Posts filed under ‘framing’

Sustained Incoherence

From the wikipedia entry for David Bohm

In Bohm’s view:

…the general tacit assumption in thought is that it’s just telling you the way things are and that it’s not doing anything – that ‘you’ are inside there, deciding what to do with the info. But you don’t decide what to do with the info. Thought runs you. Thought, however, gives false info that you are running it, that you are the one who controls thought. Whereas actually thought is the one which controls each one of us. Thought is creating divisions out of itself and then saying that they are there naturally. This is another major feature of thought: Thought doesn’t know it is doing something and then it struggles against what it is doing. It doesn’t want to know that it is doing it. And thought struggles against the results, trying to avoid those unpleasant results while keeping on with that way of thinking. That is what I call “sustained incoherence”.


March 2, 2011 at 12:44 am Leave a comment


Via Keith Stanovich’s “What Intelligence Tests Miss” I’ve come across David Perkins and his concept of “Mindware“.

If reflective intelligence is the target of opportunity, then we should examine its nature more deeply. What is it “made of?” Is it a bag of tricks, a bundle of attitudes, a repertoire of habits?
All those things and more. One encompassing way to describe reflective intelligence is to say that it is made of “mindware.” Just as kitchenware consists in tools for working in the kitchen, and software consists in tools for working with your computer, mindware consists in tools for the mind. A piece of mindware is anything a person can learn — a strategy, an attitude, a habit — that extends the person’s general powers to think critically and creatively.
Mindware does three jobs, all of which concern the organization of thought. It works to pattern, repattern, and depattern thinking. Concerning patterning, a student may not have an organized approach to, for example, writing an essay. There are a number of strategies that help to pattern the writing process, not in rigid ways but in flexible and fruitful ways. As to repatterning, a person may suffer from bad thinking or learning practices. For example, many students adopt the strategy of reading something over and over as a way of understanding and remembering it. Research shows that this is not in fact a very effective strategy. Students need to repattern their reading, adopting more powerful strategies.
As to depatterning, a person may suffer from overly rigid or narrow ways of approaching problems and managing situations. For instance, people display a strong tendency to look at situations in one-sided ways. Also, people generally fail to question their tacit assumptions. Brainstorming, assumption identification, and other tactics of exploratory thinking can help people to depattern their thinking, opening it up to more possibilities and evading the ruts of habit and prejudice.

Seems reasonable enough, though of course any brain-as-latest-technological-invention metaphor needs a warning label attached…

February 12, 2011 at 11:04 am Leave a comment

The Gish Gallop (or “baffle them with bullshit”)

Real Climate is spot on the money, as usual. Good mix of “real” science, by people at the coal face, and those who’ve got the scars on their backs from trying to communicate the science to the public and policy-makers. Here’s something I was familiar with but didn’t have a name for… [excerpted from a Jan 6 2011 post]

Bell uses the key technique that denialists use in debates, dubbed by Eugenie Scott the “Gish gallop”, named after a master of the style, anti-evolutionist Duane Gish. The Gish gallop raises a barrage of obscure and marginal facts and fabrications that appear at first glance to cast doubt on the entire edifice under attack, but which on closer examination do no such thing. In real-time debates the number of particularities raised is sure to catch the opponent off guard; this is why challenges to such debates are often raised by enemies of science. Little or no knowledge of a holistic view of any given science is needed to construct such scattershot attacks.

Yep, you end up playing whack a mole, and that’s if you’re lucky. And by the time you “win”, you’ll have lost the audience, who’ll have taken home the message that there’s still a real “debate” going on about the science. Either way, the denialist nutjobs win…

February 5, 2011 at 10:13 am 3 comments

Birth of a Prenotion

Zygmunt Bauman is way cool. Always a source of insights and imagery. I must get round to posting the interview I did with him over ten years ago…
Anyway, here’s something from his “Liquid Fear” book of 2006.

In the “Postscript” to his last magnum opus, La Misere du Monde, Bourdieu pointed out that the numbers of personalities on the political stage who can comprehend and articulate the expectations and demands of their electors is shrinking fast; the political space is inward focused and bent on closing in on itself. It needs to be thrown open again, and this can only be done through bringing ‘private’ troubles and cravings, often inchoate and inarticulate, into direct relevance to the political process (and, consequently, vice versa.)
This is easier said than done, though, because public discourse is inundated with Emile Durkheim’s “prenotions” – presumptions rarely spelled out overtly and even less frequently scrutinized, uncritically deployed whenever subjective experience is raised to the level of public discourse and re-represented as public issues. To do its service to human experience, sociology needs to begin with clearing the site. Critical assessment of tacit or vociferous prenotions must proceed together with an effort to make visible and audible the aspects of experience that normally stay beyond individual horizons, or below the threshold of individual awareness.
Page 173-4

And will this, from “The Craft of Sociology” embed? It will bally not. Don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Click on it, I guess, if reading more about prenotions is your thing right now…

February 1, 2011 at 11:14 pm Leave a comment

Ideological Enclosure

I use this expression to refer to the situation which arises when an individual or group sees everything from the perspective dictated by the ideology. Any individual or group of individuals adhering to an ideology is bound to be enclosed within it to some extent, because an ideology is a way of interpreting one’s business in the world. An ideology is a way of interpreting one’s business in the world. An ideology shapes the world within which one lives.

“Religious Education in the State Schools of Late Capitalist Society”
John Hull
British Journal of Educational Studies Vol 38, No. 4, November 1990

January 25, 2011 at 12:08 pm Leave a comment

Does not compute – stories become difficult to tell…

From Martin Bright’s December 2002 “The Vanishing“, published in the Observer.

Evans also agrees that we have a fixed idea about missing persons cases and if the facts don’t fit, the case is generally ignored. ‘The stories we like to tell are about the abduction of a nice white middle-class girl by an older man. This is a fairly conventional set-up and when the narrative strays we become suspicious and find the story difficult to tell.’

And we need a simple narrative, after all. Humans, eh, what a species.

January 23, 2011 at 9:43 am Leave a comment

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