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Why is the NFL better at compromising than congress?

07/26/2011

800px-Shake_hand This week the NFL announced it had reached an agreement with its players. 

Republicans and Democrats?  Not so much. 

In his recent book, On Compromise and Rotten Compromises, Avishai Margolit, professor emeritus of philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, refers to compromise as “an ambivalent concept.” On the one hand, we laud those who can preserve friendship or peace through cooperation. On the other hand, we revile those who too readily accede to intransigence. Compromise can be pragmatic and strategic, consider the resolution of the Cuban missile crisis; compromise can be cowardly and weak, consider much of the historic judgment against policies of appeasement during the rise of Nazi Germany. In an environment where words are chosen carefully to frame a perception in order to influence another’s thinking, how we conceptualize compromise matters.

Read more about compromise and America at Rethinking Complexity

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Why are we all less happy?

07/25/2011

In 2009 a major study showed that women were increasingly unhappy in the modern world – and a host of pundits, psychologists, and sociologists asked “What’s happened to the fairer sex?” 

Was it feminism that was making women less happy?  Economic inequality?  Higher expectations?  Loneliness?  Feminism?  (That one came up a lot.  Apparently people like to blame things on feminism).

Two years later, another data set has been analyzed, and it turns out that the reason more women are unhappy has nothing to do with women.  According to the data, we’re ALL less satisfied with life than we were 25 years ago.

Why?  What does it mean?  At the New Existentialists, they have a pretty good idea:  it means we've been trying to become happy by proxy, substituting medication and commercialization for an inner life.  Turns out that doesn't work. 

Read more.

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Catch Saybrook at this year's APA in Washington D.C.

07/22/2011

Saybrook University is always well represented at the American Psychological Association, with faculty, alumni, and students making presentations, leading panels, and holding debates.

This year they’ll be presenting on everything from using expressive arts in the workplace to the medical uses of hypnosis and the culture of cyberspace.

Saybrook’s annual APA convention dinner, sponsored by Dr. Stanley Krippner and the Saybrook Alumni Association, will be held on Friday, August 5, from 6 - 9 p.m., at Clyde’s of Gallery Place (707 7th Street, NW, Washington, D.C.).

RSVP REQUIRED

To RSVP, or for more information, email Saybrook Alumni Director George Aiken, or call:  415-394-5968

A list of Saybrook faculty, student, and alumni presentations at this year’s APA (Aug 4-7) is below:
 

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Are poets crazy?

07/20/2011

432px-William_wordsworth A lot of people seem to think so:  the link between "genius" and "madness" is a well established cultural cliche.

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Information is not like bread

07/19/2011

Breads and grains It seems like we live in an age when politicians and “digerati” believe that universities can be replaced by Twitter – no harm done. 

That, suggest Stewart Brand, is because we think that new information is always better.  So what Aristotle thought 2000 years ago is always less relevant than what Ashton Kutcher tweeted five minutes ago. 

But there are other ways of thinking about information.  Here (with a hat tip to Atlantic Blogger Alexis Madrigal) is a passage from one of Brand’s books: 

Most of this book is Used Information. It is reprinted from various issues of The CoEvolution Quarterly, a California-based peculiar magazine. You can look at that news two ways. If you operate by the Bread Model of Information, it's terrible news. You've been gypped - stale information. On the other hand if you view information as something fundamentally different from bread, there's the possibility of good news. Having lived longer, the information here may be wiser, more co-evolved with the world. It may be more refined, having cycled complexly through the minds and responses of 40,000 CQ readers. And it's been through two editorial distillations; the less-than-wonderful and out-of-date may have been extracted.

The notion that there’s value in information that isn’t cutting edge is out of fashion in our world, but it may be crucial to understand in the digital age. 

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Moral Courage, nonviolence, and peace in rural Columbia

07/16/2011

Marc Pilisuk, who teaches in Saybrook's Social Transformation program, will speak on "Moral Courage, Nonviolence, and Peace  Communities in Rural Columbia" on Wednesday, July 20. 

Dr. Pilisuk is one of the leading scholars of peace in the world today.  He is the editor of the recently published three volume anthology  Peace Movements World Wide, the most extensive study of the global peace movement ever developed.  He is also the 2010 winner of the Society of Psychologists for the Study of Social Issues’ Distinguished Service Award, and its 2011 award for teaching.   

  • What:  Marc Pilisuk on "Moral Courage,  Nonviolence and Peace Communities in Rural Colombia."
  • Where:  UC Berkeley, 210 Wheeler
  • When:  3 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20

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Is your organization neurotic? Maybe it needs therapy.

07/12/2011

Freud's Sofa Anybody who’s worked for an organization knows it can be … well … neurotic.

Organizations have tics, and blind spots, and habits, just like people do.  So maybe it’s not surprising, in fact it’s brilliant, to apply psychological processes to organizations. 

At the blog Rethinking Complexity, Jorge Taborga examines a Depth Psychology model of organizations, based on the work of Carl Jung.

“The organizational unconscious,” he writes, “is the unique array of ‘energies, contents and truths’ that operate beyond the conscious control of the organization.  It is the bridge between the conscious organization and the collective unconscious.  It provides the psychodynamic environment for these two forces to interplay.”

All of which is to say that organizations have complexes of which they’re not aware;  things that they channel their energies into, without realizing it, that might be neurotic or actively hurtful. 

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Existentialism, psychoanalysis ... and the tragedy of life

07/08/2011

An essay on The New Existentialists suggests why ideas like existentialism and psychoanalysis -- once mainstayes of Western culture -- suddenly fell out of favor.  

Existentialism and psychoanalysis both view human life as containing tragic elements and hard limits -- we are free, but we can't have everything we want.  According to Carlo Strenger, of Tel Aviv University:   “The tragic dimension (of life) is no longer popular in our culture that perpetuates the myth of ‘just-do-it,’ and repeats the mantra that happiness is a birthright.”

As long as our culture denies life's tragic elements, as long as our science refuses to acknowledge that there may be any limits to our eventual mastery over life (we'll eventually develope Artificial Intelligence ... we'll eventually understand how "mind" reduces to "brain chemicals" ... we'll eventually prolong human life indefinitely and download our consciousness and reach "the singularity" and all you have to do is click your ruby slippers together three times and believe ...) then philosophies that teach us how to live with and through the human condition - however true and useful - will seem out of touch with a culture of Hollywood endings.

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Does environmentalism = social justice?

07/07/2011

450px-Begraisiere3 On the Rethinking Complexity blog, Saybrook Organizational Systems faculty member Kathia Laszlo makes a fascinating point:  "There is no environmental sustainability without social sustainability."

Is this true?  Does solving our planet's environmental crisis mean also addressing the social needs of its citizens? 

I think she makes a compelling case.  Let us know what you think in the comments section.

 Photo by Patricia Ripnel

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Test score fiascos demonstrate, again, how much American education needs a humanistic mission

07/06/2011

Montessori_education What’s that?  There was widespread cheating on standardized tests in the Atlanta school system

Surprise surprise …

It’s gotten to the point where you can reasonably expect:  if a school district or state doubles down on standardized testing, forces teachers and schools to be held accountable for student scores, and then announcing amazing gains, a major cheating scandal will follow like night and day.

Texas, Washington D.C., Atlanta … all of the “miracle”gains caused by overemphasis on standardized tests have been increases only in smoke and mirrors. 

So our emphasis on high stakes testing isn’t actually increasing student learning … and it’s causing what one analyst called “management by fear” in school systems.  That can’t be good for teachers or principles.

It’s worse for students.  As the Triple-Pundit blog noted, standardized testing actually impedes students’ ability to engage in systems thinking … exactly the kind of creative problem solving most valuable in the 21st century. 

What are we doing?  Why would we constantly push an educational practice that creates climates of fear, encourage cheating, hurts creative systems thinking, and doesn’t even improve performance? 

Why do we do that?

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