On the referendum #13: new ICM poll shows growing support for Yes/In; couple of other thoughts on education and judgement

ICM is doing an omnibus question regularly now on the precise referendum question.

HERE is a PDF of their latest poll of 2,000 people conducted over 14-16 August.

Headline figures: Yes 48 (+2), No 34 (-2), Don’t know 19.

In this poll, Scotland has much more divergent figures than the previous one: 56-26. I assume this is a combination of a small sample (170) and normal statistical variance…?

The strong lead for YES among ABs is even stronger: 60(+2) – 25(-5).

Two other brief thoughts on the issue of why more educated people often make huge errors of judgement, perhaps the best example of which being the way in which the best educated were the most suckered by Soviet propaganda and most resistant to the truth about Stalin’s terror, the Ukrainian famine etc (see Orwell’s famous essays).

1. Thucydides and simplicity.

One of the best bits in Thucydides is his account of the civil wars that wracked Greece. In that account is this passage:

‘Thus revolution gave birth to every form of wickedness in Greece. The simplicity which is so large an element in a noble nature was laughed to scorn and disappeared… In general, the dishonest more easily gain credit for cleverness than the simple do for goodness; men take pride in one, but are ashamed of the other… At such a time, the life of the city was all in disorder, and human nature, which is always ready to transgress the laws, having now trampled them under foot, delighted to show that her passions were ungovernable, that she was stronger than justice, and the enemy of everything above her… When men are retaliating upon others, they are reckless of the future and do not hesitate to annul those common laws of humanity to which every individual trusts for his own hope of deliverance should he ever be overtaken by calamity; they forget that in their own hour of need they will look for them in vain… The cause of all these evils was the love of power, originating in avarice and ambition, and the party-spirit which is engendered by them when men are fairly embarked in a contest… For party associations are not based upon any established law nor do they seek the public good; they are formed in defiance of the laws and from self-interest…’  Book III, Jowett translation.

‘The simplicity which is so large an element in a noble nature…’ Intelligence is not just necessary for some things – in some areas such as maths and physics it is directly related to achievements. Politics is very different.

Thucydides reminds us that morality is not positively correlated with intelligence. Some modern evidence even suggests that more intelligent people are less compassionate (see my Essay).

2. Timescales and priorities.

A physicist emailed re my last blog to point out that richer and better educated people are less susceptible to physical disruption and economic disaster. Poorer people have to be more cautious.

Many people I know are very happy with the immigration policy of the last 15 years. They have gained a lot and see no risks to them. Their visits to doctors are unaffected. They hire cheap foreign nannies. They can afford to take positions based on moral signalling because they are cushioned against harsh reality – hence their vocal support for the euro at dinner parties while less educated people said things like ‘they’ll use it to put up prices like with decimalisation’. They have little or no idea what it’s like to struggle on £18,000 a year in a part of Birmingham that has been radically changed by immigration in a short period knowing one has no reserves to call on. The BBC and other influential institutions are dominated by such people so it is almost inevitable that they see issues like the EU in ways that seem distorted to others.

Another feature of richer people in my experience is that they tend to think that their greater wealth is a consequence of their virtues – they don’t seem to reflect much on the genetic roll of the dice. This is another subject…


5 thoughts on “On the referendum #13: new ICM poll shows growing support for Yes/In; couple of other thoughts on education and judgement

  1. Re your last paragraph, the Americans have a nice saying: “Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple…”


  2. ‘They can afford to take positions based on moral signalling because they are cushioned against harsh reality.’ Good point… and possibly connected to the preference the well educated/ well heeled seem to have for the ‘market’ state as opposed to the ‘nation’ state.
    Harnessing (for No-Vote cultural purposes) the best ‘retro’ of the nation state with the best ‘progressives’ of the market state ( which Britain sits uncomfortably astride) might bring together young/old, rich/poor, globalist/localist, urban/rural etc


  3. Admittedly it is many years since I went to a dinner party but I think we should distinguish in the areas of education and wealth.
    First,there is not a correlation of education and wealth. Some wealthy people are well educated but many successes are not BUT and this is important then their lack of education means that they are uncertain and tentative when they move outside their business experience.Because of wealth they have lost the moorings of ordinary people.They then make dumb decisions like givihg money to universities-sorry I plead guilty here.
    Looking at the ‘educated’ there are many levels of ‘education’ and most say university graduates are not that ‘educated’ and are simply followers who despise the great unwashed.
    It is true that at the super-elite level and I am talking about the very best Oxbridge professors you will find those who are willing to work it out and will stand on first principles.That is not very many.


    • 1. There IS a correlation between education and wealth. This is extremely well established. It is also true that ‘many successes are not [well educated]’.
      2. Part of my point was that very well educated people are also ‘followers’.
      3. Many at the ‘super elite level’ are also followers. Many of Stalin’s apologists were from the ‘super elite level’ and all the more effective for that…

      Best wishes


  4. Fascinating discussion but I think you miss the crucial element, which Orwell alludes to the end of 1984, when he says if there is any hope it lies with the proles. They were relatively un-indoctrinated. The Academy has become,especially in the Arts and humanities, little more than a nursery for PC attitudes and self-righteous moral posturing.Howard


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