • Sacha 6.1

      And your framing is around keeping safe. That’s the level our messages need to be planned at.

    • ianmac 6.2

      Just thinking about how smokers grumbled about restrictions on where they smoked and how much the cigarettes increased in cost but generally accepted for the Public Good.
      Increasing petrol fees should be accepted by most (except for Bridges) as for the Public Good.

    • Incognito 6.3

      All communication must be tailored to the intended audience. Some audiences demand technical detail and others are satisfied with the assurance that it works and take it for granted.

      Don’t oversimplify things and don’t go too technical or hide behind technical lingo that almost no-one understands and wants to listen too for more than 5 seconds. It is no different for science communication as it deals with a broad audience with widely different levels of interest, knowledge, and understanding and attempts to explain very complex stuff. Some people are bored to death and some will be enchanted in a jaw dropping way 😉

      In my view, people cannot and must not escape exposure to complex stuff such as politics and science but it will require superb communicators and a whole lot of effort.

      Once people are properly informed they can actually make informed decisions. Isn’t this essential for democracy?

  7. Rozgonz 7

    well there is a lot of explaining going on at the moment isn’t there…

  8. indiana 8

    I think a good example of “explaining is losing” is when Phil Goff tries to explain how much tax would be collected from a CGT in a debate.

    • weka 8.1

      Do you mean Cunliffe? He bungled the explanation, for a whole range of reasons. A clear explanation grounded in values based politics along with being able to stand up to FJK would have had a different result.

      • savenz 8.1.1

        Or why trusts were not subject to capital gains taxes…

        If Labour and Greens talked less about taxing people and focused on helping people and getting a result or working out where all the money being collected in exisiting taxes has gone or is going…

        example 200 million plus with America’s cup village for a billionaire event (trickle down apparently is expected to occur to help the little people aka SkyCity and Hotel owners + their minimum waged workers who may or may not have to be specially flown in from other countries).. but Auckland council has no money apparently and $2 million a day for rate payers debt… likewise I’m sure the America’s cup village will be built on time, unlike the Unitech houses that people need today…

        Petrol taxes well they are apparently coming in… but since Auckland Transport is already receiving 1.3+ billion a year in rate payer money, and has no public transport at all in many parts of the super city and even the simplest journey in Auckland such as 2 bus stages takes 1.5 hours and costs mega bucks for a family…

        Isn’t giving our transport agencies more money to implement something, like giving a kid with matches another lighter to burn the house down in case they can’t do it the first time?

        There is talking about something, but completely another thing to build and implement something properly and fairly that will be helpful to a lot of people with the taxes and if they can’t do anything reasonable with the existing taxes then there is zero guarantee giving more money will help?

        Are our politicians capable of thinking things through themselves anymore, and are they well advised by their officials, because they crack rapidly under basic questioning on their policies?

  9. savenz 9

    I think it goes way beyond getting a message across, the politicians biggest problem is that they often lose touch with reality because they get into a bubble of politics and around too many lobbyists and spin.

    The Jacinda factor was this idea that she was one of us and cared about local people in NZ…. the issue is… has she already lost touch while thinking what the media write about her is actually what people think…. the media is not actually the people – but advertisers… quite different things, ha ha.

    this is a super article about Madeleine Albright and similar issues… reality and perception – they are against something but somehow do not understand it did not arrive out of the blue… I don’t mean to target Jacinda with this, but Labour and Green thinking…..

    “Trump, fascism and democracy: Here’s what Madeleine Albright can’t or won’t say
    Former secretary of state sees the “storm clouds” of fascism: But she helped make the world that brought us Trump”

    https://www.salon.com/2018/04/07/trump-fascism-and-democracy-heres-what-madeleine-albright-cant-or-wont-say/

    • Incognito 9.1

      Getting the message across is just one side of the coin. The other side is receiving a message back. In other words, a dialogue or conversation about stuff that both parties involved do understand, stuff that is highly relevant to both. I agree that politicians need to listen more & better to the people and stop playing lip service. Unfortunately, politicians cannot talk with every single individual separately so they have to package & deliver it in order to reach as many as possible without distortion or interference. As I said before, I think MSM is key in this but other avenues are opening up too.

  10. Matthew Whitehead 10

    I think “explaining is losing” is probably valid for scandals, and for having your policies misunderstood initially, but explaining can actually be winning if people don’t know about your policies or values and you get an opportunity to explain them.

    The trick is to balance giving enough detail to actually understand in context with not overloading the audience.

    But yes, having to explain after everyone has already formed a first impression is very difficult and it’s better to avoid it.

    • Incognito 10.1

      When explaining becomes or is perceived as correcting it becomes very tricky and easily an exercise in futility because people will resist even if only subconsciously (or perhaps even more so when subconsciously).

      Explaining should not attempt to ‘convert’ or ‘assimilate’ and be based on the principle that it is o.k. to disagree. We actually need a rich diversity of opinions and a contest of ideas, not a mono-culture of yes-sayers and obedient & compliant workers or citizens, which is as bad, in my view, as the Left-Right false dichotomy that we are currently ‘enjoying’.

      • Matthew Whitehead 10.1.1

        My point is more that sometimes people become converted when hearing the details, and that getting technical isn’t always a bad thing, not that explanation-as-campaigning is always okay.

  11. AsleepWhileWalking 11

    Fuck MSM.

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    5 days ago
  • Coronavirus – Cuba shows the way
    We’ve been meaning t write something on Cuba and the coronavirus but have just discovered a very good article on the subject in the US left publication Jacobin.  The article looks at how Cuba, a poor country but one where capitalism has been done away with, is leading the way ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    5 days ago
  • Using privacy law to prevent the death penalty
    In 2018, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey - two British citizens who had purportedly been stripped of their citizenship by the British government - were captured while fighting for Isis in Syria. The British government then conspired to hand them over to the US, and agreed to provide evidence ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • It’s Time For Disaster Socialism.
    Transformers: The disaster of the Great Depression was transformed into a new and fairer society by the democratic socialism of the First Labour Government. The disaster of the Covid-19 Pandemic offers a similar transformative possibility to the Labour-NZ First-Green Government. Seize the time, Jacinda! You will never have a better ...
    5 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #12, 2020
    Tamper with The System? Well, we already are. But there's a difference between accidentally trickling sand into a precision gearbox versus formulating a plan to alter it on the fly with improvements in mind. One action is more or less innocently unscrupulous, the other amenable to earning an easy ...
    5 days ago
  • Avoidable hospitalisations: Helping our health system get through COVID-19
    Associate Prof George Thomson, Louise Delany, Prof Nick Wilson While it is possible that New Zealand can use intense public health controls to eradicate COVID-19 from the country – we must also plan for other scenarios where thousands of New Zealanders are sick – including many urgently hospitalised.1 Better resilience ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    6 days ago
  • Raise the Bar: 10 questions to ask your employer proposing redundancy
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or being ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    6 days ago
  • An equitable way to support business
    The Herald reports that the government is planning to lend billions of dollars to large businesses to keep them operating during the pandemic. As with mortgage relief, this is necessary: we need companies to stay in business, to reduce the economic damage and help things get restarted again when this ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Hard News: Together Alone
    We're about to do something unprecedented as a nation. We hope that by taking this extraordinary action before a single life in New Zealand has been lost to the deadly novel virus we will save tens of thousands of lives. Our  lives. We'll do it together, in households, in isolation ...
    6 days ago
  • Why timing is everything: ‘A time to refrain from embracing’ starts today
    “There is a time for everything,    and a season for every activity under the heavens.”So writes the author of Ecclesiastes, a book in the Old Testament that’s counted as a ‘wisdom’ book and written as if by an unnamed king of Jerusalem. But who would have thought there would be a time ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    6 days ago
  • Dealing with the Covid-19 Tsunami.
    I was surprised when the prime minister described the Economic Response to Covid-19 package as the ‘largest peacetime government spend in New Zealand's history’. Reflecting – checking through history – I realised that the term ‘spend’ was crucial and the package had no income tax cuts. Even so, it has ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    7 days ago
  • What about renters?
    The government today announced the latest part of its pandemic relief package: a six-month mortgage holiday for people whose incomes have been affected by the pandemic. Which is great, because these people are going to need help, and that's what the government should be doing. At the same time, it ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Living within our means.
    Years ago the Argentine sociologist Carlos Weisman wrote a book titled “Living within our Means.” It was a critique of Argentine society that focused on the paradoxical question of why, in a land of plenty, there was so much economic instability, inequality, corruption and political turmoil. His conclusion was basically ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    7 days ago
  • Transparency and the pandemic
    Parliament will be leading by example and adjourning tomorrow after a special sitting to consider an epidemic notice and state of emergency. Day-to-day oversight of the government will be delegated to a select committee. But that's not the only overight mechanism. The OIA will still be law, and (so far) ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • ‘Overjoyed’: a leading health expert on New Zealand’s coronavirus shutdown, and the challengin...
    Michael Baker, University of Otago Overjoyed. That’s not a word epidemiologists normally use, but that’s how I felt after hearing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement about New Zealand’s COVID-19 shutdown of everything except essential services for at least four weeks from midnight on Wednesday. More than anything, I just ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    7 days ago
  • One way to solve the housing crisis
    How much homelessness is caused by house hoarding? We're about to find out. The pandemic has destroyed tourism, which means that house hoarders who put their hoarded properties up as short-term tourist rentals are now offering them on the ordinary rental market:Property investors are pulling properties from Airbnb to offer ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The pros and cons of planting trees to address global warming
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bruce Lieberman It seems like such a simple, straightforward, empowering idea: plant trees – a lot of trees – all over the world, and watch the planet’s temperature fall. Who doesn’t love a tree or two, even far more – the right ...
    1 week ago
  • Not a grand coalition, but a government of national salvation
    According to Newshub, Simon Bridges is open to joining a “grand coalition” with Labour as we hunker down to go into a month long lockdown. The idea is sound. Before now, the role of the opposition was to scrutinise and oppose. In the context of what almost amounts to a ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: hospitality workers & wage subsidy entitlements
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • Lifting our game against COVID-19
    We need to be lifting our game against COVID-19. You and I need to help those working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while they’re trying to lift the testing and treatment efforts. We don’t want to be playing this game running backwards. Best to play it solidly forward, from ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    1 week ago
  • The maths and ethics of minimising COVID-19 deaths in NZ
    Prof Tony Blakely, Prof Michael Baker, and Prof Nick Wilson The NZ Government must do more to clearly articulate its COVID-19 strategy: eradication or ‘flattening the curve’ mitigation. But to do so means understanding the maths and ethics of both these strategies. In this blog, we adapt our work for ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • All aboard the Covid Train
    A few days ago I was starting to write something about the pandemic, which now seems unconscionable. It took the form of a letter to an agony aunt:“Dear Deidre, I have an ugly confession. I am quite excited by Covid-19.”This is how the piece went:“I’m not a psychopath, honest. Although the ...
    PunditBy Phil Vine
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #12
    Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Climate Feedback Article Review... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters The likelihood of extreme events ...
    1 week ago
  • We are all socialists now
    Last week, the government announced a $12 billion initial package to support people during the pandemic. Today, the Reserve Bank is buying government bonds - effectively printing money - to keep up the money supply during the crisis. Normally such moves would have the right apoplectic. Instead, the National Party ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A plea to experts: safeguard your role in public life
    I am a pundit, somebody who opines and comments on the news. There are no real qualifications to punditry though having a rudimentary way with words and good general knowledge helps. That is one reason there is a constant oversupply of would-be pundits and why it is quite hard to ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Enlightenment when?
    I recently encountered the following prescription from a Faculty of Education at a leading New Zealand University. At first I wondered if it was another product of the postmodern generator (http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/), designed to create gibberish in the postmodern form, but I’m told it is real: The “schooled” society: Towards the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Corballis
    1 week ago
  • What the Crisis Can teach Us
    The coronavirus pandemic has of course had a major impact on individual lives and on societies as a whole. But, long after the crisis has passed (assuming it does), we will begin to realise that its real and lasting significance lies in the lessons it has taught us, if only ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Hammering home measures to stop COVID-19
    COVID-19 has plunged Aotearoa New Zealand (indeed, the world) into territory that, while maybe not totally unprecedented, certainly hasn’t been seen during the lifetimes of most of us here today. Our borders are closed to non-citizens, we’re being told not to gather in groups of more than 500 outside/100 inside, ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    1 week ago
  • What does ‘level two’ mean – and why does it matter?
    For the last few weeks, I’ve been urging you to prepare yourself, your family, business, and community for Covid-19. Now it’s time for real action.  Yesterday the director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced another 13 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, bringing our total to date to 52. ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #12
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 15, 2020 through Sat, Mar 21, 2020 Editor's Pick Now Isn’t the Time to Forget About Our Climate Change Efforts   Tasha Tilberg, Lindsey Wixson, and Liu Wen photographed ...
    1 week ago
  • Is the Guardian becoming  a real newspaper again?
    by Jan Rivers The article has been corrected to show that it was Ewen MacAskill, former Guardian journalist and not Luke Harding who travelled to meet Edward Snowden with journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras.  Some of the Guardian’s well-known journalists who did not sign the protest letter are ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Life asserts itself regardless
    by Cultural Worker Late March 2020 amidst the virus. With gigs crashing and burning all around it was without much hope that I called a long standing rest home booking: “ Hi, I’m supposed to be entertaining at your place this afternoon – is it still on?” “”If you don’t ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics, the possible, and the pandemic
    Whenever people demand real change from their politicians, we're told that "politics is the art of the possible". The implication is that change isn't possible, so we'd better just get used to the sucky status quo. But now that there's a pandemic, a lot of things we were previously told ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The Only Way Through This Crisis Is Together.
    Together: In leading New Zealand through the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Prime Minister could do a lot worse than allow herself to be guided by the spirit of collective sacrifice and co-operation that animated the New Zealanders of 80 years ago. Most Kiwis alive today have had no opportunity to prove their ...
    2 weeks ago
  • GFC vs Covid-19
    It is said that generals fight the last war. In the case of the early stages of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) they had learned from the Great Depression of the 1930s and they fought intelligently and successfully. Later their advice would be ignored in favour of the Austerians who ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    2 weeks ago
  • Nobody Left Behind.
    Solidarity Forever: All over the world, the arrival of the Covid-19 virus has exposed the fragility of the walls we erect around ourselves and our loved ones. It has shattered our illusions of autonomy and revealed to us how utterly dependent we all are on other human-beings. Finally, we see ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Rebuilding a truly “Democratic” counter, or a “moderate Republican” bolt-hol...
    Looking across the various arguments for/against the leading candidates to take the Democratic Nomination, you might honestly be very hard pressed to tell. There are a number of things that have now started happening since Amy Klobuchar and “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg both threw the towel in and immediately (and ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    2 weeks ago
  • Abortion law reform a win for women
    by Daphna Whitmore Abortion is no longer in the Crimes Act in New Zealand. The law reform passed yesterday and now abortion is a medical matter between a woman and her doctor. Many women’s groups and progressive people have campaigned for reform for decades. The women’s liberation movement and some ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • How to spot bogus science stories and read the news like a scientist
    Doug Specht, University of Westminster and Julio Gimenez, University of Westminster When fake news, misreporting and alternative facts are everywhere, reading the news can be a challenge. Not only is there plenty of misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other scientific topics floating around social media, you also ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Why New Zealand needs to continue decisive action to contain coronavirus
    Michael Baker, University of Otago and Nick Wilson, University of Otago With some of the toughest border restrictions and a newly-announced NZ$500 million boost to health services, New Zealand is among a small number of countries with a strategy to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. New Zealand is also fortunate in ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Parliament and the pandemic II
    As expected, the government has introduced a sessional order to allow Parliament to operate during the pandemic. You can read it on the Order Paper here, but the short version is that questions and motions can be filed electronicly, select committees can work remotely, and the the Business Committee can ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • When a virus goes viral: pros and cons to the coronavirus spread on social media
    Axel Bruns, Queensland University of Technology; Daniel Angus, Queensland University of Technology; Timothy Graham, Queensland University of Technology, and Tobias R. Keller, Queensland University of Technology News and views about coronavirus has spread via social media in a way that no health emergency has done before. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • How to survive 14 days of self-isolation
    So you’ve recently returned from overseas, come into contact with someone who tested positive, got a bit of a dry cough yourself or perhaps just want to self isolate for 14 days to avoid other people who might have COVID-19. Here are a few tips and tricks to help get ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Abortion Legislation Bill passes third reading
    Some fave speeches:     ...
    Boots TheoryBy Stephanie Rodgers
    2 weeks ago
  • Why Leadership Matters – More Than Anything.
    Our Good Fortune: Precisely because she has never been an ideologue (she calls herself a “pragmatic idealist”) Jacinda Ardern has a political nimbleness and spontaneity which, when infused with her exceptional emotional intelligence, produces spectacular demonstrations of leadership. Jacinda's empathic political personality contrasts sharply with the less-than-sunny ways of her ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #11, 2020
    2 weeks ago

  • New Zealand defence personnel conclude mission at Taji
    Following the successful conclusion of the Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission at Taji, New Zealand defence personnel are returning to New Zealand from Iraq, in accordance with the Cabinet decision made in June 2019, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. “New Zealand is very ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • State of National Emergency extended
    The State of National Emergency to help stop the spread of COVID-19 has been extended for a further seven days, Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare said. The initial declaration on March 25 lasted seven days and can be extended as many times as necessary. “Since we went into isolation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 hours ago
  • Strong Govt books support ‘go hard, go early’ response
    New Zealand’s ability to go hard and go early in the fight against COVID-19 has been underpinned by strong Government finances and the growing economy heading into this global pandemic, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Treasury today released the Crown financial statements for the eight months to the end ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 hours ago
  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says 36 new intensive care beds at Christchurch Hospital’s new Hagley building are being fast tracked so they are available for treatment of COVID-19 patients.   The Ministry of Health is working with contractor CPB and Canterbury DHB to enable access to the hospital’s ICU, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    19 hours ago
  • Government supports Air NZ freight flights
    The Government has fast-tracked up to $1 million to help Air New Zealand move urgent freight to and from New Zealand, with the first flight to Shanghai leaving tonight, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. Phil Twyford says it’s crucial that trade in vital goods such as medical supplies and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
    New Zealand will temporarily remove tariffs on all medical and hygiene imports needed for the COVID-19 response. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said today that the New Zealand Customs Service will apply tariff concessions to all diagnostic reagents and testing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
    Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme announced yesterday mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy. “We still want employers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
    Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up. Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
    The Government has made modifications to the wage subsidy scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown. These changes will soften the impact of COVID-19 on workers, families and businesses, and position them to exit the lockdown and look to recovery, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
    Farmers whose herds were culled in response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis will be able to minimise the tax treatment of their income in some circumstances. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to change the law. It means farmers may be eligible to spread their income over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
    A $27 million dollar package, effective immediately, is being provided to social sector services and community groups to ensure they can continue to provide essential support to communities as we stay at home as a nation to stop the spread of COVID-19, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced. “At ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
    A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
    People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
    The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank are today announcing a major financial support package for home owners and businesses affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Government working to keep air freight moving
    Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has today announced details of the Government’s support package to keep key air freight moving and ensure New Zealanders retain access to essential goods during the four-week level 4 lockdown. “The Government is working with airlines and air freight operators to ensure New Zealand’s key ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours
    New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict New Zealand to move up to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 – Eliminate, in 48 hours Two-staged approach to give people and businesses time to prepare  Level 3, from tomorrow Non-essential businesses must close All events and gatherings must be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased
    Good afternoon  The Cabinet met this morning to discuss our next actions in the fight against COVID-19.  Like the rest of the world, we are facing the potential for devastating impacts from this virus. But, through decisive action, and through working together, do we have a small window to get ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt takes significant economic decisions as NZ readies for Alert Level 4 in COVID-19 fight
    The Government is announcing significant further support for the economy, workers and businesses as the country unites to prepare for Alert Level 4 in the fight against COVID-19. Cabinet today agreed to remove the cap on the Government’s wage subsidy scheme, which will inject a further $4 billion into the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt backs RBNZ move to support economy with lower interest rates
    The Government is backing the Reserve Bank’s latest action to support the economy by reducing longer-term interest rates, meaning lower costs for businesses and mortgage holders, and a lower currency to help our exporters. The Minister of Finance has signed a memorandum of understanding and a letter of indemnity with ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government statement on commercial cooperation during COVID-19
    The Government has asked the Commerce Commission to take account of the exceptional circumstances created by COVID-19 when monitoring business behaviour in coming weeks.   “The purpose of my request to the Commerce Commission is to make sure businesses can work together in ways that will allow them to provide ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand temporarily closes diplomatic posts in Barbados and Myanmar due to COVID-19
    The New Zealand Government has temporarily closed its High Commission in Bridgetown, Barbados and its Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “Due to the increasing scarcity of air links in and out of Bridgetown and Yangon, and the pressure COVID-19 is placing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Supporting Māori communities and businesses through
    Associate Health and Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare has today announced the Government’s plan to support Māori communities and businesses in the face of COVID-19. “Our Government’s $12.1 billion economic package will help many Māori whānau, workers and businesses, whether it’s through wage subsidies, income support and worker redeployment, or ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Guidelines for hospitality establishments released
    The Government and the hospitality industry have worked together to produce guidelines to assist with managing and reducing transmission of COVID-19, Health Minister David Clark announced today.  The guidelines developed between the Government, Hospitality New Zealand and SkyCity Entertainment Group, set out how the new restrictions on physical distancing and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Nation steps up to COVID-19 Alert Level 2
    Four stage Alert System for COVID-19 announced New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 – Reduce Contact New Zealanders over 70 and those with certain medical conditions told to stay at home as much as they can to reduce risk of contact with the virus Workplaces to implement ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • PM Address – Covid-19 Update
    Kia ora koutou katoa I’m speaking directly to all New Zealanders today to give you as much certainty and clarity as we can as we fight Covid-19. Over the past few weeks, the world has changed. And it has changed very quickly. In February it would have seemed unimaginable to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • NZ and Singapore commit to keeping supply and trade links open, including on essential goods and med...
    New Zealand and Singapore have jointly committed to keep supply chains open and to remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the commitment. “This is an important collective response, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Joint Ministerial Statement by Singapore and New Zealand -Covid-19 situation
    JOINT MINISTERIAL STATEMENT BY SINGAPORE AND NEW ZEALAND AFFIRMING COMMITMENT TO ENSURING SUPPLY CHAIN CONNECTIVITY AMIDST THE COVID-19 SITUATION  The COVID-19 pandemic is a serious global crisis.  As part of our collective response to combat COVID-19, Singapore and New Zealand are committed to maintaining open and connected supply chains. We ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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  • Transit between Australia and New Zealand
    Travel restrictions, closing our border to almost all travelers came into force from 23:59 on Thursday 19 March 2020 (NZDT).  All airlines were informed of these restrictions before they came into force. Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says “The transit of passengers between Australia and New Zealand has been agreed upon and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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