Terri Schiavo: We're Too Smart! [Updated From Dkos]


[Adapted, with some additions, from Dkos]

A press release from the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) regarding the Terry Schiavo circus caught my attention. The complexity of thought it embodied contrasted sharply with the GOP/MSM discourse and reminded me of a typology of adult reasoning that goes like this:

  • Sequential thinkers reason "by tracking the world," recognize regularities in sequences of events, but have no abstract understanding of cause and effect.  The world they perceive is a world of appearances that has very little organization to it beyond the recurrence of sequences.

  • Linear thinkers understand cause and effect, limited to a one-direction, one-cause/one-effect model.  The world they perceive has logical order and structure, but the structure is invariably hierarchical, causality flows top-down, and the world is divided neatly into cause and effect.  

  • Systematic thinkers understand multi-faceted, multi-linear cause and effect, with mutual cause-and-effect relationships between different elements.  The world they perceive is primarily a world of systems and relationships, rather than objects.

Below: what we might learn.
The typology I'm using comes from Shawn Rosenberg (no relation) in the 1988 book, Reason, Ideology and Politics. It is discussed along with other developmental approaches in an online papepr, Structures of geopolitical reasoning.

The IPA press release is here. I think it's just great. But it's operating inside the reality-based community. The Schiavo circus is not just outside that community--it's in another universe. Hence, the need to focus our reality-based skills on understanding that enormous gap.

First, I want to establish that IPA's experts are operating as systematic thinkers. Then I want to delve more deeply into sequential thinking, and show how it explains the GOP's SOP. Then I want to draw a few conclusions & invite responses.

Here's what IPA's experts say:


The AP recently reported: "The Schiavos' lawyer said her 1990 collapse was caused by a potassium imbalance brought on by an eating disorder. It is a cruel twist lost on no one close to the case: A woman who is said to have struggled with an eating disorder is now in the middle of a court battle over whether her feeding tube should be removed so that she can starve to death."

Kilbourne is author of the book Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel, and creator of the "Killing Us Softly: Advertising's Image of Women" film series. She said today: "Congress holds a special session, Bush jets back to Washington from vacation, the case might go all the way to the Supreme Court. Imagine if all this energy and media attention focused instead on the self-loathing and hatred of their own bodies that our culture generates in women and the rampant eating disorders that often result. Now that might save the lives of many young women for whom it is not too late."

Here we see "a world of systems and relationships, rather than objects." There is also, at least implicitly, awareness of "multi-faceted, multi-linear cause and effect."

There are multiple reasons why this case is before us. One of those reasons is the eating disorder which lead--along with other factors--to Terri Schiavo being in a persistent vegetative state. So, the simple act of focusing on one of these reasons--a factor generally ignored by the media--is by itself an example of systematic thinking.  

Of course, I'm making an assumption here--that the author would not deny the existence of other factors. But that seems like a pretty safe assumption. Above all, including this perspective in our approach to the case definitely puts us into the realm of "multi-faceted, multi-linear cause and effect."



National coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program, Young has chaired the Department of Medicine at Chicago's Cook County Hospital. He said today: "It is stunning how little regard this president has for human life. His interest seems to extend to only one tragic brain-damaged woman. The U.S. is the only industrialized country to lack health care coverage for all citizens. Over 18,000 Americans perish every year because they lack health insurance. A lack of health insurance increases the chances a 55-year-old will die before they turn 64 by 40 percent. If the president wanted to save lives he would call for an emergency session to make Congress vote to extend Medicare to every American."

Again, this passage clearly presents us with "a world of systems and relationships, rather than objects." Here is someone who doesn't need to see a picture of someone to know that they are out there, dying needlessly.  



A Jesuit priest and author of the books Virtuous Passions and Nonviolence for the Third Millennium , Harak is anti-militarism coordinator of the War Resisters League. He said today: "One of the first things we learn is that the more universal your ethical principles are, the more moral force they have. I hear of Bush's flying back to D.C. to sign the Schiavo bill, and I think of him flying back from his first presidential campaign to sign the death warrants of Texas prisoners. I think of Bush signing a bill in Texas to cut off funds for life support for people who want their children to live, but can't afford it. I hear of the government's concern for this individual, tragic case, and I think of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children whom we diseased and starved to death during sanctions, and now the hundred thousand more Iraqis who have died in this invasion and occupation. How universal, how convincing, is the concern?"

Again we see a world of systems and relationships, rather than objects.  The relationships of universality and consistency are invoked as providing more moral force, and they are found lacking in Bush.

By presenting us with these three different perspectives, IPA is further heightening the systematic view of this case.  The more different perspectives we take, the more different causal relationships we are likely to perceive, and draw connections between.

Now let's turn to the Bush, the GOP and the MSM.  Let me begin by restating the lowest form of adult thinking:

  • Sequential thinkers reason "by tracking the world," recognize regularities in sequences of events, but have no abstract understanding of cause and effect.  The world they perceive is a world of appearances that has very little organization to it beyond the recurrence of sequences.

Well, what more needs to be said, really?  But here are some more things that can be said about sequential thinkers. The first two come from the paper linked to above:

  • The notion of causality, e.g. that events are caused by necessary and sufficient preconditions, does not play a salient role in the sequential mind. Events transpire, without much interpretation of how they come about. The attention is occupied by one item at a time, and there is little spontaneous effort to relate them to other items or to a general context.

  • The sequential thinker is not really aware that the world may appear differently to other people, and he or she has therefore a limited ability to take the perspective of others.

  • Sequential thinking involves conceptual relations that "are synthetic without being analytic.  They join events together but the union forged is not subject to any conceptual dissection." [Direct quote from Rosenberg's book.] Because such relations are non-rational, there is nothing rational one can say or do to change them. (Sound familiar?)

  • But they can change, Rosenberg explains, based on changing appearances. These relationships "are mutable," they can either be extended, based on "share[d] recognized overlapping events" (connections provided by Limbaugh, O'Lielly, etc.) or changed, when the sequence does not play out as expected.  Because it is a pre-logical mode of thought, "the relations of sequential thought engender expectations, but do not create subjective standards of normal or necessary relations between events." People who think this way can be quite unbothered by the lack of consistency that Reverand Harak highlighted.  They certainly won't make the connections he does, given their inability to think abstractly. So when he makes the connections, it seems arbitrary to them--just as their own thinking is quite arbitrary, though they may not realize it.

From all the above, I draw one simple conclusion: We have to fight fire with fire. Associational, sequential thinking has be countered with the same sort of thinking, simply because sequential thinkers can't grasp anything else. One narrative has to be countered with another narrative. Criticism--logical analysis--of a narrative will not have any effect on sequential thinkers, but a power counternarrative will

That's why associating this whole charade with outside interference in family affairs is such a winner. Not only is that obviously true, it absolves us of having to make any more abstract arguments, and connects with a powerful well of narrative strength. Stories about families fighting to stay together in the face of outside forces are as old as Adam and Eve and as new as Veronica Mars.  I'm not saying that Bush & DeLay are the Serpent, but, if the shoe fits...

It also works to bring in other associations. This is clearly grandstanding, a power-grab, a distraction from other important business, etc. It works to make these points, provided we come back to them again and again, since it is the repetition of the points, rather than the logic which appeals to the sequential mind.

Does this mean that everything in politics has to be reduced to this lowest-common-denominator level? No! Absolutely not. But for grand dramas like this--which draw in people who don't follow politics regularly--the sequential approach is absolutely required.

It's not just that a lot of sequential thinkers are watching, who ordinarily don't follow politics. It's also that the media employs sequential thinking itself.  It's all about images, appearances, and relations that "are synthetic without being analytic." Logical arguments are irrelevent. "Cannonical arguments" are all that matter--and these can be utterly incoherent, it doesn't matter, as long as they are repeated and respect. They are simply a sequence of statements invoking the appearance of causality.

Does that mean there is no room for the sorts of experts IPA presents? Not really. But we have to prepare a space for them--and we have to do that using sequential means.

Lakoff presents us with a means for doing this. Everything he has to say about frames is based on associational thinking ("Don't Think of An Elephant"--the very title relates to this, the logical NOT operator just doesn't work on the most basic level of thought.)  

This is not to say that Lakoff is opposed to more sophisticated thinking. In fact, he shows repeatedly in his work on cognitive metaphor that there are logical entailments involved. But the power of cognitive metaphor is that these logical entailments work on a very basic, subconscious level. In effect, they organize the appearance of associations, without engaging us in conscious analytical thinking (at the linear or systematic level). If we put our minds to it, and devote our sophisticated thinking into crafting the frames and the metaphors we want to use, then we actually can get more sophisticated ideas across.  

It's even possible to introduce metaphors that legitimate systematic thinking, even to people who aren't up to it themselves.  This is part of why people respect the opinions of authorities they cannot understand.  This is not a good thing, in general.  But obviously there are cases where it is necessary. (Getting a doctor's diagnosis, for example.) And if people are going to do it anyway, then it's better to have authorities in front of them who actually know what they're talking about.

Finally, in certain fora, it's quite normal to assume that most people are at least linear thinkers.  Sequential thinkers are not, generally, avid consumers of print media. So the experts IPA highlights can still have their say, and influence people who can understand them. IPA is not just spitting in the wind. But we do have to watch out for the wind tunnels.

Tags: (all tags)



Multi-phase approach?
I think that you are right:  a powerful counternarrative ("the ste is interfering in family matters") is a winner.  It's true and it fits nicely into the media's infantilizing "he said, she said" narrative paradigm (or should I say epistemology??)  But would it be a good idea to switch to more "systematic' models of thinking/arguing once the MSM/GOP narrative has been countered?  It's an open question, but it's one i feel compelled to pose because in the long run, i would like to accomplish more than the spiking of the GOP's rhetorical cannons.
by KDMfromPhila 2005-03-24 07:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Multi-phase approach?
I agree wholeheartedly with your intent, but to get there I think the best approach will be a sequential one. First dwell on one association, then on another. That's for the sound-bite and drama-driven TV set. There can always be more sophisticated arguments made in print.

To go beyond simply countering the GOP, I'd say we should segue from criticizing the interference to saying, "Of course we agree with the purported sentiment of protecting the least among us. That's why the Republicans quoted Hubert Humphrey in making their argument. Because Democrats have always beleived in that. Now we'd like the GOP to join us in doing something that Humphrey deeply believed in--give us universal health care for all Americans, so that we can save tens of thousands of lives every year."

Too wordy for TV, maybe, but it's the drift of where I would go if I were Harry Reid.  And it's not systematic thinking. It's simply shifting the association of compassion back to its original place--with the politics of Hubert Humphrey, rather than Richard Nixon. (HMO's were a Nixonian invention, btw.)  

Real compassion for the least among us=universal health care. That's the association that I would push. I would have every Senator and every Representative do some sort of press conference, town meeting and/or photo op to underscore this point. Get photos with family members of people who died because they didn't have insurance.

Then bring those families to Washington for a lobbying day, and do a big press conference on the Capitol Steps to kick it off.  Make sure that local media came along to follow the families as they lobby helpful Democrats and heartless Republicans.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 07:40AM | 0 recs
I'm almost shedding a tear
Rather than simply watch a dialog between the republicans and the people (and occasionally tsk-tsking), the left needs to be out there offering a comprehensive synthesis. Let us sieze the mantle of compassion and decency that might actually win over people who are tired of economic logic (so-called) leaving the vulnerable and the weak unprotected.

Reach out to the Catholics et. al. and offer them a holistic vision of a society that puts others before self. That is really the bottom line when it comes to taxes and spending, the environment and consumption, abortion and health care and a host of other issues. When the default "frame" is self above all, a la free market social darwinism and "privacy".

by Paul Goodman 2005-03-24 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Multi-phase approach?
We are in agreement:  I didn't make the time interval clear enough.  This is a great analysis and you've make things clear that you've been mentioning for some time.  
by KDMfromPhila 2005-03-24 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Multi-phase approach?
The Dems need to give you a job.
by Mimikatz 2005-03-24 10:34AM | 0 recs
No Argument From Me! n/t
by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 11:15AM | 0 recs
Re: No Argument From Me! n/t
I don't know to whom a potential job is being offered, but I will say that Paul deserves something for this piece of work, not to mention many of his other diaries.

That said, if someone wants to offer me a job, I will galdly listen :)

by KDMfromPhila 2005-03-24 12:03PM | 0 recs
Culture of Life Universal Health Care Bill
We should use their language in the title of the bill for universal health care. "Culture of Life Universal Health Care Bill" is my initial suggestion but someone should be able to take "Culture of Life" and with either COL or CL turn it into some snappy acronymed bill titles, as the repugs would most certainly do.
by kainah 2005-03-24 03:27PM | 0 recs
Dumbing of the issues and the use of Simulacra
Paul, this is a fascinating philosophical and logical look at human thought processes.

As as optimist, I believe that Sequential thinkers can move to Linear thinking with some effort, an exponential jump is required but possible for Linear thinkers to advance to Systematice thinkers. The solution - High Speed connections and the internet.

But first I want to rationalize some of what you brilliantly layed out.

I want to use The Matrix as the example because of its huge Philosophical overtones. Sequential and Linear thinkers are people who get up in the morning, go to work, punch in, follow their boss or Manager's rules (top-down), complete their tasks, maybe check the news online, answer some dopy-gossipy e-mails, read The New York Post not the NY Times, go home at 5PM, watch Peter Jennings on ABC, Access Hollywood, God knows what else, goto sleep and repeat process next day. Friday 5PM comes around and this Seq. and Linear thinker continues to not educate themselves, but - and here is the point, this thinker does an important role in society, they do one small thing, they do the job they are asked to do. These people are plugged into the grid and not capable of being freed from this life, especially when our education system promotes the thoughtlessness. The worker ants that are required in any system, alluded to in Steve Johnsons, "Emergence".

I won't comment on how to reach Systematic thinkers since you have already touched on it.

Have you noticed that ADD-HDD and other disablities are up each year to the point that if you compare today to 25 years ago, Millions of kids are diagnosed, drugged and remain drugged until they are just out of puberty. This partially stems from being fed terrible food, junk food, fast food and way too much TV. The other side of it is the lack of parental intelligence.

Lets look at history, when Tom Brokaw wrote the book, "The Greatest Generation", they were the greatest because sequentials, linears and systematic thinkers came together for a common cause and we had "manufacturing". Tom does not mention this or think about it in this way, but that generation had jobs for people at all levels of society, everyone felt compelled to get involved and everyone had a hand in the growth of the American society.

I know things have changed but during the Clinton years more people were working, more people were saving and a technological boom was on the horizon, namely the internet. A new paradigm comes into play.

Conclusion: Unplug your TV or put it on Mute and turn on your High-Speed internet and learn. Take the Pill that unplugs you. The internet will eventually so intelligent that I can envision a day when 2 things happen, all information that exists will be digital on the vast networks of the net and that net will have a 3D component that pulls up a face of Paul Rosenberg, virtually and that face has looked at all of your posts and opinions and I can have a discussion with you while you are sleeping. The second thing I envision is that Voting will not occur while having to wait on lines, but instead online. This form of voting will be the idealic concept of the American Idol where America gets to vote.

Sorry for the diatribe, I look forward to discussing this.

by neolib 2005-03-24 07:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Dumbing of the issues and the use of Simulacra
While I would quibble with you on some of your minor points, I agree 100% with yuor big picture points.  Susan Faludi's Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man is an excellent examination of how the social solidarity of the New Deal/WWII order was sold out.

I think that the internet definitely has enormous potential for stimulating cognitive development. But I've also been dealing with techno-libertarians and other conservatives online for over a decade now, and these guys don't have a learning curve, not even a flat one. They don't have a curve at all, they have a pathologically discontinuous function, that doesn't even have a derivative.

So, it's up to those of us who can evolve to evolve as much as possible, and to work on shaping cybersapce to make it even more development-inducing.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 08:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Dumbing of the issues and the use of Simulacra
You have layed a remarkable thought process that explains fully what the tactics are of the Right, the inner workings of most thinkers who fit into these categories and as JB said correctly that Bush has had great handlers of his shtick.

This begs the question of how do we counter this, who do we counter it with and will the public buy the same methodology of message dispersement that the Republicans employ?

by neolib 2005-03-24 08:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Dumbing of the issues and the use of Simulacra
PLease repeat after me:

Keep your hands off my body! Keep your nose out of my family's business! Keep your grubby paws off my Social Security program! Mind your own business!

Corporate scumbags! Crooked politicians! Reckless spendthrifts! Liars!

The last one is my favorite. Why is it so hard to call Bush a liar? Why do Democrats have to pretend that they think Bush is a nice, likeable guy? Did Republicans ever give Clinton credit for being a likeable guy? A regular, down home, folksy sort?

Excuse me for being blunt and perhaps a wee bit abrasive, but:

If it wasn't for ovaries the Democratic party wouldn't have any balls. The stinking rotten bastards have to learn how to call a spade a spade. When Matthews or Russert or Sheiffer asks, "Are you calling the President a liar?" They respond, "You're damn right I'm calling the President a liar, for the simple reason that he's a lying sack of shit!"

The same goes for Cheney, DeLay, Hastert, Frist and every other lying sack of shit Republican on the face of the planet. When they lie, you call them a lying sack of shit!

The American people can not take the red pill, because the Democratic party won't give it to them. The blue pill is the illusion of the Matrix. The red pill is the truth. You counter illusion with the truth. If the Democratic party keeps saying "Well maybe they have a point, but ..." we lose.

Tell the god damn American people the truth. The President of the United States of god damn fucking America is a lying sack of shit!

(Pardon me while I clean pieces of my exploding brain from my computer terminal)

by Gary Boatwright 2005-03-24 09:43AM | 0 recs
Would anyone care to classify this?
Is this post an example of sequential, linear, or systemic thought?


by Paul Goodman 2005-03-24 09:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Would anyone care to classify this?
I believe this is properly described as sequential thinking operating within a systemic paradigm that is directed at linear thinking lying sacks of shit.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-03-24 10:07AM | 0 recs
You get a 3 for making me laugh out loud. I should have given it to you right away. But seeing it again for the 8th or 9th time, and still physically chuckling.... well, better late than never.
by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 11:17AM | 0 recs
Re: LOL!
Thanks. On the other hand, if I'd thought it through completely I would have reversed the sequential and linear thinkers. I think what I'm actually trying to do is encourage the linear thinking DLCers to attack the lying sack of shit sequential thinkers.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-03-24 02:14PM | 0 recs
That's the morally defensible version of "let's you and him fight."
by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 02:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Right!
I've certainly been very clear that I would like to see the DLC Dems either start fighting Bush and the GOPers or go ahead and switch parties. I think we'd be better off ideologically, electorally and politically without the whole Faint Hearted Faction. I've got no use for any of them.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-03-24 09:55PM | 0 recs
Very interesting
The notion of causality, e.g. that events are caused by necessary and sufficient preconditions, does not play a salient role in the sequential mind. Events transpire, without much interpretation of how they come about. The attention is occupied by one item at a time, and there is little spontaneous effort to relate them to other items or to a general context.

That explains why nothing is George Bush's fault. He cuts taxes, but that has nothing to do with massive government deficits.

We invade Iraq because of the threat of WMD, but it doesn't matter that we don't find WMD. It's not Bush's fault that we didn't find WMD, because WMD didn't really have anything to do with the reason we invaded Iraq, once we didn't find them.

Cutting Medicaid has no relation to Terry Schiavo or millions of poor Americans who don't have health insurance. Cutting food stamps doesn't have anything to do with hungery children in America, because we have to cut the deficit so we can extend Bush's tax cuts.

O'Reilly can criticize Soros because the problem is the liberal media, but Rupert Murdoch is OK because corporate domination of the media isn't a problem. The fact that Rupert signs O'Reilly's check doesn't have anything to do with it, because that requires a sophisticated causal analysis.

Corporate lobbying and corporate campaign contributions don't have anything to do with corporate welfare because they are two entirely unrelated events.

I think I'm getting the hang of this sequential thinking business. Now the solution:

From all the above, I draw one simple conclusion: We have to fight fire with fire. Associational, sequential thinking has be countered with the same sort of thinking, simply because sequential thinkers can't grasp anything else. One narrative has to be countered with another narrative. Criticism--logical analysis--of a narrative will not have any effect on sequential thinkers, but a power counternarrative will.

Keep your hands off my body! Keep your nose out of my family's business! Keep your grubby paws off my Social Security program! Mind your own business!

Corporate scumbags! Crooked politicians! Reckless spendthrifts! Liars!

The last one is my favorite. Why is it so hard to call Bush a liar? Why do Democrats have to pretend that they think Bush is a nice, likeable guy? Did Republicans ever give Clinton credit for being a likeable guy? A regular, down home, folksy sort?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-03-24 08:03AM | 0 recs
You've Got It!
Those ubiquitous double standards, blame-shifting moves and selective applications of "absolute" moral principles all make perfect sense, now, don't they?

As for why it's so hard to call Bush a liar: because it was his greatest weakness, it's what Rove worked hardest to make unthinkable. And he did so mostly through associational means. Cowboys are simple, straightforward folks (straight shooters, don'tcha know!), so Bush is portraryed as a cowboy.  

All that other folksy stuff is done with the same intent.  He's so much like us that if he's a liar, it's like saying we're all liars.  This is not a logical (linear) argument, it's an associational, largely subliminal thought.

Think of all those photo ops with ordinary folks. With firemen after 9/11. All to make it hard to criticize him without seeming to criticize the ordinary folks he seemingly hung out with.

It's also the case that most of the time Bush doesn't lie. In fact, he's careful not to lie, but rather creates a false impression--which is also a form of associational/sequential thinking in action. This maneuver itself is what makes the intent to deceive so obvious and irrefutable.

I first became starkly aware of this when Max Sawicky told me that Bush was not claiming that his tax cuts were an economic stimulus. The argument was being made, Sawicky told me, but the Administration was being very careful not to say it outright. They were getting the media to say it for them.

The same thing can be seen with the whole buildup to invading Iraq. There are a few blatant lies that stand out, but most of the time it's innuendo, or it's cleverly phrased to create a strong impression, but when you parse it, actually what's being said denotatively is defensible, while what's being conveyed connotatively is clearly false.  And, as I said above, it's the misleading statements that aren't lies which are ultimately more revealing, more damning, more indicative of the carefully-calculated nature of the deceit than the occassional outright lies.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 08:32AM | 0 recs
Re: You've Got It!

That's all true, but it requires in-depth systematic thought to parse it properly.  That is why I think it is fine to call them liars:

Bush talked to us about Iraq and it turned out far worse than we expected.  That's no better than what happens when you visit an used car salesman, and those are the worst sort of liars.

See?  I'm not calling Bush a liar either...  But, not only can I leave that connotation, but I also am making him responsible for my understandings.  We need to re-establish the expectation that if something is wrong the government is responsible (especially right now).  Otherwise, it is too easy for the conservatives to build up their "government is useless" memes.

If we are going to fight fire with fire, we need to get good at saying stuff like this.

by PghArch 2005-03-24 12:12PM | 0 recs
my question
   I agree with this post that in certain situations it is necessary to "fight fire with fire", but is there a way to utilize systematic thinking to create powerful sequential narratives?  I think the most powerful narratives stem from a careful evaluation of the objects, actions, and meanings involved, and then finding how that evaluation connects viscerally.  It's about linking thinking and feeling in a meaningful way.  

  I'm not really sure what i'm getting at with this, but I'm sensing a cyclical nature to the topology described above.  If one were able to successfully distill the essence of a systematic argument it would result in powerful frames, metaphors, or narratives rooted in a fuller understanding of the issue.  This would allow for an opportunity to appeal to hope and the individual's sense of good, while simultaneously calling out and destroying sequential arguments based in fear and hatred.  I guess for me, it's about taking that extra step and not necessarily simplifying,  but finding a way to communicate to everyone, the power of a systematic argument.

I'm not sure if that all made sense, but I just thought I'd put it out there.

Good post.

by simplesinger 2005-03-24 08:49AM | 0 recs
The Purpose Of Art
One simple answer to this is "Yes, of course." And an example would be Arianna Huffington's suggestion about the narrative John Kerry should have used to present himself. It was brilliant, and if Kerry had used it, he would be President today. Here's an excerpt:

The problem is that Kerry is still only doling out his vision in drips and dribbles. He has not connected the dots with a bold narrative....

The irony is that the Kerry narrative is one of the great narratives in the history of American politics -- a personal tale that links his life story to the history of our times, to his vision for the renewal of America....

Kerry's political narrative starts on June 5, 1968 -- the night Bobby Kennedy was assassinated: John Kerry is on board the USS Gridley, returning home from Vietnam. He carries with him a dog-eared copy of RFK's political manifesto "To Seek a Newer World." During the last month, Kerry has been using the ship's radio to follow Kennedy's remarkable campaign run. But when he tunes in to hear the results of the California primary, the crackling radio delivers the horrifying news that Bobby has been gunned down -- news that rocks Kerry to his core. "It was strange," he says, "coming home from a place of violence to a place of violence. a violence that shook our very sense of the order of things."

This was the beginning of his coming of age as a leader, which culminated three years later with his 1971 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. With the help of former RFK speechwriter Adam Walinsky, Kerry crafted a compelling, unflinching speech filled with all the moral clarity, fearlessness, and boldness our current times demand. "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" memorably asked Lt. Kerry -- wrenching words just as applicable to today's Iraq as they were to Vietnam in '71.

Narratives are inherently sequential, so they can be either regressive or progressive. What stumps is is what stumped Kerry. He didn't create any narrative at all. He remained in a fragmented pre-narrative state.  This is fundamental. Everything else I have to say is just gravy. But I think the gravy is pretty good.

I think it's the highest purpose of art to take complex, high-level visions and express them in ways that people can grasp at a variety of different levels, from the visceral to the most complex.  So I would look to writers, artists, filmakers and the like for inspiration.  Not just to tell good progressive narratives, but to look for ways to tell complex ones that can be experienced at several different levels.

One of my favorite examples in this regard is Joss Whedon, creator of "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer." Whedon is a third-generation screenwriter, and a serious Shakespear lover. One Shakespearian device that Whedon uses repeatedly in different ways is doubling. Two different people, couples, or groups face a similar situation, and handle it in different ways, with different (or sometimes, surprisingly, similar) results.  

This device works on multiple levels, including the sequential, since it shows the sequential association breaking down--at least when the doubling happens in the same episode (much of it does, but much of the deeper doubling does not).  This provides a stimulus for sequential thinkers to gain some perspective and evolve.  But even if they don't evolve, they at least actively have to chose which one they identify with most, like most, etc. So it challenges them to think, at whatever they can think.

Although I think there is much, much more we can learn from art, this gives us one very simple place to start:

(1) Reactionary politics works on the premise of presenting people with no options. TINA (there is no alternative) as Margaret Thatcher loved to put it.  Tragedies like 9/11 are readily framed this way.  

(2) Progressive politics works on the premise that there are always alternatives.  So we should always try to present alternatives, even in the simplest, most basic terms.  Whatever we do, whatever we say, we should always present alternatives and choice, implicitly if not explicitly.   We should make these real alternatives--not black-and-white, cardboard cutout, easily dichtomized ones.  

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 09:21AM | 0 recs
Re: The Purpose Of Art
Paul, while I agree with your statements, I feel that the most productive approach for getting the progressive message across would be the simplified associative illustrated narrative.

Example, we progressives advocate more spending to counter the effects of poverty abroad, while conservatives are always saying we Americans are the most generous people in the world, etc. Studies show that the average American has a highly inflated view of the level of foreign aid in the US budget.

So as a means of promoting the progressive agenda into a popular culture that tends to simplify all issues into a sequential and assoicative frame, would be to show graphically in a documentary non-analytical format the effects of poverty on people and how little money it would take to alieviate the suffering and death. And to show the good work "liberal" identified organizations are accomplishing in the real world. And in the narrative of the documentary we have to repeat many times over the actual figures for total US aid, and state actual percentages of the total budget, etc., as we show the real world day to day consequences of poverty and the lack of aid.

Its is a genuine shame that while we progressives really care about these issues and this is an important part of our agenda, it is the right wing with their religous organization charities which gather them the image of being more charitable and involved with these issues.

We have to start understanding when we argue and debate for increased spending on foreign aid in the budget and publically criticise Bush/GOP for cutting that aid, it simply does not have the same effect. Blog or traditional print media articles and public debates on the issue simply don't get us that traction. We can criticise Bush / GOP / RWNs till we are blue in the face for promising aid and not delivering it (Bush - AIDS / Affrica), but it will never have the effect on public opinion that a simple, direct, associative, illustrated narrative series of reports or video documentaries could have.

by leschwartz 2005-03-24 10:07AM | 0 recs
how are people drawn into that logic?
Yes, I think what les is saying is important and it partially answers your question below: "how are people drawn into that logic, with or without recognizing it as such?"

Part of the answer is what les is saying in that we need a graphical way of showing and promoting the progressive agenda.

The problem, Paul, is that people are not drawn into this logic, they are forced into it. What happens is they tend to watch CBC channel or Fox Cable News and they are not offered a coherent differing opinion. It is very powerful when Christian Ministries have news channels and radio stations to put out their messages.

Technologically, Blogging is far superior because this is akin to open forum and mimics a town hall concept.

I am sure this is no surprise to you, but most Sequential and Linear thinkers are not here Blogging away and happily educating themselves from geniuses like you, they are at home watching TV, at a bar watching the NCAA tonight or oggling the idols on Fox.

What Les says is correct. I would go so far as to say that MoveOn and ACT should be advertising much more. Look at what AARP put out yesterday, a terrific ad advocating most of our positions on Social Security. They have picked up on the sequential thinker and linear thinker and layed it out clearly for them to understand. What's really cool about this is that AARP realized how effective the Republicans were at framing the issues in the 2004 campaign with the Swift Boaters. An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth and fire with fire.

You pointed out to me above, "So, it's up to those of us who can evolve to evolve as much as possible, and to work on shaping cybersapce to make it even more development-inducing. " A few things. Take note of how American Idol created a super simple website that is inviting to young people and women. Women, who are an important part of the Democratic party and Moderates would love to see a simplified website with background documentaries, alluded to by les and mirrors the psychology behemouths of Dr. Phil and Oprah.

by neolib 2005-03-24 10:44AM | 0 recs
Re: how are people drawn into that logic?
That is an excellent observation. I remember being annoyed at Kerry's website, but not really knowing why. It was just too busy. Democrats seem to be congenitally incapable of keeping anything simple.

Speaking of congenital incapacities. Is this a nature or nurture problem? Do people who are linear thinkers necessarily become Republicans and radio talk show hosts? I've been trying to figure out how this difference in thought processes can be a result of education or training.

What type of factors are responsible for why people have different thought processes?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-03-24 11:55AM | 0 recs
Foreign Aid Challenges
This is a particularly challenging example. It turns out that most people grossly over-estimate the amount of foreign aid. They want to cut it drastically--down to a level about 5 times the current level of aid.

However, complicating matters, there is also evidence that they equate military spending oversears with foreign aid.  Which would then make those estimates more realistic. Most of us wanting to increase foreign aid would be thrilled to see a dollar-for-dollar swap between military spending and foreign aid.

But then there's another level: most of that foreign aid is actually money for US corporations that's spent on projects in foreign countries. It's not nearly as altruistic, or as wisely prioritized as most of us would wish.

So, quite typically for the left, we face a complex challenge on both the policy side and the political side.  I think that this deserves it's own diary--or two or three--to deal with, due to the complexities involved.

This strikes me very much as akin to flying. First we've got to learn to crawl.  I don't mean to downplay it's importance, not for one minute. But (1) I  feel overwhelmed trying to deal with these complexities, and (2) I think some of these complexities would be reduced if we made progress in other areas first.

However, there is some very interesting work that was done pre-9/11 which is relevant to this. It's from the Frameworks institute, and the focus is on global interdependence, and fostering a more cooperative, engaged and committed relationship to the rest of the world. The relevant research papers can be found here.  There are two by George Lakoff, but the others are quite good too.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 10:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Foreign Aid Challenges

I honestly respect the intellectual validity of all of your points and of all the other contributors to this page.

Your all making good points, but they you have to start recognizing that much of this is just more of the same "over-intellectualizing" to put the original analysis in perspective.

We can't solve all of these problems at once, but using the assoicative narrative visual (non-text) approach even piece meal will tend to build a compositve world view over time, even if we do one issue camplaigns.

Have some faith that even if the sequential and linear thinkers do not formally use the more analytical systematic form of thought they will still tend to be influenced into a world view comensurate with the formal systematically lead conclusions, with the right series of associative, narrative visual fact based documentaries. Better yet, they will all tend to believe the overall conclusions are all of their own independent "thought", and not the result of a specific thematic propaganda effort to that effect, which is something they would inherently distrust in that sort of format and approach.

by leschwartz 2005-03-24 11:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Foreign Aid Challenges
Think about how influential Jon Stewart is and think about how effective comedy or even ridicule can be in forming public opinion. Is there a specific well planed out overall thematic approach to the Daily Show? Yet the studies I have heard of say that people who watch (including absent other input) tend to be better informed on a factual basis than the average cable news TV viewer. I'm not saying an overall communications stratagy should not be mapped out - it should indeed be mapped out and to create a narrative you have to know the CW about how the dialog will develop. You then take factual points you need to plant which can be made irrefutable by the sort of visual associate message and show them repeatedly. The greater world view will build itself in the minds of the audience. You don't need to and probably can't ever take on the job of doing all the thought for those people and then hand it to them in a format suitable for the systematic-analytic thinkers. It will not be effective.
by leschwartz 2005-03-24 12:16PM | 0 recs
To Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn....
Yes, of course, I'm "overintellectualizing" here. That's what this space is for. That and quoting Homer Simpson, and rhapsodizing about "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer."  

But I know that's what I'm doing, and I'm not confusing this with the sorts of communication we need to reach 50,000,000 people on the nightly news.

Maybe I misunderstood somewhere back upthread, but all I'm saying right now is that I think we need a lot more thought about how to best deal with the problem of foreign aid. That doesn't mean we can't come up with good stuff in the meantime. When you bring up Jon Stewart, what that suggests to me is the essence of comedy, something along the lines of improvisational exploitation of contradictions.  (Even the stuff that was written 3,000 years ago has to come off as improvisational.)  And that's fine. It's more than fine. It's wonderful.

But it's much more deconstructive than reconstructive or creative. It's getting the whole mix--as Shakespear or "Buffy" do--that takes a whole lot more thought to get right.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 12:44PM | 0 recs
I completely agree...
I've been thinking about art and its role in our culture quite a bit lately.  I've actually been working out my thoughts for a post focused on the question of "where are the artists?" and it's much harder then I thought it would be.

The basis of the post centered around a scene from the movie Cradle Will Rock that involved a group of robber-barrons that includes Nelson Rockefeller (played by John Cusack) and William Randolph Hearst (played by John Carpenter).  The scene begins with Rockefeller describing how he had to destroy a mural he had commisioned to Diego Rivera because it wasn't "cheery" enough, and contained dangerous political themes.  The discussion turns to how this small group of rich influential tycoons start working out how they can avoid this problem in the future.  How they will only support art that isn't controversial, "forms and color, not politics and ideas" I believe is how they put it.  To me it was a frightening scene because it showed how they wanted to use their power and influence to undermine what art is all about.

The scariest part about this is how I look around and see exactly what they were talking about in the movie.  Mainstream art is corporate controlled art, which shuns and rejects the necessary risk and failure involved in making meaningful creative content.  At best they're just being businessmen keeping an eye on the bottom line, and at worst they're consciously subverting the artistic process.  Either way it leaves us with a dearth of creative artistic expression.

I don't think it's a coincidence that all of the great cultural and intellectual times in our history have been accompanied by equally great artistic outbursts.  Where is our Picasso?  Where is our Shakespeare?  Where is our Bob Dylan even?

It seems to me that there is a fierce dichotomy present in todays art.  On the one hand we have high art that in many ways strives to NOT portray any sort of narrative.  This sort of art is purposely devoid of any meaning, which in turn forces the audience to create their own, thus alienating many sequential an linear thinkers.  On the other hand we have Britney Spears and reality T.V., which is not really art at all but rather maketing campaigns used to induce a comatose audience to buy whatever consumer widget is being sold.

With all that being said, I think there is a lot of important and exciting art being made, and I think if people were exposed to it on a more regular basis it could have a tremendous effect.   There IS hope in the form of a growing open source community that bypasses corporate interest and focuses on the importance of independent film, music, and literature, but the lack of a defining artistic voice is deafening.

I could go on and explain how I think that artists who discuss politics have been marginalized and have marginalized themselves, but this is getting kind of long.

Lastly, in regards to your point on progressive politics, I agree that we should stress that there are always alternatives, but I think we need to work on making choices.  Art is about constantly making choices about how to express and communicate.  Although there are many failures along the way, art ultimately allows for a greater shared meaning between the artist and the audience that is very powerful, and we could do well by trying to foster and emulate.  If Kerry had made more solid choices and followed the advice about his narrative I'm convinced he would have won handely.  

by simplesinger 2005-03-24 11:35AM | 0 recs
Re: The Purpose Of Art
You make a very good point about Kerry's failure to heed Huffington's advice.  I would like to add one ther observation about Kertry in particular and liberals in general.  Too often, they get bogged down in explaining their nuanced positions and the rationales for those positions.  To people with the less sophisticated models of thinking, the apparent lack of clarity looks like indecision, lack of principles or evasives.  The problem from the systematic point of view is different:  Kerry spent too much time explaining the process of forming a position and not nearly enough developing a coherent narrative in which the results of that process.  This is something that can be overcome:  remembert how Clinton took a beating after the Democratic convention in 1988 for talking too long?  
by KDMfromPhila 2005-03-24 12:13PM | 0 recs
Re: The Purpose Of Art
You make a very good point about Kerry's failure to heed Huffington's advice.  I would like to add one ther observation about Kertry in particular and liberals in general.  Too often, they get bogged down in explaining their nuanced positions and the rationales for those positions.  To people with the less sophisticated models of thinking, the apparent lack of clarity looks like indecision, lack of principles or evasive.  The problem from the systematic point of view is different:  Kerry spent too much time explaining the process of forming a position and not nearly enough developing a coherent narrative in which the results of that process.  This is something that can be overcome:  remember how Clinton took a beating after the Democratic convention in 1988 for talking too long?  By contrat one of tghe most memorable aspects of the 1992 convention was the film "A Place called Hope."
by KDMfromPhila 2005-03-24 12:15PM | 0 recs
Most interesting
But I'm  not yet convinced that we have non-systemic thinking in this case.

This Schiavo case seems like a cultural puzzle that we haven't solved, yet.  And here's the question:

What cultural system or logic can accomodate militant anti-abortionism, ferverent use of the death penalty, passionate belief in maintaining feeding tubes for PVS women, and support for legistlation that forces indigent children off life-support?

That's the puzzle, right? And damn if it isn't a hard one to crack.  

But if we listen to these religious militants on the picket lines, there is a multi-linear cause and effect that they seem to be articulating.  

I think it might be a missionary logic, rather than a world of appearances.  The precise problem in abortion and in Schiavo, for example, was the belief by the Right that both fetuses and Schiavo were "life."  The key to the success of the Schiavo campaign was finding a method for visualizing that life (those crackpot videos), but the image is not the logic.  The logic comes through these defense of the voiceless narratives.

The logic of "life" in these situations that are marginal (at best) to defined states of citizenship--that's the challenge the right faces, and the Schiavo case was a good way to get it across.  

Now, the death penalty operates the same way.  The transformation that cannot be seen (according to the Right) in these death penalty cases involves mortal sin.  Once mortal sin has been committed, the same rules to do not apply.  These prisoners may look the same, but they have violated laws that make them less than worthy of protection  by universal human rights.  And so, again, appearance is a problem for the right.  This problem was solved by Bush senior with the Willie Brown ads against Dukakis, which again visualized the systemic view of the death-worthy criminal that the right holds.

So, I see systemic thinking in this.  But the argument laid out by Rosenberg (and Rosenberg) is still incredibly interesting.

by Jeffrey Feldman 2005-03-24 09:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Most interesting
Here's one way to flip reality on the Right to Lifers - you bring up the point of the picketers. Some of signs today are saying "Stop the Killing" and "Feed her, she's hungry".

The Stop the Killing signs could be used as anti-war signs. While the impulse for Life is in everyone's mind, use that to forward other agendas, such as, bringing home the troops.

As for Feed her, she's hungry, we have starving kids here in the US that need to be fed and medically treated.

Thats fighting fire with fire.

by neolib 2005-03-24 09:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Most interesting
Actually accomodating many different view points about issues in to a societal whole is a tough nut to crack. Luckily it was done for us over 200 years ago. You provide democratic representatives, 3 branches of goverment, and a set of rights for individuals that cannot be overridden by those democratic institutions (protecting against tyranny by the majority). Its called the Constitution. The problem seems to be that it was developed by systematic thinkers and therefore is no longer understood and is being subverted. The idea is that even if you think a law is completely evil it is still the law and that it is more important to be a society of laws than to get your way even on a single point.

There is a good article on Slate right now about the case and it supports the parents, but does it within a framework of law. Also heard a lawyer on CNN talking who agreed with the parents about how poorly there case was argued in from of the 11th circuit judge. They mentioned things like that Vaticans opinion on cases like this (which is meaningless in court). He pointed out they should have just argued that since Congress had asked for the case to be completely reviewed anew, that would have led to the feeding tube being reinserted, but since they argued that the state judge was unfair he basically through the case out. The problem with non-systematic thinkers is that they can not even start to articulate arguments within our constitutional system.

by benb 2005-03-24 09:39AM | 0 recs
Our Constitution is a product of Enlightenment thought and the Western liberal tradition. These inherently involve systematic thinking. The true beauty and power of them is that they institutionalize it, so that even linear and sequentia thinkers working within the system are forced to produce systematic results.  This, in turn, tends to draw out more sophisticated thinkers on all sides of all issues, which then reinforces the system as a whole.

It's quite telling that this system was able to get through some major reorganizations, when necessary. The aboliion of slavey, and the addition of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, for example.  The expansion of federal power under Roosevelt, the ending of discrimination.  

But the backlash to this last transformation was the foundation for the crisis we now face, which draws its strength from mobilizing and organizing the resentments of those who've felt left out by the system, who have little or no appreciation for its fundamental logic, who understand it only in symbolic (sequential) terms or as a hierarchical power system (within which only linear thinking is possible).  It's no accident that the leaders of this movement are so seldom people with legislative experience, and that those with legislative experience have so seldom managed to pass any significant legislation.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 10:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Precisely!
Paul - consider this, right now you are participating in a systematic process. You enter an idea, we comment back on it (a feedback loop), Chris puts your diary on the mainpage, more people jump in and there you have it, we are no longer communicating linearly. We are talking to you and you are talking back to us.

But - this system that we are using is also being used by the other side, quite successfully too.

Have you read any of the Conservative Blogs?

by neolib 2005-03-24 10:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Precisely!
There is both a difference and a synergy between the content of thought and the means of its propagation and development. A purely sequential rant could draw people in in the same way. There are very real concerns that cyberspace communities can breed insular extremism, and we can easily see how this can happen.

No, I don't read conservative blogs. I don't read a lot of liberal blogs I would like to read more regularly. And I don't read nearly as many books as I used to.  Worst of all, I keep writing the same damn book. It's time I finished it already.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 10:58AM | 0 recs
I know what you mean, our time is limited and must be prioritized. If the book you are referring to is your book in the profile, "Beyond War: Defeating Terrorism at Its Roots".  I really look forward to reading it.
by neolib 2005-03-24 11:58AM | 0 recs
This is my cue.
The use of the tv medium, which can reinforce peoples sequential level of thinking, has seriously undermined the ability of that consititutional system to itself force systemic levels of thinking and/or results. Before tv, political machines could depend upon associational links between sequential thinkers and systemic authorities.

Part of the reason tv can do this, is the inherent weakness of the non-majoritarian winner-take-all electoral process. That's the reason I find myself regularly pushing Condorcet compliant elections and proportional representation. These are the needed repairs if the system is to continue within the electronic often sequential thinking media environment.

One of the beauties of Condorcet, I am discovering, is its ability to reveal unco-ordinated majorities. That is, often majorities exist, but because there is no co-ordination of the individuals within that majority, they cannot bring their voices to bear on the political stage. Usually it is the more moderate of the candidates that would benefit from those uncovered majorities.

Thanks for reposting here, as I had missed your dKos posting.

by Jeff Wegerson 2005-03-24 12:12PM | 0 recs
Condorcet, STV, Etc.
Our voting system is truly atrocious, and definitely needs to be overhauled. The real scandal is the Condorcet was writing his stuff right around when the Consitution was being written. But instead of adopting a state-of-the-art model, we just stuck with the legacy system left over from British rule.

As Homer Simpson would say, "Doh!"

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 12:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Condorcet, STV, Etc.
That's a good question. Were they aware of Condorcet's work? I could well imagine that they were aware. It had to be a fairly small world of intellectual writers at the time.

But I wonder?

by Jeff Wegerson 2005-03-25 02:39PM | 0 recs
Condorcet 1785
Published his work on voting (or on probability which included the voting work??) in 1785. This is so contemporaneous with the Constitution that it had to be just a bit too cutting edge to have a serious impact.

I think we can give the framers a pass.

*Here a chronology
*Here a short bio

by Jeff Wegerson 2005-03-25 04:14PM | 0 recs
Not So Fast!
The issue is not newness but interest. And the simple fact is that they weren't interested in that sort of thing. Look at what they were interested in: balancing the states. This was a political necessity, of course. But did it have to preclude other concerns?  Well, considering that they didn't even believe in universal suffrage, it's hardly surprising they weren't scouring the globe for ways of empowering submerged majorities.  

A few individuals might have been interested in it. But Franklin was probably the only one of them actually involved in drafting the Constitution. The others with such inclinations figured much more in the Revolution than in the Constitution--Sam Adams, Tom Payne, Tom Jefferson.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-25 04:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Not So Fast!
I'm just playing devil's advocate here. Is it possible that knowing the imperfections of winner-take-all first-past-the-post elections that they saw things like the electoral college as a mechanism towards effecting something closer to a compromise "majority". The original college didn't have mandatory follow the voter instructions. Maybe, in their minds, they were trying to craft an indirect Condorect-ish type system. (I doubt it too)

It also is probable that Condorcet compliant electoral processes are just a bit too complicated for easy manual counting. I've been paying attention to electoral technologies for a year and a half and I can't say I've seen any large scale users of Condorcet. Probably proportional representation mitigates the need, along with parlimentary election of executives. How much did the framers know about proportional representation? Maybe that's a better criticism.

In the end, though, I agree with your scepticism about their commitment to democracy in the first place.

by Jeff Wegerson 2005-03-26 05:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Not So Fast!
Proportional representation would be fine by me. They really didn't give such matters a lot of thought, because they were still operating on a relatively elite model, where the people don't get involved in policy debates--except when things get really out of hand. Their model was that people vote for representatives who have earned and deserve their trust, and then let them rule.  

It was progressive compared to what came before it--parliamentary power limited by the House of Lords and royal perogatives. But it was a long way from the participatory politics that developed in spite of what they had planned, not because of it.  

Tellingly, it was the authoritarian over-reaching of the Adams administration and its supporters which lead to the Democratic-Republican counter-organizing that solidified the two-party system and the practice of mass politics (limited though the electorate still was.)

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-26 06:52AM | 0 recs
Thanks for a Good Read-Waiting 4 yr next Diary n/t
by Jeff Wegerson 2005-03-26 07:07PM | 0 recs
Allow Me To Clarify...
I agree 100% that there's an inherent logic at work, and I think that Lakoff's Strict Father model does a great deal to explain it.

But the question here is not about what's driving the underlying political vision. Lakoff has always said that he's not describing individual cognition, but rather the ideal patterns that individual cognition approximates to a greater or lesser degree.

So what I'm investigating here is supplemental to the sort of analysis that you're presenting, which I would put in the same category with Lakoff.  Yes, that's the underlying logic that makes everything hang together. But how are people drawn into that logic, with or without recognizing it as such?  that's the question that I'm dealing with. The ultimate point is that the more sophisticated your thinking, the less you fall for reasons that are obviously inadequate.  

Now, Allow Me To Confuse...

Hopefully, that has cleared things up a bit. Now, in the interests of getting deeper into it, I run the risk of muddying things again. But that's the way it goes. A dialectic process...

You can have systematic thinking that is fundamentally mistaken, I believe, particularly if you are embedded in it. [It would be useful to examine Dembski, the "Intelligent Design" theorist in this light.] It is only on the next-higher level--which Rosenberg said was too rare to study empirically at the time--that I think the Strict Father approach definitely falls apart.

The best way to understand this level is through another framework that has a pretty good correlation with Rosenberg's. This one comes from Robert Kegan, a Harvard psychologist/psychiatrist. Kegan's fundamental approach is to treat each level in terms of a subject/object structure. What is subject (the knower) at one level is object (the known) at the next. He associteds his level 3--corresponding with linear thinking--with noramtive adulthood in a traditional society, where the self is constructred of/subject to its social roles and relationships.

The person at this level is their social role. The person at the next level up has their social role. This corresponds to the birth of true personal autonomy--which is, not surprisingly, the core of political liberalism in the Western Tradition. It's only at this next level that systematic arguments are consciously made and analyzed, treated as objects outside the self, rather than being something one lives inside and cannot question.

Now, I'm not saying that this is a perfect fit, that no conservative is capable of systematic thought. But it is telling how routinely the epitome of conservative "thought" fails to rise to this level.

If you've ever tried to read Newt Gingrich's books or his college course material, you'll see this. It has the formal appearance of broad, sweeping integration of diverse material. But when you look carefully, you discover that he's always getting the details wrong, always jamming things together that just don't fit. He's usually not even making sense as a linear thinker. Yet, he was able to sell himself as this vast synthesizer of knowledge.

This was, essentially an act of sequential thinking. He created all these associations--hanging out with the Tofflers and using their lingo, claiming to be a disciple of Edwards Demming, etc.--which presented him in the light of being a super intellect.  Conservatives fall for this sort of lame act over and over again. And liberals don't know what to do with it, because it falls so far short of being coherent, they don't even know where to start.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 10:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Allow Me To Clarify...
Clear enough.  

I actually don't think the :stric parent: stuff is useful, here.  The parallel I see, for example, is trying to understand the laws of kashrut.  They make no sense from the outside.  Only from the inside.  

...The ultimate point is that the more sophisticated your thinking, the less you fall for reasons that are obviously inadequate....

I'm going to dissent from this point, because I tend to think about sophistication of thought in terms of layers and the ability to move between them deftly, rather than a specific approach.  If we say that the most sophisticated thinkers are those who can move between liner, systemic, etc. (as you demonstrated in the diary), then the real question is when is linear thought actually isolated vs. linear thought as strategic.  

Right now I'd say the most sophisticated system thinkers would be people like Ralph Reed--able to understand not only the broader system of relations, but also the methods of promoting a particular slant on that system through articulations of simplistic linear themes.  And we've got some serious schadenfreund building amongst the Democrats who can see it happening, but can't figure out how to master that dexterity, yet (not that I envry Reed per se, but part of the reason I hate him so much is definitely because he is sophisticated).  

I  haven't read Kegan, but based on your synthesis:  it sounds like a fairly straight forward theory of class.  The higher up one is in the system, the more ability one has to see one's place in the system (I know there's much more to Kegan than that, but...).  I suppose the ability to both know and be one's social role depends on whether or not one can move between social roles--which is a luxury of class position.  This brings me back to the most horrific concluson of all:  Bush is the most sophisticated of us all!  This is because he can move between the levels outlined almost effortlessly, and nobody has ever been able to truly understand if he is or is not doing this consciously.  

Good lord, thinking of Bush as a sophisticated thinker is almost too much to bear!   But I'm afraid it's true.

by Jeffrey Feldman 2005-03-24 11:35AM | 0 recs
We ARE Getting Confused, Here!
We have to distinguish between levels of thinking and levels of thinkers.  As I've noted elsewhere, elements of sequential thinking are essential to poerty, for example. In this sense, sophistication certainly involves an ability to move between and harmonize levels. But sequential thinkers can't move between levels. They are stuck in sequential mode. That's all they can manage.

As I've tried to explain, people can unconsciously manifest behavior that expresses ideas they are incapable of consciously analyzing or understanding. A facility for doing this, especially by people who've been given lots of advantages, should not be confused with the ability to think at the higher level where such thinking is consciously formed and analyzed.

Furthermore, if the challenge is to communicate sequentially, one must first recognize this challenge, unless one cannot help but think this way. Thus, systematic thinkers have to be smarter and/or think more just to get even with sequential thinkers.  

So the success of Bush and Rove is not really proof of anything in my book. More problematic are the failures on our side to recognize and focus on the challenges of successful sequential communication.
Think about Bush's famous reliance on his "gut." Well, his "gut" has served him fairly well--because he hasn't personally caught any of the hell he's caused. Now that's a function of class. Kegan's levels are not. Kegan is building on the work of Piaget & Kohlberg.

The most sophisticated thing Bush ever did was get himself born to the right parents. If he'd been born to Clinton's parents, he'd be doing life somewhere.

And, yes, Strict Father models do make sense here.

What cultural system or logic can accomodate militant anti-abortionism, ferverent use of the death penalty, passionate belief in maintaining feeding tubes for PVS women, and support for legistlation that forces indigent children off life-support?

This was precisely the question Lakoff asked himself which lead to Moral Politics.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 12:27PM | 0 recs
Re: We ARE Getting Confused, Here!
" Strict Father models do make sense here" and the supporting quote-Now that's intriguing!  You talk about intellectual planes.  It seems to me what concerns some of the "culture of life people" and perhaps though not necessarily Bush himself is not a conscious elevation to a high intellectual plane.  What motivates them, at least in part, is a desire for some kind of moral elevation.  It seems to me that if one claims to have the ability to decide when life begins and when someone should die, one is claining to have a  divine-like status (within a religious framework).  If one claims to have that or a similar moral authority, then all other (intellectual) arguments become at best secondary.  This does not mean that all people who operate with the moralistic (quasi-divine) model are incapable of operating on a higher intellectual level (though many might not).  It means that it isn't necessary (desirable?) to operate on that level consistently.
by KDMfromPhila 2005-03-24 12:36PM | 0 recs
Divine Rights
This does not mean that all people who operate with the moralistic (quasi-divine) model are incapable of operating on a higher intellectual level (though many might not).  It means that it isn't necessary (desirable?) to operate on that level consistently.

Precisely!  One reason why kings tend to get dumber as dynasties proceed, and why democracies work better--provided people are smart enough to know a good thing when they've got it.

"One push of the button,
And we've shot the world wide.
And you never ask questions
When God's on your side"
   -- Bob Dylan, "With God on Our Side"

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 12:53PM | 0 recs
Re: We ARE Getting Confused, Here!
All good points.  This is a good discussion.

I think the reason abortions are so horrible to these militants is because unborn babies have not yet taken on original sin.  They are pure.  The reason Schiavo has become such a focus for these folks is because of the love of the mother vs. the infidelity of the husband.  The death penalty is used to protect the innocent (the rest of us) and only when a person's soul has been damned by their own choices.  And the sick child is on life support because of the sins of the parent, from which the child's death is the only certain return to purity.  

While I find Lakoff's model fascinating (obviously), I think it's seriously incapable of dealing with what's happening on the grond right now--even the sections on moral vs. immoral forms of religion.  

We are dealing with a cultural system here with an internal logic that negates state definitions of life and death based on divine schemes.

Even more specifically:  I'm starting to believe that the revolution led by these religious militants in the Schiavo case is targeted against medicine as an authority over life and death.  When they talk about a "culture of death" they mean doctors and only doctors. And they've murdered doctors, so they see it as a divine battle.

But I am now way off topic, so I'll stop there.

by Jeffrey Feldman 2005-03-24 01:33PM | 0 recs
Guilt, Innocence And Judgement
I don't see this as beyond Lakoff's schema, but rather as a refinement within it. The sharp dividing line between guilt (for which any punishment is fair game) and innocence (for which any sacrifice must be made) is certainly characteristic of Strict Father thinking, though I would agree that Lakoff doesn't highlight this as clearly as some other approaches might.  

Both Rightwing Authoritarianism (RWA) and Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) are  helpful here. Both of them feed into highly dichotomized thinking, with strongly assymetrical treatment of insiders and outsiders.  I see the Strict Father model as rationalizing the underlying attitudes embodied in RWA and SDO.  

SDO is the individual attitudinal component in Social Dominance Theory (SDT), part of an explicit causal system, in which another key link is what are called "legitimating myth," which come in two forms: hierarchy attenuating (HA-LMs) and heirarchy enhancing (HE-LMs). I see the Strict Father model as a template for organizing HE-LMs and the Nurturant Parent model as a template for organizing HA-LMs.  There is no similarly elaborate theory around RWA, but it seems reasonable to infer a similar function.

In fact, one can see Lakoff's model as a means for integrating RWA and SDO, which are distinctly different sources of authoritarian attitudes.  Viewed in this light, all three should be seen as a system. So when something doesn't seem highlighted by one, it usually can be seen in one of the others, and the logic of its relationship to other factors can be traced, even if it's not highlighted throughout.  None of what you are pointing to seems foreign to this system to me.

Another thing to keep in mind is that anthropological meta-analysis shows that cultures that are more warlike are also more anti-abortion. Pro-life=pro-war, because you need lots of babies if you're going to lose a fare amount of your population in war.  The conceptual common denominator here is that your body is not your own.   The cultural common denominator is patriarchy.  It's not difficult to infer that the Strict Father family model is consistent with this cultural outlook, and the Nurturant Parent conflicts with it.

I agree that there is an anti-medicine aspect to this, as indeed there is an anti-law aspect. The common denominator: it's anti-secular, anti-humanist, anti-rational.  Thus, it is opposed to what's at the heart of the Nurturant Parent model--the promotion of dialogue, inquiry, exploration, questioning and evolving understanding, rather than eternal, unchanging divine decrees which must simply be followed without question.

In short, I think that you're looking at Lakoff's model through a too-static and too-specific lens. This may simply be because I've been living and breathing this stuff longer than you. And maybe you could argue that I'm being too adaptive and elastic.  I would be happy to debate that, since I think it would only serve to clarify issues for both of us--and hopefully others as well.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 02:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Guilt, Innocence And Judgement
My impression is that Lakoff's model is an adaptation of Freud.  In other words, it's not a cultural argument at all, and so it gets more and more tenuous the further we move from the point at which Lakoff first set it up.  

The perspective I'm pushing is symbolic anthroplogy (Schneider):  I'm looking at the terms that these people are using on the ground and trying to build an explaination up from them.  So, right now it's about the death of fetuses in the womb and a feeding tube in a PVS woman's stomach.  

Remarkable how close together these issues are, in terms of the landscape of the woman's body, eh?

And this leads me to think--actually--that the death penalty might be a separate issue altogether.   That Lakoff's attempt to put it all in one package might not be entirely right.  And--most importantly--that the opening for a response will emerge by focusing on the abortion and feeding tube issue.  In there lies the key, I think, to our response.

Not all of the right is willing to kill or stand with people willing to kill doctors.  This is a distinction that I don't see room for in Lakoff.  And in terms of framing the issue, I think what defines this particular culture that we see on TV is the willingess to kill a doctor.  

Any sense in my mumbo jumbo?

by Jeffrey Feldman 2005-03-24 02:54PM | 0 recs
Lakoff and Freud???
Sorry, I really don't get that connection.  As for being cultural or not, I guess you could call it macro-cultural, since its foundations are in basic structures of language--the metaphor system.

Speaking of metaphor, let me use one. I think that what Lakoff is doing is like talking about the basic structural architecture, the load-bearing beams and such. And what you're doing is talking about the surfaces in the rooms--some of which are walls, some room dividers, some maybe wall-hangings.  It's not the best metaphor, but it captures something of what I think is going on, based on what I've seen you doing in the whole Frameshop series and comparing that with what I've gotten from Lakoff.

Yu say, "Not all of the right is willing to kill or stand with people willing to kill doctors.  This is a distinction that I don't see room for in Lakoff."

I think you are looking for the wrong kind of distinction. Lakoff would say, 'Look at their language, see how they justify it, and then look at the people who don't go there. Look at how they use metaphors.'  I mean, mapping Jesus onto Mary Schiavo, mapping is what metaphors are all about.

He is much more about understanding the deep structures of what's happening, so that other people can then figure out what to do about it--though he does offer his own suggestions, these are more like illustrative examples. You are much more about a close meshing of theory and praxis.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 04:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Lakoff and Freud???
I can see all that.

But Lakoff does use the family as the basic "structure" of his architecture.  Nothing linguistic about the family.   So on that basic level (and I agree that Lakoff does push for that), he locates the family.  

For example, he could have used the workplace as his basic structure.  Or he could have used Biblican examples.  Or he could have used animal species.  Or he could have used military styles--just about anything could have worked in the place of Lakoff's basic distinction.   But he chooses the parent-child relationship as the core of his system.  

I agree, in Moral Politics he wants this basic parent-child structure to be the beams of the house.   But I come going back to that and wondering why he chose that particular example.

I think first off we need to acknowledge that Lakoff, before Moral Politics, was not a linguist who worked at the level of narrative.  He worked at the level of the phrase, the sentence and was almost entirely concerned with the relationship between individual words.  This comes through in his presentation style when he worked with Johnson.  He's a "list" maker. Lists of individual sentences.  

And I think he readily acknowledges that his drive to organize the political findings into some kind of comprehensive narrative came less from his research and training, then from one of his students who pushed it to that level.  

So of all that we find in Moral Politics, the two parent structure is the most "un-Lakoffian" element.  It's his attempt, I think, at an answer that is beyond his initial brief as a linguist.

What he did, then, is what all scholars do in this situation.  He reaches for those grandest of grand theories and asks himself, "What does a really substantial answer look, feel and sound like."  Now, I don't know that he reached for Freud, per se, but I do know that Lakoff is part of a branch of linguistics that sees itself reaching out by necessity towards the humanistic side of the Social Sciences.  And I'm guessing that he also read The Elementary Structures of Kinship by Levi-Strauss--which is a theory also built on the back of a core parent-child relationship.

I think the approach is suggestive.  Very much so.  But personally....I think the power in Lakoff is his approach to metaphor, not his big picture narrative.  And that probably says more about who I am than who Lakoff is.

by Jeffrey Feldman 2005-03-24 05:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Lakoff and Freud??? And Levi-Strauss???
First, a point of agreement:

Lakoff is not a narrative linguist. He is a structuralist, in a very broad sense--he deals with pieces of language and how they fit together.  

This comes, I would wager, from what I know to be his real background, as opposed to those you've imagined--which may be valid, but I still don't see them.  That background is: (1) Mathematics. (2) CHOMSKIAN structuralism.

But here you lose me:

And I think he readily acknowledges that his drive to organize the political findings into some kind of comprehensive narrative came less from his research and training, then from one of his students who pushed it to that level.

Lakoff did not analyze language in terms of whole narratives, but he darn sure crafted narratives about his findings, and Moral Politics is not the only example of this.

Metaphors We Live By has a "comprehensive narrative" about the nature of metaphor as a central organizing principle of language. Women, Fire and Dangerous Things has a "comprehensive narrative" about categories as expressions of human  nature organizing the world in linguistic communities. Philosophy in the Flesh has an organizing narrative about how Western Philosophy appears viewed through the broad lens of the embeddedness of human consciousness in the human body, and the narrower lens of cognitive linguistics shaping how we express that consciousness. Where Mathematics Comes From takes a similar approach to mathematics as an expression of embedded human consciousness, but stresses cognitive processes similar to the ones he has explored in language.

Thus, Moral Politics is not at all an unusual venture for him.
Furthermore, his drive to organize his political findings came before he had any findings to organize. It was his puzzlement that made him start to grope around for a comprehensive explanation. A student provided the template of mapping the family onto the nation, but that's not what pushed Lakoff to organize his findings, that's the element that his thinking crystalized around, satisfying his drive to organize.

So of all that we find in Moral Politics, the two parent structure is the most "un-Lakoffian" element.  It's his attempt, I think, at an answer that is beyond his initial brief as a linguist.

I think I understand what you're saying here, and why you think it, but as someone who first encountered his work 7 years before Moral Politics I have to say that you're wrong, at least in terms of (A) what I expected and perceived as Lakoffian, and (B) what's within his brief, in terms of his earlier work, as I had already read it.  

Dating all the way back to Metaphors We Live By, 16 years earlier, Lakoff had been looking at how source domains get mapped onto target domains--an abstraction of the mathematical process of mapping, which he had studied before going into linguistics. He had found that relatively concrete source domains get mapped onto relatively abstract ones, and that important elements of structure get carried over from the source to the target domain, but that the carry-over is not automatic. Some elements are too trivial, or simply don't match well. Other elements that aren't mapped over could be mapped over, and are the source of possible new expressions.  

In addition, Lakoff had found that source domains can be mapped onto different target domains (Love Is A Journey, Purposeful Activity Is A Journey), and that different source domains can be mapped onto the same target domain. In some cases the mappings have nothing to do with one another, they highlight different things. Love Is A Journey and Love Is Madness don't intersect, for example.

Now, it was perfectly natural for Lakoff to take a student's paper, which explored the Nation Is A Family metaphor and generalize it to encompass politics more generally.  When he did this, he came up with a powerful, parsimonious explanation that makes sense of a great deal of seemingly unrelated issues.

Now, does this mean that no other explanation is possible? Absolutely not! His own theory tells us as much. Other source domains could indeed be mapped onto politics, there is no apriori reason why they shouldn't be.  But then he discovers something additional--he discovers Dobson. And this provides something that is very unlikely to be duplicated by any other source domain. It's an actual conscious identification of the two realms made by a major political actor, a couple of decades before Lakoff began theorizing. Add this to the fact that many more conservatives than Dobson have been yammering about "family values" for years, and you have several convergent lines of evidence that family models structure politics in a way that is distinctively powerful and efficacious.

Still, I think it's highly significant that Lakoff's model does not preclude other mappings. They can illuminate other aspects. And even though you are not working in the same specific framework as he is, this is how I see what you are doing in a more general sense. Which is why I don't see any contradiction between what you're doing and Lakoff is doing. I simply see different aspects being highlighted.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 07:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Lakoff and Freud??? And Levi-Strauss???
Oiy.  I get more question marks. I am never gonna beat the curve in this class.  

The Lakofff narratives are opening positions for me, places to start and that's it.   But after that, they quickly get in the way (for me).  The methods, on the other hand, they're endlessly useful, durable and portable.  

I look forward to Lakoff demonstrating that I am wrong.  But...they are sure taking their time over there.  

by Jeffrey Feldman 2005-03-24 09:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Allow Me To Clarify...
How does Bush move between the levels? I haven't noticed any difference in his behavior in different settings. Is he doing anything different, or just being perceived differently in different settings?
by Gary Boatwright 2005-03-24 12:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Allow Me To Clarify...
I've seen him sound clear and speak without any twang at all on occasion.  No shrug, nothing.  He can do it very well.  
by Jeffrey Feldman 2005-03-24 01:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Allow Me To Clarify...
In The Bush Dyslexicon, Mark Crispin Miller pointed out that Bush only had difficulty speaking when he was pretending to be interested in things he couldn't care about less. (Such as "put[ing] food on your family.") When he talked about sports or killing people, his syntactical problems vanished.

That hardly seems like a sign of mastery to me.

Gradually, as the media has deified him in the post-9/11 world, and the Secret Service has banished protesters from whatever county he happens to be in, Bush has grown more confident in general, and his syntax and delivery have improved more broadly. Still, Miller's pre-9/11 observations still seem spot on to me.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 01:36PM | 0 recs
Let's look at some other players
Since the medium is the message, that would explain why our cable and news media are incapable of examining anything outside of their sequentail frame of reference.

It would appear that DLC Dems are linear thinkers, who like Kerry are unable to recognize or adopt a narrative because it is outside of their linear framework.

The media and the GOPers are so compatible because they are both operating according to a sequential thought process. Does that explain the near impossibility of getting the media to focus on any causal relationships on both Social Security and Iraq? As well as the media pre-occupation with the "vision thing" that Dems never seem to get?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-03-24 01:17PM | 0 recs
Thinking models go to the movies
*  Sequential thinkers reason "by tracking the world," recognize regularities in sequences of events, but have no abstract understanding of cause and effect.  The world they perceive is a world of appearances that has very little organization to it beyond the recurrence of sequences.

This would be the audience for most Ah-nold and Adam Sandler movies. Big explosions and slapstick humor with minor details like plot left out to prevent brain cramps in audience members. Happy endings.

* Linear thinkers understand cause and effect, limited to a one-direction, one-cause/one-effect model.  The world they perceive has logical order and structure, but the structure is invariably hierarchical, causality flows top-down, and the world is divided neatly into cause and effect.  

This would be the realm of Bruce Willis and Kevin Costner. Characters in these movies have minor unexpected humanizing characteristics like John McClain realizing he loved his wife and family more than he thought he did, or Costner's characters' propensity to talk to either themselves, their mules, their sports equipment (baseball gloves, boats, golf clubs, etc.), or their horses. The plots actually have twists. Happy endings, but with possible growth for lead characters along the way.  

* Systematic thinkers understand multi-faceted, multi-linear cause and effect, with mutual cause-and-effect relationships between different elements.  The world they perceive is primarily a world of systems and relationships, rather than objects.

John LeCarre and Shakespeare. Intricate characters with complex motivation. Complicated plots. Often resolved with less than ideal endings for lead characters.

by afs 2005-03-24 09:11AM | 0 recs
Movies And Levels
Robert Kegan, whom I mention elsewhere, actually talks a bit about movies and levels. But he talks about how the same movie will be seen differently by children at different levels.  

He uses the example of Star Wars, where the youngest child relates to the endearing characteristics of Chewbaka, R2D2. C3PO, etc. The next level is where you ask a child what a movie was about, and they proceed to tell you the entire movie.  The next level up, there are themes, such as loyalty and betrayal.  I think that really good movies work on multiple levels, while the less good ones only work up to a point.  

For me, Star Wars tops out at the level of these themes. "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer" goes at least one level beyond, questioning what these mean on a regular basis in a way that Star Wars does only on the grand scale--as Luke discovers who his father is.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 10:16AM | 0 recs
Don't show kids The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
Not a whole lot of multi-level stuff going on there.  Richard Burton's drunken double-agent beating the snot out of a completely innocent grocery clerk just to provide a prison sentence cover story isn't a big hit a kid's birthday parties.
by afs 2005-03-24 10:48AM | 0 recs
Yes, But...AKA Sequential Thinking Is Not Bad!
Although many movies are not kiddy fare, they still have elements that appeal to us sequentially. I mean, that's the very essence of movies, sequential appearances of images. So it doesn't have to be a cuddly character. It can be a tremendously evocative look that penetrates the entire film.

We have to distinguish between the holistic description that Rosenber provides, characterizing those who only can manage sequential thought, as opposed to the nature of sequential thought itself.  The former is an unfortunate state of being, and we should make every effort to discover how we can help people grow beyond this. But the later is only bad when it displaces everything else.

Sequential thinking is not something to look down upon. Yes, it's distressing and depressing when it's all that there is. But when it's part of a larger whole, it's tremendously enriching. Heck, what do you think that consance, assonance, rhyme and rhythm are? All the basic elements of poetry are sequential.  

I think it's very important for us not to cultivate a hatred or disdain for sequential thinking. If we do, it will poison all our attempts to communicate with it. That hatred or disdain will transfer to the people we are trying to communicate with as well--whether we intend it to, or not.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 11:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, But...AKA Sequential Thinking Is Not Bad!
I still vote for The Matrix and the final movie Revolutions as super movies. It may not seem like it at first, but The Matrix tackles some pretty tough philosophical questions of reality, psedo-speciation, robotics, humanism, and tons of other philosophies.
by neolib 2005-03-24 11:56AM | 0 recs
I'm Not Dissing The Matrix, Dude! n/t
by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 12:05PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm Not Dissing The Matrix, Dude! n/t
Right. No worries. The movies appeal to every type of thinker.
by neolib 2005-03-24 02:15PM | 0 recs
Powerful and terrifying
This reminds me of the work of Eric Hoffer, the longshoreman philospher.
by fwiffo 2005-03-24 09:32AM | 0 recs
Paul, what is the difference between
a "sequential thinker" and a personality disorder?
by Doc Allen 2005-03-24 09:32AM | 0 recs
Great Question!
I've thought about this a lot of an on. But I haven't been able to find anyone who's written about it.

There seem to be an obvious strong parallels, but those with certain personality disorders can seemingly think quite clearly in some respects, at least well enough to qualify as linear thinkers.  I would really welcome input on this from anyone more knowledgeable than I.

Any psychiatrists in the house?

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 10:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Great Question!
Not a psychiatrist, but looking at this description:

The sequential thinker is not really aware that the world may appear differently to other people, and he or she has therefore a limited ability to take the perspective of others.

Lack of empathy is a Schizotypal trait.

And these:

Aloofness, odd communication, isolation; Ego-boundary problems, "ego-diffusion," merging phenomena and other severe distortions of the self, mirroring, narcissistic disturbances, faulty sense of identity; difficulty sensing what other people are all about or else at knowing how to best respond when their perceptions of interpersonal situations happen to be accurate; marked peculiarities of speech, dress, and habit; sensitivity to criticism, avoidance of intimacy; insensitivity to the feelings of spouse, oversensitivity to spouse's behavior; extreme loneliness and need for human relatedness, inability to "connect" meaningfully and pleasurably with other people (Stone, pp. 2719, 2221-2726).

Odd speech: vague, circumstantial, metaphorical, overelaborate, or stereotyped speech; idiosyncratic phrasing, unusual use of words, overly concrete or abstract responses to questions; odd, eccentric, or peculiar mannerisms or dress; excessive social anxiety associated with paranoid fears about the motivations of others, rather than with negative judgments about themselves; difficulty responding to interpersonal cuing and expressing a full range of affects; difficulty in developing rapport or engaging in casual and meaningful conversations; an inappropriate, stiff, or constricted manner (Gunderson and Philips, pg. 1437).</P<br>

by DaveS 2005-03-24 10:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Great Question!
Unfortuntely, this is about the level of knowledge that I'm at. I know that the descriptions match up pretty well. But these are diagnostic tools, not comperehensive theoretical and/or empirical surveys.
by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 11:12AM | 0 recs
Why Are So Many People 'Sequentialists'?
Can anyone tell me why so many appear to be sequential thinkers?  They must have to use critical thinking at some point in their lives?
by mfeld356 2005-03-24 10:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Why Are So Many People 'Sequentialists'?
Mr. Rosenberg is citing this philosophical area that categorizes thinkers and thinking processes into these 3 groups.

Of course, we all use sequential, linear and systematic thinking all the time.

Try not to see it as people per se, but macro, 30,000 feet high way of looking at things. By definition you would never run into a purely sequential thinker, you would have to turn up on one of those Tsunami islands and encounter groups of people with limited thought processes.

by neolib 2005-03-24 11:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Why Are So Many People 'Sequentialists'?
I'm trying to figure out what makes people one or the other. Is it more similar to IQ or EQ? Is acquiring the ability of system thought a matter of training or education? To some extent IQ and EQ are almost exclusionary. Many people with the very highest IQ also have a very low EQ. As far as I can tell EQ is something that can be improved on, but not really learned. Or can it?

Can linear and sequential thinkers learn the art? of systemic thinking? Is it a discipline or a knack?

Is the DLC hopelessly locked into linear thinking?

Is the GOP hopelessly locked into sequential thinking?

Is this what is making compromise on so many issues impossible? Is the only solution to our political problems an enforced exercise of political power by one side or the other?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-03-24 02:32PM | 0 recs
Great thoughts.
I actually enjoyed this posting a lot Paul, very good.  Unfortunately I think in politics, soundbites will always be the way of gaining followers, simply because people don't have the time or patience to invest time or effort into really evaluating how their 1 vote thrown into a pool of millions is going to improve their lives or their community. (Or, perhaps, as you suggest, even if they were to evaluate it, they would be to stupid to make the evaluation for themself correctly). In fact, economically speaking, it's a wonder anyone votes at all.  Most people are to busy in the REAL 'reality based community' of solving their own problems.  And while you will of course argue that I am a 'techno-libertarian' incapable of reaching 'systematic thinking' due to my flat learning curve, it is upsetting to me that meaningful political arguments will remain inside of blogs like this out of the sight and mind of most people, and even those that wander upon them will view the arguments of those that they already agree with.  In the end we will be left to rely upon the strength of our rhetoric instead of the strength of our argument and any meaningful discussion we've had will be wasted.  
by Freedom Fighter 2005-03-24 10:46AM | 0 recs
I totally agree with this
And it's why the Schiavo issue will do more for undermining the Republican party than SS, the War in Iraq and everything else put together. This is Scott Petterson with Congress. People are watching. And they are not going to forget.
by Welsh 2005-03-24 11:16AM | 0 recs
Re: I totally agree with this
Yeah, they really got their wires crossed on this one. 220 volts freely flowing through their body politic.

In a way, it's a pity the Supreme Court ruled so quickly.  But Jeb Bush still gives us hope that they'll prolong it, no?

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-24 11:25AM | 0 recs
Re: I totally agree with this
Jeb is on the line here. If he doesn't walk in, grab that girl and through her in the back of a Florida State Patrol car then he is toast. And more than likely, the whole lot goes with him.
by Welsh 2005-03-24 11:58AM | 0 recs
Death row inmates receive lethal injection.

Terri, an innocent woman, is starved to death over the course of a week in order to die.

Why don't they just give her a lethal injection?

Oh that's right... that's called euthansia.

Starving is far more humane.
And since feeding tubes are considered "life support".. perhaps we should take off elderly in nursing homes all across America that have them.

by jenndelcorso 2005-03-24 11:26AM | 0 recs
Hey Paul
I like what I'm reading.  What's going on with your book?  How come your blog isn't updated? Or was it just for the election cycle?

I'd like to see some of these thoughts tied together into an agenda now that they are all here.

by goplies 2005-03-25 05:52PM | 0 recs
Spread Too Damn Thin!
That's the short answer. The long answer... hey, that's the problem!  I'm always giving long answers!
by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-26 06:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Spread Too Damn Thin!
I hear ya.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.
by goplies 2005-03-26 02:50PM | 0 recs
Thanks, But...
The only help I can think of is $$$ so that I can cut back on my regular newspaper work for a while & focus fulltime on book-writing.  But the left doesn't do that the way the right does.
by Paul Rosenberg 2005-03-26 03:48PM | 0 recs
Great Discussion
I didn't contribute, but I read every word. This was a great discussion.
by Curt Matlock 2005-03-25 06:44PM | 0 recs


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