Sunday, 9 February 2014

Executive Summary - High Speed Sheep and Irradiated Trains

Sometimes it is hard to stay on track...


As part of its new Sustainable Husbandry and Integrated Transport Technology programme, the government recently began consultation on its intention[1] to build a new railway line for the purposes of transporting transgenic irradiated sheep from their grazing lands in the north to the nation’s dining tables, in the south.

InnoThink consultants were commissioned by the Department of Innovation, Change and Engagement to consult with a randomly selected[2] sample of the population so as to gauge public perceptions of the proposal and to find ways to ensure those perceptions could be shown to be misguided.

The consultation process involved: a series of discussion groups held around the country with consumers aged between 18 and 50; in-depth interviews with a range of stakeholders; a meeting with a scientist; a meeting with a non-scientist; and innovative ethnographic research with some sheep.  This report presents the main findings from the consultation process.

First and foremost, the consultation revealed that the general public are shit scared of irradiated transgenic sheep[3]

Secondly, the thought of having sundry towns, gardens, hills, woodlands, rare species, livelihoods and irreplaceable views casually destroyed by the construction of a gigantic railway simply so that some sheep can get from Birmingham to London a bit more quickly fills the overwhelming majority of the public with incandescent rage.

Thirdly, the consultation established that although the rage and fear will enable the great British public to complain bitterly throughout the media coverage of the construction period, these emotions will rapidly evolve via a state of sullen tolerance into one of blissful ignorance.  The public will express dulled surprise when asked in future consultations how they feel about eating irradiated transgenic sheep.

Fourthly, the sheep are fine. Really.  Relaxed, well fed, surprisingly articulate when they get onto one of their preferred subjects.

Fifth, the scientist clean bowled the non-scientist with a beautiful yorker, swinging in late and taking out middle and off.

In light of the findings, we recommend re-branding the scheme as Horse Show: The Sequel, or HS2 for short, and using the tactics of ‘Just Pretend’ that InnoThink set out in its previous research for the Department on ‘The Roll of Luck in Policy Formulation: How to Convincingly Claim Credit When Good Things Happen and How to Avoid Flying Shit’.





[1] ‘Intention’ should be taken in this context to mean ‘decision’
[2] Recruitment of members of the general public was conducted on the basis of the Department’s new guidance; and the DICE sequence was 1,4,6,3,3,4,2,5,4,3,1,1,1,4,6,3,4,5,2.  See technical appendix for details.
[3] Reactions to alternatives – i.e. transgenic irradiated sheep – produced no discernible differences in response.

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