The Devil’s Tunes

I once said in Paul Duguid’s backyard in Berkeley, California and asked him why all the good insights he and he fellow thinkers had were not applied in practice. He explained it was because “The Devil has the best tunes.”

This is a devastating blow for anyone interested in progress. We can find better way to do things but that may not matter, the devil has the best tunes and people will dance to them no matter how wise our counsel. In fact, perhaps there is no point reading further, best to get on with enjoying our lives as best we can.

However, just for fun let’s see if we can understand the devil’s songbook better.  Here are a few of the main tunes:

a) The appeal of attempting to reduce things to a single system (e.g. utilitarianism).

b) The lens of self-interest that allows us to justify almost anything as long as it is good for us.

c) The seduction of the simple solution (e.g. increase prison sentences) when a real solution would be much more complex

d) Very much related to “c)” is the appeal of the easy but half-assed solution (apply duct tape instead of fixing it); the difference is that the “c” is driven by cognitive limitations and “d” by laziness.

Will this list stretch on to 10 points? 100? 1000?

If we complete this list will it give us any clue on how to battle those tunes?