That’s if a new book called The Geek Manifesto is to be believed. Find out more here: http://geekmanifesto.wordpress.com/
You might be one too. You can also have a go at calibrating your level of ‘geekness’ using the picture at the side. How many of these features are to be found in your personal space? Be honest now.
The serious side to this is that the Geek Manifesto is a call for evidence based politics and it appears that the Cabinet Office is taking note. They have published a paper on Evidence Based Policies here:
Even though RCT’s (Randomised Controlled Trials) have some methodological and cost limitations, this is certainly a better way to decide what to implement than the opinions of Michael Gove (let them all learn poetry by 5), or Iain Duncan Smith. It could certainly have benefited Andrew Lansley’s tortured NHS reforms. Our local experience (in Camden) is that his new style GP’s have led to massive decreases in user satisfaction – alongside greater difficulties in getting to see a doctor. Funny thing is no-one ever speaks about the emotional well-being and attachments we form with GP’s and surgeries that we have been going to for years, taking ourselves, partners, children to a place that becomes familiar and from that, safe.
We don’t want corporate spin-offs running GP surgeries, however efficient that means. It’s not efficiency we go for, its care, reassurance, information.
Not known for his razor sharp mind, it seems that Wayne has not realised that while he can’t see us, we can still see him. A matter for national regret.
Twice during the game the ball was seen to bounce off podge as I know him, having struck him when he was least expecting it. Many times, too many to count, Podge passed directly to an opponent.
What is this drivel about ‘world class player’? Have you seen Lionel Messi or David Silva, or Andres Iniesta? These guys are world class and if he weren’t surrounded by foreign genius at Manchester United, Rooney would soon be seen for what he is. A blind fool with thuggish tendencies. Don’t believe me, think I’m overreacting.? See for yourself. Here is his Twitter address. https://twitter.com/#!/WayneRooney
The really sad fact is that he has more than 4 million followers. Let’s hope most of them are doing it for a laugh.
As Facebook writhes amongst its riches it is difficult to resist a sense of deja vu. This was a tool for people talking to people, a peer to peer site much beloved of those who found it a window for self-expresion and a way of staying in touch.
In a world that has become increasingly isolated, where many of us do not know our neighbours – or if we do – still wish to talk about what’s on our minds, the site seemed to offer a safe haven that was not a corporate ruse for separating us from our money.
Inevitably, to sell such a social ideal meant that money had to be made so that investors could enjoy some proceeds from our conversations and the invidious banner ads started to appear. For me, it all changed then: I began to smell a rat.
I found myself ignoring these ads or spitefully dismissing them – even though to do so meant I had to give some reason why I didn’t like them. Truth was I didn’t like them because they were there!
Today we reach a position where the young man who invented the site is now being sued by thousands of people who feel ripped off because they were denied the knowledge that the forecast income for Facebook had been revised downwards, due to the growth of smartphone access to the site (where ads and marketing are not visible) which makes no money for FB. According to those suing, these downwards forecasts were only revealed to huge, elite corporate investors or those involved with the flotation like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs [again!]
If you create something that is a contribution to humanity that is what it must remain – a contribution. You cannot expect to get rich on it. None of the world’s great contributors from Jesus to Gandhi have banked riches from their gifts to the rest of us. Mark Zucherberg will find himself poorer not richer and though he may laugh on the way to the bank it will be gallows laughter.
It looks as though it was worse than I thought. What was clearly an overpriced shambles might have involved a conspiracy to fleece the public. It seems that one of Morgan Stanley’s analysts actually reduced his forecast for Facebook’s earnings as the shares went on sale and this wasn’t reported to the general public.
Within three days of the fanfare, shareholders have filed a lawsuit at the Manhattan district court accusing Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg and his advisers, including Morgan Stanley, of concealing from them a “severe and pronounced reduction” in revenue growth forecasts. On Tuesday, a similar suit was brought by a different investor in a California state court.
My moniker Loss of Face(book) has been replaced by a better one: Fadebook.
Facebook’s first day as a public company ended with the company narrowly avoiding the embarrassment of its stock dipping below the $38 (£24) starting price, in one of the most frenzied share sales in history. Insiders speculated that Facebook’s own bankers had intervened in last minute panic buying to prop up the shares to avoid a fall below the offer price. Sam Hamadeh, founder of the analysts,PrivCo, calculates that the banks who underwrote the share sale stepped in and bought $300m worth of shares to stop Facebook dipping below $38, a move that would have marked Facebook as a “busted IPO”.
This has all the symptoms of a bubble, don’t expect the shares to hold up. They will fall more next week and the week after. Facebook’s revenues were $3.7bn last year. Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, had revenues of close to $29bn and is valued at half Facebook’s current value. Apparently, founder Zuckerberg is so focused that he hasn’t noticed that he’s become the world’s xth Richest Person. What a guy!
Another reason to dispense with Jeremy Hunt is his ill-informed prejudice against the poor. Hunt argued before the general election that long-term claimants had to “take responsibility’ for the number of children they had, adding that the state would no longer fund large workless families. But it is all based on myths. Just 3.4 per cent of families in long-term receipt of benefits have four children or more.
The Tories transformed a crisis of capitalism into a crisis of public spending, and determined that the most vulnerable would make the biggest sacrifices. But taking away support from the disabled, the unemployed and the working poor is not straightforward. It can only be achieved by a campaign of demonisation – to crush any potential sympathy. Benefit recipients must only appear as feckless, workshy scroungers, living in opulent quasi-mansions with wall-to-wall widescreen TVs, rampaging around the Canary Islands courtesy of handouts from the squeezed taxpayer. Benefit fraud does exist – according to Government estimates, it is worth less than 1 per cent of welfare spending – but the most extreme examples are passed off as representative, or as the “tip of the iceberg”. The reality of struggle and strife is all but airbrushed out of existence.
That really for two reasons: the first is that it simply makes us uncomfortable to think of the abject misery perhaps no more than a stone’s throw from our own homes. The second is that we too, in the middle class are struggling and afraid: our real incomes have diminished steadily since the late 1970′s. We need someone to blame for our growing discomfort. It is too threatening to blame those wealthier and higher up the status ladder than we are: they might fire us or crush us or otherwise disturb our complacency. So we pick on the poor, the weak, the immigrants, the defenceless and create campaigns like those of the Pub Bore Richard Littlejohn in the Mail.
Next, comes fascism and joining together to take measures to punish the feckless scroungers among us. Your unemployed neighbour next year. You the year after?
“It is indisputable that the Government have used the power of fear and nightmares to mobilise the population into acceptance of a desperate situation. For a year now we have been hearing tales of how dreadful it is…how we must cut the deficit…how unsustainable our debts are. How everyone has to take some losses – even those who have next to nothing to start with.
This, I believe has created a cloud of anxiety across the land and no-one has listened to the more reasoned voices of two of the world’s greatest economists, Paul Krugman and Joe Stigliz who have consistently pointed out that in a period of very low interest rates and low inflation, debt is not the problem, stimulating growth and job creation is the issue. Have a look here:
Since then, the growth predicted by Osborne in response to his austerity measures has failed to materialise as these writers predicted. Not only that, sensing the deep unfairness of holding the ‘little people’ to account for these problems driven largely by the greed of the rich & the inefficiency of the state, social unrest and polarisation are blossoming in politics across Europe. Neo-Nazis have taken 7% of the vote in Greece, while the richest 1,000 persons in the UK have increased their wealth by £155 billion over the last three years. That is enough for them alone to pay off the entire UK budget deficit and still leave them with £30 billion to spare. These people have not been subject to any tax payback whatsoever commensurate with their gains.
This is not an anti-capitalism polemic; it is an anti-inequality one. Some 77% of the budget deficit is being repaid by public-expenditure cuts and only 23% by tax increases. These cuts hit the poor the hardest, as does the increase in VAT. Despite the biggest slump for nearly a century, the 1,000 richest are sitting on a cash pile even greater than that at the height of the boom. Their wealth now amounts to £414bn, equivalent to more than a third of Britain’s GDP. The increase in their wealth has been £315bn over the past 15 years. Much of that has been accrued relatively free of taxation through complex accounting and avoidance schemes. If they had been taxed even at the going rate of Corporation Tax of 28% it would yield enough to pay 70% of the entire deficit.
It seems though that virtually the entire population of Westminster – on both sides of the house – cannot turn its hand to recovering tax from the powerful: much easier to cut Sure Start, Tax Credits and benefits from people with small voices. More riots are inevitable unless the Government turns its attention towards growth & claiming tax back from those who can afford it.
Veiled beneath the tricks and clicks of smartphones and technology, more and more people across the world are recognising that these technologies are being used to subjugate rather than free them. Try phoning almost any large organisation and you will find yourself forced to ‘verify’ yourself, after hanging about pressing 1 or 2 or 3 on your phone keypad for five minutes – usually in response to ‘choices’ that don’t relate to your call. Then you’ll have to provide personal information, passwords etc. while the anonymous operative at the other end remains unknown to you. This, apparently, is in your interest. Why then do I feel so irritated and abused?
The fact is that the state and big business have more resources to spend on technology than you or me. And more time to spend establishing elaborate protocols to manage ‘call volumes’ than we do. To pay my tax on line I must quote a 17 digit number which changes every month. There is, underlying these new technologies a groundswell of disrespect and lack of consideration of the customer/citizen, so much so that nearly everyone dreads having to call local services, government departments or financial institutions of any type.
Surely, this is just a minor aspect of modernity?
I suspect not, I suspect that beneath this technology driven disrespect there is a growing contempt among the powerful – reflected among those working for big organisations – for the little people. Recently riots were sparked by the killing of Mark Duggan – an incident that has still not been explained. Casual violence against citizens seems commonplace among the police. Here you can find the video of the assault in Peterlee,
The attack was condemned as a form of torture by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). But no-one was sacked: one officer was fined £40.
This is not an isolated incident. A total of 333 people have died in or following police custody over the past 11 years, but no officer has ever been successfully prosecuted. According to a watchdog’s report, prosecutions were recommended against 13 officers based on “relatively strong evidence of misconduct or neglect”, but none resulted in a guilty verdict.
Meanwhile, on planet Earth where most people would be proud to stand on Jeremy’s head, the IoS this morning leads with the shocking and yet somehow unsurprising news that former News of the World editor Andy Coulson ‘called the bluff of the Tory leader and George Osborne by refusing to sign a confidentiality clause as part of his appointment.’ It is quite extraordinary to think that a bloke with not only no security clearance but also a closeness to media mogul Rupert Murdoch was allowed to bluff his way through that one. Perhaps Camerlot figured that, as Roop more or less told Blair to invade Iraq, it was unlikely Newscorp didn’t know everything secret already anyway.
Republished from the Slog with thanks to John Ward.
There’s something a bit unnerving about this image. It might even be that these two are on the phone to each other, judging by what I notice from my own life, where my wife and I often hove into view while talking to each other on our mobiles.
Far be it from me to complain about communication, I make my living from it, but there is something chilling about the hours we all spend ‘attached’ to media every day. Have a look at Ofcom’s figures from 2010 below. On average we spend JUST UNDER 9 HOURS A DAY, using media. You heard right, 8.8 hours a day – and that’s an average.
I am increasingly aware of always being alert to the pinging of my mobile when an email or text arrives, even if I am absorbed in a book or talking with someone – or watching TV. As someone said to me recently: “You can become so withdrawn from reality that you become a virtual being having lost the ability to communicate or transact without a piece of silicon at your finger tips telling you what to do and how to do it.”
So when Weight Watchers reports, as they did via the Mail last week, that the average Briton has no time to go out, see friends, socialise (in the same place as the people they’re socialising with that is!), and calls us ‘Lazy Britons’ I personally don’t feel that I have EVER had so much to do, to attend to, to manage. I might not be with my friends but I am texting them, tweeting them, emailing them, blogging to them, or watching TV to get away from them.
You can read the Mail’s typically blamey report here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2137470/Lazy-Britons-bothered-socialise-hard-day-office.html
Now take a look at your average day below – although perhaps we all regard ourselves as better than average. In that case this is nearly, but not quite you and me!
You may have read elsewhere that we are facing an OBESITY epidemic…and that the cost of this will soon overtake the cost of treating cancer, heart disease and other major killers combined. I wonder if the powers that be think that we are just swelling up through greed and overindulgence? No doubt they play a part, satisfying the impulsive hunger that arises from a busy tweeting session.
But this epidemic should come as no surprise to any of us, when, as far as I know the only way you can do most of these 9 hours is on your bottom, or at the most strenuous, standing still. Our media obsession is killing us, just because it keeps us on our bums.
I don’t think you’re lazy, but if you’re reading this, you’re probably as stationary as I am writing it. Time to get up… and go out I think!
This morning on Daybreak, Danny Alexander tried the yabber/blabber technique much beloved of politicians nowadays. This relies on talking so fast that the interviewer can’t get any observation or questions in…like, why have the Coalition lost so many Council seats?
Apparently, [yabber/blabber] it’s because ‘any government – including Tony Blair’s expects a big downturn in the middle of their period in power’. As if that was a natural law, rather than the inevitable outcome of overclaiming, broken promises, self-serving policies and poor decisions. Most worrying of all, everyone is begininng to know it – turnout down to 25%. Three quarters of us don’t see any point in voting…that is really worrying. It means more and more of these fools for years to come! Get out and vote even if you spoil your ballot!
I have always tried to build bridges between the best of empirical studies and what I notice in the world. If you have followed this site you will have noticed my concern about the effects of inequality on our society – and on each of us individually.
This week’s post introduces you to the growing evidence that there is a problem for all of us when a minority are so much richer than the rest of us.
The idea that money changes people for the worse has been around for a long time. From Ebeneezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, to Gordon Gecko in Wall Street, we see people who have become indifferent – even contemptuous – towards others as they amass their personal fortunes.
Are these just clichés and stereotypes? What is the truth behind these ideas? In experiments at the University of California, Berkeley, Keltner and Kraus measured the signs of interest and warmth shown by 100 volunteers towards each other. The poorer subjects were more likely to use warmer language, postures and gestures that signal engagement, whereas the richer participants were more stand-offish [Psychological Science Vol 20, p 99].
This relationship between wealth and appreciation of others was confirmed by another experiment where people were asked to rate the emotions expressed in 20 photos of human faces – a standard test of emotional intelligence. Those with the most prestigious jobs were consistently worse at the task. [Psychological Science, Vol 21]
These differences were fluid in the sense that when asked to imagine a conversation with someone higher up the social ladder than themselves, the wealthier participants became immediately better at reading emotions. The researchers concluded that our automatic reactions become immediately more vigilant and mindful of others when we feel subordinate.
These findings, of course explain why the Posh Boys running our country were so indifferent to the plight of their subordinates (us!) until the polls started to show that their popularity was declining steeply – suddenly, their status as our leaders was threatened. Why would we vote for people who don’t care about us?
For the next weeks we can expect ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ to re-emerge through a series of photo-ops with less fortunate folk, NHS staff (to dampen the furore over regional differences in pay for public servants), and Grannies (to offset fury about the stealthy cap on pensions).
There is more local evidence of the growing unpopularity of the wealthy in this study by Rosie Campbell and Phil Cowley , reported here: http://www.yougov.polis.cam.ac.uk/?p=3042
And the Who picture? The seminal track ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ is here, set against images from the growing unrest. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acqQDD3A5CQ&feature=fvst
In these clips, we see the Occupy movement, but see last night’s Newsnight as the fragmentation and unrest spreads to France, Netherlands (whose Government collapsed yesterday over disagreement on austerity measures) and Greece, where an election threatens to unseat the austerity coalition. Meanwhile Spain approaches crisis.
In an astonishing series of announcements it turns out that our beloved NHS has sent no fewer than 240,000 patients home between the hours of 11pm and 6am. What can these people be thinking of? Certainly not the well-being of those in their care I suspect. More than 35% of these patients will be going home in the night to a cold place where they live alone. Not something I would relish after a stay in hospital. The figures don’t tell how many were picked up by friends or relatives so it’s hard to say at this point whether this is a piece of media hype or a genuine hole in our services to the sick. Watch out for this story, there is gathering gloom in the NHS as the government attempts to push its agenda onto doctors and nurses who don’t want it!
I pinched this image from yesterday’s Observer. It shows a palette of sugary drinks being taken into the Aquatic Centre at the Olympic complex. As I predicted on this site months ago the furore over the role of sugar and regulation is just beginning: http://bit.ly/HKGVX6
There is even more cause for concern if you dig into Robert Lustig’s research, reported in the Sunday Telegraph. Titled, The Bitter Truth About Sugar, Lustig makes a strong case for treating sugar as a harmful substance. http://tgr.ph/IN4157
My interest here is that ever since we started doing Breakthrough work in the 1990′s we have noticed the effects of sugar – or lack of sugar on performance and mood. The difference between people on a sugar rush and those coming down from one is enormous. When you look at the sugar equivalent in Coca Cola for example, you get an interesting take on just how much sugar there is in this kind of stuff:
Even a can of coke is 10 sugar cubes. When else would you quaff ten sugar cubes? I can’t go into it in that much depth in a blog post, but Robert Lustig can. Get up to date on this subject, it will be a headline for the next ten years. Here is his extended lecture on YouTube:
We need stronger action and regulation from our politicians. This stuff is dangerous and particularly appealing to children.
Always keen to bring you a deal, it turns out I can save you a cool 75% on schmoozing with Dave. It’s actually on sale here, for £50K. Presumably all the rest was going straight into Crudd-ass’s pocket.
And you don’t have to eat the prawn cocktail! You can just get drunk at the booze-ups, sorry – receptions, like everyone else.
The link is here, but I republish the text in case you can’t be bothered to scroll to the bottom of the page:
The Leader’s Group
Annual membership: £50,000 Chairman: Howard Leigh
The Leader’s Group is the premier supporter Group of the Conservative Party. Members are invited to join David Cameron and other senior figures from the Conservative Party at dinners, post-PMQ lunches, drinks receptions, election result events and important campaign launches.
It looks as though you get drinks and lunch as well…and there is a new verb in the vocabulary – Daveing – which describes the activity of sticking your head up…well you know the place!
There is a fundamental difference of opinion that dominates politics nowadays. The mindsets which underpin these opinions rest upon whether you believe that success – or failure – starts and ends with individuals, or that intervention by others, including the state, makes a significant difference to our achievements.
In politics, the ‘individuals’ position flows from Thatcherism and is endorsed by David Cameron’s administration. Likewise the ‘interventionists’ are on the Opposition bench and take their lead from New Labour – in many ways a political attempt to marry social justice and big business.
With economists as our ‘gurus’ these days, it’s not hard to see these positions as a battle for influence between the views of Keynes and Hayek. Keynes begins with the observation that under conditions of economic uncertainty it’s foolish to assume stable outcomes and therefore we need to devise ways of intervening to bring these about. Hayek, writing quite consciously against Keynes, argues in the Road To Serfdom that intervention – or planning – however benevolent or well-intentioned, whatever the political context – must end badly. Hayek’s key message is ‘don’t plan, don’t intervene’ and remains the dominant moral position in the United States.
Looking even deeper we can see the potential for splitting and projection for adherents of either position. For both, the other side must be wrong, the individualists are merely justifying excessive greed and self-importance, while the interventionists are simply reconstructed statists.
Once splitting (right/wrong thinking) is in place, it is very hard to achieve any balance. Every living person knows that at times in life accomplishments are based on individual performance, but even so, that performance stands upon the encouragement, example and inspiration from others. Donne’s words, ‘no man is an island’ are even more accurate in a global age.
Meanwhile, in this time of ascendance for the individualists, the gap between rich and poor is doubling every twenty years. The top 1% now own 14% of Britain’s wealth. If this is pattern continues then the richest 1% will own 108% of Britain’s wealth by 2112. (Thanks to GR for the calculation!). Already the real value of wages has been in steady decline since the 1970’s. Very soon you will be working for coppers (that’s the small brown coins), as they did in the Good Old Days!
The real problem here is the weakening of the social contract as people’s wages become worth less and their entitlements are cut. This will increase in intensity, since this year public spending has actually grown (by 5%, corrected for inflation) and the cuts are due to get steeper over the next few years. You are going to get less, while our top 1%, including Dave’s Dinner Pals, are getting more.
How do you feel about that? Wouldn’t you be just a bit tempted to cheat here and there to make ends meet?
And so the corruption will spread, out of the unreasonable demands and unfairness levied on ordinary men and women. It will be a Big Society, but dominated by Cheating and Looking the Other Way as we did in the Thatcher years. Gradually all around us, the very fabric of society, our shared capital will be eroded and you will notice it in the streets, on people’s faces and in all public places.
Where shall I start? This is one of the most common misunderstandings of qualitative procedures. It tells both of the quantitative (how much, how many?) orientation of many buyers and practitioners – and more fundamentally in group work – it demonstrates the failure to take the group seriously! It is part of what David Rennie, a brilliant academic commentator on qualitative process calls, “Dragging the chains of positivism along the corridor of qualitative inquiry.” Well put David!
I’m going to tackle the quant. thing first. No matter how many people said or didn’t say something in a qualitative study it has no statistical validity if you try to generalise it to National or Regional or Demographic levels. It may have face validity and be a jolly useful insight that happens to scale up, but it is no test for the frequency or universality of the idea across large populations at this early stage. However, although every sensible client and researcher knows this, it still emerges as the question people have to ask, because they don’t know a language for better questions. It is a failure of the qualitative industry generally to inform and teach our associates better questions to ask of us.
There are hundreds of things we say just because – well – it’s our turn, we’re due to speak, we’re feeling left out. These remarks are likely to be based on winning formulae we’ve used before – which have got us us noticed, past a sticky moment, allayed our inner critic etc. In other words, we say them because we always say them when we’re feeling the need to say something in a situation where we’re trying to do well and must compete for attention with others! Groups are full of such utterances and they exist to promote norms and comfort among participants – not to describe deep-felt feelings or motivations about your brand or product. Because of this, stuff that lots of people say or agree to is likely to be among the least significant of all the things they say. In my experience the really telling remarks are those that stand out from the others!
Insight nearly always emerges from things you haven’t heard before, or things said in a way you’ve never thought of before. It does not reside in polite, safe, normative remarks unless these serve a deeper purpose for the brand or service.
Sadly, the ‘how many of them?’ criterion leads us to focus on the remarks driven by the need to norm as the most significant when they are neither significant or really about the product or service at all!
There is, however, a much more serious problem underlying this: what I call ‘the failure to take the group seriously’. Nearly all of us, practitioners, clients, psychologists alike really harbour the notion that the group is actually a collection of individuals whose statements can be aggregated or counted to generate an analysis. But what if the group can be considered as an entity with character and personality in its own right. And that the people in it, for the time of the group, are parts of a whole? In other words that the voices in the group are sub-personalities of the group personality and that this is in truth the aspect of the group worth attending to. How did it feel to be with this composite person? What parts of this person did you meet (sub-personalities)? What feelings came up in you, the facilitator whilst with this ‘person’? Could these have been feelings travelling around the group? If you had to offer a sensible explanation of this feeling, how would you explain it?
As well as feelings, there is usually a tone of voice that the group ‘finds’ after a while. If you have too intensive a topic guide, this tone of voice is likely to be dependent – waiting for the next question. Such tones are flat, polite, take-it-in-turns in form and resemble people giving answers on a questionnaire in form. As moderator you can encourage spontaneity in tone and content by setting challenges for the group which it cannot solve by normative processes. We teach these challenges in our Breakthrough Psychology Course.
I think this is such an overlooked area in our practice of qualitative research that I will return to it soon.
Can you keep the warm-up down to 5 minutes?
How many times did I hear that request? It is one of the most common misunderstandings of group process to assume that you can cut the warm-up to the briefest of introductions and then proceed with your topic guide as if your participants are really there!
If you were sitting in a group of strangers in an unfamiliar setting about to embark upon an encounter that you hadn’t seen the agenda for, how much of yourself would you have readily available to put on show?
I would be pretty scared, at the very least nervous, and cautious about coming forward. If I were a participant, quickly I would appraise the moderator – the person in charge – and then my fellow members, looking for a friendly or attractive face, decide a strategy (“I’ll take my turn but not go first/make a joke whenever I can/talk about my kids/try to figure out what they really want/look at my knees/feet/coffee/play with my mobile/fiddle with my collar.”)
A whole bunch of displacement activities and mild evasions. Keeping most of themselves hidden. Avoiding awkward silences but not breaking any boundaries or norms.
Into this shy, nervous, occasionally impulsive gathering you must start to ask the questions you have agreed with your client – who may be watching you, while talking to friends and colleagues (about you?) behind the glass – with a glass of wine in hand.
Because it is so unregulated, so lacking in encouragement and invitation to come forward in that first few minutes, it is quite usual that one group member is more outgoing and forward than the others and gets the approval of the moderator for livening things up in these early moments. 30 minutes later this forward person has become a ‘dominant respondent’ and won’t shut up. Dominant respondents are only 10% driven by dispositional factors: the other 90% is the result of poor group process.
If you do the first twenty minutes differently you will never be bothered by dominant respondents again – or even if the odd unquenchable tongue-wagger shows up – you’ll know exactly what to do. See the Top Tip 10 Next Week.
Psychotherapy has proved resistant to collecting evidence on whether it works or not. Exceptions are rare in the field. Most therapists do not collect outcome measures on whether or how their therapy helps clients! There are a few exceptions and, in particular, Mick Cooper at Strathclyde and Michael Lambert in the US have put together extensive analyses of the research into therapy. What they found makes fascinating reading and has been picked up and developed by Nicky Forsythe into a programme for peer to peer low-cost therapy called Talk for Health.
There is compelling proof that talking to an empathetic peer is as good – and as effective in promoting well-being – as the more expensive and lengthy process of psychotherapy – and that is described in this article, published in Psychminded, the single most read on my website, so I’m posting it here and on my Facebook Psychology Page. If you’re considering therapy, you might think about Talk for Health instead!
Why aren’t we taught these skills at school?
You can find out more about Talk for Health here: http://www.positive-therapy.co.uk/
And here is the original article that has more than 200 readers on the site so far:
You can find Mick’s excellent book: ‘The Facts are Friendly” here: http://tiny.cc/0d5ng
This my friends is a ManCan.
That’s a man’s candle to you. I was amused to find them as a result of a 13 year old’s entrepreneurism at:
What is most fascinating is the ‘flavours’ or should I say ‘odours’? Not Lady Gaga onstage, or Beyonce b4 JayZ, no! Guess what, the one in the picture is Bacon, and to go with it there’s Pizza, Campfire, Sawdust (?) and Grandpa’s Pipe.
This is innovation indeed. It has a touching level of naivety, so will probably be a hit with that sex that’s known for its love of toys.
What do you think? I’m hoping to experience one at an evening at your house soon! My wife is CandleChief at my place!
If you’ve seen any pictures of Nick Clegg in the papers or on TV recently, they’re not a pretty sight. For the budding psychologists among us, these photos clearly show the troubled face of a man with an Integrity issue. Such issues arise as a result of broken promises or commitments –and because they are known as such by both the accused and his accusers they provoke shame & guilt. These two inner foes are a bit like the armies of the night of our inner worlds, they harass with critical voices (see Psychology On A Page: TA this week).
Not only does he have to face a new self where his integrity has been breached but he must face what must seem like betrayal from his buddy Dave, who used all kinds of underhand tactics to attack the Alternative Voting proposals. Nick’s place must be very lonely and blue just now. Both his own side and his erstwhile partners seem to dislike and lack respect for him. What can he do?
In 2003, working for my good friend Joseph Debacq, we were both somewhat terrified of Joseph’s boss at Singapore Airlines, the formidable Yap Kim Wah!
Mr Yap, as he was known, had many qualities which led to him being feared and respected among us juniors and I remember him at one encounter saying to us all: “you don’t get what you expect, you get what you inspect!” He was referring to the need for constant vigilance by senior management on board the aircraft – checking the loos for cleanliness and that the cabin and aircrew were making their rounds and keeping to their agreed pattern of service, announcements and contact with passengers. I had not realised that Singapore Airline’s terrific service was in part a result of serious, consistent monitoring. I had bought the wishful dream planted by the advertising that Singapore girl was an exceptional, beautiful handmaiden who, secretly, could not resist my charms! My illusions were shattered as insight dawned!
It has become fashionable to mock inspections – especially those by Health & Safety Inspectors as the interference of busy-bodying bureaucrats – blamed for banning conker games at school, running in the playground and driving your fork-lift truck at more than 5mph.
A journalist I admire, Johann Hari in the Independent – who fights a lone battle against the cuts and their undermining of basic protections for working people – puts it much better than I can:
I think Mr Yap might agree! What do you think? It would be great to get views from my readers outside and in the UK. While you’re watching ‘that’ wedding, go to your computer and post!
The first thing to say is thank God for the extra holiday – and you don’t need to feel obliged for a moment to watch the wedding – they’re paying for it with your money anyway.
Next, what’s the key ‘sub‘ or ‘covert‘ text to look out for? Well here’s my take on that: the BBC in particular will be very keen to stress the links with us ‘common’ people. The key to this connection is the ‘People’s Princess’ with which Blair dubbed Diana, so links back to Diana may be frequent in the commentary. Comparisons of dress, style, comportment will all be made – and I suspect there will be frequent references to ‘that ring‘ – you know the blue sapphire that was Diana’s ring. This object, the ring, has connections to Diana, reinforces her ‘genes’ in Will and touches Kate through enrolling her in the Diana side to the Royals. If the Winsdors are smart they will encourage this, though I don’t expect any ‘touchy feely’ behaviour from them. They will look as well-turned out and wooden as they always do on such occasions.
ITV may focus more on the stuff, the kit, the carriages, the horses, the dresses – and hopefully tell us what is going through Kate’s mind as she goes through the day. ITV will also pick out Kate’s family/relations/ex-boyfriends, playing the Soap card. One channel or another will have invited a friend/relative of Kate’s into the studio or on video link.
The next thing will be the repeated reference to the modernity (i.e. common touch & informality) of the couple. Everyone knows the Windsors are out of touch and driven by protocol, so we will be assured that the incoming king and his ‘commoner’ bride will put all that to rights. Not sure about this myself – he looks more and more like Charles every time I see him! I wish him well in this endeavour.
For these reasons, I don’t think her dress will have a long train. That would suggest too much that she is being ‘entrained’ into the establishment – but this detail may have escaped their notice in the clamour for glamour and it will be an unconscious acknowledgment of her ‘entrainment’ if she shows up with a tail 100ft long as Diana did. She will either have no train or a short one if she’s smart.
Next, watch out for the ‘you may kiss the bride’ moment. This will be the first real possibility for informality and to notice how they contact/hold/each other. Will they have such a kiss? Will it be a ‘royal peck’ or the intimacy of two love-birds, happily released into each other for a few seconds? This is a key moment: you may glean a lot about the courage of the couple to be themselves (or not) with the world’s eyes on them from this exchange. It may have been written out of the proceedings altogether as potentially too clumsy, revealing, damaging of composure. We will see!
There will be quite a lot of shots and commentary on the audience. BBC will focus more on the formal representatives of states, institutions, charities etc. while ITV will notice the TV stars and celebrities. Let’s hope for at least one comic costume – a jester – to liven things up. Could be Elton, if he’s been invited, though David Beckham often sports a good line in high camp collars or cummerbunds. I think Posh will look demure.
What about you folks?
We set out on the Easter weekend with high hopes. We had no idea that Staycationing (taking a holiday in the UK for overseas readers) would prove such a dire experience. What happened? What went wrong?
To be honest we had become so used to holidaying in Italy that we had forgotten about the English and the Rules of Englishness. Why does this matter? Well first we need to remind ourselves of Kate Fox’s brilliant summary of these rules in her book, ‘Watching the English’ (2004):
The key thing to remember is the quality of ‘social unease’ that clings to the English when they are thrown together – whether amongst familiars or strangers.
It’s hard not to feel awkward in English company. If you look at the diagram you’ll see at the centre that ‘awkward’ is the way you’re expected to feel. So the first experience we had, on meeting our Bed &Breakfast hosts – who were perfectly nice – was a feeling of timidity, awkwardness and the need to pretend to be comfortable, even though the accommodation was far from uplifting: small poky spaces, kettles and electric points that didn’t work, a barren and utilitarian character that didn’t invite warmth or conviviality.
Even that was not fundamentally the issue: the point is that once under the thrall of awkwardness there is little opportunity or invitation to establish the boundaries of the deal. Were we invited/allowed to walk/sit in their garden? Did the eggs on sale in the porch apply to us – or were ours free, and if so, how many? They made us a fresh loaf which was nice, but we are currently not eating wheat/grains, so the loaf was useless. They didn’t ask us what, if anything we would like to make our stay more pleasant! We were left feeling constantly on edge.
This is a real problem with what I’ll call civilian as opposed to professional service. Ordinary folk trying to serve strangers tend to imagine what they would like in similar circumstances, do that for you and call it service. As a recipient you are left, having to resort to moderation, humour and pretending to like what has been done to you (rather than for you).
Inevitably you feel hacked off and resort to complaining the minute your hosts’ backs are turned. Oh to have been Americans who would have helped themselves to all the eggs, tramped all over the garden with their cameras, while lobbing a twangy “Where’re y’all from?” at their hosts. Perhaps in another lifetime!