Blinded by the Light #2

Blinded by the Light #2 – Blogged this link yesterday. Having now read it I thought I’d share this substantial quote from Rory Remer at Kentucky Uni (working in “educational and counselling psychology” – though it could be any domain of interest IMHO.) I know nothing of the source credentials, but I feel I could have written it myself – I have in so many words.

Logical Positivism (LP) has provided the structure under-girding the scientist/practitioner model. [….], the time has come to supplant it with a more functional one, more consistent with the goals and identity of [the organisation …..]

Did you ever hear the story about the police officer who one dark night came upon a drunk on hands and knees under a light in a parking lot? “What are you doing?” asked the officer. “I’m looking for my keys,” said the drunk. So wanting to be helpful the officer got down and searched too. After about a half hour without success the officer asked, “Are you sure you dropped your keys around here?” To which the drunk replied, “Oh, I dropped them somewhere over there in the dark.” “So why are you looking for them over here?” queried the officer. “Because the light over here is better,” responded the drunk.

A joke to be sure. But only a joke? I think not. In many ways this little tale is a metaphor for what is going on in [our business] today. Like any good metaphor, it has numerous levels of meaning. I would like to explore are what it says about theory/research and about practice in [our profession] today

The task is huge, perhaps too much for a single article. Up-front I will own that I am trying to convince you to believe as I have come to believe. Like testing an hypothesis, I cannot prove that what I say is right. I think and hope I can demonstrate that the present alternative, LP, is extremely limiting – more than we realize. Dynamical Systems Theory (DST) is a much better fit and a “healthier” perspective to adopt. [I will use the label ?Dynamical Systems Theory? (DST) rather than other possibilities, especially Chaos Theory, because it is not only adequately descriptive, but also relatively concise and has a more ameliorative connotation.

Like acting on any conclusion, we act like something is “right” by the behaviors we manifest – thus trusting a process of decision and ourselves. I am asking you to join me in doing just that. I am trying to convert you, because what we are talking about here is belief. [R]egardless of what we have learned and what LP tells us, LP is only a belief system. A powerful one, one that has worked well to a degree (or seemed to). LP “looks good” (i.e., “scientific”), but it is no more or less a belief system than religion or mysticism (for that matter so is DST). If you judge my arguments strictly by the “rules” of LP, then LP will seem more tenable–by definition. I am not asking you to abandone logic. I am asking you to weigh [….] the biases and arguments of the system/environment in which we are functioning, your biases, and other intangible influences. Struggle with whatever discomfort that may be engendered, not discounting what I say simply because it is not easy to hear or accept.

Trust both your intellect and your intuition [….] In metaphoric parlance, we must give up the light/?objectivity? (more of the same) and learn to rely on becoming comfortable with the dark/subjectivity/intuition.

So much to recommend a thorough read of this paper ….
The metaphorical joke at multiple levels – encapsulates so many issues.
The inspired metaphor of the “Blinding Light” of scientific / logical positivism.
The fact that “right” (knowledge / truth) is about a dynamic process or behaviour.
The Catch-22 of trying to make a “scientific” case against scientific method (LP)
The skirting around the intuitive attraction of chaos. A “Strange Attractor” indeed.
The (obligatory, but suspect) inclusion of Uncertainty and Quantum theory references, ….
…. and every other aspect of the “great convergence” of science and philosophy.

See my “story so far
Dawkins would mock the “Great Convergence” angle no doubt.
Looking directly at the light source, can seriously damage your health, etc ….

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