There are a lot of forces in the world that try to push us one way or another. They create narratives to influence the way we think and the way we act. Sometimes it's obvious. Sometimes it's much more insidious. We've been calling out the ways people in power try to nudge the rest of us and have assembled this collection for you to see just how deep it goes.
In the world of Nudge, everyone is an ad man, and the government is just the biggest, baddest ad man of them all.
I’m not so naive as to think this isn’t a good description of what modern government is.
But it’s a terrible prescription for what modern government should be.
A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.
– William Blake
Our narratives of COVID-19 are all lies.
They are lies of a particular sort, political narratives that have a nugget of truth within them, but are told with bad intent. They are told this way because it works. Because the nugget of truth hides a deeper, unpleasant truth. And a Big Lie.
This is not a chronicle of errors and mistakes made during COVID-19.
This is the story about the inevitable, simultaneous failure of each of the institutions designed to operate in our interest.
It is the story of how we respond to fragility with resilience.
I believe that we are on the cusp of the Long Now becoming irreversible. Or at least irreversible without a cataclysmic Fall.
Why? Because they have mastered the art of stealing our tells. At scale.
Here’s how we start to confound the stolen tells. At scale.
The way I see it, there are three reasons a person becomes a liar: he believes that he must, he believes that he may, or he believes it serves a Greater Truth.
The libertarian paternalism of a nudge culture in finance has created an industry of investors who care about fees but have forgotten about taxes, trading costs, slippage and behavioral costs of actively trading passive instruments.
The pecking order is a social system designed to preserve economic inequality: inequality of food for chickens, inequality of wealth for humans. We are trained and told by Team Elite that the pecking order is not a real and brutal thing in the human species, but this is a lie. It is an intentional lie, formed by two powerful Narratives: trickle-down monetary policy and massive student debt financing. Part 8 of the Notes from the Field series.
Part 7 of Ben’s Notes from the Field series reminds us that you don’t break a wild horse by crushing its spirit. You nudge it into willingly surrendering its autonomy. Because once you’re trained to welcome the saddle, you’re going to take the bit. We are Clever Hans, dutifully hanging on every word or signal from the Nudging Fed and the Nudging Street as we stomp out our investment behavior.