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Feynman on Politics - Jonathan

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August 1st, 2003


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12:41 am - Feynman on Politics
This guy is really smart. I've picked up another one of his books, and its next on the list.
Even though the book isn't really about politics at all, I found an interesting few paragraphs that really stuck with me:

[he's talking about judging an idea]

Suppose two politicians are running for president, and one goes through the farm section and is asked, "What are you going to do about the farm question?" And he knows right away-bang, bang, bang. now he goes to the next campaigner who comes through. "What are you going to do about the farm problem?" "Well, I don't know. I used to be a general, and I don't know anything about farming. But it seems to me it must be a very difficult problem, because for twelve, fifteen, twenty years people have been struggling with it, and people say that they know how to solve the farm problem. And it must be a hard problem. So the way I intend to solve the farm problem is to gather around me a lot of people who know something about it, to look at all the experience that we have had with this problem before, to take a certain amount of time at it, and then to come to some conclusion in a reasonable way about it. Now, I can't tell you ahead of time what conclusion, but I can give you some of the principles I'll try to use-not to make things difficult for the individual farmers, if there are any special problems we will have to have some way to take care of them", etc etc etc.

Now such a man would never get anywhere in this country, I think. It's never been tried, anyway. This is an the attitude of mind of the populace, that they have to have an answer and that a man who gives an answer is better than the man who gives no answer, when the real fact of the matter is, in most cases, it is the other way around. And the result of this of course is that the politician must give an answer. And the result of this is that the political promises can never be kept. It is a mechanical fact; it is impossible. The result of that is that nobody believes campaign promises. And the result of that is a general disparaging of politics, a general lack of respect for the people who are trying to solve problems, and so forth. It's all generated from the very beginning (maybe - this is a simple analysis). It's all generated, maybe, by the fact that the attitude of the populace is to try to find a man who has a way of getting at the answer.

(5 comments | Speak your mind)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:suzukigrrl
Date:August 1st, 2003 10:39 am (UTC)
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this sounds interesting...
[User Picture]
From:toodumbforthis
Date:August 1st, 2003 06:14 pm (UTC)
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yea it does, i think i'm going to pick up a book by him as soon as I finish my pile i have right now.
[User Picture]
From:metahacker
Date:August 1st, 2003 06:24 pm (UTC)
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Tsongas tried this for a while. It didn't work. Then he died, and we were all sad.

Your assessment in the second paragraph certainly seems correct to me. People (and this dates back to, say, Socrates) don't want to be told what is, or how to fix what is wrong -- they want to hear that if they just vote for you, everything will be all right and they will be happy. It's annoying that en masse, We The People act a great deal like a 3-year-old.

Just to illustrate, the *taller* of the two candidates has won every popular vote since they began to be televised (other than Ford, but he was shorter than Carter once he'd tripped down airplane stiars). Researchers do not believe this is accidental.

I'm hoping you're reading *all* of Feynman? The Lectures on Physics are actually quite understandable, even if you don't have a BS in it like I do... ;-)

TMH
[User Picture]
From:jon3
Date:August 1st, 2003 06:29 pm (UTC)
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Well, I started out never having heard of him, then I was using this bookmark for ages, and sittin in a restaurant I finished my book, so I was reading this bookmark, and it was an advertisement for his book. I wondered what they meant by "Citizen-Scientist". It sounded kinda like PK schmooze, so when I passed by the MIT bookstore I wandered in and started reading, and it was pretty good, so I bought it. Just grabbed one of his other ones.

I'll have to try one of the physics lectures too.
From:silentmovietype
Date:August 4th, 2003 08:03 pm (UTC)
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I would put more confidence in a man who gave the second answer than the one who gave the first.

At least you KNOW the second man is being honest.

Although honesty is not often a trait used in politicals... if at all.

Probably for the exact reason that people want to feel secure that the people they put in power know what they are doing.


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