Australian Society for General Semantics



AGS Monthly Seminar


October 2009

What stops us applying GS principals?

We reflected on occasions when GS has “failed” us

(or when we have failed to use GS or use it appropriately) 

and how we can improve.

Led by Dion


1. Catching-up

We “always” allow a little time for review of our lives and activities.

This month it was (inter alia),

        a moving of home for our hosts Pauline and Gavan (and this meeting!),

        another wedding for Jeanne and Robert’s family,

        a moving-home for David,

        a renovating of home for Dion,

        another new business enterprise for Laurie,

        etc etc …



2. Introduction


We like to dwell on the power of GS theory and our little triumphs in applying it,


What about when we DON’T apply it as we could / should … ?



3. Some Case-Studies


Dion elicited some examples from us of where we could / should / would have done better, and we considered why / how / when this occurred.


Someone mentioned how he was satisfied that “I’ve covered that part of “Science and Sanity”, then realised that really understanding and applying it was something far more again!


4. Some meaty stuff


Bois (“The Art of Awareness”) has a diagram with five concentric circles, from the inside labelled:

          Perceived by the senses,

          Perceived with the aid of instruments (eg microscope),

          Understood better with GS methods,

          Theories and doctrines (eg the “isms”),

          Then the *** unknown *** !


Some quotations crept into the discussion, of whose relevance I’m not quite sure, eg:

LC:    “I’d do so much

          I’d be surprised,

          If I could just

get organised!”


RJ:    “All (sic) our problems

would be solved,

if only we had

more thingamajigs (technology)!”



5. Studies from the story “Eragon”


This included some juicy quotations, like

    “Magic must be our last resort”, and

    “The thing is the word – Control the word and you control the thing!”


We considered the significance of this in our community, credence in magic, power of the media, etc.  It was interesting to see the use of Latin as a means of adding mystery and magic and power to language – What about that in the (esp. Catholic?) Church?.


LC: “It’s so important that the symbol represents the reality as closely as possible,”


Discussion on the controlling function of language to small children, eg:

  * How often do we say “No!” to a two-year-old?

  * How often does a four-year-old ask “Why ..?” ?


6. Reflections on how / when “popular culture” fails to support us


Sports, media, entertainment (esp. fantasy) – how useful/harmful is it?


What about phenomena like Barry Humphreys / Dame Everidge –

  * Quite harmful or

  * Just frivolous, or

  * Useful social commentary … ?


LC: “But what about objectification?”

RJ: “Maybe illustrated by the statement ‘GS failed me on this occasion’.

          In fact, GS is not an entity that can succeed or fail,

          Surely better to say ‘On this occasion, I failed to use GS effectively!’ “



7. Studies from TV doco on “Luck” etc.


Dion collected and presented some video material about success and luck and causality etc.


David contributed some detail here, on the research about lucky people.

Professor Wiseman's research on perceived luck and success on both people how thought that they were lucky and those who thought that they were unlucky.


Psychologist Richard Wiseman tested 1,000 people who described themselves as exceptionally "lucky or unlucky" to a barrage of psychological tests.  From this he found/abstracted four fundamental principles of a "lucky" life.


Principle 1: Keeping an eye out for opportunities.


Unlucky people have intentional blindness. The lucky people tend to be a bit more relaxed, they'll notice something rather unusual and go wow there's an opportunity there. The unlucky people tend to be rather anxious and when we become anxious we become even more tunnel visioned, we focus all our attention into a tiny area and so we miss these big changes in our environment.

Principle 1b:   Keep your body language open for opportunities from others
As the psychological testing progressed, hundreds of interview tapes revealed unlucky people had consistently closed body language

Unlucky people’s facial expressions are actually fairly neutral.  They are not smiling as much as lucky people so they won’t be inducing those smiles/positive attitudes in those who might provide them with opportunities.

The lucky group on the other hand gave twice as many open gestures, and smiled 3 times as often.
So not only were "lucky" people better at spotting opportunities, their body language was subconsciously "attracting" them.

The possibility of a chance encounter working out well for you, with good body language, is much higher than the unlucky person who's not getting out and not touching other people's lives.

Principle 1c:  Think that you are lucky.  I.e. have a positive attitude.

The unlucky people thought that they were unlucky.   Lucky people feel they are lucky, so are more likely to give something a go.  I.e. try out an opportunity.   So change the way you think about your life will help you explore more possible opportunities.


Principle 2 is all about the role of intuition.


“Lucky” people use intuition as a skill more often.  It is a way of the brain dealing with very complex environments and saying "yes, look don't worry about consciously thinking through everything because otherwise you'd be there all day, let's make a shortcut" and it's about accurate shortcuts,

You’d think it would be the unlucky people who relied on intuition, but in fact, they were the ones ignoring their gut instinct.


Principle 3: Have a more optimistic view of the future.


When the “lucky” people were surveyed, they were much more optimistic about their future.
How that belief affected people’s actions is shown by a very simple experiment.  We had two metal puzzles. We said one of these is really difficult; the other one is fairly straightforward, we're not going to tell you which is which. The lucky people were convinced that they had got the easy puzzle and because of that they would persevere for hours and hours trying to solve this puzzle. The unlucky people were convinced they got the difficult one, and would hand it back after just a few seconds.


And of course in real life the more you persevere, the more successful/"luckier" you will be!


Luck Principle 4: Lucky people turn bad luck into good.


When something bad happens, unlucky people just say " I'm just unlucky, it just happens to me. You know I'm meant to be kept down. You know, I'm not meant to have anything. You know so why bother trying" And so they just give up.

But lucky people go out and spot a new opportunity. The notion that you are unlucky, is one of the most dangerous beliefs you can hold because there's nothing you can do about it so it just simply stops you trying. [Like a self fulfilling prophecy.]

So you've want to keep pushing and pushing your luck.


To summarise:
”Lucky” people generate their own good "luck" via four basic principles. They are skilled at:

1) creating and noticing chance opportunities,
2) make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition,
3) create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and
4) adopt a resilient attitude to set backs that transforms bad luck into good.



8. AGS Business


This was our AGM for 2009, with reports from office-bearers, election for next year and motions for proposals.  Minutes of this meeting are available separately.


9. Close


Next Meeting: Mid-November, to be presented by Robert:

“Man and His Symbols”


~ 0 ~

 (Updated 24 October, 2009)

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