In the paper today is an article about a currenlty popular approach to dealing with bing drinking on college campuses. It contains this wonderful quote: ”’Part of the enthusiasm about social norming is that so little has worked in the past,” Wood said. ”Practicewise, it’s extremely popular. Sciencewise, it’s a little preliminary.”’
My son and I enjoyed an amusing conversation about a thick book he’s reading about the British Empire, the Middle East, and all that. He says: “They didn’t know what they were doing.” I say: “Good lesson there, one rarely does … though there is some comfort in pretending.” He say: “Oh they were quite confident they knew what they were doing.” I say: “Probably a general rule there. Given that nobody knows diddly, and a large population of possible actors, the sorting hat will see to it that those who are arrogant enough to pretend they know what they are doing will rise to the top and do something.” Since everybody around them will be pointing out that we really don’t know what we are doing they will become more and more arrogant and better and better at dismissing everybody else as useless irritants. Once you get rid of all those generators of negativity you can then get down to maximizing on your own self interest.
I’m glad that modern empire builders don’t suffer from this syndrome.