Open Future NZ Gregory Bateson

"We are misdirected by the wrongness of our questions"

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Gregory Bateson believed that good ideas are driven out by over-simple, easy and hoped for outcomes. In Bateson's view both inductive thinking and deductive thinking lead us into thinking errors. We can protect ourselves only by trying to think about our problems in more than one way, and by working with other people. Bateson suggests that we look for patterns of form or action, as a way to see the situation in a different light. He calls this style of thinking, abduction. The secret he says is to, "find the pattern that connects."

Bateson said that his students were of two types, which he labeled for descriptive purposes, protestants and catholics (or Marxists) . The protestants, could not be taught ethics or rules or right from wrong, those concepts were beyond their interest, they only wanted to know "how to do things". In contrast the catholics were not interested in such practical considerations and only wanted to know what the correct rule was. Since both groups lack thinking tools like having pre-suppositions and establishing a hypothesis, it was very difficult for both groups to learn to think clearly.  Both groups come into the University with learning dysfunctions. 

Those who have strong beliefs find it almost impossible to learn.  This points to a self generated problem created by the use of popular techniques like positive thinking, and goal setting, which become a pseudoscience as most people understand them.  The "law of attraction" is another popular myth, often used to misdirect the efforts of people who have their own hopes and dreams.  "The Secret" is a very profitable re-marketing a false premise as a proven concept, taking advantage of human gullibility.

Knowledge is a function of our perception at any given time. All improved methods of perception, like social contact on the Internet, will disclose what was totally unpredictable from what was known before. All the objects in my mind are my creation, they are maps or names or images that I have created to help me think about the world. It is impossible to know what the world is like. According to the concept in my own mind, the world is understandable and predictable and can be controlled. This is wrong in principle. The map is not the territory. My idea is not, and can never be the thing I am thinking about.

"Is Globalization for Better or for Worse?"

If you ask is globalization good or bad, you have to respond, that it's both good and bad.  Just in China and India millions of people have moved away from an income of $1 a day.  More that 300 million people are no longer poor.  BUT there is more social unrest because of income inequality, and that's true in every country.  (Including the USA)

What happens over 20 years if income inequality simply gets greater and greater? 

Economist ask us to choose.  Do we want a larger GNP?  Do we want better income equality?  Do we want people to have better income mobility?  You can't have all three.
C. K. Prahalad, acclaimed professor of Corporate Strategy at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, discusses both good and bad effects of globalization on the global poor. (6 min)
Note from John S Veitch: I think, given climate change, and future problems regarding oil, water and food, the above demonstrates perfectly the "wrongness of the question".  The right question?  Find the pattern that connects.  The problems we face cannot be solved, by national politicians pretending to be global leaders.  The world needs genuine, enforcable, global law and genuine global leaders.  It's already too late in my view.  We have invited a massive population collapse.  There's no easy way down from here.  Our task?  To make it a lesser not a greater disaster.

All our thinking tends to become circular and self validating. Our minds congratulate us for our brilliance even when we are making basic and simple errors of judgment. You cannot evaluate your own thinking. We all need to be evaluated by others, by meeting on common ground with our peers.

Bateson said, "We presuppose that our ideas have some cogency and reality. They are what we can know, and we can know nothing else. This is as close as we ever get to the ultimate truth."

There is always a bigger picture, a higher level, a stronger force, a more complete model, outside whatever concepts you might have. We can't understand or see those possibilities because we are trapped inside the existing framework we've constructed for ourselves.

Gregory Bateson gives us many good reasons for re-examining our own thinking in discussion with others. For me he confirmed the value of keeping a journal.  My own journal has often been the tool that granted me "improved methods of perception" even if that was only a simple historical perspective.  Journal writing is hard work for most people. On the other hand social networking helps in much the same way and is much easier to sustain.  Sadly few people understand how to use social networking in a productive way.  Open Future Limited is working to change that limitation.

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