Friday, September 5, 2014

two weeks to go


I once had a strange friend, a professional guitarist, who would play 'Observant Bob ' ( that's a game not a piece of music). He would stand in the street and point at something on a nearby rooftop. He would then wait until a crowd had gathered to see what he was looking at, then he would walk away. This is an example of 'social proof' and maybe has a lot to do with the recent Spiral of Silence blog. It can also be called the herd instinct i.e. the more people follow a behaviour then the more appropriate this behaviour seems to be. Obviously in the past it was a useful survival tool.  If a tribe of Scotti Ancientius are doing a wee bit of roaming in a gloaming and suddenly they all turn left and run away up the nearest glen, chances are it’s because they have seen a large male spiked toothed haggis approaching from the right. Anybody who didn't turn left and leg it would be haggis poo  the next day.

                                                     Yip, this blog is going there....

You are probably all familiar with the experiment carried out by psychologist Solomon Asch. He was the one who drew three lines on a piece of paper ( two the same length, one longer) and a student was asked which two are the same length.  On a one to one basis the student always gets it correct. When five other people enter the room and say that two un-matching lines are actually matching, the student, in more than 30 % of instances will change his mind to an incorrect answer.  Social proof is responsible for stock market panic, the evils of fashion, religion.  You only have to look at the craze of diets; Scarsdale, F plans, 5 to 2s, Atkins, juicer diets which all ignore the simple premise that you need to eat slightly less calories than you use up! Social proof at its most extreme is responsible for the Jim Jones type of mass suicide. 

It can have its positive effects though if you are in a strange city looking for food you just head for a restaurant that is busy with locals.

The advertising industry manipulates social proof very well. They tell you that a product is better because more people use it. Which is obviously  not true. 

Somerset Maugham’s wise words were “if 50 million people say something foolish, it’s still foolish”. If you don’t buy L’Oreal shampoo is that because you think you’re not worth it? 

                                                      Alex, leader of the Nats.
                                       It's rumoured he wants to become King Of Scotland

It can also lead to phrases making their way into the consciousness when the phrase itself can be nebulous, the actual meaning of the phrase remains vague.  The one we were taught in school was the phrase 'the Irish question' which was a political football but the actual question itself was never truly defined. It could be argued the phrase 'weapons of mass destruction' was banded about as a reason for going to war.  It’s also starting to creep in to the debate on Scottish independence.
                                    Alistair Darling. Owner of the best eyebrows in the campaign.
                                                            He leads- Proud to be Scot,
                                                                  Delighted to Be united.

The phrase 'it’s the right thing to do' is the battle cry of the Independents but not really backed up by any evidence as to why it is 'the right thing to do'.  The leader of the Church of Scotland warned people on the news this morning to stop their bullying tactics and there is a sense that the vote is starting to divide the country, divide families and ruin friendships.

                                                       Nicola Sturgeon. Known as Helmet Hair.
                                                                Very small person.
                                                      EvKa and JeSi can now make jokes about fish.

I might be biased but to me, most of the bullying tactics are from the yes camp. The accusation of being unpatriotic falls easily from their lips. And can lead to a smack in the chops.  So as well as dissolving the UK we are in danger of dissolving ourselves as the nation that is Scotland.  It’s less than two weeks to go to the vote and I think most sensible folk are sick to the back teeth of it which is a terrible thing to say about the most important decision that Scotland has made for the last five hundred years. We are fed up being told nothing factual,  and any debates simply come down to who can shout the loudest.  Nobody seems to know if we can stay in the EU, Fish quotas, Farming subsidies, nobody knows what currency we are using, nobody knows if we are responsible for any of the national debt of Great Britain and when asked those pertinent questions they will just be told 'it’s the right thing to do'.  

I did an event last week and at the end the interviewer asked me if I was a yes or no. I just mentioned the fiscal uncertainty and that while I was proud to be a Scot I would be delighted to stay united.
I felt a wave of hatred rush down from the audience.   At the after do soiree with warm Prosecco and unidentifiable small munchy things, a man come up to me and give me a piece of his mind which was a shame as I don’t think he had any to spare.

  He started off by saying that for the first part of the talk he thought I was quite an intelligent young woman.   (how easily fooled!) He then asked me about the colour of the blood in my veins before giving me a two and a half minute rant about independence and its people like me who let the side down and he seemed to have a lot of pride in the fact he taught himself Gaelic as 'Scotland needs to push itself forward on the world stage'.
There is no logic in that statement so don't try to find any.

                                                                   Sensible Scottish Person with smart jacket on.

While I was thinking venous blood is a slightly darker red than arterial blood and if you are trying to push yourself forward in the world why don’t you learn Spanish,  I was on the edge of smirking as the scene was so ridiculous - this was real finger pointing in the face stuff. But his very insular way of looking at the world is quite worrying. However, in a moment of huge personal triumph I managed to wait until he had to draw breath ( he was producing a lot of hot air ) then I muttered the name of the great Scottish philosopher David Hume (pic above) and said that we, as an nation hold very dear to our hearts the right of freedom of speech and the right to have our own opinion.  At that moment I managed to walk away in my four inch stilettoes without falling over, spilling the Prosecco or dropping my small unidentified vegetable on its bed of puff pastry. If I had really thought about it I would  have incorporated a Miss Piggy hair flick

We have two weeks to go. I hope we survive.  Before somebody gets punched.

Caro Ramsay 05 09 2014


  1. My money's on Miss Piggy out flicking Stodgy Sturgy and her Laura Bush look-alike coif any day. Just hope the Scots see it too.

  2. I am thinking of proposing that the North of the US secede from the union.

  3. I'd keep low for a while. My experience was that the YESs were belligerent and the NOs often passive and retiring.

    But I am going to steal a part of your blog: I loved "a man come up to me and give me a piece of his mind which was a shame as I don’t think he had any to spare." Thanks.

  4. Caro: I hesitate to jump in on this one... if I agree, then I'm seen as just joining the herd, and if I disagree, then it looks like I just want to be heard. (Either way, if you can get me a spare ballot, you'll have my vote...) But I do think something smells fishy around here. As for the preponderance of noise and the lack of facts, there's a very simple reason for that (and why most 'smart' politicians follow this tack) -- if you offer facts, they're too easily contested and proven wrong. Best to avoid them.

    AmA: I was going to propose that the West of the US secede from the union... as long as that's West of the Rockies and doesn't include any of those troublesome MIDwest states -- the East can keep 'em. Even then, there's those troublesome places like Arizona and Utah and... Maybe I should propose that California, Oregon and Washington secede and form Pacifica. But then, I'm not entirely sure about California...

  5. Well, I better not say anything. I do recall that I live in a country that did fight a battle of independence some 240 years ago. I think Britain did quite well despite this, and the U.S. has limped along since then..

    I guess the issues are what would the impact of independence be on Scotland? Would it be harmful financially? In any other way? What are the real reasons for and against independence?

    I'd say, "Let Scotland be Scotland." "Let the people decide." "Don't panic either way. Everyone will survive."