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Archive for the ‘social science’ Category

Dr. Tim Maudin posits in his “BIGTHINK.COM” article, that there is not much procedural difference between how one arrives at philosophical axioms for life and scientific ones.

However, let’s not wax Pollyannaic to the gods of ‘blog’; there are major processes that are different.   The philosophical axioms of life that one distills along the way are private and not amiable to testing or any type of validation or falsification.  That’s good for the individual according to those that traffic in concepts, metaphors, mysticism and similes, but it is not so relatively good for the species and the universe.  Those philosophical interpretations, rules, axioms and beliefs die with the owner.

Scientific ones may have, but don’t necessarily have, a similar etiology.   But scientific content is converted from private to public by the bridging of communication that can be scanned for a value proposition by anyone exposed who is attending to it and, in so doing, gets to tests the content in their reality as well as the public reality that science serves.

Our belief frame out behavior and when those beliefs don’t have any course correction available they can lead to good and less good consequences for the owner and the community that owner inhabits.  We all are stuck with some very outdated concepts; mostly tied to the Judeo-Christian-Newtonian World view, as some have pointed out responding to philosopher Maudlin’s article. No attempt or clue is offered how we all have these albatross’ of folk science, folk psychology and folk folklore and that, for some, make this Dr. Maudin’s video an opinion piece rather than an information piece.

What is unbounded is the need for explanation of relationships in ways that are general or conditional.  Private or covert neural patterns that equal what we call “cognitive” is not been a productive place to look to find out what the heck is going on in the world.  It is unbounded because of the complexity.   Staring at our belly button is one relationship that, while interesting to many philosophically, medically or technically, is not particularly relevant scientifically other than how it fits into existing context of those who value understanding a broader set of relationships. A scientific “explanatory crisis” is critical only because there is so much to do and behavior is complex. The philosophical procedures that have been around for 2500 years have left us wondering and wanting.  Scientific approaches have provided the Gore-Tex to suit the astronauts on the moon, if you get the difference in meaning. The differences are literally mind boggling because we’ve spent so much time in the ‘mind’ idiom that is marginal if not, blatantly unfruitful.  Current philosophical journals and entries validate this one-liner’s contributions to “our ordinary life”.

in starts and sputters science handles the changes in content understanding.  Philosophical approaches hang on using the metaphors and mysticism that was oh, so trendy in 1200 BC (interesting way to reference, ah!?). Thus, we have a similar explanatory crisis in our individual daily lives right now.  It could be called a dichotomy between those that ‘Get it” and those that “Don’t Get it” concerning myth, gods, premonitions, intuitions, feelings, motivations and the private axioms we treat as real (reification).  These reified concepts keep us ginned up recycling tattered messages rather than focused on the infinite simple relationships that make up the complex relationships that contribute to figuring out what the heck is going on out there.  Many people just gave up, are giving up, to become atheists, agnostics or vaccumists musing the antics of the “–isms” which are the stock and trade of philosophy as well.  But the quest to make sense of things is valuable and will find a course it finds rather than one based on ‘should-ought,’ or truth, beauty, right, wrong, etc., ad nauseum.

It is ironical that those that want to disagree with this piece are right now looking for a scientific-looking way to frame their Judeo-Christian-Newtonian folklore arguments to make them so strong that it will launch their careers… as philosophers.   Lol.

  1. Thursday, June 23, 2011; http://bigthink.com/ideas/24170

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Just watched absolutely fascinating NatGeo Explorer episode, The Moment of Death.

This is a really uncomfortable show to watch.   Asks some amazing questions AND unemotionally explores some answers/approaches.

What got me really thinking was listening to the Drs. and researchers who work on this stuff everyday.   It’s shocking to many of us who don’t deal with this stuff everyday, but for these researchers, its clinical.

Absolutely fascinating research over hundreds of years.   Some really kooky stuff.

There’s a part where this Dr. “MacDougal” attempted to measure the weight of the soul in the 1800s.   WHAT??!?

There’s an amazing part involving the air force testing the effects of G on pilots’ brains.

Definitely a much watch, if you can handle it.  It’s not for everyone.

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On the last day of 2010 I picked up lewis’ book “the great divorce”. I have no idea why other than I think he’s a creative writer and it was less than 200 pages.

The book was a thrill to read. Just great writing. Fast, fun, efficient. Oh, and evocative. However, the main morality is a pain to me. Not because of the end morals, but the justification of those morals. Sure none of us should be too selfish, too pity sucking, and too self-respecting.
That said, we need not be that way because the promise of heaven nor “eternal joy” nor “true love”. Life is just easier if you’re not a jerk nor a pity party.

Lewis presents an enticing view of heaven and Christianity.  Salvation through the surrender of self to God and everything is
awesomely straightforwad! Unfortunately, the history of Christianity and the stories in the bible simply don’t paint that simple of a picture.

(and, oh, that’s not the way the world works. )

I won’t deny Lewis’ idea that ‘it’s all good’ and we all have flaws that will be forgiven and forgotten is very appealing. It’s just not a serious position. You
have to suspend too much of your intellect to take this story as a serious philosophy to order your values around.

There is a small gem in this book for me.  Lewis seems to paint a world view devoid of personal responsibility, which is likely the
right position in the grand scheme of things.

Read the book and let’s talk!

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from Ron Williams…

In the October 29, 2010, edition of the Wall Street Journal (The Potential Pitfalls of the Winning Big) reporter Gerald F. Seib wrote, “In an interview with National Journal out this week, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell was asked what his party’s main political job will be after next week’s election. He gave a surprisingly stark answer: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

At a time when the country is fighting a major war, facing a severe economic recession that rivals the Great Depression, and having the largest federal deficits in the country’s history, it is telling to see that the focus of the Republican Party is not to address any of the great problems facing this country.  Rather, their focus is on politics as usual.

And the fact that the American public is about to give them the same Party and laid the groundwork for most of these problems seems to me say that we are a country of amnesiacs.  When President Bill Clinton left office we had budget surpluses, we were not at war with anyone, and the economy had not collapsed.

Then we had eight years of Republican governance.

The Republicans had control of the Executive Branch and both houses of Congress.  What did that get us?  The answer is two foreign wars, the budget deficits, and the beginnings of the great recession.  All were precipitated on the policies of the Bush administration and a Republican Congress.  The Republican governance approach was underfunded budget cuts for the very wealthy and deregulation of just about every industry. Now, it seems that both they, and apparently a significant portion of the American populace, have forgotten what a disaster Republican governance games this country and are prepared to allow the return of those same disastrous policies.

I fear for this country. Example, the governor of New Jersey has just canceled the Tunnel Project, and has ended a project needed for the future transportation needs of the Northeast region.  During the Great Depression it was just the sort of New Deal Projects that helped jumpstart this country out of the Great Depression.  Republican politicians these days cancel these projects.  We see Republican and Tea Party candidates stand their time sending racist and sexist e-mails around the country with others focus on anti-masturbation campaigns and witchcraft issues.

We see a Republican Party which has as one of its favorites ex-governor Sarah Palin, a politician who has yet to complete the term for any office she has been elected.  I’m amazed to think that anyone would support a politician who resigns from office midterm to pursue other financial interests and then expect you to support their election to the next higher office.  It is one thing to leave an office to run for a higher office, it is something else to quit an office to be a commentator on Fox News.  And Tea Party members want this woman to be our next president?

I despair for this country.  Democrats have had control of the Executive Branch and both houses of Congress for the last two years.  President Obama was elected on a campaign promise of putting forward major social and economic changes.  Instead of using that control in both houses and the Executive Branch to make good on these promises, President Obama and the leaders in the House and the Senate spent two years dickering with Republican Senate and House members (who was declared goal was to block every single legislative program with the express purpose of capturing more seats in the midterm elections.) And that is exactly what has happened.  Democrats have not had the guts to push their own agenda.  I believe they deserve to lose.  If you don’t have the courage of your convictions, then perhaps you use should not lead.

I believe the 2008 and 2010 election cycles are based on the electorate crying out for leadership. I think most of us feel the country has been headed in the wrong direction for the last ten years and wanted a change. They asked for that with the election of President Obama.  He has failed to deliver.  For example, the health care bill did not go far enough.  He did not cause runaway health-care costs to be reduced for the average Of American.  He spent too much time dickering with the healthcare industry (the folks who are causing the cost run-up in the first place) and with Republicans (again those people whose only goal in life is to recapture the presidency).

It is the same thing with re-regulation and control of the financial industries. The regulations being put in place today are being written by the same group of Ivy League financiers that gave us the problem in the first place. The regulations do not go far enough in controlling this industry. The American public knows it and is angry.

Last year, there was an uproar when the same bankers who caused the financial meltdown were being awarded large bonuses. In answer to this outcry, the Ivy League financiers trotted out the argument that the bonuses had to be paid because of “contractual obligations”. The problem is that we all knew that the Ivy League financiers knew about these large contractual bonuses when they were negotiating the bailout of these major banks.

During this bailout, detailed contracts were being renegotiated and new terms set in place. These individual contracts, with their large salaries and their scheduled large bonuses, could have and should have been renegotiated at that time. If an individual refused to accept these renegotiated terms, then their employment could have and should have been terminated. With economy as tough as it was unsure that they would have accepted those terms.

Further, with all of the layoffs in the financial industry, it goes without saying that finding well-qualified individuals to fill the spots of those who quit would not be hard to come by. This is what happens to the steelworker, on a file clerk or even the PhD executive. In this economy, there’s always someone willing to take the job in a lower, more reasonable, salary and to forgo bonuses. If this wasn’t, so it seemed like politics as usual. And this is going to cost the Democrats in the election.

It is activity like this that is fueling the anger on the Right, and that the lack of enthusiasm on the Left.

I would not despair if the Republican Party had more to offer than tax cuts for the wealthy and the slashing of any program that supports the elderly, poor or the disabled and a return to the deregulation of any and all industry. These programs have proven to be disastrous and there’s no reason to believe that going back to them would do anything other than bring on more of the same.

I would not despair if the Democratic Party could find its way clear to have the courage of its beliefs and fight for their policies as hard as the Republicans fight for theirs.   But it seems as if the Democrats won’t, so I despair.

[Ron Williams is a frequent quest writer on this site.  He is a former attorney and a current Texan living in a free country with changing contingencies.]

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I recently watched the PBS documentary, art and copy. it’s a feature about advertising focusing mostly on the big agencies and agency personalities. absolutely fascinating. partly because these are big personalities but mostly because the campaigns featured are ones almost all of us know well and probably love.

there’s a stat at the end… 186000 employees at ad agencies worldwide. 26000 agencies. but 4 holding companies produce 80% of the advertising spend.

what that implies there just isn’t that much advertising that gets big, mass consumer popularity (and likely nor does the products behind the advertising).

so the questions for me:

is most advertising unappealing? just noise?

do people only have so much attention to give? the populace can’t support more than a few campaigns getting big?

are most folks in advertising biz just not very good?

is the ad biz really about unglamorous, small campaigns that work for small companies?

is the old ad model going to last? more and more big brands didn’t need an agency and an ad budget at all to go big (google, facebook, twitter, crocs…)

when should a biz use a big traditional campaign?

I don’t question whether a well capitalized, well executed branding campaign works. they do. I think it’s hard to get all the right things to make it happen and only those with the deepest pockets, best products and most aggressive teams will ever have a shot.

I think that’s why other advertising approaches are more appropriate for most businesses and growing in spend online advertising, for the most part, isn’t artful. it’s math. it’s about getting frequency and follow up and flow just right. science based advertising works better for the majority of products and services where there’s little differentiation or brand value between competitors. price and location (at time of purchase) are the keys, not artful impact.

also worth noting is that the current context in which online is viewed doesn’t lend itself well to bigger more potent messages like tv or radio. I think some of that has to do with the fact that tv and radio are more passive consumption around visuals and sound of people rather than text about the world. and tv and radio are usually consumed with others generating more shared experiences. the built in fragmented personalization of the web means known of us ever have the same basic experience.

I’ve worked on a lot of online campaigns that tried to do the big budget big branding thing. no shortage of good ideas and mostly good execution. the consumers just never respond.

there are no best way to do it.

one thing I think the folks in the documentary have in common with the successful math based online advertisers and agencies is a willingness to try and be wrong. too many folks think there’s a best way to do it and that you can know that a priori. you can’t.

as one of the agency celebrates. fail harder.

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From contributor Ron Williams…

I have read in recent days that Rick Sanchez as been fired from his CNN anchor job for making what was claimed to be “anti-Semitic” comment regarding Jewish control of the television networks.  Recently Mr. Sanchez has started making the rounds of other television shows apologizing for his comments claiming that they were both “anti-Semitic” and wrong.

I watched with some amusement the ABC View program with the commentators bending over backwards to deny that his comments were true and to assert that even if they were not true that they were somehow anti-Semitic.  If Jews predominate the entertainment industry, so what?    I am somewhat at a loss to understand why Jews predominating the entertainment industry is anymore anti- semantic than saying that blacks predominate in basketball is racist today.  It seems that these commentators on the View and others protest too much.  And they do so without offering any proof that the statements are in fact anti-Semitic. They offer no explanation or support for the assertion that these comments, whether true or untrue are in of themselves “anti-Semitic.”

Furthermore, I do not believe that the comments were in fact an accurate, and therefore should not be considered “anti-Semitic”.  I worked several years in the entertainment industry as an entertainment attorney.  I noted empirically that a large number of Jewish persons were in control of the creative and decision-making positions in the entertainment industry, including music, motion pictures, publishing and television.  If in fact that is the case, then stating a truism cannot be “anti–” anything.

The concentration of Jewish people in the entertainment industry as historical underpinnings.  At the turn of the previous century, Jewish performers were highly concentrated in the Vaudeville circuit.  In addition, I believe you will find that a significant number of the vaudeville houses were also owned by Jewish proprietors.  Additionally, you will find that the majority of the songwriters and performers were Jewish.  Jewish entertainers from George P Cohan, Al Jolson to Fanny Brice dominated the vaudevillian circuits.  I understand that not every performer who was popular was Jewish, but there is no denial that Jews dominated the vaudeville circuit.  A similar situation existed in both music publishing and performance.

In the early days of the film industry, Jewish entrepreneurs also dominated the production and performance in motion pictures , and the financing for these motion pictures came from Jewish controlled banks in New York.  This pattern has continued through to today.  I challenge anyone to look at the rosters of the key executives who control of the creative aspects of all of the major networks, the motion picture industry, the music industry and publishing and show that the predominant group controlling these industries are not Jewish.

Having said this, I find no problem with these industries being predominated by Jews.  In the early days, entertainers were not held in high esteem.  This is an area that Jews could succeed.  That is often the case for groups that have suffered discrimination by the majority population.  One need only look at national athletics both historically and today to see this pattern repeats itself.  You can follow the progression of discrimination against various ethnic groups with their progression through the professional boxing ranks.

Today, no one can dispute the fact that national football and basketball are dominated by African Americans.  Also note the significant number of Spanish-surname ballplayers we are seeing now in professional baseball, players coming from countries such as the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico where sports is seen as a way out of poverty.  WHEN ANY GROUP IS DENIED the full range of professions in this society, it is only natural that they take the path of least resistance to achieve success.  African Americans for several generations now have seen athletics as one of the few viable path to economic success.  That is probably why you see more African Americans in football and basketball.  It is not because African Americans are carefully better football players or basketball. In turn of the previous century, entertainment was an available track for success.

This overreaction is even more dramatic when I see commentators like Glen Beck make all kinds of wild assertions about the President and other African Americans with impunity.  I also note that Glen Beck make their assertions on their programs while Rick Sanchez made his comments on another program w2hile being interviewed.  It seems as if his First Amendment rights have taken a back seat on this issue.  Again methinks they protest this too much.

So before we see Rick Sanchez do an endless round of apologies for his statement, people demanding his apologies should show that his statements are in fact incorrect.  But more importantly, whether they are correct or incorrect, his statement should not be a reason for his termination.  If the statements are not true then slapped him on the wrist for making an untrue statement.  But I believe that upon examination will be shown that his statements are in large part true. And whether true or not, I believe there is nothing wrong with a situation where Jews would be in control of the entertainment industry.  Just like there’s nothing wrong with African Americans being the predominant football and basketball players or that Hispanics are now coming dominate boxing. If Jews control the entertainment industry, so what.

[Ron Williams is a retired attorney living in The Woodlands, TX, and a welcome guest contributor to Social Mode]

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You may have seen it on news shows…

Athletic Clubs with cardio programs where members jump up and down as if using a jump rope but don’t really have a rope to jump.  Why?  The club doesn’t want people to feel bad if they can’t jump rope like others in the class… …or feel bad if they mess up in front of people not messing up.

How about the no tryouts, no exercise, no activities pep clubs that provide a uniform, trophy at the end of the season and certificate saying they are, “PEP FANtastic!”   Really, this is no joke and it is not a knock-off of the ABC TV show “The Middle” where daughter Sue is the easy-to-recognize enabled student with no clue how to compete… and she is not taught how by parents or teachers or the church or synagogues, or her horoscope.

So, should schools do the about the same thing in math, history, chemistry, business, accounting and insurance as the athletic club does for its members?   How about a prize for attempting to clean up the oil spill in the gulf or attempting put a man on the moon!  “What?”, you say, “That wouldn’t make sense???!!!”  Of course it doesn’t make sense!  But that’s what is being done in education due to myopicos like Alfie Kohn.  Ya, the one and only who writes as an education ‘expert’ for The Huffington Post blog….

Competition is what is.  It starts with the struggle out of the birth canal. For many it ends with seeing who can live the longest with the most toys, or experiences, or charities, or wives, or single malt Scotches. We learn to eat, to live, to work and to mate and there is a competitive component in every second of it.  Those that don’t compete never learn skills that they can use in life later on to provide for their families, communities and the world.  And then we wonder why we are with competitive academics in the world, or why there are more and more 3rd world foreign-borns in colleges and universities, engineering schools, MBA programs, Ph.D. programs, medical schools, etc.  [No, that is not bigotry; it is that they get it!] The answer is competition.  They are serious about it and we (whoever that means) aren’t serious about it.

Perhaps it is a vestige of our ‘Man-is-superior-to-all-the-rest-of-the-animals; we don’t compete like they do!’ shtick. How’s that workin these days.  Are we winning any competitive wars you’ve noticed?

In fact, we’re frequently going in the opposite direction due to the early years being filled with the ‘help’ being offered from the very beginning.  Businesses from McDonald’s to McDonald-Douglas spend billions every year teaching their employees how to compete at different levels.  University of Phoenix makes a living for a lot of investors in grades for profit involving students companies send them who can’t compete; write, read, organize, manage or lead.  If we were doing such a great job they would be out of business.

Community Colleges have many students that don’t know how to compete.  They haven’t competed up to the point of college and now competing for jobs is almost foreign to them, not because of the jobs, but because they didn’t get the subtle or the explicate competitive approaches or experiences that are learned early on.  The ‘help’ provided is to not let them come into contact with any consequences.

What is ‘entitlement’?  It is what adults do to their children and what students learn that ensures that they do not have to compete to get what they want; they do not have to attend to what works and that they can get the same credit for ‘trying’ as for succeeding.   They say it is for the children but it isn’t; its for them, the parents.

FFPS and similar organization institutionalize the entitlement.  Learning to ride a bike you can get hurt.  Get hurt??? No, we’ll cover you in Velcro pads so if your training wheels don’t protect you and you fall, you’ll not have to connect with any unpleasant consequences.  Bad nightmares; bad marriages, bad jobs, bad DUI???  Shameful; you shouldn’t have to suffer.  We’ll get you in a program where you are given the drug propranolol to eradicate the experience, or dampen the bad history or events.   The louder the communities yell about the child, student, or young adult, the more and more it becomes about everything else but those groups.

For the things valued in life, there is way too many ‘self-referential’ content today and it is working to our dis-service, from families to the halls of Congress.   That being said, for every virtue listed to reduce competitive activities, there is an equal and larger set that most of us see as a product of competition.

For the things valued in life, there is way too many ‘self-referential’ content today and it is working to our dis-service, from families to the halls of Congress.   That being said, for every ‘virtue’ listed to reduce competitive activities, there is an equal and larger set of virtues that are a product of competition.

  • self-composure

  • self-reliance

  • self-control

  • self-assured

  • self-analysis

  • self-abnegation

  • self-development

  • self-evolved

  • self-enriched

  • self-judgment

  • self-mastery

  • self-reflection

  • self-restraint

  • self-trust

Here is just one option provided by the FFPS web site…

FFPS [Fun, Fair, Positive Soccer]

…to provide every youth soccer player with a positive experience. They saw the main problem as parents who put too much pressure on the kids to perform and the programs that emphasized winning as the main focus. They developed a system so the kids could play and enjoy the sport without demands from adults to win or perform. They modified the rules and designed a process of 5 aside rules, equal play with a unique equal substitution system, balanced teams, and parent training to ensure that it would be fair. The parents would behave and be positive so it would be really “Made For Kids”.

We wouldn’t want the kids to actually perform as in ‘do’ something…. Why not just take the nets and goalie away and have the kids run up and down the field….  I know that might look more like baby sitting but then again, no one would have to explain why the other team had more goals than your team did.  Don’t drink the Cool Aide…

Geeze!

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Historically, the search for a way to describe the mechanics of what is going on out there in the world and how it impacts what is going on with organisms [sometimes referenced as “the mind”, personality, cognition, consciousness, intuition, etc.] is that the fields of psychology have always used metaphors, similes, and analogies, in part, because most of the areas morphed out of philosophy, religion and literature.

Clearly for Descartes, mechanisms [particularly clocks and hydraulics] were big at the time and from there it wasn’t a stretch to embrace the naturalistic model, then the disease model, then the computer analogies, all the while not letting go of the metaphors, analogies, and similes that preceded it.

Yes, don’t forget the impact of the 70’s drug culture on 40+ years of speculation on consciousness, the inner self, higher self, etc.

The outcome of much of the theory and speculation was increased awareness at the cost of precision.  All three influences are with us today as embedded vernacular, imagery, and rationales’ applied to the understanding of organisms.  We still embrace the vernacular and the idioms of Freud as if they were true, valid or valuable.  At another level, these approaches are embraced and morph as needed because there is little to replace them that the populace could cling to considering Western Judo-Christian history, laws, and sometimes even a bully Western philosophical interpretation of all matters. The terms, concepts, etc., work because they explain behavior to many that are clueless and communication-less without such pop-snarkness, having otherwise to depend on greater superstition, folklore and ‘commonsense’ explanations than they currently do.  Said more succinctly, while the theory of mind may keep us from looking at the causes of behavior, it has some value, more than other Freudian alternatives or those endless literature dumps proposed by philosophy, theology and sociology.

As metaphors are wont to do, they work to make intangibly complex relationships more tangible, understandable, usable and communicable.  Science has not had a history of doing that well either so the result is there is little pragmatic value change in understanding what the heck is going on out there and ‘in’ there if science doesn’t make cases well enough.

The lay vocabulary we end up using is residue that provides consistent, sometimes vivid equivalents for concepts until the understanding of relationships and patterns can get sorted out.   A MAJOR problem comes from the reification of those terms like mind, need, motivation, personality, evil, addiction, intuition, etc., such that they are never scientifically challenged or shown to be what they are; a trail of metaphysical left-overs from philosophy, theoretical speculations and dependence on analogies, similes, and metaphors.

Unfortunately, the metaphor has become reified to the extreme by the world’s citizens and, through the conditioning we all used to get an education, became the reality of what it was a ‘place holder’ for. We’ve all seen it over and over: what had been an incomplete story-like example became the “thing” studied, described, interacted with before suddenly becoming raison d’être.

There is no bridge between pragmatism and articulated science.  If one can’t use what science provides people – even academia – will embellish what they have and use it it as they have for centuries.   Traditions allow us to avoid the constant assessment tasks that are needed.You know the old saw,

insanity is doing the same things over and over and expected the results to be different’ (-Einstein or W. Deming; take your pick) 

By embracing those states that come to keep us comfortable and un-questioning, only those events we subjectively or theatrically sense as catastrophic will generate uncomfortable questions that when answered will make a difference.

Thus, for you to entertain changing your sense of how anything works, business, families, social networks, corporations, football teams, etc. (you get the idea) you’ll need to get fired, get shunned, get de-friended, get passed over, lose the Super Bowl, and many other things equivalent to a kick in the ass.  When that happens, most of us change our perspective a wee bit after we get up… others just continue to blame or claim the world is evil, unkind, gone mad, filled with greed before setting out to get restitution, get even or get a lawyer.

How’s that last option working?

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Pressler in his NYT article of May 18th 2010, takes a stab at explaining why Connecticut’s attorney general, Richard Blumenthal and other unnamed people in the lime-light say and perform in corrupt or dishonest ways to get ahead can be accounted for as “rooted in the dishonesty that surrounded the Vietnam-era draft.”

If only life was so simple and had a list of absolute causes and values as he posits.  His argument is flawed; No, not in the straw-man ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ sense.

Just because he lived in the midst of the Vietnam War changes doesn’t give him or his generation any special knowledge [as implied] of that period he calls the “The Technicality Generation”.

“… many in my generation knew they were using a broken (but legal) system to shirk their duty. They cloaked themselves in idealism but deep down had to know they were engaging in a charade. (I, too, was against the Vietnam war and felt that people should protest, but not dodge their draft responsibility.)

The above quote shows that what Pressler valued, others didn’t, be it the system, the War, the ‘duty’ to serve, and so on.  It also points out a more insidious case that (1) fear of consequences is a pervasive driver of behavior and (2) we [Homo sapiens] don’t have the slightest understanding of why we do what we do and don’t do what we don’t do.

The latter point (2) is the point of this response to his article.

Pressler has confused the causes with some effects — in his castigation of others in his article. It is not BECAUSE of the Vietnam War, but having an understanding of what you value was up for assessment in the 60’s.  Rules of life were changing.  More and more people were seeing patterns that didn’t make sense.  More and more people were questioning the basis of past rules in the context of their 28,500 days on earth.  They were questioning the basis of past antecedents linked to how they were supposed to behave as well as the expected consequences for that behavior.

The fact that “someone poorer or less educated, and usually African-American, had to serve” when others didn’t, is one of those consequences in life, not just for Vietnam, but for life in general.  As a Rhodes Scholar Pressler might want to review history, contingencies  management, and factors modulating individual behavior.

Besides finances and education, many of those who served were also culturally separate, had different histories, had different contexts and had different prospects for the immediate futures than those who didn’t.  Yes, there were a large number of African-Americans.  There was also an abundance of other minorities as well, just as it is today in a volunteer armed services world.  This ‘abundance’ has an abundance of causes.  None of those minorities had exactly the same set of values [learned rules in cultural – community] for enlisting, serving or NOT serving and avoiding Vietnam.

This Pressler logic implies that everyone who used the law, their circumstances, etc., and didn’t go to Vietnam had similar values and everyone that did go to Vietnam had a different set of values – like those aligned with Pressler himself which he contends were the correct values.  As if Pressler himself or his generation invented functional dualism, Pressler then castigates others for not doing what he did concerning his definition of “basic responsibilities.”

“Once my generation got in the habit of saying one thing and believing another, it couldn’t stop.”

Please!

If all that happened in the 60’s hadn’t happened as it did, things would be different today than they are.

His contention is that things would be better.  I maintain that he has a long way to go to show any such reason for that conclusion. If anything he has shown that ‘the system’ that he and others fought for, works…  including catching up to Mr. Blumenthal’s and having the consequences of his betrayal of constituents, state, friends and family come into play.  Maybe due to the thorough level of vetting of individuals Pressler’s article should more poignantly have been titled:  “FROM THE VETTING GENERATION: WELCOME!”

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To start, the goal is not to be an ‘elite’ athlete…

Third in a 5 Part Series on http://www.SocialMode.com

(1)   Sports, like businesses or social movements have goals and costs.

(2)   The best way to advance is through the “Do”.

(3)   Focus on long-term benefits as well as short-term gains

Elite athletes must practice a lot. There are no short-cuts.  In the practice process they get to make a lot of errors requiring a lot of adjustments needed for success down the road. If they focused only on success in the short term, they would not push themselves into zones beyond their immediate potential.  And yes, we’ve seen what happens to those potentially elite athletes that focused on the short-cuts… Of course, business people are no different.

So, as a business person, you need to discern whether or not you value becoming an expert at something, or navigating your company to be essential and separated from those just ‘good enough’.  If you want to excel, it will require that you push yourself out of your own comfort zones almost daily.

Like the elite athlete, you have to start somewhere.  Start with a mentor or committee and never stop practicing balancing great risk with great consequences. The bigger the risks, the larger the consequences impact more than your behavior.  If you can, get someone, or many with the skills you want, to coach, mentor and support you.

Coaching can be very helpful to guide your initial moves outside of your comfort zones. Yes, that makes you vulnerable. You may not be comfortable with that tactic but your objective requires you to change.  Learning to focus on stretching your skills to attain short-term gains AND long term benefits will mean learning to live with vulnerability, levels of discomfort and minimal comfort zones.  Why do you think so few people rise to elite levels?

NEXT: It is not ‘automaticity’ per se that leads to high proficiency

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