Australian General Semantics Society Inc.




Seminar Summary - 20 October 2012


Ethics and Decision Making
    Ethics: Is this the only way to make decisions?

An introduction to Ed MacNeal's Decision Atlas
about the ways we make decisions.
    Led by Mr David Hewson.

at Gavan and Pauline's inspirational home "Clifftop View"

Catching Up

As "GS practitioners", we have plenty of GS Diary entries to share with the group.  In the month since our last meeting, members had experienced a range of "transitional events" related to their personal, community, and professional lives, including a wedding and a funeral.

WritingThis is a "living document", subject to ongoing evolution as recollections re-emerge from our memories of the event, and are re-evaluated in light of ongoing experience and reflection.  It will never be "the full truth and nothing but the truth", or "a map that expresses everyone's notion of the territory"!


Today's Seminar notes

1. Review of recent seminars:

"Viewpoints" seminar (July)

This session considered processes for comparing diet company and newspaper article viewpoints about whether diets work or not.   We used: delayed reaction and "what do you mean?" and "how do you know?" to resolved the differences which where conditional and about different time views: immediate and long term.

The following ETC article has some useful information on diets:
ETC 52 1 1995 "Managing Your Weight Through GS" Paul Dennithorne Johnston

"Biases" seminar (August)

Type I and type II errors relating to skill.

Type 1 error: the accepting the research hypothesis when the null hypothesis is actually true
     ("false positive"), e.g. saying someone still has seminar teaching skills when they do not.

Type 2 error: the chance of accepting the null hypothesis when the research hypothesis is actually true
     ("false negative"), e.g. saying someone cannot fly on a plane when they still can.

"Managing Our Lives' Transitions" Seminar (September)

The stages of the grief cycle, used for coping with loss, or potential loss, can be usefully applied to transitions like the loss of skills when one ages.

  1) Shock stage: Initial paralysis at hearing the bad news or realising there might be a loss.
   2) Denial stage: Trying to avoid the inevitable. E.g. Denying that there is a loss.
   3) Anger stage: Frustrated out pouring of bottled-up emotion.
   4) Bargaining stage: Seeking in vain for a way out. I.e. still trying to find a perfect solution.
   5) Depression stage: Final realization of the inevitable.
   6) Testing stage: Seeking realistic solutions.
   7) Acceptance stage: Finally finding a realistic way forward.

Problems people have with the cycle:
1) Getting stuck.
     A common problem with the above cycle is that people get stuck in one phase. 
     e.g. stuck in denial that the loss has not happened.
2) Going in cycles.
     Another trap is when a person moves on to the next phase before they have completed an earlier phase
     and so move backwards in cyclic loops that repeat previous emotion and actions.

Grief cycle examples were given about: diet changes need due to health, accidentally getting up late with rain storm on the way and hence not being able to do one's usual walk, in denial about being able to use e-mail and hence missing 7 years of use.

2. Introduction to Ed MacNeal's decision making atlas.

We were pleased to hear David's summary of this part of Ed MacNeal's work, and consider how we could utilise the ideas from it.  David has met Ed MacNeal on his travels and studies of GS in the USA, so it was of special significance to us.

Levels overview

We considered an overview of the seven parts (sub decisional events):
   Basic patterns,
   Compound patterns,
   Linkages between decisions,
   Interpersonal linkages,
   Systems of decisions,
   Comparative demalogics.

Then we looked at the following in more detail.
   * Level 1: Parts of a decision:
         situation (what we cannot control),
         course of action (what we can control)  and consequences of our action.
   * Level 2: Demalogical types:
         absolute, action comparative, responsive, goal directed, originative and alternaquence.
   * Level 4: Basic linkages:
          transformative, recursive, allocative and quantitative.

Application of demalogics to relationships like marriage:
We looked at ways a spouse may complain to the other by demalogic type:
   * Absolute, they just like to complain.
   * Absolute alternaquence, they like complaining and all of its consequences.
   * Action comparative, they prefer to complain rather than not.
   * Responsive, they complains whenever the situation is not to their liking.
      eg they follow the rule that one should complain in some situations.
   * Originative, they prefer complaining with all of its consequences to not complaining.
   * Goal, they complain with the goal in mind of getting their partner to solve a problem for them. 
     There are two issues with this approach. e.g. one's partner could solve the wrong problem or they could solve the right problem but come up with an unwanted solution. So to make it easier on partner and to improve your chances of getting what you want, STOP complaining and instead cut to the chase and make a request!   A specific request is better than a general one.

Note: do not expect your partner to accede to all your requests. And if you ask about it too much, you will possibly be seen as nagging. Do not ask for too many things or too big a thing.


    You can see Ed MacNeal's resources here:

Next Meeting:

Saturday 15 December 2012 (to be confirmed)

"General Semantics - a Global Perspective
Report of the Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture 2012, and Weekend Symposium. 
Consideraton of recent literature and its context.

Led by Robert
10:30am - 4:30pm at Bonnet Bay, Sydney, Australia.



(Updated by RJ 21/10/2012)

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