Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Thought for the Day

As delivered at BBC Radio Bristol an hour ago, my thought for Budget Day 2014:

Which question do you find easier to answer, 'How do you feel?' or 'What do you think?'

Most people have a preference.

I hate being asked how I feel. It stops me and makes me er (beat) think. How do I feel? I don't know.

Sports reporting is interested in feelings. Exhausted and strained an athlete will have a microphone thrust under their nose and be asked, 'How do you feel?'

The tired victor might say they are over the moon. An easy, feelingsy statement.

Today's question, 'Do I feel better off?'

The danger with feelings is that I can feel good about the economy for many reasons. Having no more dependent children at home made me feel a bit sad and yet richer. My feelings may buck the trend. A victim of a mugging may not agree that crime figures are down. Even if they are.

To rephrase the question. 'Do I think I am better off?'

The danger with thinking is working out the truth. Today stats will be flung about. £650bn here and £730bn there. In our political world getting at the truth is hard, especially when political opponents are lobbing statistics at each other as if they are opposites when in fact both are correct. They'd argue about a snooker ball. This ball is red. No it's not, it's round. Both true.

No wonder it says, to get right the Bible verse that lots of people get wrong, 'The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.' Most of the Bible's words about money are couched in the negative.

So, amidst the smoke and mirrors, listen out today for competing truths and beware of your unreliable feelings.

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