By Bill Doyle
I remember hearing some time ago about what some person, who clearly had a lot of time to think, called the law of unintended consequences. Basically the deep philosopher was claiming that we do things and then they may result in things that we did not intend.
Now I may be a trifle slow on the uptake, or not the sharpest knife in the mental drawer, but this basic principle had been impressed upon me long before I had the vocabulary to describe it.
Specific examples include: the
intention to launch a cricket ball over the house with a bat, and the unintended consequence of a very sore backside because glass is (apparently) expensive.
The intention of starting a merry, cheerful and warming fire and the unintended consequence of having no eyebrows because metho is rather more combustible than I thought also springs to mind.
I was put in mind of these events recently by a couple of very much unrelated events that have made the news.
Specifically, I noticed that former Greens leader, Bob Brown has begun opposing windfarms on the grounds that they are bad for the environment. Apparently, the giant turbines also double as rotating bird slaughterers. So a measure that seems good for the environment is actually only good for the environment that survives it.
The unintended consequence of having a windfarm is a lot of feathers lying around the base of them.
What will be the consequences of the other methods of generating power is anyone’s guess.
Now while I have not always agreed with Bob Brown, I have always admired the fact that he has been committed to his principles and not scared to hold on to what he sees as important.
Really, that can be all we ask of any politician.
If Bob believes windfarms are not the best, then perhaps it may be time to re-think that option.
But in favour of what and what unintended consequences I cannot imagine.
On an entirely different plane I noticed another possible unintended consequence.
While this one has nothing to do with power generation for the human race, some would suggest this is much more important.
The men’s Ashes cricket.
After watching the first test and being stunned by the brilliance of Steve Smith, I started to join some dots. I chuckled more than once at the English supporters waving squares of sandpaper at the departing Australian batsmen, obviously David Warner and Cameron Bancroft along with the aforementioned Mr Smith.
While watching this I was listening to the commentators wondering aloud how the ball did not seem to be swinging and moving through the air like it had in previous series in England.
The famous “Dukes ball” seemed to be going rather straight.
Now maybe I am a touch suspicious, but comments about English players with mints and other artificial stimulants designed to “help” the ball swing started to come to mind.
Is it just possible that the Pommies had been assisting the ball to swing and now were not doing this because of the justifiable fear of being put in the same category as Messrs Smith, Warner and Bancroft?
Has an unintended consequence of “sandpapergate” been the improved chances of us winning the Ashes in England for the first time since, well, for a jolly long time?
And while we are on this theme. What about poor old Mack Horton? Making a stand against drugs in sport he unintentionally winds up looking rather foolish because someone forgot to tell him that one of his team mates was allegedly guilty of exactly the same thing that the Chinese swimmer he was protesting against.
In fact when I investigated, (not for the first time I thank Google) it would seem that the Chinese swimmer, Sun Yang is guilty of a lot less than Shayna Jack may well be.
To quote Homer Simpson, D’oh!
Did the CEO of swimming Australia intend to have a situation develop that made what started out as a principled stand against cheating turn into what looks like to at least a billion Chinese as hypocritical posturing? Clearly not.
Just as Sun Yang and Shayna Jack did not intend to take performance enhancing drugs.
Or perhaps they just did not intend to get caught?