Blink vs. Squint

I have been avoiding commenting on the NB Power deal because there are a few people that get all bent out of joint and send me really nasty comments and I don’t appreciate the abuse.  There have been some interesting developments such as Governor Baldacci’s position and the comments by the CEO of Emera. 

Ironically, as support for the deal starts to spread among folks like this, I hear there is increasing pressure from inside the Liberal circle to scuttle the deal.   Don’t know how real this is as I don’t particularly run in Liberal circles.

Anyway, on a more esoteric level, I listed to Malcolm Gladwell’s audio version of Blink on the way to Florida.   The book is a detailed exploration of our gut feelings or our intuition – the way we can feel about a person or issue without even consciously thinking about it.  You know what he means. You can look at someone and size them up without ever having a conversation.

Gladwell thinks that this ‘thin slicing’ or ability to draw conclusions based on quick sub-conscious processes can be good and bad.

I can’t help but apply this to the NB Power deal.  Just about everyone that I talk to about this I ask about their initial gut reaction – before they even saw the MOU.  Virtually all of them had a strong reaction – without ever seeing the deal.  My reaction was positive.  So was the reaction of several people that have intimate knowledge of the state of NB Power.  But most people, the initial reaction was negative – to the point in many cases of revulsion – and that carried on after seeing the MOU.

In a Gladwellian analysis, we are bringing all the different images and ideas we have about Quebec – for those opposed that would be sovereignty, blackmail, bullying, arrogance, etc. and forming a snap judgement against the deal based on our gut.  We then look at the MOU and find reasons to dislike it and choose to read commentary that we support, etc.

I would say the same for those that support the MOU.  My gut reaction was to support it. 

In a Gladwellian analysis, when we have time to analyze things, we are best advised to do so.  To try and park our initial gut reaction and open ourselves to the facts of the case.

This, of course, does not apply to partisans or politically-motivated folks who will support or oppose any move of government based on partisan motives.

But for the rest of us, we should really try to judge this thing on its merits – whether you like Jean Charest’s hair or not is basically irrelevant.

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7 Responses to Blink vs. Squint

  1. mikel says:

    I compare it to the Charlottetown Accord legislation. It IS true that SOME people voted against it because of how much they hated Mulroney. That’s not true of everybody.

    Here, it depends on your ‘gut’. Those in the business sphere of things usually don’t give democratic principles a high priority. That’s my main concern which is why my ‘gut’ was immediately repulsed by the idea. For those who DO have democratic principles as their main concern their ‘guts’ keep getting MORE nauseaus as time goes on. With this kind of pressure that they will ‘force’ through the sale is simply beyond words, beyond ‘guts’. Again, you have to be REALLY out of the political loop to think that Mike Murphy really suddenly had an all encompassing desire to spend more time with his family three months before voting on this deal.

    And again, lots of people don’t want to sell NBPower no matter HOW good the MOU looks. And that is perfectly within their rights, and its perfectly reasonable. That’s why a referendum is the only sensible way to decide it. Of course it takes guts to call a referendum, but not nearly as many guts as to NOT call one. That’s when you KNOW industry is really lined up behind it, because I know there are a LOT of high level liberals sending in ripped up party cards every week.

  2. > I have been avoiding commenting on the NB Power deal because there are a few people that get all bent out of joint and send me really nasty comments

    You shouldn’t say that, even if it’s true.

    Getting you to shut up is exactly what the people posting nasty comments want to achieve, and you are telling them that if they send you nasty comments, they will be successful in getting you to shut up.

    The only way to deal with nasty comments is to delete them immediately without comment.

  3. mikel says:

    Amen. Hell, if you don’t want to look at them then contact me and I’ll help go through them. Although I REALLY don’t agree with the deal, I also REALLY don’t agree with badgering people who do. It’s a free country, and just because you are one of the few people who have run a long run blog, doesn’t mean people should hijack it with nasty commments.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It ironic that this post appears almost simultaneously with your “Educating the Citizenry” post a couple down the page.

    The proposed NBP deal is a perfect example of not educating the public. The government promised not to sell it, had it as a policy in their platform, and indicated no problems with their reporting (apart from the annual salary and bonus crap which sells a few newspapers every year and some mostly inaccurate Lepreau refurbishment references). In fact, the government showed confidence in NBP by recently extending the contract of the CEO for 3 years.

    Then, out of nowhere, they declare a NBP crisis and we have to take a deal by a fictitious deadline else the province will be “crippled” by debt that is slightly more than what the government themselves generated over the last 3 years alone. There was no public consultation. There was no study or investigation into options and alternatives. There was no independent assessment of NBP. No benchmarking with similar utilities. Nothing. We just heard the government declare NBP as “unsustainable” and “crippling” and we are suppose to shut up and accept that someone else knows what is best for us. The public’s “gut reaction” was quite predictable in these circumstances.

    As we are experiencing, there is a certain percentage of the population that will say no to the deal on principal. Not because they are incompetent. Not because they did not read the MOU. Not because they are so loyal to NBP. Not because they are a certain political stripe. They will say no because there is a certain group of people who do not like being lied to, misled or intentionally kept uninformed. Have you ever caught a used car salesman or real estate agent embellishing, not providing complete information or perhaps intentionally or unintentionally lying to you? Those that do will rarely stick around to hear the sales pitch.

    So, even if the government has been presented with a great deal, the execution has been a disaster. Worse yet, they apparently do not recognize their mistake and have become arrogant, frustrated and accusatory. Unbelievable that all of the advisers, spin doctors, consultants and PR firms have failed so spectacularly.

  5. Tough. says:

    Besides! I divorced a women who had hairdo like charest! So Gladwell is right and very good in all his books, which I have read! Including What the dog saw and other adventures.
    Now read The next 100 years : a forecast for the 21st century / George Friedman.
    Attaining my level of knowledge would benefit all of you.

  6. RKA says:

    So, even if the government has been presented with a great deal, the execution has been a disaster. Worse yet, they apparently do not recognize their mistake and have become arrogant, frustrated and accusatory. Unbelievable that all of the advisers, spin doctors, consultants and PR firms have failed so spectacularly.
    ————————————————————-
    Anonymous has it exactly right from my perspective. Hill & Knowlton’s well known tactics and client list alone cast this deal as suspect right from the start.

    If Mr Graham had simply “informed the citizenry” that he saw a need to change tack (to sell NB Power) and kept New Brunswickers in the loop from the beginning, he would likely have been able to make a deal with less opposition and maybe keep his job.

    Instead, it seems like he’s strapped NB Power to his chest, set the timer for March 31st and is saying “no ones gonna stop me! And prepared to take the Liberal party down with him. Rational behaviour?

    My gut feeling tells me there’s something else going on we don’t know about.

  7. Mike E. says:

    Nice to see Gladwell’s book getting a mention here. The NB Power deal is a perfect example of gut reactions at work.

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