Not understanding

15 May 2010

A couple of quotes which seem to share a heritage – and both re-quoted in articles about the financial crisis and politics.

First up, Gary Younge quotes Upton Sinclair, in a piece on the unelected financial markets:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.”

Second, the quote from Tolstoy which Michael Lewis used at the front of his latest book, The Big Short.

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.”

Incidentally, Gary Younge also has a great analogy about the behaviour of the banks, and bankers, after being saved from bankruptcy by the taxpayer (on both sides of the Atlantic):

It’s as though you borrowed money against your home to save a wayward relative from penury only to have them roll up a week later in a brand new Porsche and tell you to cut your food bill or they’ll repossess the property.

The cartoon {click to enlarge) is from the topical cartoon site wonkie.com, and is used with thanks.

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