I find it fascinating watching the political stuff happening around the Scottish Referendum. I just wish I could do it objectively, without a firm opinion and a vested interest. The numbers are currently too close to call and something like half the population will be VERY upset on the 19th of September and half will be VERY delighted.
I'm fascinated by two things in particular: how confirmation bias makes us behave, second, how the politicians do their work.
1. Confirmation Bias is the tendency we humans have to seek evidence which confirms what we already believe and to ignore anything which contradicts our beliefs.
For example: I really don't want independence and - honestly - it's an opinion I formed many, many months ago before I heard any arguments in it's favour, or any arguments in favour of independence. To me, independence just seems like a stupid idea. It's a gut thing. Since I formed that opinion I've noticed that almost everything I've heard from the "better together" campaign makes perfect sense and, on the rare occasion it doesn't, I read more about the subject and then it makes sense. Likewise just about everything I've heard from the independence campaigners sounds like nonsense.
I might be doing the independence folk - the rather deviously named Yes campaigners (see my bias!) - a disservice but I imagine they've gone through a similar process: form an opinion, like evidence which confirms it, ignore or dismiss the rest.
[BTW: there's only one argument I've heard of that makes me wonder if Independence is a good idea, but I've not heard any one in the yes or no campaign mention it. It's this: Scottish politicians won't go to London after independence so the quality of Scottish politicians will improve dramatically and that could be good for Scotland. ]
Last week I was talking to a friend who also doesn't want independence. She was concerned that the poll numbers were suddenly going (in our opinions) the wrong way - i.e. the undecideds were wavering 2 to 1 in favour of a "yes" vote) and the gap was closing - eeeeek!
I suggested she shouldn't worry too much because if the "Yes" numbers continued to rise then the following week the UK politicians would announce the extra "powers" the Scottish Government would do. They've always said they'd do this, they just never said when. Today they announced these extra powers.
What I find fascinating is how it seems to have come as a surprise to many when, I imagine, anyone who's watched the West Wing (or who knew about the Quebec referendum) knew it was coming.
I wish I could watch this stuff objectively! It's just like House of Cards, only the politicians and their wives aren't nearly as good looking.