Watch Out UK--"Nudging" is on the Way!

#1
While(st) I continue to adhere to my general rule about not commenting in detail on UK political matters, I was interested to learn that the new UK government under Cameron is taking an important page from the "playbook" of our current masters. That is, one of the main underlying concepts advocated by our rulers to "have their way" with us is to "nudge" us to accept and obey their (much more enlightened and indubitably correct---after all they are the "elite"--if you doubt it just ask them) views.

David Cameron seeks to 'Nudge' people in right direction - Telegraph

I strongly recommend you study this concept as it has the potential to be quite diabolical--not that any of our public "servants" would ever be so inclined.
 
#2
Oh yes; we have a halfway-decent radio station round these parts which relies heavily on trendy-lefty-type advertising to stay afloat. The adverts constantly exhort us by "helping you to make the right choice". To which I relieve my feelings by screaming FCUK OFF at the radio (when the other half is not around). If it weren't for the music, which is sixties-to-eighties easy listening, I'd switch to another station, but I hate this sort of quasi-subliminial "advertising" that is patronising and elitist left-wingery at the same time.

If I was ever arrested for duffing a DJ or politician, I would claim these adverts as the main provocation...
 
#5
Ah but they also provided a wink to let you know they were nudging you. This new version is a bit more "sophisticated." Note what the authors have said (I helped --nudged even--with some underlining) and see if you too can find the inherent circularity:

We show that by carefully designing the choice architecture, we can make dramatic improvements in the decisions people make, without forcing anyone to do anything. For example, we can help people save more and invest better in their retirement plans, make better choices when picking a mortgage, save on their utility bills, and improve the environment simultaneously. Good choice architecture can even improve the process of getting a divorce--or (a happier thought) getting married in the first place!

Amazon.com
: You are very adamant about allowing people to have choice, even though they may make bad ones. But if we know what's best for people, why just nudge? Why not push and shove?

Thaler and Sunstein: Those who are in position to shape our decisions can overreach or make mistakes, and freedom of choice is a safeguard to that. One of our goals in writing this book is to show that it is possible to help people make better choices and retain or even expand freedom. If people have their own ideas about what to eat and drink, and how to invest their money, they should be allowed to do so.
These people are just too far above me--I am so thankful they are the elite who will care for us.
 
#6
This is about as close to Montgomery's definition of leadership as you can get. I don't recall the exact wording, but it was something like; "The ability to get soldiers to do willingly, something they would not do if left to their own devices".

'Nudging' is one thing, however manipulating the choices by making the alternatives impossible is another.

Edit:

Having just read this

"Leadership: The capacity and will to rally people to a common purpose together with the character that inspires confidence and trust" – Field Marshal Montgomery

Maybe it wasn't Monty after all, but I read or heard it somewhere......no honest, I did!
 
#7
It sounds very similar to what I used to do at work. I'd offer him three choices, one which was always too expensive, or impractical, and two of which were both of the surface were practical solid ideas. One would be flawed, that he would spot, and then he'd pick the only final choice, under the illusion that he had managed me, and helped me made a valuable decision.

*Sigh* why hire experts if you're not going to listen to their expert advice?
 
#8
This is about as close to Montgomery's definition of leadership as you can get. I don't recall the exact wording, but it was something like; "The ability to get soldiers to do willingly, something they would not do if left to their own devices".

'Nudging' is one thing, however manipulating the choices by making the alternatives impossible is another.

Edit:

Having just read this

"Leadership: The capacity and will to rally people to a common purpose together with the character that inspires confidence and trust" – Field Marshal Montgomery

Maybe it wasn't Monty after all, but I read or heard it somewhere......no honest, I did!
I think the context is critical here as well--there is a world of difference between leading military personnel and running a government in general. There is also the small matter of leading by example--if we can learn anything from our current and former masters in America over the last 50 years, they can hardly be said to do anything by way of example, instead seeking special treatment at every turn---after all, they are "elite."
 
#9
JJH, you're paranoid to the point of hysteria.
 
#10
One part of me wants to respond with " . . . this is just marketing . . .". Then, thinking further about the triumph of VHS over BETAMAX, and Windows over the Mac, I begin to think that "just marketing", done systematically, by smart people with a big budget, regularly trumps the limited capacity of the average Joe to make good decisions - but then , as soon as I hit the bit about the average Joe, I start to sound like one of the 'nudgers'.

Kind of a "Catch 22" for free will and individual self-determination :-(

I have some sympathy for the view that it is the responsibility of a leader to shift the opinions of, and to motivate, the led.

Somehow, though, it is the responsibility of the democratic electorate not to simply swallow what they are told - even if they are hearing it from the very same 'mister nice guy' that they voted for . . . .
 
#11
It sounds very similar to what I used to do at work. I'd offer him three choices, one which was always too expensive, or impractical, and two of which were both of the surface were practical solid ideas. One would be flawed, that he would spot, and then he'd pick the only final choice, under the illusion that he had managed me, and helped me made a valuable decision.

*Sigh* why hire experts if you're not going to listen to their expert advice?
I feel your pain.

I was fortunate to learn this type of technique from reading the Dilbert creator, Scott Adam's book "The Joy Of Work".

His advice was always present a report with a sacraficial flaw, defend it valiantly then agree with the boss to remove it. That way your real recommendation survives, your boss feels he has earned his money and sees you as reasonable not a hot head.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#12
Cameron 'nudging' - this is the Blair Lite come true, the idea that the leader's pet ideas (in this case fencing off overseas squandermania from cuts while undermining the defence of the United Kingdom) must supported by carefully manipulated 'public opinion'.
 
#13
I have some sympathy with this approach as most of the TCU's out there (Tax Collection Units a.k.a. People) should not be trusted with a dog licence.

But it is business management practice aimed at society in general.

FFS governments should have enough to worry about without managing people (or their expectations).

Obesity blah blah blah biggest killer blah blah blah give my head peace.

Do gooders please Foxtrot Oscar Alpha Delta
 
#14
"Among its tasks will be to encourage people to quit smoking and eat more healthily without the need for formal rules."

I'm not sure what is so controversial about this. I would much rather people were encouraged down a perfectly rational course of action, than forced down it by law.

If enough people don't like the courses of action being encouraged they can vote them out. If there aren't enough then they simply ignore it. I think as long as it is financial incentives instead of penalties I don't think there can be much to complain about.
 
#15
"Among its tasks will be to encourage people to quit smoking and eat more healthily without the need for formal rules."

I'm not sure what is so controversial about this. I would much rather people were encouraged down a perfectly rational course of action, than forced down it by law.

If enough people don't like the courses of action being encouraged they can vote them out. If there aren't enough then they simply ignore it. I think as long as it is financial incentives instead of penalties I don't think there can be much to complain about.
It is not as straightforward as that--that is the entire point of "nudging" when done by the government. It controls the choices for each issue and what is to stop the government from going beyond something health related to policy related? It is even worse if the media as here is in bed with the government so that it is quite difficult if not impossible to get accurate information on which to choose a "perfectly rational course of action."
 
#16
Read the book last week, and my thoughts were that the theory does have its uses - for example changing the system so that people are automatically enroled in employee pension schemes so have to 'opt out' rather than 'opt in'. This means that people keep the choice of whether or not to pay into a pension, but the default option is that they do rather than they don't.

However, there are a couple of problems. Firstly, it seems clear that the people most in need of a 'nudge' are the ones least likely to respond. For example, putting the tray of carrots in front of the tray of chips in a canteen is likely to reduce net chip consumption. The problem is that the people who still don't take the carrots are likely to be the ones who are most likely to need to stop taking them. The same goes for alcohol: if you make it so the spirits have to be kept out of sight but are still legal to sell, you'll cut overall consumption amongst normal drinkers, but your average alcoholic isn't going to blink at having to ask for the good stuff under the counter.

Secondly, it seems to work best for minor stuff. This:



is a plastic urinal fly that is design to encourage 'straight shooting', and by all accounts it works. There isn't though any real evidence that nudge theory works in breaking truly destructive habbits.

Lastly, it presents a dilema. If a problem is worth dealing with, why stop at something as piss-weak as a nudge? For example, if the US really wanted to cut obesity, it would ban the sale of high-fructose corn syrup rather than mess about with the layout of a school canteen.
 
#17
Read the book last week, and my thoughts were that the theory does have its uses - for example changing the system so that people are automatically enroled in employee pension schemes so have to 'opt out' rather than 'opt in'. This means that people keep the choice of whether or not to pay into a pension, but the default option is that they do rather than they don't.

However, there are a couple of problems. Firstly, it seems clear that the people most in need of a 'nudge' are the ones least likely to respond. For example, putting the tray of carrots in front of the tray of chips in a canteen is likely to reduce net chip consumption. The problem is that the people who still don't take the carrots are likely to be the ones who are most likely to need to stop taking them. The same goes for alcohol: if you make it so the spirits have to be kept out of sight but are still legal to sell, you'll cut overall consumption amongst normal drinkers, but your average alcoholic isn't going to blink at having to ask for the good stuff under the counter.

Secondly, it seems to work best for minor stuff. This:



is a plastic urinal fly that is design to encourage 'straight shooting', and by all accounts it works. There isn't though any real evidence that nudge theory works in breaking truly destructive habbits.

Lastly, it presents a dilema. If a problem is worth dealing with, why stop at something as piss-weak as a nudge? For example, if the US really wanted to cut obesity, it would ban the sale of high-fructose corn syrup rather than mess about with the layout of a school canteen.
I also go back to my concern that if it is the government, where and how are any limits to be drawn?
 
#18
I also go back to my concern that if it is the government, where and how are any limits to be drawn?
It's about altering how people make choices by changing the input. As I said, it only works up to a point. The fly in the urinal makes people more likely to aim correctly because they want to hit it. But if you put the fly on the bathroom floor, the end result won't (generally) be that people shun the urinal and piss all over the floor in order to hit the fly.
 
#19
The British Government has, in my opinion, been doing this for years, with the help of the BBC and the press. I draw your attention to George Orwell's 1984!

Unfortunately, the EU has drawn on the same fount and has learned well...

Litotes
 
#20
It's about altering how people make choices by changing the input. As I said, it only works up to a point. The fly in the urinal makes people more likely to aim correctly because they want to hit it. But if you put the fly on the bathroom floor, the end result won't (generally) be that people shun the urinal and piss all over the floor in order to hit the fly.
Perhaps but given enough time of nudging and total control of the parameters and a government with no scruples (or worries about a mere Constitution) I am sitll of the view that is is extremely dangerous.
 

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