Yesterday I did an interview about the Queensland government’s plans for an infrastructure fund, to which coal companies have been invite to contribute in return for a promise not to increase royalties. I’d prepared on the assumption that the announcement would be about royalties, so I had to do it all on the fly. I thought I’d done OK, and substantively I had, but when I read my comments reported on the ABC, I realised I’d put an “obviously” or “clearly” in just about every sentence.

I didn’t even realise I had this tic. If I’d had the chance to edit it I would have deleted it (I find myself wanting to add “of course”, which I would then also have deleted). I should probably listen to myself on radio to pick up errors like this.

16 thoughts on “Obviously

  1. Clearly an error on your part 🙂 And obviously the link is broken too!
    It’s really hard not to do that in interviews, especially if you’re from an environment where saying “um” and “ah” is frowned on. It’s also IMO why politicians often repeat simple talking points… it gives them time to think. The worst is the Abbott just blanking, though.

  2. The trouble with radio, John, is it doesn’t let us get by on our good looks.

  3. I think the youtube channel should be called Captain Quiggin.

    Possibly, “Captain Quiggin of Star Command!”

  4. Clearly Quiggin is more alliterative.
    I like the idea of having one of those rent boy shops called “Obvious Economics: we’ll say whatever you pay us to”.

  5. For what it’s worth, I didn’t notice this when I read the article on Wednesday. And I’m not sure you really do it all of the time. Relistening to your recent interview on modern monetary theory, I catch only one “of course” and one “obviously” during a five-minute interview. A 2017 Lateline interview about leaving the Climate Change Authority does contain a thicker smattering, but not to an extent that could be described as generally intrusive.

    Differences in subject matter surely explain these patterns. During the MMT interview, you mostly relayed information about economic theory and the opinions of economists that you would not expect your interlocutor or the audience to have knowledge of. The “of course” and “obviously” related, respectively, to the fact that not all economists support active fiscal policy and that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez favours increased taxation, two matters of more general knowledge. The interview about leaving the Climate Change Authority included discussion of climate change policy and coral bleaching—areas where some knowledge could be expected of the interviewer and viewers—in addition to an explanation of your reasons for resigning, and the use of “obviously” and “clearly” was concentrated there.

    I don’t think that signalling that you think your interlocutor already knows a point you are making can be described as an error, or that making your point without such acknowledgement is necessarily a better approach. Personally, I dislike it when people converse with me in a way that assumes that I am stupid or ignorant, although perhaps that is just me being precious and insecure. And making obvious points is often a necessary part of having a joined-up conversation, although there’s a problem if these are the only types being made. Clearly.

  6. Having just seen the most recent edition of Media Watch—which details allegations by ABC newsroom staff that a story about the Carmichael mine’s feasibility was spiked after a complaint by Adani—I should add that what had struck me most when I first read Professor Quiggin’s interview was that the comment “if the promised jobs in the coal industry don’t come through” was included.

    It was such a contrast with the line usually taken by the ABC, and in particular by the ABC’s other state political reporter, Allyson Horn, who writes things such as, “Jobs are key in Queensland and Adani’s Carmichael Coal mine will guarantee work. Labor knew it…”.

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