I diffuse this story, because it takes a full page in my daily newspaper, and has been diffused on the BBC over the week-end
The title and some extracts will set the scene:
|Maverick trader: Was what he said actually right?|
|Financial trader Alessio Rastani raised eyebrows after making extraordinarily candid remarks about his feelings on the financial crisis. But are his views commonly held?|
|Rastani’s assertion that it was possible for savvy traders like himself to make money out of a falling market was the quote many news outlets chose to headline their accounts of his interview.|
|“I dream of a recession”|
|“I dream of another moment like this,” said Rastani, adding: “Anybody can actually make money. It’s an opportunity.”|
|“My only surprise about what he said was that he broke the unspoken consensus in the City not to talk about it so frankly.”|
Do watch the video also, to hear first-hand what the trader had to say:
Very hard to refrain our first gut reactions of disgust.
Yet, I believe we should overcome them, let’s think hard:
How do we look at this declaration?
Can we look differently? Does it hide merits? Can we decode intentions? How many are possible? What are we consciously tempted to discard?
Why are we not willing to respond to these questions? What emotions push us take shortcuts, to avoid thinking through this “uncomfortable knowledge”?.
Why was it diffused?
I believe this is a sure sign of a real problem. If this is so: How can we, collectively, move beyond the symptom, and get at the core root of the problems of our time.
Let’s listen at Henry Davis Thoreau in Walden
“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve.”
When will we listen to what we don’t like to hear: uncomfortable knowledge.
Is it not the only way to reach another level of thinking. This time it is Einstein who we could be listening to:
“A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.”
What I find dramatic is that these new ways of thinking exist today. But they remain hidden.
Here Machiavelli (among so many others) helps us understand:
“It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.”
see Nicolo Machiavelli in “The Prince”
What’s worse between two behaviors: Hiding “uncomfortable information” that you are aware of and expert in, or diffusing “uncomfortable knowledge”
What’s the duty of a scientist, a politician, a public figure, an expert, a civil servant, with regard to telling what they know, warn about dangers ahead, diffusing “uncomfortable knowledge”
I’ve received the book “Whistleblowers: Broken Lives and Organizational Power” from Fred Alford. Haven’t read it yet, but this makes this acquisition very relevant indeed. Ansd it pushes me to read it, quickly.
For a glimpse on this book, see Brian Martin’s review at http://www.uow.edu.au/~bmartin/pubs/02whistle01.html
According to the edge thinkers in social science, withholding “uncomfortable knowledge” is the surest sign of democracy gone astray. As is the increase of fatalism in society.