Image via Wikipedia It's 100 years since the British explorer Captain Scott reached the South Pole only to realise his rival Roald Amundsen had just beaten him to it. On the return journey he and his party died, but not before writing about it in journals, thus creating an enduring myth of 'heroic failure'. In his … Continue reading How to reach the South Pole before your rivals do
It matters who presents the message
Who would you trust to tell you what the risks are? Research from the Cultural Cognition project suggests the cultural identity of the presenter matters significantly to the public reception of a particular message about risk. In other words, we need our experts to be our experts, not the other side’s experts. It follows from … Continue reading It matters who presents the message
Everyone loves a quiz
Everyone loves a quiz and Psychology Today magazine has a cultural cognition quiz for you, courtesy of David Ropeik. Roepik is the author of How Risky is it, Really? Why our fears don't always match the facts. His website offers exerpts from the book and -wait for it - more quizzes! While you're here, though, … Continue reading Everyone loves a quiz
The more things change…
A theory of change requires a set of assumptions about the status quo. These assumptions often go unnoticed and unquestioned. Sentences that include the words always and never are indicative of these assumptions hard at work in the background, demonstrating the unexamined existence of a worldview in which particular forms of stability are taken for … Continue reading The more things change…
The decline of civilization – sudden or gradual?
Quick, quick, slow - the dance steps of collapse What kinds of stories are we telling one another these days about the fall of civilizations? The idea that the decline of a civilization is without narrative causality is itself a narrative. This is the unacknowledged ideology of historian Niall Ferguson’s recent piece for Foreign Affairs. … Continue reading The decline of civilization – sudden or gradual?
Climate, Cultural Theory and the Myths of Nature
A nice article by Howard Silverman of People & Place on the links between climate change, cultural theory and the myths of nature identified by the Resilience Alliance. http://bit.ly/959Dmp
Being Vague about Risk Assessment
What is the probablity that a 178cm man is tall (or that many items will cost between one pound and two pounds)? Vagueness is a besetting problem in quantitative risk assessment and it's often overlooked or ignored in the attempt to find one metric (probability) by which to measure uncertainty. Clearly it's inappropriate to use … Continue reading Being Vague about Risk Assessment
Warmer is better!
Well into the Twentieth Century the slate industry of North Wales was the world’s largest. It roofed the buildings of the world and left a huge scar on the beautiful landscape of what is now the Snowdonia National Park. But that’s not all it left. If you visit Yr Amgueddfa Llechi Cymru - the National … Continue reading Warmer is better!
“God is a Brazilian” – risk perception in Brazil
John Adams of Imperial College London produced a new preface for the Brazilian translation of his important book Risk. His very interesting analysis of the social construction of risk is strongly informed by Grid-group cultural theory: “I have been increasingly impressed by the ability of cultural theory to bring a modicum of order and civility … Continue reading “God is a Brazilian” – risk perception in Brazil
Making up the facts about climate change?
Upton Sinclair said “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Let's just try to understand a fairly straightforward question. I don't mean straightforward as in 'easy to determine' , but as in 'you'd think it might have a definite, clear answer'. Here it … Continue reading Making up the facts about climate change?