Australian General Semantics Society


"Applications of general-semantics”


March Sat 18th at Gavan's

A hands on day.  Lots of exercises and activities.

Led by David Hewson



1)      Identification

a)      Vertical identification of different abstraction levels.  This included: Reification (identifying abstract concepts/formulations with concrete objects that do not exist) and Fact-Inference confusion.

b)     Horizontal identification.  Where one treats A1 as identical to A2 .  Examples of this error discussed were:  racism, sexism, ageism, etc.


2)      Projection

      (seeing properties as projected out there, that you have made up in your nervous system.) 

      i.e. projection ignores the observer-observed process.


3)      Either/Or thinking

      i.e. how it is easier to think in black and white polarised terms than in shades of grey.  And how the Availability bias helps make this happen.


4)      IFD disease. 

      I stands for Idealised goals.  This is where someone has goals that are: Highly vague, highly valued and have a high aspiration level (i.e. little chance of success.)  For example: If someone, who wants to promote an organisation and get new members but does say whether they want 1, 5, 15, 50, 100 or 500 new members.  And they don't say how they are going to get them or what they will do, if they get them.  So there is little way of knowing if they have failed or succeeded.  Then their goal is very vague. The person also highly values the goal and may, for example, even faint at the thought of not achieving it.  And finally, the goal of getting even 5 new members may be very high for them, (i.e. they have little chance of success, if for example, they have managed to recruit no one new members over the last 5 years.)  The idealisation has elements of Either/Or thinking in it.  e.g.Either you succeed Or you fail.  If you fail you then may identify yourself as a failure.  So identification and projection errors can occur here also.

        The F stands for Frustration.  The idealist gets frustrated at not meeting their ideal goals.  They may even lash out then at others, for not achieving their goal for them.

        The D stands for Demoralisation.  The idealist finally reacts to heaps of frustration at not getting his/her ideal goals by becoming demoralised.  


5)      We covered a problem solving process that may help realistically with problems and so avoid IFD: 


a)      Five step change method:

i)        Define the problem in clear concrete terms. 

(1)   One needs to overcome denial first.  I.e. you have to become aware that you have a problem.

(2)   Vague problem statements need to become extensional and concrete.

(3)   Can the problem be solved or must some hassle be lived with. E.g. alcohol in society.

ii)       Examine the solutions attempted so far.  What hasn't it worked and how it failed.  E.g prohibition.  Or how it maintains the situation.  I.e. the old solution may now cause or exacerbate the problem.  E.g. Organised crime during the prohibition era.

iii)     Define the change to be achieved in clear concrete terms. Effective goals are:

(1)   Specific.  Concrete in terms of what change is to be made.

(2)   Attainable.  I.e. You can do them within the time frame.

(3)   Forgiving (less than perfect or ideal). 

iv)     Formulate a plan to implement this change and include:

(1)   What do you control that can lead to the change desired?

(2)   What problem elements are making it hard for you to escape the problem and change?

v)      Implement the plan and learn from the results, adjusting the plan appropriately.   Don't give up the plan at the first obstacle.  Reward yourself for partial sucesses.


Gavan served up a delicious lunch of: Steak, salad, a baked potato and tomato dish, along with bread and a delicious desert.  This was enjoyed by all.


The next meeting is on

April Sun 9th at Gavan's

Seeking "Unmediated Truth" - "Fiction" in the Pursuit of "Fact" ?

What is "The Truth"  - If you cannot "know thyself", how can you "know the World"?

Is it true that "Not all that counts, can be counted, and not all that can be counted, counts"?  

Can we teach "truth" by devices of "fiction"?

Led by Robert James


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