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Analysis of and commentary on South African politics from a liberal perspective. Winner: Best Political Blog 2012.

Tag: Rationality

On paranoia


TheThingAboutSERIES: Paranoia seems to be part and parcel of public life – certainly politicians appear permanently gripped by it. Yet it is curious how often paranoia can infect otherwise rational people, when they are placed in constant contact with it. Today’s piece looks at the idea of paranoia in more detail, why it is problematic and some of its consequences. If you already suffer the problem, who knows, maybe this piece is about you?

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On hysteria


TheThingAboutSERIES: Much public rhetoric in South Africa is defined by hysteria and our response to current affairs, often hysterical in turn. So it is worth paying some attention to the idea. What is the nature of hysteria? Certainly it is extreme in nature but how so? It is perhaps best understood as a kind of drama, with heroes and villains, good and evil. And thus, the last thing hysteria will ever indulge is subtle or ambiguity, doubt or uncertainty.

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On expression


TheThingAboutSERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. We spend much time, in a myriad different ways, expressing ourselves to the world at large. But what, actually, is it to express an idea? And does a thought change when we verbalise it, from some abstract inclination to something more concrete? If this does happen, it’s a process we often don’t pay enough attention to.

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On panic


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. Panic is often offered up as an explanation for rash action, but is it always a legitimate excuse? The answer to that question boils down to a determination as to whether or not a person could reasonably be expected to have been aware of their panic and, in turn, acted to control it. And, when it comes to widespread moral panic, the difference between good and bad leaders is often best defined by their approach to such problems.

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On statistics


SERIES: Because they are far more objective in nature, statistics have a certain kind of power. That is, they allow those not entirely familiar with a situation to comment on it with authority, even insightfully. Little wonder, then, nationalists don’t like statistics and try to control and manipulate them. Ultimately, however, its a losing battle. Here’s why.

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On exaggeration


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. What role does exaggeration play in public discourse? For the most part, a problematic one. Very often one’s instinict in countering exaggeration is to use some kind of greater exaggeration in the other direction. And, before you know it, everything is exaggerated and a state of hysteria exists.

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Rationality: our guide through the dark


ARTICLE: Why is rationality important? Well, for one thing, it allows us not only to understand principles (which are by their nature often counter-intuitive) but to apply them to those decisions we make in pursuit of the good life. That is not always easy, because emotion’s pull in the other direction can be powerful. But rationality and reason are the tools we can use to help exercise the best possible judgement.

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