Thursday, August 06, 2009
I just heard a story on the radio about a drug they've given to animals in India. It poisons the vultures that feed off the corpses. This has led to a decline in the vulture population which has caused problems for the Parsees who traditionally dispose of their dead by leaving the bodies out to be consumed by, you guessed it, vultures. Complex systems are much smarter than we are. Having opinions is, as a result, stupid, not to say embarrassing. This is why I stopped blogging. The night before I stopped I got through an entire dinner party without expressing an opinion. It helped that I wasn't drinking. Both not drinking and not having opinions made me feel exceptionally well the next morning. Every year at about this time, Claire Fox invites me to take part in an Institute of Ideas debate. Every year I decline. I am thinking of accepting this time. The debate is The Good Society - Virtues for a Post Recession World. It is possible not to have opinions about that. John Bolton has a lot of opinions and he looks as though he is wearing a disguise. This is a fatal combination for a man who wishes to be taken seriously. I heard him on the World Service saying Bill Clinton's rescue of those women from North Korea was a disaster because it would make Kim Jong-il happy. He probably thinks this is a clever opinion because nobody else holds it. In fact, it's stupid because it show a vulgar inability to understand complex systems. I was in Dusseldorf yesterday. The only thing I knew about this city was that it occurs in a creepy but brilliant song by Randy Newman. It's true that Germans don't have a sense of humour, but they do laugh a lot when they finally get the joke.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 8:05 am