*Re-draft of a letter; X-posted from Public deliberation on climate change in Alberta*
I came across something of interest while going through old material in one of my blogs. In the process of setting up a new blog with old material (WordPress can import from other blog platforms … sometimes very, very well. But when not “very well” it’s catastrophic!) I had to go through checking for data errors. In the process of that, I came across something I noted 5yrs ago about healthcare policy / personality types. In a nutshell: that’s what I’ve been beavering away at since 1975.
Facilitating workshops here in Edmonton about GATT (The social justice community was active in this long before there was an “anti-globalization movement”.) I noticed something about the way people formed opinions. It seemed to me that the strength of their conviction and the confidence of their positions bore very little relationship with the accuracy of their knowledge or the depth of their understanding. This concerned me. A lot. As an 8 year (1962) old I read about the Hungarian Revolution. The next year Kennedy was assassinated. When Prague Spring rolled around I was on the hippie bus and we hosted some kids who showed up here that summer. Then … and this is key … while I was in uniform (Canadian equivalent to Signals Intelligence, after have trained airborne infantry) we over-threw the Allende government in Chile. So how citizens relate to policy concerned me a lot. As it does today.
I know I’m not one of the brilliant ones. But I also know (industry tested) that when one persists with good craft one experiences something like success. My point … or, rather, the point of my “participatory deliberation” project … is that only discourse can root convictions in one’s personal belief system. Otherwise? Otherwise it’s usually some sort of sophistry … or, at best, rhetoric. What I find is that many times positions taken are as though proxies for other issues. Some sort of displacement? I don’t know for certain. If I’m granted a second life with intellect I may devote myself to cog-psych and study that, as I wish I could have in this one! 😉
My suggestion is that a system that fosters (read: imposes) logical rigour can support true discourse while promoting the individuals’ subjective narrative. The up-side of having an actual design rather than abstract theory is that, like most good craft, it has multiple applications. Like, for example, acting as the core of a pedagogical method. (Imagine something like Harvard University’s Harvard’s Professor Sandel in his “Justice” series on a global scale. Really!) Or, somewhat more mundane, as the spine of a deliberative system for budgeting and other policy decisions at a municipal level. OpenYEG, yes? Parks policy in Edmonton … or, moving up a notch, energy policy for the province, or the country.
I like to think of it in terms of Hermann Hesse’s glasperlenspiel, or pondering the impact of the ancient Library of Alexandria, keeping in mind UBC’s John Willinsky and his work on Open Access. Likewise Jurgen Habermas, with his “discourse ethics”. But what I’m really talking about is a spreadsheet of sorts … a spreadsheet for ideas. “Merely” … and it only took me from 1975 to 2003 to figure out how to do it! 🙂
If I had some sort of backing, any sort of support or collaboration or sign of interest, I’d be more explicit about my design. But I don’t, so I’m not. And so I don’t often run my mouth like this. But discovering that old blog post seemed an opportune moment for heh something like an exposee.
If some of this seems at all sensible to you, please do let me know!
As I wrote in “GroundPlane 101“:
… to magnetize the wisdom of crowds.
Thinking together about what is crucial …
… speaking deeply about simple things.