Wednesday, 13 May 2015

A post election post

So, it's been almost a week since we dutifully trit-totted along to the polling stations like democratically minded lambs. Almost a week since we saw *that* exit poll which was met with a collective 'guh?'. And almost a week since we woke up with a conservative majority. I'm still kind of waiting for the punchline. Perhaps Dazza C is going to whip off that rubbery mask and Russell Brand's going to appear and sing us a song about shagging and saving the NHS, and saving the NHS through shagging (Like 'Where is the Love?' by the Black Eyed Peas but dirtier 'yeeaah, it lowers stress, and places less strain on the NHS, saving the world with the power of*'). To be honest, this is a rather unlikely scenario. Even so, rather than ruining my keyboard with tears of lament for even the feeble moderating voice of the Lib Dems, I thought I'd share some thoughts that were kicked up by this election.

1) We need education on cognitive biases.
We put far too much trust in the squishy stuff inside our heads. Cos it has ALL THE POWER. I'm currently fighting tooth and nail with my brain to write this rather than something about peonies. Human thought processes are a hodge-podge of short-cuts and assumptions.  You don't have to be a bad person or stupid to be swayed by confirmation bias (marshalling evidence rather than researching facts), you just have to be human. It's good to know about the way that our minds can trick us, so that we're in a better position to make informed arguments. It wouldn't immunise you from them, but at least you get a bit of power back. There are free online courses on this (this one is brilliant) but I really think that there is a place for this in the social education courses at high schools. The biggest conspiracy isn't out there, it's in your head, trying desperately to keep your world view together.

2) Punch up, not down
Kind of obvious right? This is one of the many advantages of being 5 foot one in a bit: you learn this early because everyone's up. But really, your dislike and frustration should be focused on the people at the top who can do something: not your fellow voters who (mostly) are alright really and (mostly) did not cause a global financial recession.

3) The next five years are going to be very interesting
We'll probably get an EU referendum and depending on how that goes, there's a substantial chance of Scottish referendum take two. Ironically for old-fashioned tory voters, this majority government could deliver more change than an arcade slot machine.

4) It's nice to talk about things other than politics
I find politics fascinating and like to talk about it whenever I can. However, it's a bit like coke**, it's fizzy and exciting but too much of it leaves you bloated and with a bit of a headache. I had a lovely lunch with an old school friend the other day and we talked about... dogs and weddings and IKEA and everything but politics really. It was lovely. It's nice to remember (if you can) that there are things in the world other than politicians and many of them are much, much nicer.

So, best of luck with the next five years everyone. And shake it (the fact that our democratic system is no longer fit for purpose) off.

*Other sexual equipment is available.
**the sort you can buy in the supermarket.

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