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Ignoring the warning signs

Written By: - Date published: 10:01 am, November 6th, 2012 - 17 comments
Categories: disaster, john key, national - Tags: , ,

Our human cognitive systems are a flawed hodge-podge of evolutionary hacks. Among our many failures of reasoning, we tend to believe what we want to believe (irrespective of the facts), and we tend to be bad about taking future consequences into account (we focus on short-term factors). Put these two failures together, and we people, both individually and collectively, have an astonishing capacity to ignore “warning signs”.

Individually everybody does this to a certain degree. Collectively we see it in politics all the time. Both “Left” and “Right” are guilty, though study after study has shown that the Right / political conservatives are especially good at seeing the world through their ideological filters, ignoring the facts and warnings, hence for example their wide-spread refusal to accept the reality of climate change.

We’ve seen two particularly clear and strong examples of ignoring the warnings in NZ politics in the last two weeks. The MSD ignored multiple warnings about vulnerabilities in their computer security. And of course the Department of Labour ignored multiple warnings about mine safety.

There are plenty of other cases ongoing. The National government is determined to ignore warnings on the damaging effects of its economic “austerity” programme, “standards” in schools, the risks of off-shore drilling, the dangers of climate change, the unsustainability of superannuation, and so on and so on. In fact Key seems to make it a point of “pride” to ignore warnings from professionals and scientists (such a tough guy eh).

The legions of the dangerously deluded keep Key popular, so that proves that everything is fine, right? We can ignore all the warning signs, we can carry on with destructive economic, social and environmental policies. We can carry on with short-term, ideological thinking. Everything will be just fine and dandy. Right up until the point where it isn’t.


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17 comments on “Ignoring the warning signs”

  1. Adrian 1

    About the deluded keeping Key in such an elevated underserved status my 18 year old made an interesting observation on the “gay” and Beckham remarks. His opinion is that it is that little personal stuff that will be his undoing particularily among the young. They are a generation who have been bought up on the non bullying regime, it won’t be the big ( to us ) issues of accountability and bullshitting because in their opinion thats what politicians have always done, so he’s just true to type.

  2. PlanetOrphan 2

    Healthy paranoia is a good thing, eyes open, well said Anthony.

  3. ianmac 3

    Yes Anthony. When you line up the series, and join the dots, a pattern has emerged. It may fit in with John Key’s declared “pragmatic” approach. This may cause the multiple contradictions as one position obstructs another.
    Freedom of choice + Trust = Leaky Homes.
    Self regulating + Hands off = Mine disaster.
    Self regulating + Economy = Polluted sick Rivers.

  4. Dr Terry 4

    Key assumes that everything that has been proven a disaster in other parts of the world will be different in his and his country’s case.

    Of course the Right generally pursue short term “solutions” which will mostly benefit the already powerful and rich.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Remember Key comes from a corporate executive class used to destroying the organisations they lead and clients they serve, and still walking away with massive remuneration in salaries and bonuses.

  5. I remember hearing an early news report on National Radio just after Pike River explosion that the Clark Government had signed off on plans to increase the air flow in the mine, but the incoming Government had put all assigned work on hold until they had accessed the situation.

    Only heard it once, but that often happens hearing something important on the early news then it is deleted or modified throughout the day.

    • burt 5.1

      I heard something like that and I though the Green’s had requested the new vent be scrapped for environmental reasons… Snails or something similar might have been upset by the process of installing a new vent….

      • One Tāne Huna 5.1.1

        Funny how the Royal Commission report fails to mention it. Perhaps you’re full of shit or something.

      • Rob 5.1.2

        Some people only hear what they want to!
        You are one of them you are in good company with John Key just keep clipping the ticket and don’t add any think of value.

  6. Good article thanks

    Incidentally, I find the link between the word ignoring and the word ignorance entirely profound.

  7. KJT 7

    Agree with most of this.

    However I am surprised at the equally ignorant repeating of the right wing meme, “we cannot afford super (the dole, welfare, social insurance, State infrastructure)!

    Code for we cannot afford to feed and house our elderly. Yeah right.

    In fact super has been so successful in removing poverty amongst the elderly it should be extended to everyone else.
    http://kjt-kt.blogspot.co.nz/2012/06/on-new-zealands-retirement-income.html

    Stopping the 3.5 billion profit the banks take out of our economy would help pay for it.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Stopping the 3.5 billion profit the banks take out of our economy would help pay for it.

      Yep, the only reason why we can’t afford anything is because of a few people taking all the wealth and leaving the country with nothing.

  8. Lloyd 8

    How about increasing the time between WOF checks?
    Reminds me of how freeing up the sort of material you could build your house from would reduce the cost of building houses and help reduce bureaucracy…..
    Remind me how effective stretching out the time between WOF checks is when a car with bald tyre skids out in a storm and kills me…

  9. Glg 9

    You realise John Key wants no oversight of deep sea oil drilling. companies will only have to say they will adhere to ‘best practise’. No regulation at all.

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