i had thought that the ‘Yes’ side was almost certainly going to win in Greece’s Sunday referendum. Polls showed a very close race, edging ‘yes’, and poli sci types observe that referenda are inherently conservative (small c), in that they tend to affirm the status quo. I figured that the status quo for Greece was troikas, bailouts, austerity, and the Euro, so that would push things a few more points towards ‘yes’, and seal the win.
Boy was I ever wrong. ‘No’ got 61% and a landslide victory.
I take two lessons from this.
One, when the status quo suck sufficiently hard, for, let’s say five years, it loses it comforting patina of safe familiarity.
Two, this underlines the hazards of projecting what happens under one set of conditions (such as generally functional middle-classish normality), and project it into entirely different circumstances (grinding depression, etc). It’s worth keeping in mind that the generalisations of truth that we uncover belong very much to the places in which they are found. They may well extend beyond, but then again… Science (lay and professional), properly done, is a humble, humbling job.