Sunday, January 24, 2010

UK gov trains us to think the unthinkable, daily

One of the reasons that the Chilton enquiry is getting some press, I think, is the whole "45 minutes to launch WMD" story - the problem with the story in the first place is that it was written by politicians and civil servants from a generation of people bought up under the threat of armageddon - but this was the first generation to experience this chilling thought, that a finger on a button in Moscow or DC could end the world.

Now, people are routinely hearing about "horrifying" or "terrifying" things on the news (natural, like Tsunami or Haiti quake, or human, like Bhopal or Beslan)- far from becoming completely numb to these things, rather, the population that bothers to think can now think in terms of plausible risks and limits to damage. This means that the general, critical thinking part of the population doesn't just freeze, when some bogey-man alleged threat is invoked - they stop to consider it compared to other threats (e.g. did saddam hussein have missiles that could reach beyond the middle east? nope.) and rank it in their thinking - as Martin Amis said on TV in the 30th anniversary shindig for Newsnight, "more americans drowned in bathtubs last year than in all the terrorist attacks on the USA" (I'm not sure he's right, but he's certainly in the ballpark).

No, fact is: governments better get used to the fact that anyone under 50 can consider a spectrum of armageddons, ranging from the War with the Machines from T2, down to a couple of pre-teen kids torturing a couple of other kids nearly to death, and seperate out reality from fantasy, and rank the risks.

We don't stop thinking anymore when we hear "armageddon"
This isn't the Cold War, and this isn't the Middle Ages.

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