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Friday, October 21, 2011

A 45 RPM Version Of Constructivism

"We don't see the world as it is but as we are".

Because of the work I began doing in the early 90's, I've spent the last 20 years paying a lot more attention to the way my language shapes my world. Thanks to Albert Ellis I learned of the effect of "shoulding" on myself and others and "musterbation". Via Deborah Tannen and other linguists I became more aware of the folly of speaking in absolutes like always/never and everybody/nobody. And Fernando Flores helped me shed some weak and/or insincere expressions like "I'll try" and also to begin to speak more powerfully.

My newest challenge in this world of cognitive restructuring is to begin reducing language that helps send a message of certainty. You've all heard many of these - "I'm sure (positive, certain) of it".  Or.. "I know this for a fact". Language that says to others - "This is the Capital T Truth". Which expressions of certainty do you use that help shut down inquiry or meaningful dialogue with others? Ever been trapped in a certainty loop like I was today? 

I was driving with a friend. Although the GPS was directing us, I said more than once I was sure we were going the wrong direction. My patient friend did not react. When I realized I'd been incorrect, I recognized how my certainty had temporarily blinded me. Was my word of certainty ("sure") before or after the thought of being "sure"? Doesn't matter. My language had let me down. We create our worlds with words. In this instance, I tried in vain to make my world fit my words and was reminded - there is work to be done here. I'll begin with some of my language of certainty. That approach has worked for me before.  


  1. Every generalization is by the nature of generalizations in general generally false. I say this with utmost certainty, though the probability of my utmost is certainly uncertain. Truth not be told, the uncertainty principle underlying the quantum theory, and therefore also applicable to brownian motion in troops of brownies, might also be a reflection of the involution of the circumcision regarding which we are all circumspect, the degree of circumspection being inversely proportional to the circumloquaciously derived corollaries thereof circumscribed and surreptitiously selected. I say this not to dither, conflate, or dissemble the facts, of which no one but the Keebler Elves are privy. As Abraham Lincoln so boldly noted some four score and twenty years after the fact, there are no facts in fact that might abridge the slavery of the literate mind of which only the illiterate might conceive. Hence, only Mr. Whipple might be certain regarding the softness and wipe-worthiness of toilet tissue, the scroll of which is like the holy texts of yore, only twice flushed. The source always ends up in the sink; of this let no Elf be uncertain. Banish Chips Ahoy to the side isle, and to paraphrase Jimi, "move over Nabisco, let Keebler take over". The lone ranger could have known this all along but we cannot know. We cannot be certain. How would we prove this? After all, he was alone for so long. We create theories that are falsifiable and test them. We assume the null and either reject or fail to reject nothing. This is why we are never certain, but the cookie knows. The cookie always knows. That is why they call it a smart cookie.

  2. Beautiful, Mr. Jimi (almost) Anonymous. Does your tongue hurt when it is stuck in your chic for so long?