This Explains British Politics Then

One reason that the ignorant also tend to be the blissfully self-assured, the researchers believe, is that the skills required for competence often are the same skills necessary to recognize competence.

4 thoughts on “This Explains British Politics Then”

  1. All very plausible but how then should we respond to this ranking by academics of 20th century British prime ministers?

    Remember, Lloyd George, who is ranked third overall in the league table, thought well of Hitler after meeting him in 1936, judging by the piece he wrote for the Daily Express on 17 November that year:

    Mind you, the academics rated Attlee as the best PM, which seems a bit strange with the privatisation of the industries his governments nationalised, and after a Swedish think-tank recently rated the NHS as mediocre by comparison with healthcare systems in other west European countries.

  2. “this ranking by academics of 20th century British prime ministers?”: ooh, is that an implicit sneer at “academics”? If so, who deserves it more than historians?

  3. After reading the article my already shaky self-confidence in my abillities has dropped. I do not know whether that makes me more or less competent so I will resume sharpening my pencils and laying them out on my desk in length order. That makes me happy.

  4. “ooh, is that an implicit sneer at ‘academics’?”

    In popular English culture, to describe someone or some proposal as “academic” is to be partronising, if not entirely dismissive.

    Disraeli captured this English perspective rather well: “Read no history, only biography, for that is life without theory.” Impatience with anything regarded as “theoretical” runs deep in our national culture, which is rather curious for a nation whose scientists did rather well in collecting Nobel prizes at least up to the early post-war years.

    I can think of many academic disciplines worse than history.

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