Gut reactions

There are times when our gut reactions are what we should go by, if you doubt that then read the book by Gerd Gigerenzer called Gut Feelings.

But sometimes that kind of reaction looks way too over the top, and a steady hand may be needed. Germany’s reaction to the problems in Japan seems just like the kind of Gut Response we don’t need.

Not only are they pulling in nuclear power from their French neighbours but they are putting the world at risk by increasing coal burning to keep their industrial growth on target.

Some alternatives are hard to weigh up, they may seem logical but how do you evaluate the risks, not only of problems but of failure to deliver? You might think that backers for big projects must have done their homework , but can you be sure?

I was reading today an interview with David Halpern, who is Director of Research at the Institute for Government. One of his ambitions in post is to help improve people’s wellbeing and quality of life, not something that easily fits into something you can judge by how you feel about it, when Governments want numbers!

Of relevance to Transition is the fact that early research results on life satisfaction showed factors which were positive included ‘strength of community’. Money is not everything, well we know that.

More important though, perhaps, is that behavioural change is not produced by telling people what to do. Legislation on some things is needed, smoking in public was banned and it worked, more or less. But we still face an obesity crisis and an obsession with cars, and the ideal of moving to more work from home is still very slow to take off.

So the Government is looking at how to Nudge people bit by bit, like Tesco does, and Waitrose of course, and the rest.

As always the Government sets up a Department for a purpose, so they now have a Behavioural Insight Team (BIT), and David is head of that too, and they intend asking for ‘academic expertise’, which I suppose is OK. But surely it needs to be balanced with public views, including those of the Transition Movements, which are kind of community nudge operations if you think about it.

If you want to write to David Halpern you can get him at somewhere here!

Now I can be critical, because this is typical Government rubbish. You can see 127 pages of people in this group but they are not ordered by surname or Christian/First name (must be politically correct here) and you cannot search for them! So why are 127 pages of people listed when they cannot in any way be easily found?

I think the Behavioural Insight Team needs to look at this and other information sites, which leaves me with no uncertain GUT FEEL! I think you know what I mean.

But I should end on noting that Halpern has written a significant book which is making a difference, somewhere, just maybe not in the UK Civil Service! Worth a read!

And if you are one of those Google people, you might want to check to see if David has any connection with these people.

If a few years down the line David needs a good job he could look there maybe?

Maybe you can suggest it here.





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