Australian General Semantics Society Inc.




Seminar Summary - 16th November 2014


"Mistakes We Make when Learning GS"
We will learn about typical mistakes,
and hopefully develop skill to move beyond them!
Led by Mr David Hewson

Sadly, this was the last time we'll have Gabriel and Lily at our Bonnet Bay seminar event, as they're off to a new life in Armidale next year.  Gabriel has accepted a professorial post at the University of New England there!

Another "perfect Spring day" in the comfort of Gavan and Pauline's home "Clifftop View", and a special "Callaghan Culinary Masterpiece" for lunchies, to celebrate the time that Gabriel and Pauline have had with us in Sydney - Thank you, G & P!

We re-visited the "Errors" theme, in David's as-usually-well-structured facilitation of the day:


Today we jumped in the deep end to see if we can extensionally show up some errors when we communicate with others or arrive at different conclusion/theories/hypotheses to others.

We discussed the Structural Differential with two different abstractions chains by two different people.

Two People

Areas where we can differ:

Opinions –
   Anything goes e.g. taste in food like love / hate chicken dish.
   So here we need to watch out for projecting.

Fact –
   observation rules, e.g. does David have a book on his head?
   And looking at David can resolve this question.

Inference –
   tough middle ground, e.g. should you be on a low fat or low carbs diet?

Errors in confusing which area you are in,
   e.g. treating everything as opinion or totally viewpoint related.
   This can lead to an "anything goes" attitude.

Errors in inferences -
   when going from facts and/or assumptions to erroneous conclusion.

Errors to watch for:

1) Projection

2) Either/OR distortion

3) Identification, e.g.

a) All members of a group are identical

b) Group members are identical at two different dates

c) Over generalising

4) Filtering / abstracting unconsciously

5) Fact inference confusion, e.g.
    a) Mind reading,
    b) Fortune telling,
    c) Emotional reasoning,
    d) Personalising.

6) Catastrophising, eg.
    a) Awfulising (eg "worst-ever" exaggeration),
    b) eg "I can’t stand it any longer!".

7) Demanding
    a) Moralising –shoulding on yourself,
    b) Musterbation –turning wants into needs.

8) People-rating rather than behaviour-rating.

*** Note that this list is neither exhaustive nor mutually exclusive ***

We then covered a series of discussion questions. Two or more people
would debate the topic and the rest would look out for any of the above
eight errors.  Some of us enjoyed making a strange "beeper" sound to
indicate an error!

Topics included:

  * "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins,

  * the assertion "Sugar is poison.",

  * the assertion "Oxygen is good for you." ,

  * the assertion "Helicobacter gut bacteria is bad for people.",

  * detox diets,

  * the risk for diabetics who go on starvation diets,
    who run the risk of excessively low blood sugar level, and possible death,

  * disputes at AGS meetings where someone "mind-reads", by incorrectly
     inferring Dick’s goal after Dick made a statement saying that Larry
     should go on a trip. Then they say: "Dick, you’re a prick.”,

  * the "Hoe and Handle" story versus "changing your house brick by brick".
    So here formulations cover: change, invariance and the amount
    something needs to change for us to see it as different,

We also talked about Laurie’s Cox’s eulogy in "ETC".

We said farewell and good wishes to our loyal members Gabriel and Lilian
who are moving up to Armidale.

After this we viewed some video on Detox diets,
then one about research into high meat diets. 


"Change: Principles of Problem formation and Problem Resolution"
     by Watzlawick, Weakland and Fisch
     (See chapter 3 where “the solution becomes the problem” e.g prohibition)

"The Logic of Failure"
     by Dorner

"The Psychology of Military Incompetence"
    by Dixon

"Inevitable Illusions: How Mistakes of Reason Rule our Minds"
    by Piattelli-Palmarini

"Human Error"
    by James Reason

"How we Know what Isn’t So"
    by Gilovich

"Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)"
    by Tavris and Aronson

Next Meeting:  *** Christmas Party Sat 6 December ***, then

~~~ A feast of enlightenment and entertainment in 2015 ~~~

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"!
Disclaimer: This "summary" is a collection of notes derived from our discussion by a number of means.  It is by no means a scholarly dissertation on the subject as presented.  It does not purport to be the "policy of AGS".  Comment and criticism (constructive or otherwise) is welcome.  If anyone has been misquoted, copyrights infringed or confidences betrayed, please Contact us.


(Updated by RJ 18/11/2014)

For details of our discussion meetings and seminars, locations and membership, Contact AGS
Web site by RLJamez