We pay more or less no attention to social science in general life. It’s hard work compared with humanities and arty-farty stuff but not as applicable as hard science (though most people can’t apply that either as they don’t learn it). Many of the findings in social science don’t suit the existing order – I don’t mean stuff like ideological Marxism – more practical material than that – stuff hard to deny. Let’s face it, half our society struggles to get 5 GCSEs and you only have to save up Cornflake packet tops for that.
So how can social science explain itself? We can’t go up to rioters and say ‘You do realise the way you are smashing that shop window indicates paranoid narcissism’? It’s just as hard to tell the great leader who is going to sign off on the cheque for your fee too. The latter is more likely to be true. We tend to pick narcissistic twerps as leaders, falling for their bullshit, just as psychopaths are three times more likely to convince parole boards to give them parole than other prisoners.
Most people are not prepared to rock their world-view to change their minds and instead enter ‘backfire’ to keep it intact especially when confronted with obvious evidence their view is wrong – you can see this all over the Internet. Social science more or less turns over the common sense view – much like ordinary science. One way of blathering about this is called hermeneutics and vapid statements like ‘hermeneutics guarantees truth’ – well no it doesn’t Buddy. But some careful experiments get us fairly close and the results broadly mean we have the wrong leaders and are wrong most of the time ourselves.
If we could reach a sensible explanation of the riots in England this summer there wouldn’t be much point because no one would listen from an informed point of view. Told it was the rich and neo-conservative economics, the Tories would hire another “expert”. So would the other parties, except for the Greens. I believe this is an important cause, but some want it as an excuse, which it is not. If it is a cause, it’s clearly somewhat indirect as most of the rioters don’t know.
“I have written for more than two decades on the various elements that have contributed to this collapse of order: family breakdown and mass fatherlessness; the toleration and even encouragement of grossly inadequate parenting; educational collapse which damages most those at the bottom of the social heap; welfare dependency; political correctness and the vicious injustices and moral inversion of victim culture; the grossly irresponsible toleration of soft drug-taking; the shuddering distaste at the notion of punishment and the consequent collapse of authority in the entire criminal justice system; the implosion of the policing ethic and the police retreat from the streets; the increasing organisation and boldness of anarchist and left-wing subversive activity; and the growth of irrationality, narcissistic self-centredness and mob rule and the near-certainty of a fundamental breakdown of morality and order”. Melanie Phillips.
Mel seems to think the left abuse her, but I can only agree. I’d add our tendency to elect expenses-dippers, promote narcissists and people like Melanie who stick only to the half of the story their audience can take.
And that’s the rub with not being able to put forward a more social science driven explanation and solution – there’s no existing interest group audience for it. The emerging story is of human incompetence, irrationality, gullibility, conformity … it’s not good news.
All one can do is make the odd point. My guess is the creeps on the streets are just collections of the anti-social monsters allowed to terrorise ordinary people with no redress, slightly organised and no more. Around this is a wider antagonism, fermented for a couple of decades and it’s only if this lights up we have a loss of control. The causes are wide and no one will really be interested.