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Old 01-11-10, 17:47
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Default A message to the illiberal Nudge Industry: push off

The ‘politics of the brain’ is a threat to choice, freedom and democracy – which is why spiked is declaring war against it.

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In earlier eras, the revelation that there was a Behavioural Insight Team at the heart of government, dedicated to finding ways to reshape the public’s thoughts, choices and actions, would have caused outrage. It would have brought to mind some of the darker antics of the Soviet Union, which treated certain beliefs as mental illnesses to be fixed, or maybe O’Brien, the torturer in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, who boasts that the human mind is ‘infinitely malleable’.

Yet the news that David Cameron has a Behavioural Insight Team inside Downing Street, and what’s more that it is increasingly influential within the Lib-Con coalition, has been treated as if were a perfectly normal, even admirable thing. Have we lost our minds?
The Guardian article refered to gives us another prime example of how it doesn't matter how you vote the government still get in.

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A "nudge unit" set up by David Cameron in the Cabinet Office is working on how to use behavioural economics and market signals to persuade citizens to behave in a more socially integrated way.

The unit, formally known as the Behavioural Insight Team, is being run by David Halpern, a former adviser in Tony Blair's strategy unit, and is taking advice from Richard Thaler, the Chicago professor generally recognised as popularising "nudge" theory – the idea that governments can design environments that make it easier for people to choose what is best for themselves and society.

Thaler was in London for three days this week advising ministers, and in a speech urged the government to adopt longer term horizons. The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said he believed the unit could change the way citizens think.
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Old 01-11-10, 19:11
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Sinister shades of Harrison Bergeron

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THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

Some things about living still weren't quite right, though. April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron's fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away.

It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn't think about it very hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn't think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.
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The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said he believed the unit could change the way citizens think.
He's obviously been watching too much Supernanny. It will be the naughty step for us all before long.
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Old 01-11-10, 19:21
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That looks like another book I need to buy, thanks for that, they are so stupid and have no respect and maybe no concept of the infinite complexity of what it is to be human, morons!
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Old 02-11-10, 16:28
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As part of my degree I had to do a sociology course. Because it was an engineering degree, none of us thought much of the idea and the building in which the lectures took place was often referred to as "those subversives over there".

However, many years later, I see some merit in some of what was said and have used some of what I learned (even if I didn't detect it sinking in at the time) to both push my point of view and to defend against others using such tactics. Other things just come from years of practical experience of observing things in action and occasionally being on the receiving end.

When dealing with people who have their brains switched off, or who have been convinced that they can't change anything, it is worryingly easy to push through a course of action. Many people are only too happy to let someone else take responsibility, especially after all those years of the state promising to do everything. I guess that's the one thing for which I'd thank Balls and Badman, they woke me up and caused me to take a crash course in how to stand up and argue back.

Now I observe most things through the bullshit filter and have a personal door to outside the box in case I need to go think there for a bit.
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Old 04-11-10, 10:02
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Social marketing selling itself.
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Old 04-11-10, 10:36
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I've posted this video from Subrosa elsewhere on the forums but it belongs here.

Last edited by Sheila Struthers; 04-11-10 at 10:36. Reason: typo
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Old 04-11-10, 12:02
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I have just looked at the 'social marketing' link - so now I know what it is meant to mean! - and also the 'selling itself' one. I think they should provide subtitles for the latter, because although the words appear to be English language, they don't seem to mean anything....

By contrast, Prof Davies was most refreshing!
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Old 15-11-10, 17:41
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Default Turning New York into a nudgocracy

http://www.spiked-online.com/index.p.../article/9892/

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NYC, this restless city, grew out of revolution, war, deadly clashes over patches of land, capitalist cockiness, and workers’ and black people’s struggles for better living conditions and more freedom, ending up as a sometimes grimy but always beautiful monument to human arrogance and aspiration. Now the nudgers want to remake it, to change its ‘social environment’ and ‘choice architecture’, in order to do Orwell proud by forcing through what they call ‘an overhaul of human behaviour’. In the process, as their worryingly small number of critics points out, they risk turning the city from a smorgasbord of human life and longing into ‘a vast population experiment with no control group’.
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Old 15-11-10, 18:12
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I am all for being informed, given the facts, and then allowed to decide for myself, but this nudge stuff is over the top and out of order. Won't! Won't do it! Won't be nudged!
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Old 15-11-10, 21:23
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The way to counter it is to take nothing at face value unless you can find independent sources, and even then, be prepared to discover that they're not as independent as you first thought. Follow the money, note who is saying what and who stands to gain.

In the internet age, it's too easy to cut-and-paste, or hit the forward button and propagate something that might be less than forthcoming. Too many people accept without thinking anything that accords with their beliefs. For some, Fox News is unbiased and factual reporting. For others, there are reasons for names such as the Daily Fail (or Daily Wail), and the Torygraph, because they have been accurately tagged as having a particular bias. Once one is aware of the bias, such media outlets serve a useful purpose as a warning of impending storm, but it is then up to the discerning reader to decide whether the storm is located in the tropics or the teacup.
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