Tuesday, 7 May 2013


One of those things I tend to notice and pick up on is an apparent increase in casual behaviour. Maybe it’s an age thing, but it seems to me that a meticulous attention to detail isn’t as common as once it was.

It’s a diffuse thing where it is too easy to become bogged down in examples of poor grammar, spelling or lax manners without bringing out the general nature of the issue.

A startling example is Prime Minister David Cameron who makes a point of avoiding the point. All politicians do that of course and have done for as long as I remember, but in a supposed age of technical politics one might expect... well some technical politics.

What would technical politics look like? How about attention to detail, better use of real data, structured arguments. Gosh - maybe even telling it as it is.

Instead, I see Cameron as a product of our age in that he is essentially casual in spite of the shiny veneer. He does not appear to value either facts, consistency, reliability or even logic. Not only that, but he seems unaware of the problem and unable to hide his casual grip on the essentials of his own job. Which one day he'll lose of course.

Does he care? I doubt it. A casual attitude to the role of Prime Minister - now there's a thing we didn't expect a few decades ago. As I say, it’s a somewhat diffuse issue, but I’m sure there’s something to it.

Climate change is another high-profile example where numerous scientists appear to have a most casual grasp of scientific philosophy – the difference between science and astrology for example. Many quite genuinely don't get it - or choose not to because they can get away with it in a more casual age.

The BBC is an old-fashioned institution which seems quite incapable of adopting a meticulous impartiality and a finely-judged approach to social standards. Probably it never did and maybe it is impossible, but I suspect casual is the preferred option anyway.

I’m sure the problem, if it is a problem, is an aspect of increasing complexity. We probably cannot expect people to cope with ever more finely adjusted social controls without relaxations elsewhere.

What the consequences will be I’m not sure, but a casual attitude to moral questions, social standards, political probity and scientific rigour will all have their consequences. 

Yet another example is how the gay marriage issue suddenly popped up out of nowhere. To me it was the result of a essentially casual attitude to both the institution of marriage and the wider issue of how personal relationships are defined in law. 

Again, maybe it’s an age thing, an aspect of adapting to complexity, but maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s all to do with our social reactions to increasing complexity. If so, then it would be entirely understandable, because something has to give.

How many hi-vis jackets do we need for travelling in France? Well I suppose I can find out easily enough, but if I’m doing that I’m not doing something else am I? Do I care?

No dude - it's cool.


Mark In Mayenne said...

Interesting slant on the topic. Not seen that idea before.

Chuck said...

Meticulous? I suspect you intended scrupulous?

A K Haart said...

Mark - thanks - it was just a casual thought (:

Chuck - or punctilious, I'm easy.

James Higham said...

Another word for casual is slack.

A K Haart said...

James - and oddly enough, slacks are casual.