A simple list of apparently common responses to the unintended consequences of action:
- Refusal to accept the unintended consequences as real or significant.
- Acceptance that other people’s policies can have unintended consequences but not yours, because your policies are true.
- Accepting the unintended consequences, but saying they are irrelevant to what you are doing.
- Accepting the unintended consequences, but insisting that they come about because you have not applied your policies stringently enough. Intensifying your efforts and refusing weakness.
- Arguing that because the world is complex we cannot be sure these events have anything to do with our actions. We must continue.
- Suggesting that the unintended consequences have unpleasant political consequences and are therefore unreal or part of a plot.
- Recognising the problems, but claiming the problems are features.
- Accepting the unintended consequences but arguing they only affect inferior people without virtue (and we are treating them well enough already).
- Accepting the unintended consequences, but blaming evil forces for them.
- Refusing to accept the unintended consequences while still blaming evil forces.
- Trying to eliminate those who you blame as evil forces, even if they cannot be proven to have anything to do with it, and even if you deny the consequences are real.
- Trying to eliminate, or silence, those who are telling you about the unintended consequences.
These common responses make the traps of certainty harder to escape.