This a follow-up to my recent post on Hurricane Dorian.
It is not my point to nag on the Bahamas, I country I have never visited.
Nevertheless, I believe the Hurricane Dorian disaster is representative for many countries and cultures, whatever hazards they are exposed to.
Since I am curious, I started to see what I could find about the Bahamas, that could have a bearing on shaping disaster risk.
Domestic bloggers and writers have expressed a deep concern about the dominant anti-intellectualism in the country.
Apparently, 50 % of the students leave high-school without a diploma. 
We prize ignorance. To think critically, “speak smart”, or even dress smartly, is offensive to our very understanding of what it means to be Bahamian.
What has that got to do with Hurricane Dorian?
Anti-intellectualism leads to stagnation. If you do not value education, there will not be much room for forward thinking; or an ability to deal with complex causes and effects. Such as disasters.
In order to reduce disaster risk, you need an informed population. Citizens who have comprehended that you have to sacrifice something today, so that we are all better off, and safer, tomorrow. That you have a responsibility not just for yourself and for your family, but also for those around you.
One of the biggest problems in the Bahamas is some people want to be entertained, not informed.
Education is not just about learning facts. It is also about learning to be critical, to seek information on your own and to reach your own conclusions.
If you do not do the thinking yourself, it means you leave it to somebody else.
Bahamians except without questioning. ; believe without weighing the choices; join the pack because it’s the modern or convenient thing to do.
Bahamas is a democracy, and in a democracy the nation, as a whole, gets the leaders it deserves. If you have no interest in rational thinking, you will not vote for the most sound and level-headed candidate. Instead, you vote for the one who can promise you instant gratification. Alas, a global phenomenon.
If leaders give priority to short-term gains, then both they and their constituency will also be happy with an economy based on cheap labour, mainly provided by immigrants from Haiti.
The root causes and risk drivers of the Dorian disaster are, of course, more complicated than this. The Bahamas being a British colony until 1973, is, most likely, among them.
However, I am pretty sure that a culture where, allegedly, a “thinking-takes-too-much-time” attitude is prevalent, played an important part.
My first thought, as is often the case, when reading about devastations such as the hurricane Dorian caused on the Bahamas: “could this have been avoided?” Not the storm as such, but the scale of it is brutal impact?
No doubt, this was one of the worst storms ever to hit the Bahamas, with a possible link to Climate Change.
Yet, I was not able to find any international news story on the fact that even this storm did not affect the whole population in equal measures.
What is rather unusual, is, that the Bahamas looks good on paper. It is a highly developed country with less corruption and more freedom of speech than most countries in the Americas. [Read more…]
We humans have a strong tendency to believe what is presented to us, without applying even a minimum of reflection or logical reasoning. Instead we try to come up with explanations in hindsight, for why we thought it was true.
Here is an entertaining list of April Fool’s Day jokes people actually believed in.
In case you did not know: you can be punished for drinking alcohol while surfing the internet.
Or the fact that in Norway we have two suns. The normal one and the midnight sun.
What You See Is All There Is – WYSIATI
What You See Is All There Is. That is what Daniel Kahneman, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, wrote about in his book “ Thinking, Fast and Slow” . It is about our strong tendency to jump to conclusions based on limited evidence, and information.
The main reason is that such a story is easier for us to understand. And we believe more in what makes sense to us, than complex scenarios that would involve massive brain effort for us to grasp. What we understand easily makes us more convinced that we are right. Not the amount or quality of the evidence.
I have yet to found anyone who does not believe in climate change, who can claim to have any profound knowledge on the subject. Or on how science works at all, for that matter. Overconfidence is, according to Kahneman, a manifestation of WYSIATI.
Therefore, WYSIATI can have dire consequences. From world leaders denying climate change, to public support for Hitler, or any other noxious authoritarian figure.
No human being or sector are vaccinated against What You See Is All There Is. That goes of course for the aid and development sector, as well.
Here are two examples from the excellent “What Went Wrong?” project in Kenya:
“No answer: Kenya’s gender-based violence hotline fails to connect.”
“Promises kept? Residents stranded in temporary shelters after housing project stalls.”
My take is that WYSIATI was very much involved in the failure of these projects.
We need to bear in mind that we are constantly being duped, by ourselves or others, often unintentionally.
Ask yourself, if there might be more to an issue, than what is in front of you. And that some missing information would might alter your opinion or decision all together.
If you constantly surround yourself with people and opinions you agree with, you will become more and more convinced you are right, since you hear and see nothing else.
Little by little it gets increasingly troublesome to read or listen even to those who slightly disagree with you. This aversion might not just be related to a need to be right. The more impenetrable and smaller your own bubble, the more you will fear what is outside that bubble.
We will never be able to make progress and grow as human beings if we do not expose ourselves to disagreement. [Read more…]
“The Leadership Integrity Challenge” by Edward E. Morler is the most important book I have come across in at least a decade. And I am a voracious reader.
The book is about.
The lack of emotional maturity is at the root of all our problems. That is the main message of the book.
The author lists a variety of issues from highway littering, corporate fraud and terrorism to rainforest destruction.
Although our happiness and perhaps very survival demands mature adult judgement and action, we continue to react and behave like insecure self-absorbed adolescents
Unlike many other leadership or personal development books, “The Leadership Integrity Challenge” does not offer any quick and easy remedies. Morler also takes on a much more direct approach than many other authors in this category, which I find invigorating. [Read more…]
“ The maturity of an organisation’s leadership lays the foundation and sets the tone for everything that follows.
Raise emotional maturity and individuals become more secure, discerning, responsible, productive and happy.”
Edward E. Morler – The Leadership Integrity Challenge.
I started pondering on this article on 21st January, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day. My intention was to write about a highly mature being, mentioned that day in the press or other media, who somehow carries the legacy of King’s ideas.
After an hour or two of browsing and scrolling, I was not able to find a single example.
What I did come across, were numerous illustrations of the opposite.
One of them was a note in a Swedish newspaper on a United Nations’ predicament. It is not my intention to constantly find fault with that institution. But this blog’s focus is on maturity; and the UN is, unfortunately, an easy pick, with an abundance of stories on immaturity to choose among. [Read more…]
In my last blog post, I stressed the importance of showing Nature the gratitude it deserves.
A gratitude encompassing all animals, plants, insects and microbes,
for giving us air, water and food.
Most of us understand that Nature is not just something to exploit natural resources from. However, we also need to stop looking at it merely as a source of recreation, an object to benefit from.
Instead, we should ask ourselves: “How can I serve nature?” Not just nature serving us. [Read more…]
It is easy to feel overwhelmed or in a state of panic considering all the bad news pouring in about the state of the world.
Recently, World Wildlife Fund launched their annual Living Planet Report. According to the report, vertebrates (animals with backbones) have declined by 60 per cent in 40 years.
We cannot survive without nature, and we are part of it, whether we live on Greenland or in a skyscraper in a mega city. Nature is not something “out there”. [Read more…]