As education policies undermined the possibility of learning critical thinking skills and side-lined any prospects of building community, what is at stake is not just the ability to be creative but the capacity for conceptual thought itself. This development weakens the foundations of democracy, as awareness, self-reflection and critical thinking are necessary for active participation in society (Aronowitz & Giroux, 1986/2003, as cited in Vos, 2019, p. 113). For Arendt (as cited in Vos, 2019, p. 113), the capacity for critical reflection was key to understanding features of democracy. In her view it was not stupidity of the National Socialists. That ‘neoliberal violence in education’ now ‘wages a war’ against critical skills of ‘questioning the givens, in philosophy as well as politics and art’ (Castoriadis, 1997, as cited in Vos, 2019, p. 114) should fill us with foreboding.



No point in debating with idiots, is there? Just listen to me. Pretend that you have not even heard them speak. They are so pathetic, insignificant and boring that you do not even notice their mouths twist, or sounds creep out from behind their lips. Just pretend that they are not there. If that does not work, then find someone else (you can induce) to agree with me – which is only after all what you now think too – and then you can both follow me for evermore to the letter. In fact, only talk to people who you know in advance will agree with me unconditionally. Oh dear, what’s happening? Why are you all suddenly leaving? (Stanton, 2020, p. 12).



But making sense is not about winning. It is not about some ego-display of my best shots, my serves, my volleys, or my backhands. It is not about working out the best strategies to survive under pressure and come out on top. It is not about pile-driving to an undisputed knockout. It is not about getting things right or establishing some fixed and stable meaning in life. Sense is not written out, composed, painted, or photographed by my or by any ego. Sense also does not come direct from someone else. It does not arrive fully packaged, gift-wrapped, simply to be plugged into an already operative ego-circuit. It is neither a philosophy nor a way of life. It is not an idea, and it does not lead me anywhere (Stanton, 2020, pp. 14-15).



Mental laziness and unwillingness to engage with difficult issues and that’s so pervasive especially when there is a system that makes decision for you (Twin Global – The World Innovation Network, 2017).



Lack of trust is a healthy thing – if it is a healthy scepticism, call it a greater sense of personal responsibility. That’s different from a carte-blanche, that I won’t listen to anything you say (Twin Global – The World Innovation Network, 2017).



I would love to live in a society where every remark was questioned, we should question everything (Twin Global – The World Innovation Network, 2017).



I don’t like blanket bans - total ban because it shifts the focus of power - the discussion has been turned off (Twin Global – The World Innovation Network, 2017).



Turning away from a problem is not a good idea, I think we have to face the darkness directly and illuminate it and how best to do that is complex (Twin Global – The World Innovation Network, 2017).



Trust is important to expose mistakes and move on. How can we learn to support network and freedom, a dialogue - you stand up and be reckless - just stand up and say your ideas however stupid they are (Twin Global – The World Innovation Network, 2017).



Wrong ideas can be interesting but good ideas are great (Twin Global – The World Innovation Network, 2017).



Epistemologically narcissistic is to use whatever model we use and project onto the natural world as if it’s the best fitting template; models are highly imperfect (Twin Global – The World Innovation Network, 2017).



Pedagogical scheme that lets people to be happy about uncertainty, reassurance should come in a form of possibility not a lack of it (Twin Global – The World Innovation Network, 2017).



Does a void of space motivate you to explore and do science or do you stick with orthodoxies, power and control? (Twin Global – The World Innovation Network, 2017).



With respect to pessimism versus optimism, I believe in intelligence, and I believe in reason, and I believe in civilized discourse. I am frightened by unconditional optimism and unconditional pessimism. The two extremes have always upset me (Harris, 2016).



Stupidity is significantly worse than a chance. It is stupid to repeat the same thing which doesn’t resolve the problem. Stupidity is a set of rules in which the problem will be solved longer than chance or never (Harris, 2016).



Adiabatic slide into Nothingness (Rose, 2016).



I’ve spent a fair amount of my time in the mountains working within a general sense of direction but adjusting goal to fit the context. However, the more things change, the more we miss goals, the more unforeseen factors intrude the more dangerous a precise goal becomes. Many people have died in the mountains because they lacked the flexibility or ability to modify or reverse a route. Often direct pursuit of a goal can lead to fatal mistakes and the straight path is often precipitous and contains dangers only discovered too late. The agents interact based on local signals and form and pattern is an emergent property. Now in humans we can create those maps, we can invent instruments, we can create goals. We can also mistake the context in which this is possible or we can become blind to opportunities by over-focusing on a goal. So, a unique aspect of human complex systems is the ability, in context, to create goal-based order (Snowden, 2017).



We allow the media to amplify prejudice, swiftboating is the strategy of choice for the right, Fox News is considered a news, programme not a parody, the UK elects two racist fascists to the European Parliament; short term financial expediency triumphs over sustainability and ethics in the day to day lives of our institutions. Add to that the sense of injustice, growing gap and consequent disquiet between those who have and have not, which we fail to address. Not to mention the rise of fundamentalism (Islam, Christian, Atheist to name a few) and consequent polarisation, the creation of a hostile other. Start to see the repetition of a pattern? (Snowden, 2010)



You can only understand a complex system by interacting with it, it cannot be studied in abstract (Snowden, 2011).



How much control do I really have? To what extent have chance events influenced the trajectory of my life? Am I the author of my life, or merely an actor in a pre-determined cosmic drama? (Sperry, 2014)



For those of us who long for certainty and reliability, the idea of contingency is unsettling. Most of us approach life with an implicit expectation that, so long as we make reasonably good decisions, the future is predictable and certain, even though we know, of course, that there are no such guarantees. Life is full of curve balls (Sperry, 2014).



Over the years, I stifled more than one frustrated scream when, in response to questions of how I should respond to a confounding clinical situation, my supervisor responded, “it depends.” Much of our theorizing and clinical work still reflects our own desire to transcend contingency (Sperry, 2014).



Daniel Kahneman: Intuition works less often than we think. There is no such thing as professional “expertise.” The Intuitions in chess masters develop with “big data” comes from experience. For people, the immediacy of feedback is especially important to learn the basis of expertise. When feedback comes closer in time to the decision, intuition tends to be a lot stronger. Gary Klein, author of The Sources of Power is hostile to Kahneman’s view. Together they studied the boundary between trustworthy and untrustworthy sources of intuition. Confidence of intuition is NOT a good guide of intuition. If you want to explore intuition, you have to ask “not how happy the individual is” but what domain they are working in. There are some domains where intuition works, and some domains where it does not. You need to ask “did the individual have an opportunity to learn irregularities on the way to building intuition? In domains where a lot of people have equal degrees of high confidence, they often do not know the limits of their expertise (Mauboussin, 2015).



A formula always has the same output. People vary and vary over time (Mauboussin, 2015).



All these people might well exhibit a variety of neurotic symptoms; but the reason that each sought counselling would be that their lives had become so unhappy that they felt obliged to look for help. A colleague of mine had once mentioned that psychoanalytic therapy and counselling is for people ‘‘at the end of their tether’’, and I believe there is a good deal of truth in this remark (Collard, 2010).



People need roots and wings.
-Chinese saying



Smile-or-die culture (Ehrenreich, 2010).



WEIRD societies (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) (Henrich, Heine, & Norenzayan, 2010).



So my response to apocalyptic thinking is this: failure is less important than learning, and learning is less important than contributing in the right direction. It doesn’t rest on us alone, but on all those involved in the struggle, and those whom we encourage along the way (Snowden, 2008).



Of course immortality of the physical self, rather that the community of which you are a part has always been an obsession. And one that has resulted in some pretty nasty pseudo-science involving blood in the main. The modern age we have believers in the Singularity, the point at which the brain can transfer to a silicon chip. To believe in this means to restrict the brain to neuro-electrical impulses and ignores the chemistry along with a lot of other things. I once said, and did not retract, that to believe in the Singularity is a self-fulfilling prophesy as the restricted view of the brain required for said belief probably means yours can be so transferred. The other real question however is why? (Snowden, 2012)



I enjoy getting angry and frustrated as much if not more so than if I am in agreement, you learn more that way! (Snowden, 2013)



It’s nice when you can have an exchange with people mature enough to both take, and give, an argument rather than defend their various sacred cows (Snowden, 2018).



I have long observed that one of the audiences that has the most difficulty in understanding some of the implications of complexity is people of good will, seeking to do good. They understandably want people to have shared aims, trust each other, have aligned interests and so on, it’s a worthy aim. I confess that it took me the best part of a decade to understand that such a belief system is problematic in a complex system; and by implication a problem in achieving any scalable change. There are also paradoxical understandings of the role of conflict in enabling any type of progress. Working with contradictory understandings of what is happening and what should happen is a matter of practicality. Too much and no progress is made, too little and nothing new will happen. As someone said in the room this morning some of the greatest art works have emerged from conflict, even inter-personal conflict or tension (Snowden, 2016).



Deciding how things should be is to privilege the elite and lead to camouflage behaviour, wasted resources and a general sense of perpetual disappointed cynicism (Snowden, 2015).



Some people are very good at managing their time, they make commitments and achieve them. They never over commit and as a result of that they rarely swear, do not encounter the gut-wrenching panic and the stress induced, tear producing terror of the final hours. At the same time they may also miss some of the wonderful discoveries that come from those times when desperation induces deep discovery. Mind you such people are for me a strange an alien species for which I have so little affinity in respect of their mental processes that I should not make judgement (Snowden, 2012).



While God was still at school, in the heavenly playground he came up with the idea of creating the world, together with his schoolmate, the talented little Devil (Grass, 1963, as cited in The Nobel Prize in Literature, 1999).



If I could sing and play an instrument for you, I would sing and play an instrument for you. If I could dance for you, I would dance for you. If I could paint for you, I would paint for you, but my thing is words. But the problem with words is, you may listen to them, and that would be a mistake. For all I am doing is painting with words, and the message that is being sent is non-verbal. So, anything you write down on a notebook to take home and think about: forget it! For, in fact, I am not going to say anything that you don’t know already. The perplexing problem is, you don’t know you know. Words exist because of meaning, once you’ve gotten the meaning, you can forget the words. You don’t have to try, you don’t even have to listen. We just have to BE TOGETHER, and it will all happen (The Void, 2020).



Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep (Shakespeare, 1958).



The degree of slowness is directly proportional to the intensity of memory; the degree of speed is directly proportional to the intensity of forgetting (Kundera, 1997, p. 34).



I want you to follow my voice. I want you to imagine floating above your own body. I want you to imagine floating higher and higher. As you float right through the ruff of this building, nothing can harm you, nothing can touch you. As you move further and higher and further away from this place until there is no place and in a distance, you see something, it’s a little dot at first, as small something, but you look up and you are looking into the face of a child. You are looking into the face of you, when you were a child. And you are asking, what is the deepest me, what is the thing you needed, what is it? The thing that would have kept you safe, made you grow up whole, balanced, healthy. And he reaches up and it grabs you here with one little hand and it pulls it down and he whispers in your ear that deepest need, that thing that he would have needed to grow in the direction that you have wanted him to grow. When you are ready, tell yourself your deepest need (missing reference information).



. . . Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man (Adam, 1838-1918/1961).



We are unaware there is anything of which we needed to be unaware and then unaware that we needed to be unaware of needing to be unaware (Laing, 1969, as cited in Bromberg, 2011).



A note on the experience of hearing rain falling. I stood for a few minutes, lost in the beauty of it. Rain brings out the contours of what's around you in that introduces a continues blanket of differentiated and specialised sound. If only there could be something equivalent to rain falling inside then the whole of a room would take on shape and dimension. Instead of being isolates, cut off, preoccupied internally, you are presented with a world, you are related to a world, you are addressed by a world (Middleton et al., 2016).



LIFE WHILE-YOU-WAIT
Life While-You-Wait.
Performance without rehearsal.
Body without alterations.
Head without premeditation.

I know nothing of the role I play.
I only know it’s mine. I can’t exchange it.

I have to guess on the spot
just what this play’s all about.

Ill-prepared for the privilege of living,
I can barely keep up with the pace that the action demands.
I improvise, although I loathe improvisation.
I trip at every step over my own ignorance.
I can’t conceal my hayseed manners.
My instincts are for happy histrionics.
Stage fright makes excuses for me, which humiliate me more.
Extenuating circumstances strike me as cruel.

Words and impulses you can’t take back,
stars you’ll never get counted,
your character like a raincoat you button on the run —
the pitiful results of all this unexpectedness.

If only I could just rehearse one Wednesday in advance,
or repeat a single Thursday that has passed!
But here comes Friday with a script I haven’t seen.
Is it fair, I ask
(my voice a little hoarse,
since I couldn’t even clear my throat offstage).

You’d be wrong to think that it’s just a slapdash quiz
taken in makeshift accommodations. Oh no.
I’m standing on the set and I see how strong it is.
The props are surprisingly precise.
The machine rotating the stage has been around even longer.
The farthest galaxies have been turned on.
Oh no, there’s no question, this must be the premiere.
And whatever I do
will become forever what I’ve done. (Szymborska, 2015, p. 228)



In exploring space, we worry too much about death, we hold back and achieve less in a way that our ancestors who roved the globe in frail sailing vessels would not understand. Risk assessments prevent emergency services from acting and so on. To become too risk adverse is as bad as taking a totally laissez faire approach and we seem to only deal in absolutes these days, attempting robustness at the cost of resilience (Snowden, 2013).



Authority, I think addresses some of the power issues presented by Pestilence and War. I do not mean by this assigned authority, nor even emergent authority (which can be as fickle as a crowd), but social authority that grows from reputation, character and behaviour over a substantial period of time. Authority of this kind does a few interesting things. It turns the game of passive, blame-pregnant acquiescence into active, intelligent, respectful (sometimes combative) collaboration. While it supports diversity, it also attracts different factions towards greater alignment and common purpose. It gives an organization the means to direct its attention in meaningful directions, and the means of making decisions as a coherent – not a splintered – group. And finally, it enacts the idea of ownership and self-determination.
Authority has a life of its own – like Death, it travels at its own pace (Snowden, 2008).



The title of this post comes from Friedrich Nietzsche, whose philosophy has a lot of relevance in this field by the way. The full quote is: “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” I rather like that as chaos is one of the creative spaces, one where we can allow for the creation of novelty. It is also a space that entered catastrophically without warning can be fatal for individuals and organisations alike (Snowden, 2012).



There's a big rock in the road

There's a big rock in the road and it's there blockin' the road
Lots of careless folks have found it so you better get around it
There's a big rock in the road

There's a hole under the rock and its cold under the rock
And they say if you fall in that your life won't last a minute
There's a big rock in the road

Leave the darkness behind you, shine your light up ahead
If you don't want trouble to find you change the life that you led
There's a big rock in the road

And it's there blockin' the road so if you're not very humble
Then you're liable to stumble on the big rock in the road

There's a big rock in the road and it's there blockin' the road
If it's happiness you're seekin' when you're tempted
Don't you weaken
There's a big rock in the road

There's a hole under the rock and there's hard luck in that hole
It's the basement of the devil and he's waitin' with a shovel
There's a rock in the road

Leave the darkness behind you, shine your light up ahead
If you don't want trouble to find you change the life that you led
There's a big rock in the road. (Willis, 1946)



Thinking is useful, but being perpetually lost in thought is not useful, being the mere hostage of the next thought (Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, 2011).



There are many ways to talk about the world, which leads us to the framework called poetic naturalism. “Naturalism” claims that there is just one world, the natural world. . . “Poetic” reminds us that there is more than one way of talking about the world (Carroll, 2016, pp. 3-4).



When we talk about enormously more complex things like people, there’s no way for us to have enough information to make iron-clad predictions. Our best theories of people, presented on their own terms and without reference to underlying particles and forces, leave plenty of room for human choice (Carroll, 2016, p. 32).



What’s socially constructed are the ways we talk about the world, and if a particular way of talking involves concepts that are useful and fit the world quite accurately, it’s fair to refer to those concepts as “real”. But we can’t forget that there is a single world underlying it all, and there’s no sense in which the underlying world is socially constructed. It is simply is, and we take on the task of discovering it and inventing vocabularies with which to describe it. People who think that transgenderism is a violation of the natural order sometimes like to use a slippery-slope argument: If gender and sexuality are up for grabs, what about our basic identity as human beings? Is our species socially constructed? There is, indeed, a condition known as “species dysphoria”. It is analogous to gender dysphoria but is characterised by a conviction that the subject belongs to a different species. Someone might think that, despite their nominal human form, they are actually a cat, or a horse. Others go further, identifying with species that don’t actually exist, like dragons and elves. Even for the relatively open-minded, a certain grumpiness tends to kick in when confronted with species dysphoria: “If naturalism means that I have to pretend to go along with my crazy teenage nephew who thinks he’s a unicorn, I’m going back to my comfortable species essentialism, thank you very much”. The question, however, is whether a particular way of talking about the world is useful. And if usefulness is always relative to some purpose… If we’re interested in a person’s health, “useful” might mean “helping us see how to make a person healthier. . . ‘Sorry, Kevin. You’re not a unicorn’ (Carroll, 2016, pp. 142-143).



I’m not claiming that we know everything, or anywhere close to it. I’m claiming that we know some things, and that those things are enough to rule out some other things – including bending spoons with the power of your mind (Carroll, 2016, p. 155).



There are, of course, an awful lot of universes. Many people object to Many-Worlds because they simply don’t like the idea of all of those universes out there. Especially unobservable universes. . . But a bad feeling is not a principled stance (Carroll, 2016, p. 170).



. . . [A] subject understands that a different person might hold a certain belief even if that belief is not true. (Humans seem to develop this capacity around the age of four years old; younger children labour under the misconception that everyone has the same beliefs) . . . Awareness of ourselves and others, and the ability to communicate and interact on a number of levels, are useful capacities to have as we work to survive in a complicated world (Carroll, 2016, pp. 346-347).



A dominant theme of [Lakota] culture is that of relationship. A series of relation-ships reaches further and further out from the individual to the immediate family, the extended family, the band, the clan, and the tribal group. Relationships do not stop with the human realm, but extend out to embrace the environment: the land, the animals, the plants, the elements, the sky, the wind, the clouds, the heavens, and the stars. Ultimately, relationships extend to embrace the entire universe. This sense of interrelatedness reveals a type of thinking, an attitude of mind, which is vastly different from the non-Indian (Brown, 1997, p. 13).



The eye sleeps until the mind wakes it with a question.
-Arabic saying



“Life” is the opposite of “death” all right, but these phenomena also take their meaning from each other (try to explain “death” without reference to “life” and you will see what we mean) and together they mutually constitute the “circle of life”. “Confusion” and “clarity” are opposites, but they are also integral parts of a process we call “understanding”. . . “[C]onfusion” is the dawning of understanding, just as “clarity” is a temporary state from which we can learn more until we become confused again (Skinner, Kindermann, & Mashburn, 2019, p. 124).



. . . [T]he Process-Relational paradigm sees the opposing worldviews as dialectic complementarities – each is right and whole in itself, but incomplete. They are indeed opposites, but they can also both fit together as parts within a larger whole. In fact, they need each other to create this more complex and complete whole. But they can only be combined if they share some common overarching principles (Skinner, Kindermann, & Mashburn, 2019, p. 125).



Let us give thanks for our shadows for they are there in the first place because of the presence of light (Kojouri, 2018).



The years teach much the days never know (Emerson, 1844).



. . . I cannot talk away the ground-feeling that lies on a whole deeper level than me, that operates way outside the control of my ego. Do I really believe that a right explanation, or a good theory, will be permanently able to remove my anxiety, or my terror, or the pain from my trauma? Can logic decrypt my sense of true love? Can interpretation quieten or extinguish my arousal? Can some extraneous acquired wisdom defuse, or render less awesome, my sense of the sublime? . . .
Making sense is to keep my inner eye focused on the sensate texture – the ‘skin’ – of my thinking and feeling (Stanton, 2020, p. 16).



. . .[A] label often encourages oversight of a person’s specificity and uniqueness, creating the illusion of understanding. It also misleads professionals and 'patients’ by pathologizing understandable human reactions, while reducing human complexity to a label that has no corresponding biological reality (Davies, 2019, p. 59).



[Diagnostic] labels hold great weight in society and for their recipients irrespective of the professional’s particular philosophical position. Just because a label is ascribed with a healthy dose of uncertainty, it does not follow that it will be received in the same spirit. A diagnostic label is more powerful than the individual physician ascribing it, hence the comparative irrelevance of the physician’s personal viewpoint (Davies, 2019, p. 60).



Your problem is not that you have an unrealistic way of thinking but that you are confronted with real socio-economic problems. Learning to think differently may help you cope better, but whatever mindset you have will not change the physical reality you are confronted with. There is an existential reality which you cannot ‘cure’ or deny, one that will always feel raw. This is life. . . [T]here may be an implicit culture of blaming clients for their unchosen life circumstances (Vos, 2019, p. 76).



. . .[W]e are all, always directional – just as we are all, always breathing, or embodied, or sensing the world around us. So, from this perspective, a depressed young person is as directional as a highly functioning adult. This is not, in any way, to suggest that they experience the world in the same way, or have similar levels of hope, freedom, or control. But that, as human beings, each is responding proactively to their worlds – and, . . . in the best ways that they know how (Cooper, 2019, p. 17).




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