People rate opinion over reality, cos reality’s all facts and that

I was in a training room recently, with a bunch of people from around the council, and it was very dispiriting

Because there wasn’t a lot to fill the time in, there were lots of STORIES being regailed to the room from people.

And they were in the main complete cobblers.

There were urban myths, outright lies and in one case, the storyline from a famous tv show was presented as fact that happened.

People were saying things, that a moments thought would have picked a hole in, but nobody showed the slightest interest in doing so.
What mattered was how it made people feel.
If it confirmed some prejudice, and made you feel self righteous, then that’s allowed through.
If it made people feel a swell of pride, then that was allowed.
If it made people smile and feel good for a kind and gentle reason, that too was allowed.

What wasn’t allowed was questionning whether any of this had any basis in reality. The accuracy, truth or believability of these stories were totally irrelevant.


The guy was talking as if he had recent and ongoing experience of this. Does he have special knowledge, does he know police who do this?
Or…did he watch season 2 of The Wire where this was a small part of the storyline? I did, so I know its all made up.  By script writers in America.

I also know that the police force in my area covers both north and south of the river. So any “shoving” of a floating corpse wont help anybody, the same person will have to deal with it wherever it landed.

And a moments thought would show this to be nonsense. HOW was this corpse shoved? With a stick? Whilst balancing on the river bank? Damaging a crime scene? Not being seen by curious onlookers who alerted the police to the floating corpse in the first place?

The truth or believability of this story is irrelevant.  If challenged, if I had said the things I’ve typed above, I’m sure they wouldn’t have argued the toss. There would have been some “oh, are you sure?” and then perhaps something like “well that’s what I was told”, and it wouldn’t have mattered. Onto the next piece of fiction. The truth or accuracy of things is neither here nor there. So you could spend years, decades, unpicking every thing said that was not true, but it wouldn’t make a difference to the underlying way of thinking. It would just be THAT story THERE that would be untrue, not “the way I am thinking is untrue and flawed”.

I am aware that I’m coming across as Mr Logic, not enjoying the socialising, preferring to ruin a social gathering through literalism and pedantry rather than just let things go that don’t matter…

This is not peculiar to lower paid slightly thicker people, people who aren’t you or me. This is people. Innate to the species, just as cats like to sit in boxes, people like to believe things that make them feel good.


“What’s that you say? The police would shove the corpse away to the other bank of the river? What kind of fool do you take me for! I’m not a dog you know”

Showing that one thing is wrong is irrelevant, because that thing there is wrong or right isn’t the point. That’s just detail.

There were loads more wrong things. Some story about how Islamic doctors wont use alchol hand-wash, a simple google would show this is nonsense. Or even a tiny thought of “hang on, how do moslem patients have painkillers like morphine then?”. Or wear perfume or aftershave, or, or, or…

That’s like trying to persuade cats that sitting inside things makes them look silly.


I'm not silly, you're silly

Remember the Monty Hall problem? That thing about cars and goats and doors. I’m not explaining it, it’s hard and you really should click here instead.

The correct answer is deeply counter intuitive, and people shake their heads and find it hard to keep it inside
What is important to take away is that when it first was debated, people like statistics professors would argue the theory about what was right or wrong. Gradually, computers are invented. So it became a simple matter to show people. To test the correct answer against reality so nobody need rely on opinion or logic, instead look with eyes.

Before computer simulations about 8% of people believed the correct answer. After it had rose to 56%.
Amongst academics support doubled to 71%

Think about that. The Monty Hall problem is about “what is the best strategy in the long run? .
A simulation that tests and shows the best strategy over the long run is only believed by 71% of professional mathematicians! What are the other 29% thinking then? When they see in front of them the actual answer being revealed? Surely this is normative learning in action? People articulating a theory, and going to reality to check this theory for validity. And yet, a third of professional statisticians are left unmoved.

The systems thinking lesson
I don’t have one. Eeek.

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