As Einstein defined insanity...

Michael Burke

Thursday, October 25, 2012    

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ALBERT Einstein, the German philosopher, was born on March 14, 1879 and died on April 18, 1955. His definition of insanity was "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". When one listens to the solutions that some offer to our many problems, it is either of three things. It could be that we have not learnt our history (which is true in many instances). It could also be that we simply believe that if we add one plus one many times we might eventually get an answer different from two. Or it could be that some simply do not comprehend what is written.

On Thursday, October 4, my article was entitled "Let's deal with the root cause of crime". It was shortly after the awful crime in St James where four women and an eight-year-old girl were raped. I had written that if the perpetrators lived long enough the law would take its course, but that would not be enough. I rehashed all of the crime measures that have taken place over the years that have not borne fruit in the permanent sense.

I wrote about the need for values to be taught in our schools. I asked, "What have we done to stop the corrupt Henry Morgan culture that goes back to the governorship of that pirate? What have we done to insist on healthy family life? I made it clear that I was not belittling the efforts of those who have been frustrated by the lack of will of successive governments to see to it that the laws are enforced and to put more teeth into the law.

One responder online who refers to himself as "Meathead" answered thus: "Typical socialist pablum - blame everyone but the criminals. Regrettably, this attitude is prevalent among our intellectuals, grown accustomed to living like animals in their grilled cages. The poor on the other hand, must face criminals every day and in the open. They know that without stern punishment, evildoers will never abandon their chosen careers hence they resort to vigilantism."

If you do not have a copy on hand, please Google my October 4, 2012 column before answering the following question: Where in that October 4 column was I blaming everyone but the perpetrators? And by the way, I am not in a grilled cage all day and I no longer own a car. I have been held up eight times in my life, one in which I had my motorcycle taken from me, all the way back in August 1974, five months after the Gun Court was established in March 1974.

Did "Meathead" read the part where I referred to the late John Maxwell who wrote that fear of being caught was greater than any death penalty? Maxwell wrote more than once that in the Middle Ages in England when they hanged pickpockets in the marketplaces, pickpockets were busy picking pockets while the hangings were taking place.

But "Meathead" believes that harsh penalties by themselves will stop the criminal behaviour, when hard evidence does not suggest this. Isn't this a case of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? What was Einstein's word for this?

Not just "Meathead", but many Jamaicans stubbornly believe that we can do the same thing over and over again and get a different result, as manifested in their tried and failed suggestions.

On another matter, as a service to other columnists, political analysts, radio, and TV talk show hosts and students in school, I usually state some general knowledge facts so that they will not make mistakes. Would that others would do that to prevent me from making mistakes also.

How many times have I written that Jamaica does not have a national dish? The constitution of Jamaica speaks to a national fruit, which is the ackee but does not speak to a national dish at all. Eating ackee with imported codfish has nothing to do with the constitution of Jamaica, which admittedly has other flaws.

Eating the national fruit with saltfish does not make it the national dish anymore than having humming bird soup makes it the national soup. But why did Dr Carolyn Cooper allow herself to make that mistake in her Sunday Gleaner column a few weeks ago? Shouldn't those with doctorates understand the discipline of research, even if the doctorate is not in constitutional law (or in general knowledge)?

On October 14, the Sunday Gleaner did a feature on our national heroes. They rehashed the fictitious story of Bustamante being adopted by a Spanish governor. Norman Manley debunked that story from as far back as 1962, so did George Eaton in his book, Alexander Bustamante and Modern Jamaica, and Michael Manley in his book, A Voice at the Workplace.

Many times over the years I have written the correct story on Bustamante's biography and still the fiction surfaces from time to time. What about the students in school who take the public media as "gospel" and then write it in examinations? Is this republishing of the fictitious adoption story despite corrections a part of Einstein's definition of insanity?





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