People Skills 101: Anger Management

(I wrote this article a few years ago, and I am amazed at how much it applies to current events–jl)

When we talk about management fundamentals, this can refer to managing other people, or it can refer to managing your own life. In either case, when you are talking about managing, you are really talking about managing emotions.

Managing at the emotional level is a broad topic, but today we are here to discuss one single emotion, and that is … anger.

Anger is of course a powerful emotion.  It is essential for one to manage it properly, otherwise one risks considerable loss of control.

The expression of anger is often rationalized—or even encouraged—because it is often seen as being a state of righteousness and moral superiority, not to mention a feeling of being deliciously powerful. Many people subscribe to this belief, but this is an illusion.

Anger does not exist by itself in some sort of vacuum. Anger is always a reaction to, and a symptom of, a sense of powerlessness. Understanding this opposite underpinning is key to managing anger.

Perhaps the best way to understand the dynamics of anger is to observe the formula of every “anger indulgence” movie.  In this terribly popular entertainment genre, there are always three main characters:

1) An all-powerful bad guy,

2) an average-Joe protagonist (who “wants no trouble”),  and

3) a helpless child-victim.

Invariably, the rotten-to-the-core bad guy seeks to harm the totally innocent helpless child. This nonstop bad-guy nastiness generally goes on for about 85 minutes, until your average-Joe protagonist is finally pushed past his patience limit.  In the last climactic five minutes of the movie, we get to vicariously enjoy some serious bad-guy smack-down vigilante justice.

Now if the bad guy was not all-evil-all-powerful, and the victim was not all-powerless, the whole exercise would appear somewhat odd. Anger is a specific reaction to a sense of powerlessness.  Without the sense of threatened vulnerability to justify it, anger does not even occur.

We can all relate to this story line because at some level, we all feel like an innocent victim sometimes.  Most of us tend to be far more aware of our own vulnerability and weaknesses than we are of those of other people. We also tend to see others as being far more powerful than they really are. Our anger response feels good, at least for a moment, and as a result, anger becomes a common part of our modern political discourse, as well as our entertainment, and is becoming more so.

Anger Management: the Machiavellian Flip Side 

While we usually speak of anger as something to be “managed,” i.e., controlled, there is just as much technique to be appreciated in the cultivation of it.  Inciting anger in others is a handy, if morally ambiguous, management tool. Putting people into a state of fearful outrage is a great way of keeping them off balance and encouraging confrontation among factions that might otherwise unite against you.  Many people incite anger to advance their cause. Like Iago, they will tell you stories of your vulnerability and/or trust being abused by their political opponent, making you fly into a rage where you can no longer think calmly and rationally.  It’s easy to get caught up in this kind of thing, so it is important to see these things as what they are, i.e., commonly used manipulative ploys.

If you have just been told of an extreme abuse of evil power and it makes you angry, always take a minute to think about it. It is tempting to indulge in the immediate easy fantasy of indignant righteousness. It is easy to automatically fly to a state of defending an innocent victim from extreme attack. But if you remain calm and objective, you will always be far more capable of coping effectively with the situation, even if the accusations are true– which they seldom are.

Anger Is a Symptom of Perceived Helplessness

If you believe that a state of anger is the only way you can feel empowered, then you face a nasty conundrum:  you have to increase your fear in order to achieve that greater anger. Amplifying your sense of powerlessness in order to make yourself feel empowered is somewhat contradictory. Anger promises power, but never really delivers. It’s a classic vicious cycle.

Since anger is a marker of a sense of powerlessness, this is a handy thing to know when dealing with an angry person. Instead of taking their anger at its face value, try to step back and see the underlying cause, i.e., the sense of powerlessness in them that is causing it, and address this problem at its root.  Look past the anger and see the innocent victim beneath.  Try to calm them by pointing out what power they do have.

The Illusory Power of Anger vs. the Real Power of Calm Reflection

Anger is not noble, nor is it evidence of moral superiority.  Anger is a state of trying to compensate for a perceived lack of power.  It functions as an escape from reality, much like alcohol.

No matter what the problem is, you are more powerful than you think.  Calm reflection and persistence are always more effective, both in solving any problem, and in drawing more supportive energy to you.

-jl

 

(Originally published in AICPA Magazine.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Achievement Is not Healing

While giving a recent acceptance speech at a BAFTA award ceremony, actress Kate Winslet shared an inspiring message:

Don’t listen to the people who hurt you, shame you, and belittle you.  Believe in yourself and follow your dream.  She ignored the people who insulted her, and made it to stardom.  So can you.

This advice is repeatedly given with the best of intentions.  We hear it at awards ceremonies, graduations, and in Facebook posts every day.  It is reiterated by inspirational speakers, coaches, and business gurus.

At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I am going to take issue with this message.  First of all, no matter how hard you try, it is not mathematically possible for everyone who wants to be a famous actress to become so.  This same unbending math applies to other endeavors such as writing bestselling children’s books and making it in other idioms of the performing arts.

I am not saying that people should not follow their dreams or their heart’s desires.  But I am saying this: Perhaps we should be more specific about the dream or heart’s desire we are seeking, and not confuse healing with achievement.

I once achieved a fair amount of success as a musical performer, but it happened for all the wrong reasons.  I worked hard to get there, but my goal was not to provide service to a customer.  I was seeking healing.  I thought success in showbiz would give me the respect, attention, and validation I desperately needed.  But the primary purpose of bass playing, or, for that matter,  of authoring, acting, speaking, or any other business endeavor, is not to get your own needs met.  They are all situations where you have to work very hard to meet the needs of others.  If you are fractured internally, you will struggle to meet the needs of others, and even if you do meet them, you will still be unhappy in your work, and make others unhappy too.  Achievement is not healing.

There is a similar problem with a common sort of encouragement for grandiose leadership.  If you seek success mainly to get the perks of power and attention, if you define success mainly as being better than everyone else, if you are drawn to the vague concepts of achieving greatness or excellence, perhaps you need to rethink why you are seeking success.  Maybe you are destined to provide great value to society, but then again, maybe the need to avoid the pain of past psychic injuries is pushing you towards unhealthy levels of grandiosity, disconnection, and workaholism.

Now don’t get me wrong– achievement is a wonderful thing.  For me, playing on major stages with superstars was a glorious experience.  I loved doing it and I learned a lot.  But at the heart of it, the big lesson was this:  achievement is not healing.  The biggest success in it was really something else altogether: It consisted of being freed from the limiting idea that love is conditional upon performance, and external success was the only path to internal harmony.  As it turns out, I had it all backwards.

We often get mixed up about the need for healing vs. the desire for achievement, and let’s face it, many sales pitches for professional training exploit that confusion.  Healing is about what you need, and business success is about providing what other people need.  There are more direct means of achieving both objectives, and they are both so much easier when done in the right order.

[Originally published at talentculture.com]

Justin Locke is an author, playwright, speaker, and philosopher.  Visit his website at www.justinlocke.com

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My interview on Contrabass Conversations

So, my pal Jason Heath had me back on his amazingly popular “Contrabass Conversations” podcast.  We discuss how arts education, dance, Peter Drucker, Franz Simandl and Toyota Lean all fit together. Also the Mozart in the Jungle Effect on book sales.   about an hour.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mechanics vs. Consciousness

When I was in High School, I confess to you, I hated math class.  In 10th grade I had been transferred from a public school to a fancy dancy private school, and no one bothered to notice that the 10th grade public school math I knew was 7th grade math in the rich kid school.

The math class was not only hard, it also seemed pointless.  I had no interest in it, and I could see no time in the immediate or distant future where I would have any use for this skill (I was right, btw).  So I asked the Dean of Students why I had to take the class.

He replied, “Because the Ohio Board of Education says you have to.”

Now I don’t mean to sound flippant or snarky here, although my vexation with lack of consciousness often makes me seem peevish.  What he had essentially said was, “I get paid every Friday by this system, the system says I have to make you do this, so I am going to execute those orders, and it’s not my job to question them.”  This is a case of mechanics, that is, just blind obedience by a cog to a laid out system, ignoring reasons to not do it.  He had chosen this, rather than a state of consciousness.  I can see his point.  Shutting down the questioning infinite mind generally makes life easier.

A few years later I found myself at a fancy dancy music school.  The following may sound ridiculous, but it actually happened: I took Music Theory 101, as everyone had to do, and for 5 months all we did was study the rules of Gregorian Chant counterpoint.  This is the music you hear monks singing in monasteries, from the middle ages.
 
Now bear in mind, there was no discussion of why this music existed, or of the big picture goal of how to best replicate the mood of church in France in 1300, and work backwards from there.  No, instead, someone had taken 300 Gregorian Chants, and had done a general analysis of how the notes went from here to there, making up a series of rules, so that if you followed them (or just programmed them into a computer) while putting pairs of notes on a musical staff, something would result that would sound very much like Gregorian Chant.
 
This may have some practical application somewhere, but I never found it.  It did not create mastery, only a shallow illusion of it.  Its primary purpose was to be an exercise in obedience, and by obeying, acquiring a sense of belonging, amongst all the other people who had also blindly obeyed the teacher.  This exercise in futility cost me something like $3,000 in today’s dollars.
 
This mechanical view, of disregarding the unique creative potential of each person and instead just making everyone toe the same exact line of a system, is ubiquitous in human history.  Similar sorts of systems are in play all the time, e.g., standardized tests.  Any number of thinkers like John Holt have refuted their effectiveness, the teachers hate them, and Finland has unequivocally refuted their effectiveness.  And yet, the system, of getting paid to administer repetitive tasks, doing so in blind obedience, persists.
 
For me, as a speaker/consultant, it is not a lack of ideas or solutions that is the problem for my clients.  These already exist in plentiful amounts.  The hard part is making the transition in my audience and clients– and yes, also in myself– from mechanical obedience to open perceptions and consciousness.  And this is hard, because unlike mechanical obedience, consciousness is a state where one can feel pain.  It is often very uncomfortable.
 
Blind obedience has this wonderful reward, in that when you shut down your broader consciousness, you become numb to feeling– your own and that of other people.  If you are in pain, and most of us are, it is a fantastic immediate relief, but over time, the side effects get worse and worse.
 
As a speaker, the only way I can be truly effective and engage my audience is if I go into a state of open consciousness.  I have to trust and connect with a bunch of strangers.  And there is always the fear– born of endless past traumas of having my vulnerable spirit wounded and shamed– that makes me always hesitate to go full out.  But I have to do it.
 
This is the answer to my endless question of earlier decades, of why some conductors were so much better than others.  It was not the mechanical aspect– even though you see many conductors obsessed with “correct’ baton waving technique, and eagerly policing the group for wring notes, and asking the orchestra to “watch me.”  A great conductor just stands there and lets you know, by “osmosis,” that he is intently listening and sharing a spiritual communion with you.  When that happens, of course, one becomes super-motivated, and all the mechanical stuff just happens by itself.  Toscanini had this power to such a degree that even if another conductor was on the podium, if the orchestra sensed his presence in the room they would play for him, not the guy waving the stick.
 
This is the big question of the age facing us both individually and collectively–  are we going to take the assembly line path of suppressing broader consciousness and numbing up, or shall we dare to take the risk, and have the guts, to risk being conscious of the full spectrum of human pain, so that we may also be able to manifest the full spectrum of human potential?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Media

Greetings culture lovers,

So I gave a little talk down in Sharon MA last month, here is a video, or 75 minutes thereof. Note if you have already heard the Real Men Don’t Rehearse stories (in this case, of working with Fiedler, Williams, and Mancini), you can skip those, but the ending section has some great questions from the audience about what conductors actually DO as well as poking some fun at percussionsists.

Also my pal Jason Heath re-published an interview he did with me back in 2008. Fascinating to hear, as many folks in the classical music industry apparently listened to me, and have all come out of the video closet! Again, the best part is the last 15 minutes. He and I will be doing another interview next month.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mental Maps

I would like to introduce a new term to the lexicon, which I call “mental maps.”

In my role as an occasional advisor/guru/management consultant, I often (as you no doubt also do) find myself making fairly obvious statements of logic and/or fact, but the people at whom they are directed react strangely.  They don’t argue it, they just seem to go blank, and they fail to acknowledge what I just said.

I actually wish they would argue.  When they don’t, I know I have caused confusion in their mental map.  Their mental map is the basis for every thought they have, and if it feels challenged, it generally runs and hides.

For all my good intentions, I have essentially caused their inner mental computer to freeze.  I have not helped them.  I have actually made things worse by making them flee to the comforting familiarity of their existing incorrect mental map.  Damn.

If you observe someone doing something that does not make sense to you, just remember, in the context of their mental map, it makes complete sense to them– at least, it “feels” right.  This explains the “odd” choices of people with political or religious views other than your own, as well as businesses that do not pass the TPS sniff test.

I will confess, I have my own mental maps.  Part of growing up is discovering that your mental map is no good and you need to get a new one.  This process should never end, but, sadly, all too often, we get to one version and stop.  Changing one’s mental map is hard.

Mental maps are based either on direct experience or something we have been led to believe.  I’ll give you a personal for-instance:

When I was a teenage bass player, I lived in a world of music schools and music teachers.  In that realm, there was a fairly consistent dogma, that is to say, a mental map of reality: It openly stated that it was the job of the conductor to instruct the musicians on how to play every note, and an assumption that a great performance consisted of the removal of mistakes.  Top-down six-sigma management, if you will.

So I sat in rehearsal after youth orchestra rehearsal, in which wrong notes were endlessly pointed out, and conductors insisted that we watch them as they waved their batons.  While none of these people in authority were high level players or conductors themselves, they would tell us that they knew how it worked in the bigtime, and claimed that they were prepping us for that world.

So when I found myself actually playing in the Boston Pops Orchestra, I was presented with the rather severe shock that the “mental map” I had been taught of how orchestras worked was completely incorrect.  I realized that if I wanted to stay in that orchestra, I had to completely re-write my mental map of how that world worked.

This was hard, as I had spent a lot of time and money learning the old map, and I also had a fair amount of pride for having mastered the old map.  To give it up meant having to give up both status and a fond sense of achievement, and having to realize that I had been poorly served by people I had trusted, and start over from humility zero.

This was a hard choice.  But I wanted to play in the Pops, so I made the gut wrenching choice to abandon the old mental map and start over with a new one.

Making this kind of difficult choice is key to real advancement or succeeding at anything.  A bad map will get you nowhere, but we can be fond of our bad maps, because they were given to us by people we love, and they told us what we wanted to hear.

Now as a consultant, I have had to give up another incorrect map, this one of my own design: I always assumed that once I went off like Lewis and Clark and personally explored a given area of psychological terra incognita, everyone would listen to me when I returned.

Wrong.

Instead, I find myself in constant competition with other advice mongers who have never made the trip themselves, but they are still running around selling mental maps to the Louisiana Purchase, with promises of El Dorado and Fountains of Youth.  Since our shared customer base has never been there in person, they have no way of knowing which is correct, and these incorrect maps are far more appealing.

As a management consultant, the most common mental maps I run into these days are all the mental maps to the internet, that is, about how Google “searches” and various online sales and promotion sites actually work.

When buying information on which to build your own mental map, it is essential to discern whether someone is giving you first hand or second hand map information.  For example, I have never been to Mt Everest, so if I sell you a map to Everest, all I am doing is repeating what someone else told me.

I have been running my own web site for 25 years, so I have my own first hand mental map of how search engines operate.  I have also tried many of these commonly touted systems and theories of “SEO,” and I have found by direct experimentation that they don’t work.  If they do, well, correlation, not causation.

So again, how badly do you want to play in the Boston Pops, or in your case, achieve some other higher goal?  Do you want to get there badly enough that you are ready to question the dogma-based maps that people are selling?  Do you want to get there badly enough to accept the fact that maybe a whole lot of people you have trusted were perhaps misguided, and maybe even exploiting you by telling you what you wanted to hear instead of the hard truth?

Adjustments to mental maps are hard to accept.  This difficulty is an extension of the “sunk cost” syndrome– the more money you have paid into a fallacious system, they harder it is to give it up,  but doing so is necessary if you wish to move forward.

As the King of Siam sang,

And it puzzle me to learn
That tho’ a man may be in doubt of what he know
Very quickly he will fight
He’ll fight
to prove that what he does not know . . .  is so.

One grand conclusion I’ve come to is that everyone’s mental map– my own included– is incomplete, and likely to have errors.  And the more incorrect a mental map is, the more shameful, embarrassing, painful, and difficult it is to admit to it and alter it.  The challenge is getting someone to question their mental map, especially the things in it that are limiting their perceptions, thus allowing them accept a new way of seeing themselves or of doing things.   This alteration of “consciousness” is the real key, as the temporal solutions to most problems are already readily available.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Hidden Costs of Denigration

Den-i-grate

verb:      criticize unfairly; disparage.
    
    synonyms:    disparage, belittle, deprecate, decry, cast aspersions on, criticize, attack; speak ill of, give someone a bad name, defame, slander, libel;
    run down, abuse, insult, revile, malign, vilify, slur;
    informal: badmouth, dis, pull to pieces, talk smack

I can’t speak for anyone else, but more and more I feel like I am living in a culture that is becoming overwhelmed by the language of denigration.   It is now normal to assassinate the character of anyone who has a different opinion than ourselves.  This is a very dangerous state of affairs.

Perhaps the most obvious illustration is the current presidential campaign.  We observe, perhaps with a certain amount of naughty enjoyment, people in power being insulted and belittled by others in power.  But it has become far more pervasive than that.

I recently posted a fairly innocuous comment on a facebook post of a presidential candidate.  Like clockwork, my comment was denigrated.  That is, people who disagreed with my view spoke in a tone that was condescending and insulting.

Being an adult and a published public person,  I know the risks and the drill.  But still, it is bothersome to be insulted, even if the insults are coming from a person or persons who are clearly immersed in a dogma that is completely illogical and/or ill-informed.  The problem is, one must then ask, do I want to engage with this person, or should I just walk away?  There is no right answer, as I feel I should protest/enlighten, but then, I have to do a cost/benefit analysis, and I have to ask, is it really worth the trouble?  And if I don’t fix it, who will?

This language of denigration is everywhere.  If you have a more “liberal” viewpoint, then The Daily Show will regale you with nightly denigration (with a touch of comedy) of mostly conservative politicians.  Fox News has less comedy, but they denigrate those on the political left all day, if that’s the target of denigration you prefer.

The trouble is, all of this denigration is not about making logical arguments to advance a political viewpoint.  It’s about exploiting wounded people, and encouraging them to cope with it by wounding another even more vulnerable person in the same way.   The danger is, it is a very short step from believing “My state of woundedness justifies dumping my hurt on strangers by writing this nasty post” to “My woundedness justifies my dumping my hurt on strangers by shooting up a school .”

An even bigger problem here, besides the toll on our collective happiness and human dignity, is the loss of freedom of speech.  Speaking out on anything of real social importance, especially offering a solution to a problem, makes you a target of denigration energy.  The first challenge any new idea must face is the denigration of those who seek to maintain the status quo.  Or they may not even care about that, they are just reflexively eager to unload their denigration energy at the earliest opportunity.  Or they lash out at anything that threatens a fragile sense of control.

If you read any unmoderated public comment thread on any major website, you will immediately see that, as a culture, we have lost our ability to discuss our differences in a civil mutually respectful manner; the contest goes to whomever can dish out and take the most denigration energy.  This silences many, creates political factions, and favors sociopaths.

“Freedom of speech” only applies to direct governmental power, it does not protect us from the  suppression of speech that denigration can cause.  I like to think I am a reasonably well read and educated / informed person, but I still had to learn an entirely different set of verbal and social skills in order to not let fear of verbal denigration interfere with my own freedom of speech.  A lot of the time it has nothing to do with facts, study, or intelligence, and everything to do with just having the guts to face and disregard people who are de facto bullies.

The real issue here is not even the denigration, it is the blind woundedness that drives it.  If we keep denying its existence, history teaches us that it will eventually fester and consume us all.

– Justin Locke

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Dark Side of Authoring

Back when I was a musician there was a “thing” in the culture about seeking to serve “the composer’s intentions.”  So when I became, well, not a composer, but a playwright, I thought to myself, “Wow, this is going to be great, when people do my plays they will be calling me up night and day to ask about my ‘intentions.’”

Well, one more fond illusion shattered.

In all the years of my shows being done all over the world, well, there was one time a conductor asked me to come chat with the actors (at the Bahamas premiere), but other than that one time, not once has anyone doing one of my shows ever asked my opinion about how to stage it.  In fact I have been often been politely asked to not bother the actors or the director.

Many people in music complain about orchestras always playing music by dead composers.  There is a good reason for it.  Dead composers never complain about how you play their music.  And once they are dead, any conductor can claim to be the expert in how it was supposed to be done.  Very hard to do that if the composer himself is still around and suddenly changes his/her mind on you.  I often feel that my publishers wish I were dead– certainly I would be far more easy to work with if I was.  Other than an annual royalty payment they certainly don’t act like I am alive.

When it comes to books, it’s a little different.  At least with a play I can go and see the audience’s reactions in real time.  With books you have to wait for sporadic reviews.

I confess that once I write a book, it’s a little like having a kid.  The conceptualizing is great fun, the developmental stages are all-consuming of your time and energy, and you nurture it along as best you can, but at a certain point you have to accept the fact that the book is done and it has to go out in the world and fend for itself.  You are of course concerned for its welfare and you explode with pride if it does well and people express acceptance and approval by buying it and reading it, but . . .   It is all one step removed.  Once a book it done, the umbilical cord is cut, it is not “me’ any more, it has to stand on its own.

time cover7 copyThat said, I confess to feeling very much on the edge with my latest book, “Time Light Love.”  When someone buys it (it is only on Kindle for now) I leap with joy, but only vicariously.  It is its own entity now.  I gave it all the love and resources I had, and I could prop it up with excessive helicopter-author promotion as I have in the past, but I have decided this book needs no help, it has power all its own and there is no need to push it, I will just let folks discover it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Latest Book

Hello everyone.  Some of you may have noticed that I have not done a blog post for quite some time.  The reason is, I’ve been hard at work on my latest book.  I finally put it up on Kindle.

A little preview: for the longest time I’ve had this little unsolved equation rattling around in my head:

There are millions of colors, but there are only three primary colors.

The human body is amazingly complex, yet it is designed using just four nucleotides in various combinations.

Almost all popular music is written using just three chords.

And all matter is made up of various combinations of just protons, neutrons, electrons.

So, harking back to my many years of manipulating the emotions of hundreds of thousands of people as a musician as well as propaganda video producer, I started to wonder if there wasn’t a similar three-element elemental basis of human emotional energy.   And here is the result:

time cover6 copy

http://www.amazon.com/Time-Light-Love-Exploring-Emotional-ebook/dp/B018WLA40Y/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1449416553&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=time+light+timelocke

You can read the first few chapters by clicking on the cover on the Amazon page.

I confess, this may be sheer balderdash, but if it isn’t, it pretty much requires a complete rethink of how we do just about everything.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Do You Have Research to Support That?

I like to think of myself as a freethinking individual.  I like to look at big problems and use my experience and my noggin to come up with possible unique solutions.  And I find I keep running into the same response to my ideas, which is the question, “Do you have any research to support that?”

I hear this question a LOT.  It seems reasonable enough, but there is something about it that bothers me, and it’s not just that I don’t have any research.  It’s that I am not hearing any other responses, such as “What the hell are you talking about?” and “Justin, you’re nuts.”

So, using this “empirical data,” my “research” shows a pernicious trend:  that many people automatically defer to research processes, putting it ahead of their own cognitive ability.

I get the feeling that, while they are willing to doubt me if I have have no research, they are also set to blindly accept my idea if I do have it.  If I don’t have research, then my thoughts have no merit in their eyes, but if I do, it’s as though the research has become their God, at least of intellectual discourse.

The trouble with this kneejerk deference to research is, there are a great many concepts that just can’t be demonstrated or proven via the standard research process.  Here are a few rhetorical questions to illustrate my point: Do you love your mother?  If your answer is yes, well, do you have any research to support that?  Do you believe the meek will inherit the earth?  If the answer is yes, you have any research to support that?  Do you believe, as the founding fathers did, that we all have a self evident inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?  If yes, do you have any research to support that? (If research is essential to all arguments, and we have no supporting research, then we’ve got to give the whole country back to England.)

Research science has done wonderful things for humanity.  At the same time, there’s an awful lot of research that hasn’t really enlightened us all that much, and has often misled us.   Research is only as good as the person interpreting it.  It is not infallible.

At the risk of piling on, if you wanna get really picky, there is no such thing as truly scientific research.  The only way research can be truly scientific is if we randomly select what we do research on.  Since that is rarely the case, all research studies are skewed because they represent research on things that somebody somewhere wanted to spend the money to do research on.  There’s a massive subset of things that nobody wants to spend money to do research on, on which there is no research.  I hope you won’t ask me if I have any research to support that, I think it’s obvious.  And by the way, you’ll notice that scientists never say that a research project has “proven” anything.  They always hedged their bets by saying “research shows . . .”

But the big thing that hit me today is a bit of “research bias” that no one ever talks about, and that is, research scientists get paid to do research, and universities make huge money doing it as well.   So of course they are going to emphasize its importance, and that becomes a cultural attitude.

Again, I understand that research is a wonderful thing, and double-blind studies and statistical analysis often yield fantastic information.  But because people who do this research are dependent upon more contracts to do more research, they themselves are biased, as are the people funding the research.  It’s a business like any other, and they are eager to convince anyone and everyone that their product is something that everyone should buy.  But research is just a process, and therefore it is essentially a machine.  By itself it cannot think, nor can it feel, nor does it have experience or wisdom.  It is one path of discovery, but it is not the only one.

And no, I don’t have any research to support that.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment