Friday, 29 February 2008

Set Your Week-End Up Right

Just been to visit Maryannaville as well as some great recent posts why not switch this track on and chill! :)

You might ponder as you listen THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON. too...

I can see that being an intellectual elitist is not a good thing, but surely celebrating the fact that you are proud to be part of an 'unthinking elite' is just gullible.

Just wear a badge/pin 'Proud to be Thick' so we know to speak s...l...o..w..l...y..

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Listening in for the Truth

Now, just because you eavesdrop does that necessarily mean you are closer to the truth?

RR says:

The discussion of issues relating to the nature and explanatory power of truth requires us to engage with our ontological standpoint, (what we believe to exist), our epistemological standpoint, (how we can justify what we know), and the interrelationships between the two. Both of these notions are extensive areas of philosophical concern in their own right. In summary then:

Our ontological position represents our explanations of what we regard as ‘real’. This can be fairly non-specific such as ‘a culture’ or very precise such as ‘a tree’ so that in crude terms the former implies an idealist ontology and the latter a ‘realist’. Blaikie (2007:14-18) outlines a more sophisticated categorisation of ‘realism’, where at one end of the spectrum there are ‘shallow realists’ where only observable ‘things’ and events are admissible, associated with naturalism, the natural sciences and the contention that there is “little difference between the behaviour of inanimate objects and that of human beings, the logic of enquiry appropriate to the natural sciences can also be used in the social sciences” (Blaikie ibid) through, conceptual, cautious, and depth realist positions, on to the idealists who contend that the external world is made up entirely of representations in the mind, and finally the subtle realist who agrees that there are independent knowable entities, its just that we can’t access them directly.

Our epistemological position involves us determining what we claim to be a warranted or justified belief. Robert Audi (1998) summarises our sources of justification, knowledge and truth as, Perception, Memory, Consciousness, Reason, and Testimony. Epistemologists carefully distinguish between knowledge and belief, causing us to face up to the conundrum that it is possible to believe things that are not true and disbelieve things that are true.

The significance of our epistemological position in relation to what we believe to be true is explained by Johnson and Dubberly (2000:1-2) who point out that epistemological commitments go frequently unrecognised, yet they are a “key feature of our pre-understandings which influence how we make things intelligible” going on to say that “our debates and conjectures about what is true pre-suppose prior agreement…about how we determine whether or not something is true” The challenge this poses is not insignificant, and echoes the general problem of using truth to define truth mentioned above. This challenge is characterised as the ‘circularity of epistemology’ (Johnson and Dubberly 2000:4) whereby any epistemological position is based upon having an epistemological view about what that position should be, such that “everyone adheres to some theory about what constitutes warranted knowledge” (Johnson and Dubberly 2004:5) and as with ontological positions there are a range of epistemological positions that can be taken too. Broadly speaking these resolve out into Rationalist, where only the mind can be trusted, Positivist relying on empirical evidence, Relativist and socially constructed epistemologies, whereby truths are created in the minds of people. Each general position contains nuanced variations.

Understandings of ontological and epistemological claims therefore lie at the heart of any discussion concerning the nature of Truth, and the role of Truth in explanations. An example of their significance in relation to social science enquiry is given by Martin Hollis (1994) who shows how the different ontological and epistemological positions taken by Karl Marx and John Stuart Mill influences their explanation of the truth in social affairs. Marx uses a naturalistic ontology, that values the methods of natural science for investigating social concerns, sees a world that consists of, forces of production, and legal and political superstructures, whereas Mill ignores these ‘things’ and refers to individuals and their ‘character’ and is less confident in the scientific method. Marx’s epistemology suggests that ‘social beings determine consciousness’ i.e. perceptions matter, whereas Mill confines “knowledge of the world to beliefs which observation can justify”.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

His Dark Materialism

So which bit of children materialsim bad for is the difficult to understand?

Anyone with even a cursory awareness of Marketing will know that in its more rabid forms of managerialist expression it draws from sophisticated pyschological and philosophical insights about our needs and behaviours.

Children whilst showing sophisticated discrimination between brands are entirely unaware of the cues that tap into their formative understandings and impressions of self and identity. Therefore a question has to be asked about the integrity of campaigns and initiatives that exploit vulnerabilities. claim that marketing endevours are simply about freedom of choice and the presentation of alternatives is rather disingenuous when the 'targets' lack self-awareness and, lack awareness of the methods and techniques that tap into unconscious triggers and sense-making.

Materialism might keep the economic engine going with its country cousin Consumerism, however a singular lack of concern for an integral approach that accounts for the mental well being of the consumer and society is shameful.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

DNA Database Unravels the Truth

Come on everyone! just how gullible are we if we ever thought that we had such a thing as a private life!

The DNA database isn't materially going to change anything, except perhaps in terms of scope of speed. The nature of our 'non-privacy' isn't going o be affected any way in the slightest.

Now that we have had the wake up call, perhaps we might pay more attention to really managing our privacy rather than just gullibly assuming that we have it...

I predict that the next most significant social trend will be 'anonimisation'

which is an explicit concern by everyone about ways to reduce their profile.

Imagine...we could have Social Not-working, the internet becomes full of sites where you don't publish a profile, no discussions take place, you have no friends, you're never tagged...hang on a minute that sounds like real life but without the DNA.

You read it here first folks!...Oh and just because you're sitting at the back of the class doesn't mean I can't see you!

Saturday, 23 February 2008

"E for Excellent Blogger Award" & awardees

Blogging is made so much better when someone likes what you post enough to give a bit of recognition. To get a pat on the back from fellow bloggers is far more gratifying than some techno-analytical authority ranking.

My thanks go to Saboma...have a great week-end biking. She got her award via Cojoto and it is with great pleasure that I adhere to the rules which state that after receiving the Excellent Blog Award, you must pass it on to 10 more excellent bloggers. So here are, to quote Mary Ann "my ten victims, uhm, I mean recipients"

Step up to the plate and pick up this award my fellow excellent Bloggers! Congratulations.

Scott Shepherd
Textual Relations
Angry Astronomer
Liz Strauss
Des Walsh
Joolz at Life in the NHS
Fish Without a Bicycle
Dan Leone

and bonus award to:

and the squid-time achievement award goes to:
Inventive Problem Solving

The Truth about the UK?

Stumble onto the BBC News Website and you'd be forgiven for thinking that being in the UK means you are living in some sort of Orwellian cum Dante-esque world of hyper surveillance and violent crime.

Road side cameras that can check the water and blood make up of car pasengers??!!, serial killings, missing children, political fraud. Is all of this designed to emphasise the dissonance between the 'happy' aspirations pumped at us via the idiots lantern so that we go out and spend to feel better? What is the truth about the UK?

RR says:
As soon the search for ‘a better’ definition of Truth starts however, two main issues emerge:

Firstly, there is the problem posed by the conceptual nature of Truth itself. This means it is impossible to avoid using the term when discussing the concept. For example, if I say “Truth corresponds to reality” the truth of my claim is based on my version of what truth is. As David Lynch explains “you cannot argue over a theory of truth without using the concept, because to question a theory, is to question its truth”.

Secondly, what is it that we are really searching for when we ask ‘What is Truth?' Here we can make the distinction between seeking:

The ‘Nature’ of Truth, concerning the questions relating to its conceptual make up, and the theories that are put forward to capture this.

And the

‘Explanatory role’ of Truth, concerning how we determine what is true in the world.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

US Missile Explodes the Truth

Now, call me cycnial, but the recent US example of target practice under the auspices of removing a 'toxic' item that would of caused trouble on earth if it had re-entered the atmosphere seems a little bit contrived.

The content of the offical statement seems notionally plausible enough, and the meta-message that it is communicating seems more plausible still. i.e.'look at our capability'. No wonder the Russians and the Chinese are getting a bit squiffy.

Simple Deterrence Theory requries Communication, Capability, and Credibility,to be effective in the world of Real Politik and all three factors have been amply achieved by shooting the satellite down.

What's is Troooooooooooooooooooooth

I've been spending a few minutes over at Blogcatalog and noticed a discussion run by Carolyn and after browsing her profile I saw this really interesting blog that she has created called Angels and Ghosts

There is a Meta Title too which says 'The Haunted Truth' and so in the spirit :) of my recent posts on truth it was a link toooooo good to miss.

RR says:
How easy is it to define truth?

When we begin to scratch the surface of any dictionary or everyday definition of Truth it starts to become clear that we are not dealing with something as obvious as we might have first thought. Everyday definitions of ‘truth’ are likely to relate truth to ‘the facts’, yet as soon as we agree on this, we can disagree what a ‘fact’ is because we know from our daily experiences that there can be ‘versions’ of the facts. People come to know that there are facts and there are opinions. Voltaire cited by David Lynch in The Nature of Truth, suspecting that there are deep challenges in getting beyond a mundane definition of Truth dryly remarked that the Truth should be considered “while waiting for a better definition, as - a statement of facts as they are”.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Does the Appeal of Obama's Change open you to Gullibility?

The latest success of Barak Obama in the Wisconsin Primary makes me wonder if a tipping point is approaching?

This tipping point has less to do with political argument and more to do with crowd behaviour. This means that voters in up-coming primaries will sub-consciously post rationalise their vote as 'I voted for the winner' rather than consciously choose because 'I voted for the policy'

An additional dimension comes from the desire to change. Change implies renewal and opportunity and that is very appealing, that's why we always buy 'new' things...the question is...will the change be achieved safely?

Monday, 18 February 2008

Al Fayed will the Truth come out?

Mr Al Fayed goes to court today and is quoted as saying that he had been "fighting for 10 years" and added: "With God's help I hope the truth will come out."

An interesting appeal to the metaphysical in the absence of empirical evidence I think!

As a bereaved Father I'm sure we can all recognise the strength of feeling shown by Mr Al Fayed, however it is precisely in situations of long term, ambiguous, high emotion where we as human beings seek to 'fill in the gaps' with our theories, to help us cope and make-sense with the unexpected, unwanted, and unbelievable.

On the one hand it is tempting to reject his conspiracy theory as absurd and his appereance at court as'show boating', on the other hand for any of us with no access to the evidence, or the power to get past the powerful, the prospect of uncovering the unequivocal truth is unlikely.

The most pragmatic option we have is to trust the independence of the judiciary to protect the interests of society an those involved.

If Mr Al Fayed turns his day in court into a grotesque 'freak show' emphasising 'belief' rather than 'knowledge' the he will have let his son down.

We are all capable of believing things that are not true and disbelieving things that are true...

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Wiseing Up to Business Gullibility

After many years in business and latterly several years in buiness higher education, a few pennies are beginning to drop! Now frequent readers will realise that I come at most things from from a Critical Theory position, and in this case I might be mistaken for biting the hand that feeds me, however, 'falling asleep' and 'accepting' as normal the way business has been organised is not really helpful in my view.

That's why I did this recent Stumble post 2 Key Tips for Business Success and I've set up Marketing is Unethical as a Hey Monkey Brain squid lens that aims to heat up the conversation.

As well as Jurgen Habermas I reckon that Michel Foucault has got a useful approach, as someone who... "refuses to let comfortable practices alone…forever questioning ideas and turning upside down the institutions that support these ideas”

With the functions of marketing and HR in mind I really favour the approach that... "continues to unsettle, to disturb and ultimately undermine the stability and reputability of positive forms of knowledge” This is the opposite effect to the MBA-ing of our workplaces which David Knights (Organisational Scholar not Procul Harmum's bass guitarist btw)says is... “attractive to management…because it contributes to the transformation of management practice into an expertise that is supported by knowledge” and “provides some illusion of control, legitimacy, and security in the face of uncertainty”

By questioning current forms of business, and its organisation we will erdicate the 'Marketing Mystics' and the 'HR Psychometrists" from our organisations, and avoid the toxic management that they purvey.

Check out Textual Relations for more discussion in this arena.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

What Needs Sorting Out to get to the Truth?

RR Says:

We could, of course, simply accept Korzybski’s claim as true and unquestionable, however if we wish to take issue, we are faced with thinking carefully about and explicating our position in relation to notions of reality, objectivity, and subjectivity, logic and how we might be justified in believing what we do. Being “interconnected to so many other interesting philosophical concepts is…why truth seems deep and why it seems important to understand what truth is” Lynch (The Nature of Truth 2001: 2)

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Historians Discover St Valentine was a Roman Retailer

A UK researcher has uncovered evidence that Valentine of Rome was a merchant of extraordinary guile and expertise. I give you not one, not two not even three Valentines! Today I'm making you the amazing offer seven, yes you heard seven Valentinii who were martyred in ancient Rome.

Valentine was one of the first merchants to realise that the Plebs (that's you and me today folks) were more concerned with superficial materialism, rather than a deep understanding of the nature of true love so, he devised a range of 'love token's' that people could buy as a 'short cut' to love and save all the hard work! He originally had the idea to help him get over a cash flow problem that had been caused by overspending and cash strapped Plebs at the festival of Mithras (our Xmas) and soon realised that some people actually drew a direct connection between the size of the gift and the size of their professed love.

Over time he then realised that the Plebs were so obsessed with superficiality that he attempted to re-focus their attention on more spiritual matters by re-branding himself as St Valentine. In this way he hoped that people would not loose sight of the fact that love was a deep concept based on unconditional behaviour, and trust in other words actions rather than tokens.

In later years he became dismayed that the act of love only happened once a year,coinciding with the anniversary of the opening of his first shop on Ides of Februarius This wasn't to be and he became the patron Saint of Retailers (who some now suspect as a deviant form of luciferian and occult practice)

The modern Cult of Valentine can be witnessed as acolytes are lulled into a glassy eyed dreamlike state in the days running up to the anniversary by sub-conscious and repetitive messages to acquire love tokens. Then on the day itself people, assuming they are expressing the extent of their love for another are whipped into a frenzy of conspicuous spending as they pay homage.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Gullibility...the Betrayal of Trust

I've just been introduced to the writing of British Sociologist Anthony Giddens Now, as a heavy weight academic he's probably not the prefered reading of us every day types...and that's a shame really because he has some interesting things to say about Trust and by implication Gullibility.

In his book Consequences of Modernity (Modernity being the sort of world we live in today) he say "Trust may be defined as confidence in the reliability of a person or system regarding a given set of outcomes or events, where confidence expresses faith in the probity or love of another, or in the correctness of abstract principles (technical knowledge)"

So, there we have it "confidence in the reliability of..." If such confidence is betrayed then the gullible are clearly victims and not stupid, feeble minded, weak and deserving of bad treatment.

In Dilemmas Of Leadership p142 "trust is a way of exploiting the gullible"

The sad fact of this reality though is that in order to protect oursleves we have to be constantly sceptical and cynical...maybe that's why trust is a priceless commodity in the social affairs of human beings, and why its betrayal deserves no quarter? Or does Saying Sorry make it better?

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Why All The Buzz About The Mosquito?

The UK seems to have a systemic problem with 'Youth', especially that category of 'yoof' that hangs around mini-marts in small towns with a swaggering attitude, usually with some agressive looking dog as a rap-esque 'aggro-ornament'.

That Something is rotten in the state of Britain is a problem created for the social researcher!

The latest solution a low level sonic weapon is typical of the type of idea that comes from the 'managerialist' mind set. An attitude that frames problems and their solutions from a staunchly Positivistic outlook. i.e. There is one reality, clear causes and effects, things that can be measured and changed with one off interventions. Now, don't get me wrong I'm definitely not a wishy washy relativist. I don't believe gangs of teeneagers have a 'right' to gather in ways that distrurb (implicitly or explicitly) our peace and sense of well- being. Neverthless, the behaviourist techno-solution is hardly the most imaginative solution to a complex problem.

How can a remote technical device stand any chance of generating the 'inner' change that is needed by these individuals. Multiple 'low level' interventions of a mixed sort might stand more chance here! Why not descend into Chaos another way :)

For an additional view see: .Humemes

The solutions that we come up with depend on our interpretaion of the 'truth of the matter' and where the trouble really starts:

RR says:
David Lynch (2001)suggested that a map might be just the thing for anyone who is “lost in the thickets of the contemporary debate” regarding the complex problem of truth. As well as providing a navigational device, the idea of maps also provides an immediate example of the sorts of issues that can arise when considering the subject of truth. Alfred Korzybski (1941) remarked that “the map is not the territory”, claiming human beings can never access a true representation of reality because human sensory apparatus and language act as a sort of interpretative ‘middleware’ between the real world and the ‘knower’

Monday, 11 February 2008

Is Gullibility a Philosophical Attitude?

Now, its clear that some thoughtful types have pondered (apols Russell) the differences and similarities between philosophy and religion.

Check out Religion vs Philosophy for more.

One thing that has struck me (and I blame myself for being so gullible) is that philosophers don't execute the gullible if they don't 'get' or agree with what they say, and I'm pretty sure too that advocates of philosophy don't seek out the gullible and kill them, or ask them to resign their positions in case of disagreement.

So, might the difficulties that Dr Rowan Williams has encountered be because he has approached his subject philosophically rather than religiously? This means that he's been 'gullible' rather than irrelgious so why don't those that disagree with him let him off the hook? if you see what I mean...

Friday, 8 February 2008

Has Archbishop Rowan Williams been Gullible?

Whenever somebody makes any type of radical suggestion, our reaction can tend to go one of three ways, acceptance, rejection or ambivalence..Our position ususlly connects to our 'ego involvement' on an issue. The more it affects our identity the stronger we feel it. Suggesting that the UK might adopt parts of a legal system from another culture certainly confronts you with your sense of identity! What is 'Britishness' by the way?

So, its not surprisng that Dr Rowan Williams' suggestion that the UK might consider adpoting elements of Sharia Law is highly controversial. Another way of explaining the various reactions is to consider Kuhn's notion of Incommensurabilitywhich means that often 'schools of thought' lock out any ideas that don't fit with with their way of seeing it.

So what is the 'right' way to make law? Is there a truth about the law? What is Truth in this context? How can comments such as Dr Williams be understood in the context of a secular society which has clear water between the law and religion?

The debate playing out touches on many dimensions of truth, supernatural truth, metaphyscial truth, epistemlogical truth. What is the true in the reporting and analysis of Dr Williams statements?

RR says:
Unfortunately the question ‘what is truth?’ means dealing with something even more disconcerting than simple ‘falsehood’ it means we have to confront ‘ambiguity’, an uncertain limbo-land where we can’t quite conclude with any degree of confidence what something is or is not. Ambiguity is the nemesis of our instinct for certainty; with ambiguity we can never be sure of ‘touching the walls’. This is a scary place. If I can’t decide what truth is am I feeble and stupid? Am I weak and indecisive? Am I merely running with the foxes and chasing with hounds? Ultimately I can, of course, be more confident of one thing and that is my opinion about truth, I can at least attempt an answer to the question ‘what is my understanding of truth?'

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Egg Banking - What Is Truth?

So what is the truth behind the Egg decision to withdraw its card from 160,000 users? I guess we'll never really know.

What is interesting to me though is the reaction of customers to the decision because it reveals to me clear evidence of the manipulation of the truth by big business in their attempts to win customers.

No wonder customers are suprised at the Egg move, when up until now they have been enticed and persuaded with messages that have conveyed that Egg is 'at your service', able to facilitate straightforward lending , and that credit worthiness was a 'rational' and objective decision.

I don't have any problem at all with Egss commercial decision. What I do have an issue with is the economy with which they dispensed the truth in their marketing campaigns up to this point.

Of course, there might be something in the small print that explains their rights, but by deliberately not drawing attention to it in ad campaigns it is clear they knew in advance it might have an adverse impact on customer acquisition.

Where in the marketing blurb, up front, in your face, does it say that they are bank that can subjectively decide on their terms, with no notice if you are a good customer or not? To emphasise, I do not disgree with their right to do this, or the principle of controlled lending I object that they imply they are something they are not in order to win customers.

Banks are not a service business they are in the business of making money from lending. They should be prohibited in law from marketing themselves as a 'service' of any kind! and be strictly controlled in terms of the overt and covert persuasive techniques deployed in advertising.

What is the Truth about Hilary and Barak

Time to get the Alethiometerout folks!

Now would we expect a The US Youth Vote to be Sceptical or Gullible? On the one hand youth is curious and questioning on the other (before it develops relativism) it is believes in the tooth fairy, army recruitment adverts,and celebrity.

RR says:
It seems that we are motivated by a need for certainty. The need to know what is true in our lives and what is false. When something is ‘true’ we feel safe in its certitude, we know what it is, where it is, and what will happen next. When something is ‘false’ it is not to be trusted, it creates unease and it should be avoided. Being true is dependable and reputable; being false is untrustworthy and bad. So, the prospect of finding the truth about truth is very appealing.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

What Is Truth?

As you may have noticed, I've been remiss in posting recently. That's because I've had to do some pondering on Pontious Pilates tricky question.

The next few posts are going to be a series of snippets from a paper I've written (Waoaahhhh the crowd roars - smart ass alert!)...and where possible a sceptical nod to current affairs too.

Well do you think we'll ever know the truth about Britney? I blame Britney's Peers.