Posts tagged ‘Human Ecology’

Double bind feedback

February 12th, 2007

At the end of a lecture series (again, and again on human ecology) students were asked for feedback about the lecture series as part of their exams. In order to get a certificate, students have to hand in a written statement including critical feedback about the lecture series.

If I was in need of self-affirmation, I would just do the same. Critical thinking is all good and praiseworthy. Indeed. Please criticize! Them, me, and don’t forget yourself!

Double binds and Catch-22s might be fun as part of brain-teasers, and they build grounds for game theoretic prisoner’s dilemmas. Though, some might want to keep in mind that double binds have also long been discussed in the context of schizophrenia. As much as they are versatile means of breaking one’s personality and self-esteem they are essential not only to modern techniques of torture.

On no side’s side:
You want feedback? — You got it.

To prepare for the unknown unknown

February 4th, 2007

At the workshop “Nichtwissen in der Wissensgesellschaft” (Ignorance in Information Society), when the discussions eventually boiled down to one of the workshops focal questions — how to deal with the unknown unknownUlrich Müller-Herold gave an illustrative example:

Imagine an aircraft manufacturer has just assembled a newly developed airplane that now is scheduled for its maiden test flight. To minimize all possible risks the airplane has gone through extensive ground testing, and a highly experienced test pilot is chosen.

Still, during the maiden flight unexpected circumstances might arise. So, we may ask what can be done in advance to be able to react as appropriately as possible. For instance, one of perhaps many measures, which the manufacturer may take, is to require the pilot to be completely sober.

What a wonderful example! First, it well illustrates the problem. What can mankind do to stay sober? Second, it even points out a solution. Like we should sharpen our whiskers. Third, and most importantly, it’s flawed.

When I said to Müller-Herold that I found his example very appropriate because it was flawed he told me a story of Heinrich Böll who once calmly replied to a critic that one could reach one’s goal limping, too. (“Herr Böll, der Vergleich hinkt.” — “Ach, man kann auch hinkend sein Ziel erreichen”, here quoted after Joachim Kaiser.)

But, if mankind was not limping probably there would have never been a goal. If an example is to illustrate a flaw it does so well if it is flawed itself. And, indeed, perfectly flawed it is.

Claiming responsibility

November 4th, 2006

The following took place in the context of a lecture series on human ecology. One evening, after talks a speaker and friend of mine asked me how I perceive the lectures. I answered that I am thinking about responsibility. Next she wanted to know what were the results of my thinkings. I said: Responsibility.

By then we had reached the building’s exit door. She said bye, and off she was.


Save the earth

March 17th, 2006

The most important aspect of trying to save earth is not to do so.

Why don’t human ecologists cry

March 12th, 2006

Why don’t the newscasters cry
when they read about people who die

Why don’t human ecologists cry when they give their talks, when they take part in conferences and discussions, or when they present their posters?

At least they could be decent enough
to put just a tear in their eyes

Why don’t we cry?

Well mama said
It’s just make believe
You can’t believe everything you see
So baby close your eyes to the lullabies
On the news tonight

Quotes from Jack Johnson‘s song The News.