31 Oct

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This post is now part of J.’s book, Letters I’ve Written Never Meaning To Send, available on Amazon.

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13 Responses to “Professional?”

  1. John 31 October, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    “Such a perspective, in my view, can really only come from either stunning naïveté or bald arrogance.”

    In the context of this post, your follow on post, and in the broader context of the arguments you have made over time I want to agree with this statement in total.

    Doing “Aid” IS hard. Becoming a professional “Aid” worker IS hard. Defining (write it down) just what IS ‘Aid” IS hard. Educating the lay person about “Aid” IS harder yet. Expecting the lay person to be anything other than naive implies the responsibility to do the job of educating not just berating. J, I give you all the credit in the world for taking a stab at it.

    Arrogance may be the hardest to deal with. Ego and agenda play their part in what comes off as arrogant. Generally (in the worst non-scientific way) there appears to be a correlation between the vigor of the argument and the entrenchment of the opposing view. Unfortunately, some people are just !%@hats. Sean Penn as an example.

    The argument you have chosen to take on is an uphill battle, it’s not going to be easy to win over your critics.

    When the world was a simple place; how humans reacted emotionally to the environment was, give or take, the same as an intellectual assessment of reality. The world is no longer simple but our biologically based cognitive biases (selected for survival) haven’t had the time to begin to catch up to the complexities of todays world. There are lots of examples here that could be mined for full post length discussion (nudge nudge).

    The one that sticks out prominently for me is that we notice very rare but spectacular events while generally ignoring common mundane events. Significant numbers of people support the spending of trillions to defend against the statistically nonexistent threat of terrorist attacks while paying hardly passing attention to the numbers of people who die in their cars (or on their Wave 125’s) each and every day. More relevantly, the incredibly rare cases of mismanagement, fraud, or outright %&$!up’s in the aid industry attracts mainstream attention while the day-to-day mundane work that has dramatically improved millions of lives goes by with hardly a mention.

    Before someone drags out a qualitative vs. quantitative argument, stop. That’s not what I am talking about and it doesn’t fit anyhow.

    In an effort the relieve the tension created by these biases and the reality of the world, cultural memes have sprung up. Big is bad. Publicly funded is wasteful. Big and publicly funded borders on evil. Small is good (this could also be a bias towards the underdog). Entrepreneurs are hero material, lets make a movie (or select a CNN hero), and so on. Add into that the reality that the average lay person doesn’t typically have a good handle on the differences between UN humanitarian organizations, government instruments of foreign policy, and NGO’s and it’s not hard to see the opportunity to mislead and misinform by those with a mind to do such things. Again, I think this represents a multitude of examples that can be put to good use.

  2. fyfee 1 November, 2010 at 2:50 pm #

    J, out of interest, what degrees do you have?

  3. Team House 2 2 November, 2010 at 8:31 am #


    • J. 2 November, 2010 at 9:01 pm #

      I see you recognized yourself🙂 thanks for stopping by!


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