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The answer isn't more rhetoric and persuasion, but a calibration of the unexamined internal models that shape how people really think. Eventually this can lead to a reinvention of politics and economics with different feedback loops that are less likely to collapse into the default unconscious distortions that cause so many problems.

We have significantly, though far from completely, calibrated "the unexamined internal models that shape how people really think" over the course of the 20th Century. But a major problem is that the knowledge has been compartmentalized. In business, it is the domain of marketing, which is taught in business school and the foundations of Marketing and Economics are far more ad hoc and disparate in assumptions and approaches than were various branches of physics in 1900.

In politics, deep understanding of the operation of the minds of the public as a whole is the black art of campaign consultants and communications directors. To the extent it is publicly discussed it is largely to lament its very existence. This is an echo of the popular attitudes towards Machiavelli for the four to five hundred years following the publication of The Prince.

As cultures we tend to excessively concentrate on teaching what ought to be at the expense of teaching what is in the false belief that to do so would be to corrupt the minds of youth. At a minimum what is and what ought to be should be clearly identified. It would also be helpful were the oughts to be presented on a secular and arguable basis instead of on the basis of supposed divine revelation, but more important is accepting that discussion of what is must be a discussion of fact, not of belief.

We must teach that ugly facts are to be preferred to soothing lies and teach the importance of being on guard against anything that is too flattering and self satisfying. This is not so hard to teach to teens, who tend to be suspicious of any possibility of adult hypocrisy, but it can be difficult for those who are charged with teaching to accomplish without being pilloried or worse, such as Socrates, for so doing.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Oct 19th, 2010 at 01:15:21 PM EST

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