About Brexit and the virtues of uncertainty

I'm a market researcher by training-- and it's taught me many things that aren't strictly about research.  A respect for truth and precision. An acceptance of the limits of knowledge.  The need for intellectual modesty.  It taught to know when I do NOT know, and WHAT I do not know. So many times that I wish I'd known the answer, but I didn't-- better to admit that than to pretend.    

It taught me that complex problems never have simple answers-- just as complex characters never have simple motives.

We live in a world where most of us dwell among the unknown.  Physics, economics, geology, they're distant realms of knowledge, learned by a few "experts."   We're watching TV, and some folks, somewhere, are gazing at moons through telescopes or measuring climate change.

The problem is that schools and, to a different jobs, reward us for taking a stand.  We're forced to express strong opinions about diet, exercise, immigration, poverty, taxes, climate change, branding-- and so we pretend that we have a wealth of data to back us up (there's a poll, however flawed, for every topic to help.) We're swimming in oceans of opinion. 

Now, consider: Few Americans have relatives living in the U.K. Few of us travel there on a regular basis, and when we do, we stick to London and say, a few castles or picturesque villages.  We're hard pressed to name five cities outside of London, the prime minister of, say, Scotland or why David Cameron chose to have a referendum. We know even less about the E.U.-- what its member states pay, how those fees are calculated, or what restrictions are imposed on the member states.  OK, maybe you've read a bit in the past week, but before?
     
If we were given an exam on the U.K and the E.U., we'd flunk. But still, we broadcast our very strong opinions about Brexit.  We demand they vote again  (imagine if British citizens demanded the same of us!)

It may very well turn out that Britain regrets its exit, or that the E.U. implodes for other reasons (like the Greek bailout.)  Or it may work the other way.  I have faith in globalization and free trade, but those are abstract, economic concepts  removed from the fates of workers in the U.K.  I have no idea of how those men and women are faring.  But one thing I can promise-- I'll be learning more. 
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