Democracy and bending the rules – 96

PhD Life

We had an election here in the UK yesterday (yes this was written in December). Because of this, I have been reflecting on why we, as a society, tend to vote against our best interests. I used to believe that it was because people were ignorant and therefore easily tricked into voting against their interests.

I no longer think this is as significant a factor as I used to; I now believe that it is the aspirations of people that are causing potentially poor decisions to be made.

In the UK we don’t really have an ‘American dream’ to aspire for, or so I thought. Perhaps we do, maybe we want to be those classical Tories who go to Eton college and then to work in the city.

Like our working-class American cousins, most of us are closer to being homeless than we are to being wealthy, and you would think our voting would reflect that. Instead of admitting that we may not be middle class and voting accordingly, we vote for the party we want to be a part of rather than the one that might help to get us there.

I know I am the odd one who bothers to look at the manifestos of each party and then decide who to vote for based on the one that ticks the most of my boxes. I won’t tell you who I voted before. Still, seeing as I am in academia, it might be easy for you to guess if you know the direction academics tend to vote.

Speaking of academia, I am working much more than normal at the moment so that I can meet the relatively arbitrary deadline of finishing all of my experiments by Christmas. This includes working in the lab both days of the weekend, which is not advised. Not for any reason other than there is no one around to help you if there is an accident. A sensible rule that is not always headed.

Technically, you’re not allowed to work alone in a lab alone, although I would imagine not a lot of work would get done if this was enforced. You do have to have to use your initiative and disregard the rules on occasion, there are often people coming in and out of the lab, so the risk is quite low. However, this is not true on the weekends.

Sometimes you have to break the rules?

Author: Louis

Spend less than you earn, Invest the surplus, avoid debt. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

9 thoughts on “Democracy and bending the rules – 96”

  1. I understand what you are saying, but in a democratic society we are not all going to agree. You win and lose in every society, some decisions you agree with and some you won’t. I suppose time will tell, but you get on with your life and you do the best you can, and stay optimistic, life has a habit of working out.

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  2. I’ve thought about this before, certainly much more when I was younger. I used to believe that a good portion of society was simply “stupid” and easily manipulated by certain parties. As a much (much) older adult, I now understand that some people genuinely believe that everything I believe in is shite. Of course there’s still manipulation going around. I’m just as much a victim to it as someone who voted for Donald Trump… one might say we rarely have an idea that isn’t the result of some form of manipulation. If journals and politicians were forced to be honest and everybody cared about objective truth and had the time and patience to research every issue under the sun, I’m sure we’d all agree on everything. But that isn’t likely to ever be true.

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  3. W. E. Deming began his graduate seminars with an experiment that never failed to demonstrate there are circumstances in which a group’s collective judgment is more realistic than the judgment of any one individual within the group. One can take that as evidence that democracy might have something to it — at least in some ways. But you see, there is nothing about the experiment to raise passions, create self-interest in any particular outcome, etc. People are basically asked to make decisions in an artificial environment in which there are none of the typical “distractions” from pure rationality.

    I think you are on to something about the role aspirations might play in folks voting against their own self-interests. If only real life were like Deming’s experiment!

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  4. Living in Trumpland, I also continue to be perplexed by people who vote against their own interests time and time again. However, I have reached a few conclusions. One, it’s very common in the US to vote along party lines, no matter who’s running for election. In fact, many areas have a “straight ticket” option that will literally check off every candidate running in a particular party, with no thinking involved at all. Two, many people simply don’t care. They think both parties are equally demonic. They either don’t vote at all, or they vote without thought (see conclusion #1). Three, there’s a huge group of people that believe whatever they’re told. Which is why we have people who believe that coal is making a comeback and Hillary Clinton really ran a child-trafficking ring out of a pizza restaurant.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. All of this and two more: 1) some people desperately want to feel superior and will support a party or politician who tells them they are better than “those people.” 2) Fear and hate are two of the most powerful emotions humans have, and right-wing media here in the US has been stoking both quite deliberately for over 30 years.

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  5. I’m a natural rule breaker, but I do consider carefully which ones I choose to break. I must always have a very good reason for it. Relying on one’s self is sometimes necessary. It just means slowing down a bit and proceding with more caution to avoid potentially calamatous mistakes. Thinking your steps through before proceding is a tremedous help.

    We have an election year coming up ourselves. I’m a political cynic through and through. There is generally little I like about either side. Finding myself at the ballot box hoping to choose the least of all evils gets depressing. But not voting means you should have no right to complain, if you don’t participate in the process.

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  6. On breaking rules. It is really hard sometimes to do things following the rules to get things done, however with that said, if we don’t pay attention to the rules (they must have been made for a reason), why have them at all if they are only meant for some or just for some of the time. Two of the most poignant things I ever heard were “there is never a right way to do the wrong thing” and “you are in your core what you do when no one else is looking” (this last one is an approximate quote as I don’t have it in front of me.) I guess it is just how you feel in your core about things. No judgement, just my opinion, we are all free to make our own decision, after all we are the only one that can live our own life, we all look at things differently. I hope you have a great New Year!

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  7. Really enjoy reading your take on it. I remember living in the UK in an academic city during the 2016 vote, so yes, I know which way academics tended to cast the ballot, at least, on the Brexit/Remain issue… Bravo

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You know what the worst is? When someone says i’m not going to vote because my vote doesn’t matter anyways OR i’m not going to vote because i don’t agree with any of them.

    First of all, every vote matters. If you didn’t vote, you don’t get to complain about the government. You had your chance AND PRIVILEGE to vote but you chose not to. Not saying the person you voted would have been elected but utilize the privilege many people dream of.

    Second, you don’t have to agree with everything they say. There will never be a candidate where you’ll ever agree on everything they say or stand for. Pick the one you share even the slightest bit of values with or the one willing to help you out. That’s just how it works.

    Lastly, i liked what you mentioned about doing your research. Many people are guilty of not doing this but just going with what they often hear by family and friends or just the political party they’ve been associated with for a while. Never hurts to go a quick google search and find out what the candidates really have to say about where your tax dollars will be doing and how they plan on polishing the country.

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