It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)

19 03 2017

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Our “psychological immune system” lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned.

Daniel Gilbert’s first TED talk has been seen by more than 8 million people and remains one of the most popular of all time.

Daniel Gilbert is the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He has won numerous awards for his research and teaching, including the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology. In 2008 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

His 2007 book, Stumbling on Happiness, spent 6 months on the New York Times bestseller list, has being translated into 30 languages, and was awarded the Royal Society’s General Book Prize for best science book of the year.

Living in the Belly of the Beast

22 02 2015

Yes…….  another video.  “Consumed”  Thanks to Chris Harries for pointing this one out.

The truth will set you free….

6 04 2014

George_LakoffI had never heard of George Lakoff, until he got a mention in an AIMN article about the so called “pink batts fiasco”.  Lakoff, according to wikipedia, is “an American cognitive linguist, best known for his thesis that lives of individuals are significantly influenced by the central metaphors they use to explain complex phenomena.”  Lakoff described right-wing voters as being influenced by “strict father model” as central metaphor for such a complex phenomenon as the state and left-wing voters as being influenced by “nurturant parent model” as folk psychological metaphor for this complex phenomenon.  So is it any wonder that “the left” and “the right” don’t see eye to eye?  It even explains our right wing government calling asylum seekers “illegals”.  It also proves that their opposite Labor Party is just as right wing…….. and might explain why they are on the nose with the electorate who is now finding it difficult to differentiate between the two!

The reason I am now writing this post is that, having followed some of the links above, it has become obvious (belatedly?) just how critical language is when discussing political issues, especially ones dear to my heart like Climate Change……

As George Lakoff explains in his book ‘Don’t think of an elephant’ , progressives need to get over the myth of ‘Enlightenment’:

“The truth will set us free. If we just tell people the facts, since people are basically rational beings, they’ll all reach the right conclusions”.

I think it is stating the bleeding obvious that our government doesn’t listen to the truth.  But then, one person’s truth is another’s bullshit.  Therefore the solution to turning the bullshit into the truth is communications……  something my physicist son had drummed into him at University, and which he constantly tells me I am hopeless at!

don't think elephantIn Don’t think of an elephant  (which I have not read yet – I am now relying on what others are saying about the book until I do) Lakoff explains how conservatives think, and how to counter their arguments. He outlines in detail the traditional American values that progressives hold, but seem unable to articulate.  Lakoff also breaks down the ways in which conservatives have framed the issues, and provides examples of how progressives can reframe the debate.

Lakoff’s years of research and work with environmental and political leaders have been distilled into this essential guide, which shows progressives how to think in terms of values instead of programs, and why people vote, not truly understanding  their values and identities, and often against their best interests.

Don’t Think of An Elephant! is the antidote to the last forty years of conservative strategising and the right wing’s stranglehold on political dialogue in the United States, and I expect, Australia…..

Then we have this from the Guardian…:

The release of the latest report (PDF) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is yet another sober warning on the perils humanity faces from global warming.

The threats seem written from the dystopian blockbuster Hunger Games: global food-stocks are at risk, melting sea ice, thawing permafrost, dying coral reefs, heat waves, mega-rains, and a death toll amongst the poor, weak and elderly. Except for one thing. The effects of climate change are happening now.

As Graham Readfern writes, we’ve heard it all before.


While we’re hurtling towards the worst case scenario, and recognising that the latest IPCC report just confirms what we’ve known since the first Assessment Report back in 1990, it’s worth asking whether the reports are helping or hindering action on climate change.

Recently, David Grimes wrote in The Guardian that “denying climate change isn’t scepticism – it’s motivated reasoning“. Describing the “boomerang effect” in an academic article by P. Hart and Erik Nisbet, the academics say that motivated reasoning explains why simply providing more and better facts based on science can actually increase polarisation on issues like climate change.

So there you have it.  The truth can only set you free, if you’re a left winger!  The fundamental tragedy about the twenty five years of IPCC warnings, and countless others from the CSIRO, Bureau of Meteorology and hundreds of other respected scientific institutions is that they’ve been ignored.  Facts simply aren’t enough, but they’re all that scientists can give us.