Sunday, 3 April 2011

Big Mother is watching you - or the battle between 'nudgers' and 'nannies'

For a while now I’ve been looking for a way to introduce the subject of ‘nudging’ to this blog.
The term ‘nudging’ was popularised by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s 2008 book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Wealth, Health, and Happiness. It refers to the political use of behaviourist techniques, rather than outright bans and law changes, to get the general public to stop doing stuff politicians, civil servants and other busybodies have decided we should not do.
In the UK Cameron established BIT (the Behavioural Insight Team) to formalise the nudging of what ex-Etonians obviously see as the fat and feckless masses into slimmer, duller lives. This replaced an old Brown/Blair approach which wanted to achieve the same aims, but by outright bullying from prim and proper nanny figures.
To get a useful introduction into this quiet further intrusion into our lives and freedoms, and the current behind-the-scenes battle between ‘nudgers’ and ‘nannies’ take a look at by Brendan O’Neill. It’s from an American site – hence the odd spellings – but if you want to know more on the topic from a UK perspective, it’s one that crops up regularly on Spiked, so check out the link to the right of the page.
Over here, it might be a while before the Manx great and gormless can lose their ignoble tradition of nannying the rest of us to death. But even a brief look at this article reveals the pseudo-therapeutic methodology increasingly being adopted by Manx civil servants, ‘government advisors’ and other unelected, publically unaccountable busybodies – often superstitious, semi-literate or plain stupid, by the way.
Take a look, then check out Spiked for more. The similarities between the UK examples and some of the ‘health conscious’ psychobabble being spouted in recent months by Manx government departments may alarm you. Maybe it will also help you spot the signs when these anti-democratic village idiots try to slip more past us in the future.
(hat tip to Dick Puddlecote for the link)

No comments: