Monday, 5 February 2018


I am struck by how the nature of opinion forming has changed. When I was doing ‘A’ levels we were coached in the art of balanced arguments, considering the evidence pro and con to a given question and advancing a calm conclusion. It’s a skill that judges in courts of law or good consultants need to give sound judgements or advice.

The speed of our communication is partly responsible. From speed dating to speed reading or, in the case of Donald Trump, allegedly not reading at all. We are forced to think fast and decisively (for decisively read “impulsively”). And it’s beginning to catch up with us.


The Police and CPS have been caught out a series of times recently for being sloppy and dilatory in the handing over of crucial evidence to the defence. But on reduced budgets and manpower you try sifting through 4000 Facebook entries although they really must because it’s their job to see justice is done;  it is not their job to get a conviction. Just as in business it is our job to do our job properly not get a profit at any cost (remember the Tesco saga?)


Gary Kasparov on Desert Island Discs recently was an incredibly smart, considered guest who having beaten Deep Blue – the Computer that played chess – said that he knew he’d lose most times because human beings make mistakes and computers don’t. Even with all the experience he had he still made mistakes. imagine how much more prone we are when we don’t even bother to review all the information?

The fact is we live in a world of bias. Bias means being one-sided, lacking a neutral viewpoint, or not having an open mind. Watch Question Time and you see unbridled bias.

Go to a football match and see normally civilised and sensible men become loudmouthed, biased louts.

Last week inspired by that epitome of  bias, Jacob Rees-Mogg  (who was once described as “a barmaid’s idea of a gentleman”) Steve Baker a Junior Minister accused the Civil Service of working against the government before being forced to retract his comments. Meanwhile Donald Trump who never ceases in his mission to astonish  by his behaviour described the FBI as acting in cahoots with the Democrats against him. Likely? No not really but it was the tone of his comments that was alarming. Presidents don’t normally leap to conclusions. This pedlar of fake-news is an exception.

It’s time we started to do our homework rather than persisting in taking shortcuts and being impulsive. Time to realise first impressions are not always right. The Brexit debate is a case in point. On Question Time last week an enraged Brexiteer started shouting that he was fed up with all this talk and that – for heaven’s sake – this wasn’t rocket science, that Brexit meant Brexit which was a total divorce of everything with the EU. That’s bias not opinion and once embraced is virtually unchangeable. But we’ve got to stop it and start thinking again.

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