Australian General Semantics Society Inc.




Seminar Summary - 20 April 2013


"Application of General Semantics"

Real-life situations requiring a realistic approach.
... an interactive and challenging session.

Presented by Mr David Hewson

Preliminary ... Catching Up

We exchanged stories of families, babies, teenagers, adult children, life's challenges.
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"!

1. The first big question:
     "What are some of the weaknesses of GS?"

Some of the ideas proffered:

   * the name,
   * the great amount of language involved ("the words"),
   * the fact that it's no use unless we apply it!

It was considered clear that the main problem by far is not anything wrong with the formulations, but our difficulty in applying them.

2. The second big, huge question:
     "What are some of the problems that we encounter applying the GS formulations?"

Some of the problems that were suggested:

  * A situation can move too fast - "I don't have time to think",
  * Gaining pleasure from using Aristotelian formulations,
  * Applying the wrong formulations, or at the wrong time,
  * Distorting reality - faulty perception and evaluation,
  * Emotional stress blocks rational decision-making,
  * Judgement clouded by prior expectations, ,
  * Considering that "It doesn't apply for me!",
  * Constrained by long-established habits,
  * Not understanding the formulations,
  * Ignorance of the formulations,
  * We forget the principles,
  * Lack of personal insight.
  * Too lazy,
  * etc ...  

3. The third big, huge, gigantic question:
     "What strategies can we employ to manage these difficulties?"

Some of the suggestions that emerged:

  * Remembering the formulations (Indexing/dating, Consciousness of abstraction, etc).
  * Consider our motivations ("Why do I want to get up early each day?"),
  * The "thalamic pause" - give a little time to engage rational judgement,
  * Think ahead, and practise how to manage contingensies,
  * Writing things down rather than committing to memory,
  * Application of map/territory reasoning,  
  * Mastering signal / symbol reactions, ... etc.

 Here's a little puzzle for you - match the suggestions in item 3 (above), to the problems in question 2!

4. The fourth big, huge, gigantic, enormous part of our discussions:
     "Other matters discussed!"

Discussions in and around and beyond the above included:

a. processes of distorting reality, ie:
        * Either/Or thinking, e.g. “There are only two sorts of people in the world:
           those who see things in black and white and those who don’t.”
        * Over-generalisation, e.g. “Everyone thinks I’m an old fool.”
        * Filtering, e.g. “I fail at all my projects.”
        * Fact-Inference confusion,
            * Mind-reading, e.g. “They all think I am boring.”
            * Emotional reasoning, e.g. "I feel bad – so things must be bad!"
            * Fortune-telling, e.g. “I will never get another job as good as this one.”
            * Personalisation, e.g. “Those comments were about me.”

b. Anthony Robbins four-day workshop "Unleash the Power Within", attended by Pauline & Gavan.

c. The Johari Window,

d. "Mainstream" theories on the application of knowledge, eg:
      * Conceptual understanding,
      * Procedural fluency,
      * Strategic competence,
      * Using an incremental approach (like the Calculus),
      * Adaptive reasoning ... etc.

Summarised list from the day: Problem – Solution(s):

  1. Ignorance of the formulation required-
       a. Learn
       b. Relate to other useful formulations - make it easier to recall.
  2. Forget to use it-
       a. Memory aid
       b. Practise using it
       c. Over-learning i.e. learn till you know it, then learn some more.
  3. Problem situation happens too fast-
       a. Use a symbol reaction / thalamic pause
       b. Preliminary training for the situation
            e.g. practice driving in a safe situation before going out on the roads.
  4. Prior expectations influence semantic reaction to an event leading to a poor action-
       a. Map-territory distinction.
       b. Try alternative interpretations of the event.
       c. Let other people help take you out of your “blind spot”.
       d. Conscious of identification of levels errors, such as fact-inference confusion.
       e. Consciousness of abstracting.
  5. Lazy: map not detailed or accurate enough for a good outcome-
       a. Optimal map making
       b. Use context to help find the level of detail needed.
  6. Habitual response-
       a. Preliminary training to change habits
       b. P1 => P2
       c. Remembering past experience
  7. Emotional stress e.g. Anger-
       a. Thalamic pause
       b. Think of consequences
  8. Pleasure in using Aristotelian formulations-
       a. Think of consequences
       b. Get more pleasure from using GS formulations.
  9. Forget formulation-
       a. Reinforce learning periodically
       b. Practice using it
  10. Distorting the formulation-
       a. Apply rigour
       b. Appropriate level of use
       c. Conditional use
  11. Misevaluation of the situation-
       a. Check out the territory
       b. Indexing and dating.
       c. Awareness of the situation.
  12. Not understanding the formulation-
       a. Ask others to explain it
       b. Read it in more than one GS text book.
  13. Poor choice of formulation for the problem
       a. Practice choosing the best formulations for problem types.
       b. Think of consequences of using this formulation.
  14. Personal insight
       a. What works best for me. 

As GS practitioners, we hope to "always" be open to the ideas and creations from other disciplines.


Next Meeting:

Sun 12th May 2013
"Lateral and Critical Thinking"
Learn more about lateral(creative) thinking
and critical (rigorous and reflective reasoning) thinking.
Presented by Professor Gabriel Donleavy.

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



(Updated by RJ 22/04/2013)

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