Howdy all …
Using a thread that began with a posting about the Swine Flu vaccination on a colleague’s Facebook page I’ve been analyzing how the interactions have progressed from that posting into a minor flame war. However what’s most interesting to me is the underlying structure.
I been looking at the structure and impact of language in communication in this thread in Parts 1 and 2 of this series, but more importantly IMO I’ve been writing about the effect of language on thinking and the behaviors it creates. In this entry I’m going further, below the surface, into the deep structure of language and it’s usage where the logic resides.
[NOTE: If you haven’t yet read Rethinking the Value of Language (Part 1) and Rethinking the Value of Language – Part II it would make sense to do that first – before you read this and try to make deep sense of this entry.]
The Origins and Implications of the the Meta-Model:
About thirty-five years ago Richard Bandler and John Grinder the co-developers of what later became the NLP model discovered a series of patterns in language that prevent the user from either communicating or thinking with precision. They grouped these patterns into three meta-catagories of what they referred to as meta-model patterns, Generalizations, Deletions and Distortions.
I’d add that this model of thinking about language usage is essentially about the logic of language, and how we violate that logic. When we violate the logic of language the meaning of what’s been/being communicated is unwound, creating ill-formed representations by we we communicate and/or fail to communicate.
- When we violate this logic in language usage in a grammatically correct way it may seem to make perfect sense, although in reality much or all of the sense contained in the language is lost
- Without being able to control our language usage to control our own thinking and communication we give up our personal power … losing much or all of our ability to choose for ourselves
- When we fail to manage our language use well in our communication with others we pay a great price … we lose our power to influence and persuade others in any meaningful way as well.
Essentially in each of these cases what’s happened is that what’s communicated or thought loses the ability to accurately represent what’s intended with any accuracy of precision whatsoever. When you violate the logical patterns of language usage in regard to the patterns of your own thinking you create ill-formedness in your representations of the world-at-large.
Simply put … when you violate the logic of language usage you lose touch with reality, a basic condition of what might be called insanity.
FWIW a significant part of my intention is to offer you access to the skills of critical thinking and the ability to communication with precision. When you can think and communicate with precision you have the means available to you regain and maintain some real semblance of sanity in a sometimes insane world. IMO this all begins with skill of critical observation … so let’s begin again …
Re-Visiting The Text:
Jim ended his last message with two quotes:
“All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others.” ~ Douglas Adams
“The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.” ~ Hubert Humphrey
My response to Jim following his exchanges that preceded these quotes was:
”I don’t know you, but keep pointing to facts and non-facts as though this discussion here is based on some facts and some non-facts. Yet what continues to be missing is the evidence.”
I happen to be one who does believe in the primacy of evidence. This may of may not be the same as what you refer to as “science” above.”
What I’m doing here is trying to find out how Jim will respond to the possibility of allowing the discussion to be reframed.
I use his own argument form to respond to him. Specifically his call to ”logic and argument” vis-a-vis the Douglas Adams quote.
I begin by offering him some reason to consider accepting the reframe by pointing to Karl Popper’s philosophy of Logical Positivism – the dominant paradigm of scientific theory in the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century.
The most essential comment I make in regard to Popper’s philosophy is, “Simply stated, “we cannot prove what is true only that which is untrue.” A very logical statement that forms the foundation of Popper’s approach to science, which itself is an attempt to ground the scientific approach in logic.
Taking Jim “SERIOUSLY”
Then I build further on this by taking HIM seriously, especially in regard to the second quote he uses by Hubert Humphrey. I continue building towards a logical structure, offering him this well known premise, ”correlation does not equal causation”, another logical form at the core of the scientific method.
At this point there is some reason for him to choose to take what I’ve written seriously … if he choses to operate with an internally consistent logic himself. This is an essential basis of sane thinking and is easily revealed in language usage. Dialogic logic (the logic of communication exchanges) is either consistent or it’s not, i.e.: each comment connects to the one before and leads to the one after … with some reasonable gaps and movement allowed for to accommodate the nature human interaction.
Yet there is a counter-arguement to believing that he’ll accept the offer I’m presenting to him. His previous entries all send the same message … I’m smarter than you, more educated than you, one of the intelligensia … an expert. As I said in my last posting, what Jim’s responses suggest are, “there are those of us who know and those of you who don’t … so stay out of it.”
This attitude is at the heart of what could be called narcissistic thinking. One of the characteristics of this kind of thinking pattern is the unwillingness to lose, to give any ground at all and especially to give away any of what is perceived of as power in interpersonal interactions.
Up until this point the only response I can reasonably expect is, ”So what?”
So I continue … I test whether or not he’s willing to give some ground, any ground at all …
”While I don’t depend on homeopathy to save me in times of crisis, I wouldn’t remove it from the medical lexicon of those who are supported by it, if only to raise their morale – there is as you know strong evidence for the power and effect of placebos after all.”
While I don’t expect him to accept this statement, without it I can’t know if he’ll give any ground. Then I push it a little further …
”In the meantime the best defense that history offers against plague is not being there, then after that a strong immune system either by fortune or genetics … or both. So what I’ll choose is the massive evidence from the medical community regarding what does impact the ability to support and sustain a strong immune system based on the longitudinal studies we have, and do my best to remain free of exposure to the greatest extent possible in the meantime.”
The point above should challenge what Jim put out as his fundamental position so far, i.e.: ”I am a medical doctor, one of the experts who know … and you should be paying attention to what we have to say and follow our advice, if you don’t it’s because you’re stupid (remember you can’t possibly know anything without being an expert too) … and you will die because of it (”You’ll get no herd immunity …”).”
It also gives Jim something to say “NO” to without having to dismiss my entire response … maybe even an opening to say “YES” to the previous part of the posting.
Testing the Theory and Dangling the Bait
Then I dangle the real bait …
”FWIW no vaccines for me … the jury is also most definitely out on that one, unless you count the definitive proof by Popper’s standards that they in fact are neither universally safe for all nor universally effective. Either way I accept your personal choice here and wish you the best with it.”
In many ways this is the real bait specifically because I take back my own power here, accepting his right to do as he will and claiming my own at the same time. We should see very quickly if Jim takes the bait and proves out my budding theory about him being a victim of narcissistic thinking … a particularly virulent form of ill-formedness in human interaction IMO.
Jim’s Response …
FWIW there should be no surprise that Jim takes the bait … hook, line and sinker as they say.
Once again you’ll have to wait for the rest of my analysis of the communication patterns in this thread and the light they throw on language usage, thinking and behavior.
I’m trying to keep this to bite size chunks of information, and this already feels a bit long and dense … but not too long, so I’ll stop it here for now.
I’ll be posting Part 4 very soon … but in the meantime I’d love to hear from you with your own analysis, comments and observations.
Joseph Riggio, Ph.D.
Flt. CO29, somewhere over the North Atlantic