EU flag proposed by Rem Koolhaas 2002

10 days to go until the EU referendum but how should we be making this crucial decision?

A lot has been written about the EU referendum and there will be much more published in the final few days. These think pieces and articles are not just political spats from either side of the fence but a wider debate has emerged around critiques of the referendum itself. Are there enough facts for us to make these decisions? Is this an economic decision, an immigration decision, a sovereignty decision? … So how can we make such a complex decision based on our own understanding of the economic and political issues at play? And some would ask – should we even be making this decision? Or should this be left to selected experts and elected representatives? Recent such contributions have come from the likes of Richard Dawkins and David Mitchell.

At Think Global we believe in empowering people with the knowledge and skills that they need to make reasoned value judgements on complex global issues. We don’t tell people what to think, we help them to develop skills in how to think, supporting them to critically engage with debates.

Of course, within Think Global, we are not without our own values, both as an organisation and as individuals. Remain vs. Brexit has been a frequent topic of conversation at Think Global. However, we want to see people engaging with this referendum based on their own critical judgement. We want to see them considering all angles of the coin. We want to see them reason and reflect, and then reason and reflect again. And ultimately, we want to see them vote.

The EU referendum is more than just ‘Brexit’ or ‘Remain’. It’s thinking about the winners and losers, and considering the powers at play. I am yet to see an unbiased article on the EU referendum – and trust me, I have been searching. But to what extent do these biases infiltrate our decisions, and to what extent are our own inherent biases at play before we have even picked up that newspaper or checked twitter?

Voice is powerful. There are those who get heard because they are eloquent speakers and convincing writers. There are those who get heard because they are deemed to be controversial. There are those who get heard because they are popular – because their personality sells. But we also choose to give power to voice, by selecting what we read and watch. Are we skewing our own rhetoric simply by making every day decisions to click on that shared article or selecting from the ‘most-read’ on our chosen news provider?

Here at Think Global, we have compiled a helpful to-do list to use as a framework for making your final decision on the referendum.

  • Listen to a broad range of voices – share the power of voice around, don’t make one side all powerful.
  • Critique the voices that you agree with; critique the voices you don’t.
  • Consider who is saying it, why they are saying it and what they gain?
  • Also consider what they lose?
  • Consider what you lose and gain – and then consider what others lose and gain. But don’t stop here, weigh it out, is your gain greater than their loss? How does this impact on your decision?
  • Engage in debate. It is often commented that you shouldn’t discuss politics at dinner. Break this taboo.
  • Finally, make a decision based on a wide range of facts (if you can find them) – don’t let the power of voice outweigh the reality.

These points can act as a framework for you to reflect on what you are reading, watching and debating to formulate your own decisions and select whose voice gets power to influence your judgements.

We’d love to hear any other points that you would add to this list, to support people in making what is a complex and powerful decision this coming referendum.

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