CASS SUNSTEIN: Choosing Not to Choose: Understanding the Value of Choice
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2015
newbooksnetwork.com, Robert Talisse | September 1, 2015 |
(can be accessed from iTunes)
Very cleverly justifies behavior modification and interference in our choices. As usual, “philosophy” (and “science”) serves those who want to create a totalitarian world (our “environment”).
“Sometimes having to choose” can be a “hazard,” etc., to liberty.
If you don’t want to let the people choose not to choose, “you’re acting paternalistically . . . “
Opting in and opting out.
Pension plans (making provision for more banker bail-outs).
Failing to choose may lead to procrastination, etc., and harmful results.
“Shaping the choice environment.”
Builds on an earlier book Nudge.
Worked at White House 2009-2012
2013-2014 – member of a review group about surveillance.
OECD set thermometers down by 1 degrees C. They tried to set them down by 2 degrees and people rejected the change. Was this just an experiment or actual policy?
The interviewer and guest call people who don’t like being manipulated “reactants.” He downplays their attitude. He basically believes that if people are presented with a choice (e.g. green energy or not,) that’s the easiest way to get more of them to choose green energy (or whatever “society” thinks is the right thing). That’s part of the technique. He claims he has seen the evidence for this and I guess I don’t doubt it.
He portrays medical choice as if it’s a bad thing. It’s “not respectful of the patients’ autonomy” for the mean old doctor to make the patient listen to a whole list of choices and details. Very clever appeal to our laziness. It “might be an intrusion.” They might not want to bother. (This will make mass “vaccinations” easier in the future).
“They don’t have to think all the time.” I guess “not thinking” is equated with freedom somehow. Thinking is for Harvard law professors, etc.
Having personalized pension defaults that adjust based on your age may seem “Brave New Worldish” and “scary.” Sunstein used the phrase “Brave New World” so I’ll categorize the post that way.
Notice how life decisions are compared to website choices. The world is reduced to algorithms and laws. You won’t need to use your brain so much at all (if it’s working you can just keep it for your job–things have been heading this way for a long time). And with Big Brother, you won’t need family (if any) or friends to ask advice from anymore. Less exposure to non-default ideas.
Everybody is slotted into a grid of decision-making that’s imposed on us by this freakish system we live in already. We’ll be allowed (sure we will) to make the supposedly incorrect choice, so more and more dissenters (“global warming isn’t a problem”) and others with “dangerous ideas” (phrase used in one of his other books attacking “conspiracy theorists”) will just seem more and more weird and isolated as everyone else is led to make the supposedly correct default choices.
He admits there may be more of a trend line towards control–if “choice architects” do it the wrong way!