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The “right” and the “pragmatic”

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 1,540th post was filed under: Health, Quotes, , .

Some recently published posts

What I’ve been reading this month / November 2019, 5 minutes long

What I’ve been reading this month / October 2019, 3 minutes long

What I’ve been reading this month / September 2019, 6 minutes long

What I’ve been reading this month / August 2019, 7 minutes long

A flying visit to Copenhagen / July 2019, 9 minutes long

Some random old posts

Daily Mail’s biggest non-story yet? / November 2006, 2 minutes long

The very nasty party / January 2005, 1 minute long

Digital Edition / November 2003, 2 minutes long

The twelve funniest seconds of your day / February 2006, 1 minute long

Pointless ceremony / June 2014, 1 minute long

Lords bat terror bill back to MPs / March 2005, 1 minute long


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