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The “right” and the “pragmatic”

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Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 6 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. Not everything that is old is bad. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured.

But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views might very well have changed in the 6 years since I wrote this post. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find pretty embarrassing today.
  • This post might use language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate or offensive.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken; embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

This is (slightly modified) from a blog post by Marco Arment, writing about the entertainment industry:

Relying solely on yelling about what’s right isn’t a pragmatic approach to take. It’s unrealistic and naïve to expect everyone to do the “right” thing when the alternative is easier, faster and cheaper for so many of them. The pragmatic approach is to address the demand.

I came across this quote via Jonathan Rothwell’s blog post, and, in truth, I’m fairly ambivalent about the entertainment industry.

Yet the sentiment of the quote (perhaps better expressed in the full article) – the importance of marrying the “right” with the “pragmatic” – is applicable in so many areas of life, not least public health. And yet, it strikes me as an often forgotten, or perhaps often ignored, tenet.

It’s easy to say “lose weight”, “drink less”, or “stop smoking”, and we all know that such messages are right. But all have a multitude of maintaining habitual behaviours and causal factors, and maintaining the status quo is all-to-often “easier, faster and cheaper”. The secret of great public health interventions is to turn the “right” choice into the “pragmatic” choice – and, in truth, we’re not always great at doing that.

Marrying “right” with “pragmatic” can be hard, and requires seeing a problem from multiple points of view. It’s easier to concentrate on the “right”, but it rarely works. We all need to get better at making out solutions pragmatic, even if it means approaching problems in unfamiliar, unusual ways.

Here endeth the lesson.

This 1,541st post was filed under: Health, Quotes, , .

More posts worth reading

What I’ve been reading this month (published 4th July 2018)

PSA: Fake calls from fake me (published 19th June 2018)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 3rd June 2018)

I’m not being ‘arrogant’ – I’m being responsible for our safety (published 24th February 2005)

Lies, Damn lies, and Newspaper sales (published 31st January 2005)

Ill (published 16th August 2004)

Dissertation reject (published 3rd September 2011)


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