Jonathan (jon3) wrote,
Jonathan
jon3

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.
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