Winter, if only by its seasonal name, has passed. We are emotionally attached to the weather, in Galway at any rate. We cannot help ourselves talk about it. Angrily muttering under pulled up hoods and inside out umbrellas, on the sides of football pitches, shoving children into cars and putting bins out is there ever an end….Jaysus it’s relentless. As if the swirly Met Éireann clouds had a vendetta against us.
Nonetheless, we have seen the back of back of it and there’s a grand stretch, all the same. Christy Moore personifies the months ‘the January man is here the start of each and every year/Along the road forever’. No way around it, only through it. To those who took one for the team and did Dry January, fare play to ye. Here, it stuck itself up its own derriere. Suffice to say, I was one of the smug sickeners with intentions to stay off the sauce but failed spectacularly. Having been successful in previous years can I honestly say with confidence that it made me a healthier, better person? Ah…that would be no. However, there was less cheese consumed.
So Spring has sprung and February brings the politicians out of the traps to chase the rabbit. Over the next few weeks, in order to hold on to some degree of sanity, one must endeavour to remain rational in the face of empty promises from delusionally detached prospective representatives of ‘the people’. Us mortals whilst reasonable thinking beings are primarily irrational head the balls. The eminently brilliant psychologist and founder of behavioural economics Prof. Daniel Kahneman just might provide us with the mental armour we need to shield ourselves from the dry chat of politicians. The hand-shaking-funeral-attending-baby-kissers prey on what Prof Kahneman refers to as our brain’s System One, intuitively organised and primarily first across the line behaviourally. In second place is System Two, the rational, logical, thinking structure. It’s a biteen slow. We are prone to bad mental habits or cognitive errors, basically. For example, we anchor or rely heavily on certain information so grill them on the nitty gritty as they stand on your doorstep talking scour. We are prone to the 'Ikea effect' in that we tend to disproportionately place a higher value on things we have worked hard for or built ourselves. Thus politicians talk about ‘building an economy’ and ‘valuing society’ because they have allegedly larboured to create it but it doesn’t really wash with tax payers. Knowledge of both systems and how they work can be used by governments and policy makers to become more economically and societally responsible. The Obama administration has its own social and behavioural team. I know, we could send all the members of the next government, whatever smorgasbord that will be, off to the Centre for Applied Rationality (CFAR) in San Francisco. Yes, it does sound like something out of a Margaret Atwood novel but it does exist (oh and the MD has a cool eye patch). I’m guessing it has really, really big windows. Inda and Joan and Gerry could all head off on a junket for System Two bootcamp. Sure they’d only love that.
Me, I’m sticking with le flou artistique. It’s the lazy option.Suits my systems just fine.