Archive for the ‘Behaviour’ Category

A Calvin Christmas to all

December 24, 2020

Sweden’s non-strategy has failed dismally to “flatten the curve”

December 12, 2020

I take skepticism to be the most important characteristic of any scientific inquiry. All “experts”, and especially media proclaimed experts, need to be met with a high degree of skepticism. “Experts” have a high level of knowledge, but only of what is known and what is known may not be very much. The inherent paradox is that it is the “experts” who need to be challenged the most, but can only be challenged by other experts. But the very clear lesson that can be learnt is that little “experts” are dangerous.

In Sweden, the media made an epidemiologist from the Public Health Agency (Anders Tegnell of Folkhälsomyndigheten – FHM) into some kind of a superhero in March. The government abdicated its responsibilities and left the stage free for “experts”. The media hype converted FHM’s limited position that face-masks were of most use within health care into a belief that face-masks were counter-productive in general use. “Flattening the curve” was the slogan being touted by everyone (including me). But epidemiology is more art than science. We know a lot about viruses but we knew very little about how humans behave and how the coronavirus spreads. The WHO was an unmitigated disaster as they tried to hide any information that was critical of China. (Someday China will need to be held accountable and take some responsibility for having failed to contain, and allowing the spread of, the virus). The government (and the Public Health Agency) proved to be utterly incompetent in predicting the behaviour of the young (who were not at great risk) and the effects on the old (>80% of fatalities).

Of course, almost every country has failed to flatten the curve. The Swedish non-strategy has also failed.

The diagram below needs little comment. The top curves were what we were shown everyday in March and April by FHM about what the strategy (or non-strategy) would achieve. The bottom curve is the actual burden on the health services in terms of the number of admitted Covid-19 patients in hospital (excluding intensive care places which are 70% full).

“Flattening the curve” has become a nonsense slogan.

Flattening the curve didn’t work

Vaccine races

December 4, 2020

Long-term effects can only show up in the long-term. The UK has won the Pfizer race but Russia and China already won their own races. The EU and the US are just slow (but claim credit for a prudence that is not possible). They are both so heavily invested that they cannot not approve. In fact, the world needs the vaccination initiatives to proceed with all speed, no matter the immunization conferred. Deployment of their own vaccines has started in Russia and China and the Pfizer vaccine will start being deployed in the UK next week. Other countries will follow – have no choice but to follow. The low cost vaccine is the Astrazeneca / Oxford vaccine which is probably 2 months away. Some few countries will deploy the Chinese and Russian vaccines. 2021 is vaccination year. It remains to be seen if this succeeds in preventing another Covid-19 spike in spring 2021.

Long-term effects are unknown but unlikely. The period of conferred immunization is unknown and will come out in the wash.

War and pandemics

November 20, 2020

Over 300 projects for producing vaccines against Covid 19 are being funded. If we are lucky perhaps 4 or 5 will succeed. Each project carries its share of parasitic entrepreneurs.

There is a new story almost every day of some scam or other in the manufacture or supply of protective equipment.

Pandemic profiteering is flourishing among all the desperate cases of bankruptcies and small businesses destroyed.

A rational dislike is never a phobia

October 28, 2020

It is no longer politically correct to have an irrational fear of anything. There have been politically correct, but rather cowardly, reporters on Swedish TV who have even questioned whether the French teacher who was beheaded by an Islamic terrorist did not bear some responsibility for his own death.

But when what is wrong is denied for the fear of being seen as a racist or Islamophobic, it is both irrational and cowardice.

The substance of leadership lies in behaviour not in style

October 16, 2020

I was recently invited by our local college (gymnasium) to give a lecture about my views on leadership. I was a little surprised that some of the questions were focused on the style of leadership rather than on substance. For example, styles are sometimes classified as being:

  1. empathic or
  2. visionary or
  3. coaching or
  4. commanding or
  5. driving or
  6. democratic.

Without the need for cooperation, the word “leader” is undefined. Without a leader the word “leadership” is undefined. For me, leadership is entirely about behaviour. This classification of styles is not, in fact, about what constitutes leadership or even about different kinds of leadership. It is merely a list of styles which is entirely superficial. It places  an undue emphasis on form rather than on substance; on the cosmetics of what leadership looks like rather than the fundamental behaviour involved. The use of “democratic” as a qualifier for a leadership style merely panders to a fashionable sense of political correctness and is inherently self-contradictory. The behaviour needed for leadership is no different whether in a monarchy or a democracy or a dictatorship.  The behaviour is no different whether in the military or in government or in the corporate world or in sport. 

I prefer my own definition of what a leader is.

“A leader is a person who behaves in such a manner as to induce the necessary behaviour from others, individually and collectively, towards a goal”

With this definition, the various behavioural styles above only describe particular facets of behavioural interactions between a leader and others. A leader has just two functions, which are necessary and sufficient:

  1. To create and establish goals, and
  2. to induce the behaviour necessary from others, individually and collectively, towards those goals.

Behavioural styles of a leader are then, and must be, as varied as may be necessary to induce the required behaviour from others. Depending upon the size of the group involved and their competence, a leader will need to use different styles to motivate and encourage different members. He is the conductor of an orchestra of behaviours. He may have to be a tyrant occasionally, a commander with some, show empathy with others, or be consultative with a few. The style in play may well vary with different leaders and different members. Behavioural style may vary over time or depending upon the prevailing external conditions. The so-called “democratic” style is really a very particular style of behaviour. It is useful, at times, in getting consensus – if consensus is what is needed – when dealing, for example, with an expert group where all members have very high levels of specialized competence. Group members have different roles and can vary widely in competence. A consensus of the incompetent is of no great value. Any leader who generally subordinates his behaviour to the consensus, or to a majority view to determine decisions, effectively abdicates leadership. A “democratic” leadership is inherently contradictory. You can have leadership in a democracy but not democracy within leadership. Any “style” of leadership behaviour must always be subordinated to the primary function of inducing the behaviour necessary from others to achieve a goal.

By considering the two components separately, it becomes much easier not only to assess people for leadership roles but also to tailor education and training to suit particular individuals.

  1. Can the individual envision, create and establish goals? 
  2. Can the individual get the necessary behaviour from others?

It then naturally follows that being visionary and having skills for strategy or planning or forecasting or communication will be beneficial for goal-setting. Similarly, it becomes obvious that people-skills, motivation, communication, inspiration and persuasion are beneficial for getting the required behaviour from others. It is, I have found, counter-productive to over-think and unnecessarily complicate the basic principles. 

Leadership is about the effectiveness of the leader’s behaviour. The empirical evidence of 200,000 years as modern humans is that a group with leadership is more effective than one without. Leadership is a vector quantity with both magnitude and direction. The direction comes from the creation and setting of goals and the magnitude is a measure of the “goodness” of the leadership which, in turn, is a measure of the competence of the leader to induce the required behaviour of others.

I do not claim that leadership is easy. But I do claim that the principles of leadership are simple and straightforward.  A leader must be able to create and establish goals and must then be able to induce the behaviour of others towards those goals. It is complex but it is not more complicated than that.

Parts of Sweden burn while the Social Democrats fiddle

August 29, 2020

I was recruited to Sweden in the 1980s and stayed on. That makes me an immigrant, now a Swedish national of Indian origin, but where my “Indian culture”, in everyday life, is subordinated to the dominant, mainstream, “Swedish culture”. However my presence here probably does contribute – even if in very small measure – to bringing some little parts of my culture into the evolving mainstream.

In recent times, it has become very clear that parallel cultures have splintered society. Criminal (mainly immigrant) gangs have been running rampant in some parts of large cities in Sweden. There have created no-go areas with their own rules and social hierarchies. Cars are torched every weekend and kids are knifed as initiation events. Rival gangs bomb each others hangouts. They set up their own checkpoints, indulge in shoot-outs with rival gangs and even torture victims with methods that ISIS would be proud of. It may not be due to their religion, but I perceive Muslim immigrants as being hugely over-represented among the criminal gangs.

It is my contention that over the last 50 years the liberal left in Sweden (and in Europe) has not had the common sense (or the courage) to distinguish between multi-ethnic and multicultural. A multi-ethnic population needs a unifying culture to form a coherent society. Having multiple cultures without an over-riding culture only gives a fractured society. Having many cultures present as sub-cultures enriches society but multiculturalism tries to deny that one must dominate. Promoting multiculturalism prevents integration, and together with a multi-ethnic community can only give multiple, parallel, abrasive, communities which makes a fractured society inevitable.

The future of Europe is multi-ethnic but not multicultural

I have for long held the position that a society needs a single overriding culture to be a society. All cultures are dynamic and change as times change and as new groups may be assimilated into it. The new culture inevitably contains elements of what new communities bring to the table and the original culture of that community – in some adjusted form – can continue as a sub-culture, but subordinate to the overriding culture. What is not tenable is the idea that a single society can remain a single society when it is splintered into a collection of many parallel cultures (and which are not subordinate to an overriding culture). It has been the misguided, do-gooding, politically correct approach of the “liberal left” in Europe which has actively encouraged new communities to maintain the cultures of where they came from and remain separate to the existing, prevailing culture. There has been little emphasis on getting new communities to assimilate and a far greater emphasis on separateness. This approach has also given rise to the fear of demanding assimilation from new communities. That has in turn led – and not very surprisingly – to the immigrant ghettos, the no-go areas and large parts of the new population who cannot even speak the local language (into the 3rd generation in some cases).

I have a theory that part of the problem in Sweden is that governments have been so ashamed, and so afraid, of Sweden’s past role in promoting Race Biology and eugenics, that they have overcompensated and been blind to the folly of multiculturalism in a multi-ethnic community. Many of the leading politicians (including Social Democrats) of that time were part of the Eugenics Network which provided the Nazis with the academic legitimacy and support they needed for their own Race Biology theories. Gunnar and Alva Myrdal were among the leading Social Democrats who supported eugenics but so also did George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells and Leon Trotsky. The Sami and the Roma (rather than the Jews) were the main targets for Swedish eugenics.

Europe’s shame

The collective Swedish amnesia about sterilisation is difficult to explain. From the outset it was viewed as an integral and widely-proclaimed part of the Swedish welfare programme. … The Swedish commitment to eugenic sterilisation was especially emphasised in the widely-known writings of Alva and Gunnar Myrdal; their book on the Crisis of the Population Question of 1934 achieved best-seller status, and was translated into English in 1940. The sequel, Alva Myrdal’s Nation and Family, appeared in English in 1941. Both books forcefully argued the case for sterilisation on eugenic grounds, and the second described the work of the Swedish Royal Commission on Population, which produced a report on sterilisation in 1936. This led to strengthening of the sterilisation law, as a consequence of which the number of sterilisations increased and peaked shortly after World War II.

Though the Swedish eugenics movement started in 1909 and was most active before WW2, Sweden’s sterilisation policies continued all the way till 1976 under a series of Social Democrat governments.

Between 1934 and 1976, when the Sterilisation Act was finally repealed, 62,000 people, 90 percent of them women, were sterilised. 15-year-old teenagers were sterilised for “crimes” such as going to dance halls. One woman was sterilised in 1960 for being in a motorcycle gang. Orphans were sterilised as a condition of their release from children’s homes. Others were pinpointed on the basis of local neighbourhood gossip and personal grudges. Some were targeted because of their “low intelligence”, being of mixed race, being gypsies, or for physical defects.

Sweden’s Race Biology Institute included leading academics and politicians and played a crucial role in selling Eugenics not only to Germany but throughout Europe and the USA. (The origins of Planned Parenthood, for example, in the US lie with Margaret Sanger and eugenics and a desire to control black fertility).

Eugenics Sweden (pdf)

The eugenics network consisted mainly of academics from a variety of disciplines, but with medicine and biology dominating; connections with German scientists who would later shape Nazi biopolitics were strong. The paper ……. also outlines the eugenic vision of the institute’s first director, Herman Lundborg. In effect the network, and in particular Lundborg, promoted the view that politics should be guided by eugenics and by a genetically superior elite. The selling of eugenics in Sweden is an example of the co-production of science and social order.

Whether the overcompensation for the past eugenics connections is the main reason for promoting multiculturalism or not, the fact remains that Swedish cities are now paying the price for the stupidity of promoting multiculturalism in a multi-ethnic community.


The world adds 1,000 new murderers every day

August 28, 2020

Of all the causes of deaths, violent deaths probably account for 2 -3%. Intentional homicides globally account for less than 1% of all deaths, though in some countries it can be as high as 10%.

Some murderers kill more than one person. Say 2 of every 10 murderers kills two (10 murderers = 12 murders). That gives us 410,000 fresh murderers every year. Let us further suppose that murderers are 10 times more likely to be murdered than the general population. Even if we take the worst country homicide rate of 50/100,000 and assume that murderers are killed at the rate of 500/100,000, this only rids us of 2,050 murderers annually. The clearance rate of recorded homicides globally is probably less than 50%. However, clearance rates don’t affect the number of murderers in our midst. Execution rates are so low as to not be significant in reducing the growing population of the world’s murderers.

The incontrovertible reality is that we add over 1,000 murderers to the population every day.

Estimating how many murderers are around is more uncertain, but the arithmetic says it should currently be around 25 million (35 / 100,000 of population). To put that in perspective, any cricket match with 30,000 spectators would include 10 murderers in the crowd.



So how does a life sentence for Brenton Tarrant serve anyone?

August 26, 2020


Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch terrorist, was today sentenced to spend the rest of his natural life in prison without any possibility of parole.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there was no reason to speak his name any more and he deserved to have a lifetime of “complete and utter silence”.

The sentence serves no one.

I can only conclude that abolishing the death penalty is a form of sanctimonious cowardice.

The Christchurch terrorist (51 killed, 49 injured) has pleaded guilty and will probably be sentenced to a life sentence this week. He is 29 years old. If he gets parole after 17 years he will be out on somebody’s streets in 2037 at the age of 46. If not, he is going to cost New Zealand a great deal. He will either be subject to the righteous wrath of other prisoners or he will live in isolation. With the expected security to protect him from others in prison, the total cost of his imprisonment is likely to be more than 50 million dollars. If he gets transferred somehow to a prison in his native Australia, the cost will not be any less.


A minimum of 17 years is required for a murder committed as part of a terrorist act, and Tarrant has admitted to 51 such murders (among other crimes). ……. 

To lock Tarrant up in perpetuity will be very expensive. He is currently costing just over NZ$4,930 a day due to the extra levels of security, considerably more than the average of about $338 for a standard prisoner. The next two years alone will cost New Zealand taxpayers about $3.6 million. The final sum for the 29-year-old terrorist will depend on how long he lives and the ongoing level of security he requires. If he has a normal life span the cost may be in the tens of millions per decade.

He has been variously called a maggot, an animal, less than human, not human ……..

What then is the virtue in keeping him alive?

By what scale does his life weigh heavier than those of his 51 victims?  Before any of those 51 were killed, it would have been right and perfectly acceptable if an armed guard had shot the terrorist dead. However, after the 51 were dead, capital punishment is no longer acceptable. Clearly the lives of the 51 no longer count once they are dead.

And where went justice?


At the heart of entitlement culture lies the human rights delusion

August 3, 2020

Entitlement culture is exhibited by people with the belief and the attitude that the world (their families, their neighbours, their government, their employers, the rest of humanity) owes them something merely because they exist. The culture is toxic.

The culture of entitlement is a “you owe me” attitude, one where people believe that society, a company, or government owes them something and they do not have to earn or deliver value for what they receive. These people believe they are owed something because of who they are or what social group or union they belong to—not because of what they earn.

People who feel entitled take for granted what they have and keep asking for more, and the more they get the more they expect. They focus more on what they are owed than what they contribute. In a culture of entitlement, peer pressure to perform is replaced by peer pressure to conform to the lowest common denominator; looking good is more important than doing the right thing.

Image : Reddit

It is a “me” focus which is closely associated with narcissism. Societies which focus on rights and entitlements rather than performance and duties, reap entitlement cultures in return. When governments usurp the duties and responsibilities of individuals, parents, families, schools, and companies they downgrade responsibility and promote entitlements. It is not surprising that “Nanny States” which foster the abrogation of individual responsibilities encourage a sense of entitlement. Children grow up feeling entitled, without any obligations,  to an education, a job, a living and a vacation. Paradoxically, welfare safety nets designed to assist the less fortunate end up also inculcating a false sense of entitlement. The permanently unemployed and the permanent students are consequences. Those who feel entitled cannot feel indebted and this reduces their own sense of obligations. Entitlement attitudes are promoted whenever reward is decoupled from performance. Inevitably, such rewards, which would normally be earned, (respect, appreciation, promotion, ….) are then considered entitlements or “rights”.

At the heart of entitlement culture lies the focus on misguided and imaginary concepts of “rights” and “human rights” instead of duties. Far better to have conceived a “Bill of Duties” rather than a “Bill of Rights”.

The human rights delusion

The world does not owe any living things – including humans – anything, whether as individuals or as species. No species has any entitlement to exist. Human survival or happiness or suffering are resultant states, not entitlements. A so-called ” human right” is an entitlement to privilege; where an entitlement is a promise and a privilege is a position of advantage for an individual or a group. ………. The post-WW2 concept of “human rights” is as an artificial, social construct of universal entitlements of unconditional privilege. No qualification is required. It is of an imagined, social contract between every individual and the rest of humanity. The individual’s entitlements are to be considered free of the cost of any duties and are an obligation upon everybody else.

…….. The UN Declaration is about what behaviour all individuals are entitled to receive but never directly about how an individual should behave. It is about what everybody else owes an individual. It is insidious and subversive in that it justifies the idea of having entitlements without any corresponding obligations. …. Where is the UN Declaration on Human Duties?

……… The artificial “human rights” concept and its imaginary social contract is unbalanced and untenable. If there is no cost to the acquisition of human rights, then they can have no great value. ……. Entitlements without duties are no social contract and ultimately, anti-social. It is only by aligning desired behaviour with perceptions of self-interest (and not just the interests of others), that we will see a change in the desired direction.

A human is defined by behaviour exhibited, not by behaviour received. 

Received behaviour (and the perception of “rights”) emerge as reflections of behaviour actually exhibited. Achieving some desired level of received behaviour is better served by a sharp focus on the behaviour expected from each individual (by the local surrounding society), rather than the diffuse focus of what the whole universe owes as received behaviour to every individual.


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