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Battle for Politics: They know what we’re thinking


9 They know what we're thinking

All mainstream parties support initiatives to connect with our concerns and win our votes. While flattering us as active political subjects though, they increasingly view us as objects: cross-party enthusiasm for behavioural science means our brains and psychology are studied with anthropological zeal. Is there a danger of viewing the ‘public’ as lab rats in need of nudging to entice us to make the right choices?  Contributors to this fascinating debate, at the Institute of ideas Pre-election summit, suggest we may be technically enfranchised but politically disenfranchised and some nasty ideas from a pre-democratic age are re-emerging. Speakers include Spiked editor Brendan O’Neill, Professor Gerry Stoker, the founder of Involve Richard Wilson and Director of the RSA’s Social Brain project Matt Grist.

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Related topics: Debates, Democracy-Brexit

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Helen said:

This debate is fascinating. I was particularly stirred by someone in the audience reminding us that it was about hundred years ago that they used similar arguments to stop women and the working class getting the vote – they didn’t have the right values, attributes, emotions to cut it. So we are now using these pre-democractic arguments again under the guise of behavioural science. What the hell are they thinking!

BenB said:

This debate is scary. As you listen to some of the speakers saying that rather than try and win us over with politics and a good argument we need some therapeutic intervention to change our behaviour as we aren’t really rational. So, we, the public, are seen as weak and just plain stupid but rather than lock us up and beat the ‘wrong behaviour and beliefs’ out of us, as they did in the bad old days, we are going to get NLP or emotional intelligence training! Yuk, yuk, yuk.