Reframe: How to solve the world’s trickiest problems?

How you view Eric Knight’s book by the end will depend very heavily on what you want out of it. At one level it works extremely well: a very readable and lively introduction to many of the issues which dominate the agendas of politicians and diplomats – fighting terrorism, regulating the financial markets, handling immigration, dealing with climate change and more.

Eric Knight, however, sets out to do more than present a primer on major current issues, as the subtitle suggests: “How to solve the world’s trickiest problems”. His argument is that by reframing issues, using original perspectives, we can find hidden solutions to pressing problems. What it amounts to is little more than, ‘look at the underlying causes’, for on each of the topics where Knight goes for a reframing the result is to present policy solutions that are already widely talked about, and indeed already often followed. Saying that you tackle terrorist insurgencies by winning the hearts and minds of the wider population rather than simply by killing as many enemies as possible is hardly new. Nor either are ‘reframings’ such as seeing immigration concerns as being primarily fuelled by economic problems and job market difficulties.

Knight does a good job at explaining why looking for the underlying causes is something so many people fail at, pointing out that as the people making these mistakes are often smart people there is more to the errors than simple stupidity. Along the way we get a smattering of the sort of psychological discussion about how our brains work and the mistakes they tend to make which now commonly features in many books. Knight also talks about how the media and politicians often being dominated by the short-term events which catch the headlines rather than the long-term trends that are really shaping events. Alas, he only touches on this very briefly, although it is a factor central to many of the issues he covers.

We do get an impressively wide range of evidence and accounts, including a nicely done tale of the nineteenth century’s equivalent of ‘peak oil’, namely ‘the coal question’ as people fretted about Britain running out of coal. (Eric Knight’s conclusion is that focusing on problems with one raw material is nearly always a mistake as its increasing scarcity and rising prices lead either to alternative supplies being found or to substitutes becoming popular.)

This all makes the book much less of a Malcolm Gladwell-style ‘here is a rather clever way of looking at things’ and much more of a ‘here is an excellent introduction to many issues’. It is no worse for that, as long as you are happy for it to be that type of book.

Buy Reframe: How to solve the world’s trickiest problems from Amazon here.

* Mark Pack has written 101 Ways To Win An Election and produces a monthly newsletter about the Liberal Democrats.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in Books.
Bookmark the web address for this page or use the short url http://ldv.org.uk/29631 for Twitter and emails.

3 Comments

  • Geoffrey Payne 3rd Aug '12 - 12:23pm

    I was thinking to myself that this sounds like a good book judging by this review. But I was not impressed with the logic behind the idea that if the price of a natural resource goes up because of scarcity then no need to worry, something else will take its place. Even if has happened before, to assume it always will in the future is illogical and unscientific.

  • Richard Dean 3rd Aug '12 - 2:13pm

    There seems to be one major problem that this book doesn’t solve.

    If we know how to solve these problems, then why have they not been solved?

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?




Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMatGB 1st Aug - 12:10am
    Jackie, 19 Tories, 6 LibDems (including the neutral mayor who'll vote with the cabniet to break ties by tradition), 25 Labour and one Independent. One...
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 1st Aug - 12:08am
    @Steve, So where are all the black managers then? There have been so many excellent. Black players who have served their club or their country...
  • User AvatarJames Brough 31st Jul - 11:59pm
    Richard, as the page I linked to said, the party was known as the Liberals at that point. But, you know what? I suspect you...
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 31st Jul - 11:58pm
    Happy birthday Caron. I hope that you didn't stuff yourself at the celebratory meal and end up feeling sick as a parrot.
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 31st Jul - 11:41pm
    @James Brough. Time travel is here! The LIberal Democrats were formed 13 years after you say they started working on the policy! At that time,...
  • User AvatarFrank Bowles 31st Jul - 11:35pm
    Despite all her "why aren't there more women in the cabinet" she doesn't click think that it could be Dad not Mum who takes Andrew...