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It’s counter-intuitive stupid

It’s odd really and it’s probably a bit like we stick with the same high street bank ad infinitum, not because it does everything well but just out of force of habit.

I’m thinking of politicians and economists – they cock up all the time but we continue to accept their rationalisations and excuses and even pay heed to their forecasts and predictions – not out of any sense of conviction but again I suppose out of sheer force of habit or inertia.

Mind you they do it so well that we can’t be blamed for being duped so often. That’s not to say they are smarter than we are, it’s more a matter of practice makes perfect, or as Angela Merkel might say “Ubung macht den Meister”.

After a lifetime of serial error perpetration your professional pundit or politician doesn’t even have to think about how he or she is going to wriggle out of explaining how they got it wrong for the 440th time – for them it’s become a Pavlovian reaction.

But instead of salivating at the slightest hint of criticism they instinctively go barking mad with the jargon.

Thus printing money isn’t something that Al Qaeda might do to create chaos in the economy, and it isn’t trying to get something for nothing but becomes quantitative easing and a tool of the state. Similarly borrowing your way out of debt has become a stimulus initiative and part of the Keynesian concept of curing debt with debt.

For those of us who can’t quite square up the notion that as individuals we’re to blame for both the boom and bust because we’ve borrowed too much with the idea that if Gordon Brown does the same, it will save the world, the experts have the perfect answer – the concept is counter-intuitive.

A counter-intuitive concept or theory is one that sounds illogical but makes sense.

Other counter-intuitive notions include the idea that the best person to get you out of a mess is the idiot who got you in it in the first place, or moving the argument to another sphere you’ve got the Atkins diet whereby you can eat yourself thin so long, I suppose, as you don’t mind the side effects.

I can’t decide whether a war to end all wars or the concept of mutually assured destruction that prevailed in the Cold War era fall into the same category but I dare say that alchemists back in the 17th century would have argued that the transmuting of base metal into gold was counter-intuitive.

It wasn’t until modern times that it was realised you can’t get something from nothing, but there again we’ve spent £4.4bn on the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland to do exactly that, so maybe that’s counter-intuitive too and I’m being plain stupid.


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