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AJ Cann

Martin, I've sent you some link-love ;-)


A "little ignorance"?

In matters of major decision-making, NO, never. In any case, the British press, the main distributors of this "ignorance" had an abundance of it. And Blair, the decision-maker, probably had enough of his own without being hammered for trying to cope with the theirs.

There was ONE main reason some people (not the majority until much later when the insurgents upped the anti and daily massacred their own) the British press. On both sides, and for different reasons - anti-war peace lovers/anti-Blair Tories - the British press played on the reasons NOT to trust Blair. The "lies", "toadying" etc were all fed into the British collective memory.

In fact the press were wrong - as usual - and Blair was right.

Iraq will be a beacon of democracy in the Middle East before we can say "book me a package holiday". It has already turned the corner.

When the press and public have limited, often distorted facts available, they play on those few points for all they're worth. Then we forget the rest of the complexities of decision-making.

Never trust your gut instincts in matters of war. Especially if you aren't the one whose head is on the line.

Politicians' heads ARE. That's why we elect them.


Interesting argument. It's counter-intuitive (we always assume we need to be as informed as possible before making decisions) even while it seems to be an argument in favour of intuition itself.

Aside from this paradox(?), here are my two cents (open questions really):

(1) We are already in, I think, an age of information overload. If we follow the "Wisdom of Crowds" argument, how are we ever going to be able to make decisions again? Selective ignorance? - but won't that require information or understanding of a different kind? - to quote Thomas Pynchon: "Ignorance is not just a blank space on a person's mental map. It has contours and coherence, and [...] rules of operation as well. So as a corollary to [...] what we know, maybe we should add getting familiar with our ignorance [...]" Doesn't the argument put an easily-accessible wealth of information (ie. The Internet) in a bad light? Are we losing sight of the bigger picture?

(2) I was a teenager when the protests against the Iraq War were happening and I was a small part of the anti-war movement. I didn't have much information - just bits and pieces I'd picked up from IndyMedia and the like - but I thought I could see certain parallels between it and other things which I didn't trust. Now I'm a bit more aware of what's going on (or so I like to think), and I don't think those parallels necessarily hold true but I'm glad I went with my instinct. Yet people a generation or two older than me would say that I didn't have life experience and therefore didn't know what I was talking about... I don't think my ideas when I was younger were wrong (far from it). Does experience bring with it an excess of information/associations so that things are no longer so clear?

I'm not saying I agree with the argument, just that these are the kinds of questions that I see coming out of it. FWIW :-)

Phil Greaney

Thanks - this really got me thinking, especially as I am reading Surowiecki at the moment (along with Wikinomics and so on). I've responded with a blog post here: http://greaneynet.com/blogs/?p=200

In short, I feel certain of the power of the crowd but I don't think it should depend upon instinct, induction and I'm against the idea of the crowd as naively in touch with the truth.

Anyway, have a look, be one of only three people to comment on my new blog (one of which is me!).

See you - now, how about that book?



Blair crowds and iraq.. He-he-he :)

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