Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Multiple Levels of Change

I become frustrated with people who are condescending toward their charges who need to make changes in their lives. Often I think that people misjudge where the real change needs to take place. Robert Dilts, in Beliefs, does a wonderful job of describing change:

Change is a multilevel process…
We make changes in our environments; Changes in our behaviors through which we interact with our environment; Changes in our capabilities and the strategies by which we direct and guide our behavior; changes in our beliefs and value systems by which we motivate and reinforce our guidance systems and maps; Changes in our identity of which we select the values and beliefs we live by; Changes in our relationship to those things which are bigger than us, those things that most people would call spiritual.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


A few weeks ago I mentioned that I wanted to see what the country would be like in the future. In some ways, my request was answered in the guise of Metatropolis, five short stories edited by John Scalzi. Five authors created a not too distant future, where the governments of the United States and other major countries have collapsed. What are left in their places are pockets of cities centered on green technology and high tech communications.

Several concepts fascinated me. I have been interested in the concept of memes. One of the stories describes a city that is disbanded so that its ideas can be transmitted around the world. Conversely, another story describes “turks” for covert activities. Basically people are paid to do one tiny task, such as walk a package a few blocks, without knowing their part in the larger scheme. They can never be successfully interrogated or held accountable, because they just don’t know. Another concept is mobile societies, like the nomads of old except connected by technology. My favorite concept was a virtual world laid over a physical world using technology embedded in glasses. It begins as a sort of video game, but towards the middle becomes much more complex, representing a true society.

The world the authors created was fascinating to me, neither bright nor dreadful. It did open up my mind to new possibilities, which to me is the reward of enjoyable science fiction.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Counter Clockwise by Ellen J. Langer is a provocative book on health. Langer encourages us to question our assumptions about health diagnosis and aging, as well as about other areas of our life. She introduced me to the concept of priming. According to Wikipedia:“Priming in psychology occurs when an earlier stimulus influences response to a later stimulus.” Here is Langer’s description:
Much of what we have learned…was learned mindlessly as we uncritically accepted information without thinking about it, often because the information was given to us by an authority or was initially irrelevant. Even if it is to our advantage to rethink the information at some point, it simply doesn’t occur to us to do so. This makes us vulnerable to the effects of priming….The way priming works is to trigger ideas we have mindlessly committed ourselves to without awareness…