Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril by Margaret Heffernan
“You cannot fix a problem that you refuse to acknowledge.”
“As long as it (an issue) remains invisible, it is guaranteed to remain insoluble.”
“When we care about people, we care less about money, and when we care about money, we care less about people.”
“The combination of power, optimism and abstract thinking makes powerful people more certain. The more cut-off they are from others, the more confident they are that they are right.”
“Money appears to motivate only our interest in ourselves, making us selfish and self-centered…Money makes people feel self-sufficient, which also means they don’t need or care about others; it’s each man for himself”
“We know – intellectually – that confronting an issue is the only way to resolve it. But any resolution will disrupt the status quo. Given the choice between conflict and change on the one hand, and inertia on the other, the ostrich position can seem very attractive.”
“Dominant people, it appears, use snap judgements and conform to received wisdom more than do the less dominant. Those who need power, and those who have it, think differently.”
“In treating people as less important than things, work becomes both demoralised and demoralising and we become blind to the moral content of our decisions…Money and wilfful blindness make us act in ways incompatible wiht what believe our ethics to be, and often even with our own self-interest…the problem with money isn’t fundamentally about greed, although it can be comforting to think so. The problem with money is that we live in societies in which mutual support and co-operation is essential, but money erodes the relationships we need to lead productive, fulfilling and genuinely happy lives. When money becomes the dominant behavior, it doesn’t cooperate with, or amplify, our relationships; it disengages us from them.”
“Money is just one of the forces that blind us to information and issues which we could pay attention to – but don’t. It exacerbates and often rewards all the other drivers of willful blindness; our preference for the familiar, our love for individuals and for big ideas, a love of busyness and our dislike of conflict and change, the human instinct to obey and conform and our skill at displacing and diffusing responsibility. All of these operate and collaborate with varying intensities at different moments in our lives. The common denominator is that they all make us protect our sense of self-worth, reducing dissonance and conferring a sense of security, however illusory. In some ways, they all act like money; making us feel good at first, with consequences we don’t see. We wouldn’t be so blind if our blindness didn’t deliver rewards; the benefit of comfort and ease.”
“Humans do not have enough mental capacity to do all the things that we think we can do. As attentional load increases, attentional capacity gradually diminishes.”
“When we are tired or preoccupied – what psychologists call ‘resource-depleted’ – we start to economise, to conserve those resources. Higher-order thinking is more expensive. So too is doubt, scepticism, arugment. ‘Resource depletion specifically disables cognitive elaboration,’ wrote Harvard psychologist Daniel Gillbert…Because it takes less brain power to believe than to doubt, we are, when tired or distracted, gullible. Because we are all biased, and biases are quick and effortless, exhaustion tends to make us prefer the information we know and are comfortable with. We are too tired to do the heavier lifting of examining new or contradictory information, so we fall back on our biases the opinions and the people we already trust.”
“The sooner we associate long hours and multitasking with incompetence and carelessness the better. The next time you hear boasts of executives pulling an all-nighter or holding conference calls in their cars, be sure to offer your condolences; it’s grim being stuck in sweatshops run by managers too ignorant to understand productivity and risk. Working people like this is as smart as running your factory without maintenance. In manufacturing and engineering businesses, everyone learns that the top priority is asset integrity: protecting the machinery on which the business depends. In knowledge-based economies, that machinery is the mind.”
Via: Reuters by Ralph Jennings
They sleep in boxy rooms crammed into dingy low-rises and spend hours commuting to work on crowded buses as part of a trend of poorer white-collar workers being forced to the fringes of China’s wealthiest cities.
Some say these struggling college graduates who swarm out of their cramped accommodations and head to work in the urban sprawl each morning are reminiscent of worker insects in a colony. Not surprisingly, they are often referred to as China’s ant tribe.
The growing ranks of ‘worker ants’ poses a policy challenge for Beijing’s Communist Party leaders as high property prices and dim career prospects thwart the ambitions of many graduates for a comfortable middle-class lifestyle.
‘Marty the Magician’ or Marty Hayne relates his experience:
“I wasn’t aware as a magician, with one rabbit, I needed a license.”
” I was actually busted during a performance at a library, for children… Back in 2005…. All of a sudden, an inspector threw a badge in my face and demanded to see my license.”
“I knew nothing about needing a license. It involves several hoops to jump through. A $40 license fee. A $60 vet. bill every year. Surprise inspections of my home whenever they want to inspect my rabbit.”
“I get inspected every year. They check temperature of the house, size of the cage, cleanliness of the food. “
” I did fail my first inspection. Unfortunately, my rabbit travel cage did not have 2 stickers on it saying ‘live animals’ with an arrow pointing up. And I inquired why I needed arrows pointing up and she replied, “So you’ll know how to carry the cage.” ( the cage was steel mesh so you could see through it. You could see the rabbit and which side is the top and bottom of the cage)
“And I told the inspector that most people would carry the cage by the handle. She wasn’t amused… And then latter, she pointed to a section in the rule book that says: “verbally abusing the inspector is one year in jail and a $1000 fine.”
“Last week, they added a whole new layer on. The written ‘Comprehensive Disaster Plan’ for one rabbit.”
“Looking at the requirements they want, ( A nationally recognized emergency expert, who has written such reports, offered to write the report for him), she is looking at a plan about 60 pages long, to cover my one rabbit.”
“I am not going to let the government stand in my way of cheering up a little kid…”
Watch him pull a USDA- mandated rabbit disaster plan out of his hat
In OZARK, Mo. — This summer, Marty the Magician got a letter from the U.S. government. It began with six ominous words: “Dear Members of Our Regulated Community . . .”
Washington had questions about his rabbit. Again.
Marty Hahne, 54, does magic shows for kids in southern Missouri. For his big finale, he pulls a rabbit out of a hat. Or out of a picnic basket. Or out of a tiny library, if he’s doing his routine about reading being magical.
To do that, Hahne has an official U.S. government license. Not for the magic. For the rabbit.
The Agriculture Department requires it, citing a decades-old law that was intended to regulate zoos and circuses. Today, the USDA also uses it to regulate much smaller “animal exhibitors,” even the humble one-bunny magician.
“Fire. Flood. Tornado. Air conditioning going out. Ice storm. Power failures,” Hahne said, listing a few of the calamities for which he needed a plan to save the rabbit.
Auburn, Alabama is home to sprawling plains, Auburn University, and a troubling police force. After the arrival of a new police chief in 2010, the department entered an era of ticket quotas and worse.
“When I first heard about the quotas I was appalled,” says former Auburn police officer Justin Hanners, who claims he and other cops were given directives to hassle, ticket, or arrest specific numbers of residents per shift. “I got into law enforcement to serve and protect, not be a bully.”
Hanners blew the whistle on the department’s tactics and was eventually fired for refusing to comply and keep quiet. He says that each officer was required to make 100 contacts each month, which included tickets, arrests, field interviews, and warnings. This equates to 72,000 contacts a year in a 50,000 person town. His claims are backed up by audio recordings of his superiors he made. The Auburn police department declined requests to be interviewed for this story.
“There are not that many speeders, there are not that many people running red lights to get those numbers, so what [the police] do is they lower their standards,” says Hanners. That led to the department encouraging officers to arrest people that Hanners “didn’t feel like had broken the law.”
Former Reason staffer Radley Balko, now an investigative reporter for the Huffington Post and author of the new book, Rise of the Warrrior Cop, says that this isn’t just a nuisance, it infringes on public safety.
“You have a policy that encourages police to create petty crimes and ignore serious crimes, and that’s clearly the opposite of what we want our police to be doing,” says Balko.
Hanners repeatedly voiced his concerns through his chain of command, and the department responded that these requirements are necessary for increasing productivity.
Yet Hanners firmly believes that the quotas are entirely revenue driven.
“I had no intention of dropping it,” says Hanners, “This is a problem in more places than Auburn, and I think once the people know that they can hold their public officials accountable, it’ll change.”
The police chief singled out by Hanners retired this July, citing medical reasons.
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