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RNZ Sunday Morning —The Decline of Reason #mediapoliticsculture

Updated post Sunday, 25 Jan 2015 at 3:16 p.m.

Radio New Zealand National – Sunday Morning with Wallace Chapman
11:40 Helen Razer – The Decline of Reason

Cover, A short history of StupidHelen Razer and Bernard Keane were going mad over the deteriorating quality of public debate and the dwindling of common sense in media, politics and culture.
So they wrote a book about it: A Short History of Stupid – The decline of reason and why public debate makes us want to scream.
Helen joins Wallace to talk about why so much has gotten so dumb.

Audio | Download: OggMP3 (13′ 47″) Link

BOOK REVIEWS

A Short History of Stupid – The decline of reason and why public debate makes us want to scream
By Bernard Keane & Helen Razer
Published by Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781760110543

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Reviewer: Gordon Findlay
Posted on December 15, 2014

It would be great to make this compulsory reading for every journalist, blogger and aspiring politician, but I can’t imagine them persevering with it. It would ruin their life’s work.

I think that the deterioration of public debate, and the absence of common sense and moderation in both media and politics, are pretty much givens now. But why? And where did this come from? These are the questions that this apparently light-hearted, yet fundamentally serious, book seeks to answer.
For these authors, stupid comes in many forms, and damages us in many ways. And yes, ‘stupid’ is a noun for these 329 pages. Many different types of stupid are identified, and an attempt is made to find their origins. Far too many ‘species’ of stupidly are identified to list them all here. But the rise of individualism over social responsibility, vaccination denialism, excessive partisanship in politics, the conflict between sentimentalism and reason, postmodernism, fallacious opinion polling and reality TV might be a representative sample. For me the most important forms of stupidity identified were three: the inability to understand numbers, the preference for emotion over facts, and the ignorance of historical contexts.
A real attempt is made to pin down the development of stupidity in its many forms. This takes us into an elementary, and often light-hearted, discussion of the development of some core ideas in western thought. The authors also make a determined effort to be seen to be in touch with popular culture, invoking as many memes from popular culture as can be squeezed in, from Dallas to the Bond movies. The authors are Australian commentators, and quite a lot of the stupidity is taken from Australian sources.
[…] A broad-gauge rant, which is based on gently concealed erudition. But a rant nonetheless. And that becomes the book’s weakness. The writing is always turned up to eleven. In places the F-bomb becomes a carpet bomb. This continuous bombast makes reading more than a little tiring. But it’s a great source of one-liners.
Cont./ Booksellers NZ blog

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Reviewer: Frank O’Shea
Posted on December 12, 2014

The problem with a book like this is that it encourages the reader to become more alert to Stupid.

This book sets out to show how much of public discourse is guided, not by reason, but by Stupidity. It is the work of two writers for the online magazine Crikey, and even those not sympathetic towards that journal’s independent take on the news, will find much in the book to stimulate and delight.
[…] There are phrases that pull you up with glee: “… the cheap meth of personal development seminars”, “the Oprahfication of wisdom”, “the well of homeopathic opinion”, “a prostatariat of old white male journalists”, “holistic healing … rip-off bollocks with a whale-call soundtrack”. And you feel like cheering aloud when you read psychiatry described as an “iffy branch of medicine … a pseudo-science … an impotent practice”.
The level of Stupidity in public debate in Australia is probably no higher than in other Western countries. It is unlikely that politicians, for whom the luminous vest photo op is more important than any discussion of complex issues, will be changed by what they read here. But then again, their success is based on the well-founded belief that the rest of us are Stupid.
Cont./ Sydney Morning Herald

III
Reviewer: Martin Hirst
Posted [2014], undated

The writers have very different tones and registers in their prose; but the bigger issue is that the book doesn’t seem to really know whom its enemy is.

I am a big fan of both Crikey political editor Bernard Keane and freelance writer Helen Razer. They are intellectually sharp, write with good humour and come across as eminently rational in their thinking. […] Keane and Razer are friends and obviously share a dislike for stupidity in all its forms (and they are many); but they are not cut from the same cloth. Keane comes across as a socially-concerned individualist, verging on the libertarian, while Razer is more than willing to own up to her own proto-Marxist and critical feminist intellectual development. Razer is also a bit of a potty mouth, so if you are offended by the occasional use of c—t, f—k and s—t in your reading material, perhaps you should only read the chapters by the more (ahem) refined Mr Keane.
But I’m not fazed by Ms Razer’s crudities because I love her razor wit and sharp insights. Her chapter on reason and unreason is one of the best in the book and one paragraph in particular sums up her (and my) take on the psychological pressures of modern working life: “When we fail at life as it is so broadly and meticulously prescribed, we call it mental illness. We have failed life. We are not permitted to think it is the conventions of life that have failed us.” (p. 164)
[…] both authors, but particularly Bernard Keane, have a blind spot to the ultimate form of Stupid: the problem of the system itself. Razer calls it “liberal democracy” and Keane calls it “liberal capitalism” and they ultimately concede it is all we’ve got. However, this is an ahistorical approach that denies the evidence of the past that it is the economic system that breeds inequality and that ultimately needs a certain level of ideological Stupid among the general population in order to prevent mass (and organised) public opposition that would be capable of overthrowing it. Previously Stupid systems of political economy such as slavery and feudal aristocracy have been defeated and replaced, so why not stupid Capitalism? If Stupid is in the way, then it is serving some purpose of the ruling class. After all, as Marx once wrote in his critique of Hegel: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” Insert “Stupid” into that sentence instead of “Religion” and read it again—it makes perfect sense!
Cont./ Academia.edu

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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Filed under Hot air, Media, Name, People, Politics

RNZ: Cost of economic crime

My conclusion (which should sound vaguely familiar) – our priorities as a country are completely screwed. If we put as much energy into cracking down on economic crime as we did chasing welfare cheats – we could afford a proper welfare system…. –Anthony Robins, The Standard 21.10.14

### radionz.co.nz Updated at 1:17 pm on 19 October 2014
Sunday Morning – sunday@radionz.co.nz
Economic crime costs up to $9.4bn
By Jeremy Rose
Economic crime is costing New Zealand up to $9.4 billion a year according to a draft Serious Fraud Office (SFO) report obtained by Radio New Zealand.

Listen to a full discussion of the document on Sunday Morning (48:55) {Citifleet gets a sound bite}

At the beginning of last year the then Minister for the SFO, Anne Tolley, was reported as saying that a number of Government ministries had been working for two years on a report quantifying the cost of economic crime and it would be presented to Cabinet in the near future.

But the report did not make it to Cabinet and was not released.

Read the SFO draft report obtained by Radio New Zealand

Radio New Zealand obtained a draft copy of the SFO’s report under the Official Information Act. The methodologies that would have made it possible to calculate the total costs were redacted.
However, Radio New Zealand has also obtained a copy of the report with the estimated costs of the various types of economic crime included – which put the total cost of economic crime at between $6.1 and $9.4 billion.
The report noted that was more than twice the combined annual budgets of police, the Department of Corrections, and the courts; more than the total net profit of New Zealand’s top 200 companies and top 30 financial institutions; or the equivalent of $2000 for every adult living in New Zealand.
Read more

SFO Economic Crime [RNZ graphic][Graphic: Radio New Zealand – some estimates in the report]

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ODT 20.10.14 (page 8)

ODT 20.10.14 Letter to the editor Eaton p8

● ODT 16.10.14 Feeley speaks up for SFO
● ODT 18.10.14 SCF witness omission puzzles

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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Filed under Business, Carisbrook, Citifleet, Construction, DCC, DCHL, Democracy, DVML, Economics, Geography, Media, Name, New Zealand, NZRU, ORFU, People, Pics, Politics, Project management, Property, Sport, Stadiums, What stadium

Economics? If only DCC could think, or think this way instead of failing!

### radionz.co.nz Sunday 5 February 2012
Radio New Zealand National
Sunday Morning with Chris Laidlaw
11:06 Ideas
In the latest series of interviews with influential New Zealanders about the individuals, writers and thinkers who have influenced them, Chris Laidlaw talks to Gareth Morgan – economist, author, philanthropist, adventurer, Phoenix Football Club co-owner, and father of Sam. (54′21″)
Audio | Download: Ogg Vorbis MP3 | Embed

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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Filed under DCC, DCHL, Economics, Geography, Hot air, Innovation, Inspiration, Media, People, Politics, Project management, Sport, Stadiums

RNZ National, Sunday 17 July

18 July 2011
PLEASE NOTE: Sunday Morning’s temporary producer has explained that Dougal Stevenson requested cancellation of his contribution for 17 July – Dougal will be appearing next Sunday, 24 July. The link will be provided at this post.

UPDATED 24 July

### radionz.co.nz 24 Jul 2011 10:40 am
Notes from the South with Dougal Stevenson
Dougal is worried that Dunedin City Council is having a bunch of very bad ideas.
Audio Ogg Vorbis MP3 (5′20″)

Radio New Zealand National 101FM
Sunday Morning with Chris Laidlaw
Listen on 101 FM or online at radionz.co.nz

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Related Post:
15.7.11 Another happy camper, not.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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Filed under People, Politics