April 15, 2010
There’s a wonderful little nugget in today’s Telegraph, where Professor Mike Lockwood, a space physicist at Reading University, predicts that we’re about to go through the coldest winters for 300 years. But, he says, they’d be even colder if it weren’t for global warming. So the climate changers get to have their cake and eat it.
I call it the Managed Expectations Device (MED for short), a classic tool for making unbeatable arguments: “Yes, we lost the war,” said Mr Hitler, shortly before blowing his brains out, “but imagine how much worse the destruction of Berlin would be if we hadn’t started the war in the first place”; “Yes, I shot JFK,” said Mr Oswald, shortly before himself being shot dead by a minor gangster, “but imagine how badly wounded he would have been if I hadn’t gone to all that trouble in the first place.”
Evelyn Waugh used the MED, too, but to comic effect. After he had been appallingly rude to a French fan, Nancy Mitford asked him how he could be so cruel when he was such an avid Christian. “You have no idea how much nastier I would be if I were not a Catholic,” Waugh said, “Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being.”
I noticed Ed Miliband was up to the same trick in the Labour manifesto this week. “Unemployment has, so far, risen by over 500,000 less than people expected this time last year,” he wrote. That’s not the same as saying unemployment has fallen by 500,000, but that’s the impression he’s trying to give.
No, it’s not smoke and mirrors; it’s a fine bit of MED work.
This article was posted: Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 4:14 am