The Law Of Unintended Consequences

There was a huge problem of people due to snake bites.  Hospitals were overwhelmed with patients and most ended up dead.  It was so bad that the government got involved in finding a solution.  After a lot of debate they settled on what sounded like the perfect solution 'We'll pay the public for every dead snake they bring us.'  This sounds perfect, spread the workload out and with less snakes they'll be less people in hospitals/dying.

People soon made this into their job, they'd hunt and get aid for it.  Some thought of an even smarter solution - Bread the snakes, kill them, make money.  Before long more and more people clocked onto this business idea and they where all farming snakes.  The report of snake bites was next to 0 and they were giving away a lot of money and so the government stopped the program.

With no reason to continue farming everyone released the snakes into the wild and before long the problem was worse than ever.

This is a good example of unintended consequences who could see that happening from the start? Unintended consequences show up everywhere, even if we can't see them we should assume thatbad things could happen due to our choices and be as prepared as we can for them.  Just being aware that something bad could happen will lead to longer reflections on solutions and the ability to see potential problems sooner.

I brought up this law last year whea i was applying for a masters in teaching.  They wanted me to describe why 'Inclusive learning' was a good thing, and for the most part it is, but i noticed a potential for unintended consequences so i thought i'd go above and beyond and teach about that.  

Included in the papers for inclusive learning is a push to 'celebrate diversity' which again sounds good.  But where does that lead?  Kids want to be praised and celebrated and if coming out/ focusing on their minority status gains that easier than working hard and studying does you'll end up with more diverse kids that are less hard working/smart.  Where else could it lead?  So I've not got high hopes for students in scotland, not unless teachers go against this/papers are updated.

As i was aware that things never go to plan i reflected a little bit longer and saw this outcome.  Many just see happy kids and don't take the next step.  I encourage you to look for the next step and see if you can spot unintended consequences before they happen.
Back to blog