Ladder award: Gareth Morgan for commentary on NZ & global economy
October 6, 2008
Ladder Award: Ross Himona for creative approach to inclusive development
October 30, 2008
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Ladder Award to James Flynn – practical social science to replace populist fear

This week a Ladder is awarded to James Flynn for his views as stated in an interview on Radio New Zealand by Kim Hill Saturday, 9.10 am, 4 October 2008 .

In this interview he advocated a creative social-science approach to social policy. The interview was about his new book Where Have All the Liberals Gone? Race, Class, and Ideals in America. Whether or not people agree with all of his specifics, his critique of current approaches and his suggested alternatives are hard to dismiss.

Old ways of thinking are leading to many, expensive dead ends.

Flynn highlights the counter-productive consequences of reactive decision-making based on public fears. For instance, he says, the US population has been “kept terrified” so it will support huge military spending, invasions, missile production and bases. However, this way of making decisions has greatly increased rather than diminished fears.

Flynn illustrates how social and economic science reflection and research can help to transform opinions based on fear to considered perspectives based on knowledge and understanding.

This kind of reflective (rather than reactive) thinking can help us all, both as individuals and as members of a discursive public, to ‘see more’ and be positioned to act more effectively.

Flynn, an acknowledged world expert on IQ, notes that it is good for the IQ of children to be surrounded by adults who have stimulating discussions.

Would collective “Village IQs” rise if there were more opportunities for village children to be around when adults were discussing matters of interest and concern?

What do you think? Do you have any specific cases of public discussion and policy decision-making based on careful deliberation or of a heightening of fears you would like to share?


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