CLLR Newsletter–October 2017


Due Diligence Workshop 1,2 November Sydney

Do you know how to demonstrate ‘assurance’ of Due Diligence? If you think paperwork guarantees Due Diligence then maybe you need to come to the workshop. ‘Paper Systems’ are not evidence of Due Diligence and neither do they mean that your risks are being managed.

Due Diligence is not a product of legislation. Due Diligence is a broad organisational and individual responsibility that existed as a legal principle long before Work Health and Safety legislation. Every major accident inquiry anywhere in the world for the past 30 years has been critical of the failure of Due Diligence in organisations. The workshop has a focus on practical tools to provide assurance that you and your organization are exercising Due Diligence as required by the legislation.

If you enjoyed the Risky Conversations Video Series then maybe you would like to hear Rob and Greg present in person.

Participants leave the workshop with a realistic knowledge of Due Diligence and practical tools to demonstrate assurance of Due Diligence. The workshop proposes no extra systems or paper-based tools for a demonstration of Due Diligence but rather focuses on leadership and skill development.

The workshop will be help on 1,2 November in the Seminar Room at the Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross ( As part of the workshop participants will be given a tour of the work of Wayside and a presentation by the CEO Rev Graham Long on ‘The Nature of Negligence’.

All participants receive an autographed copy of Rob and Greg’s book Risky Conversations as well as a suite of practical tools associated with the workshop outcomes.

You can download a flyer and register for the Workshop here:

You can read more about Greg’s thoughts on Due Diligence and Prosecutions here:

All CLLR Courses Online in 2018.

The Centre for Leadership and Learning in Risk (CLLR) is proud to announce that the 2018 Prospectus is now available. The prospectus can be downloaded here:

The preference still remains for people to study face-to-face but this new option responds to the many requests from non-Australian students to study in the Social Psychology of Risk.

Online study comprises the following: viewing professionally recorded lectures and workshops, journaling learning and reflections, contact with one of the CLLR mentors (listed in the Prospectus) and a small assignment writing piece or blog.

Units are awarded by the Centre towards a Certificate (4 units), Diploma (4 units) or Masters (4 units) in the Social Psychology of Risk. Completion of two units enables membership to the closed facebook research forum and contact with the SPoR community.

Online participants receive access to all the SPoR Tools and books.


If you are interested in any CLLR units in 2018 or wish to go on the CLLR mailing list, please send a registration of interest to:

Pick a Card, Any Card

Those who have completed the introductory program in Conversations and Observations will know that our perception is affected by many factors. This is often well illustrated by magic tricks. Of course, there is no ‘magic’, its just that your eyes don’t see what the magician is doing. This is the power of psychological, social and physical misdirection. Magicians are often Masters of psychological manipulation and distraction.

In 2005 Hall and Johansson (Scientific American Mind Feb 2017) used a very simple experiment to show how easy choice can be manipulated. The researchers sat at a table in the experiment and gave the participant two portrait photos. The participant then had to pick one of the photos that they found more appealing. Then the experimenter turned both photos over and moved them on the table towards the participant. The participant was then asked to pick up the photo they had just selected but don’t realise that the experimenter has used a ‘slight of hand’ to swap the photos. All of this is done on a black tablecloth with black backed cards.

(You will notice how much black is used as a background in Magic performances. This is because your visual neurons find it more difficult to adjust contrast between black and other colours.)

The participant then choses the portrait they had previously selected and it is the wrong picture.  There are also other variations in the experiment that also demonstrate how participants explain their mistake and justify their changed choice.

This experiment explains not only why we don’t see things but also how we psychologically justify our choice that we often make unconsciously. This is often done because of ‘groupthink’, to save embarrassment, social conformity and a host of other social psychological pressures and cognitive biases (
Magic performed in groups always utilises various pressures to ‘condition’ choice, when in fact there is no real choice. The magician knows how Social Psychology works and often uses biases and psychological pressure to affect what appears to be a free choice. It only appears that the participant made a free choice.

You can see some great magicians like David and Leeman demonstrate the illusion of choice here:

Or maybe Penn and Teller here:

Very simple skills such as fake shuffles and ‘forcing’ give the ‘appearance’ of a free and random choice. Similarly, each day many of the human and fallible choices we make, often for our own safety and protection, are often motivated by mis-perceptions and social pressures. This is why it is nonsense to propose that: ‘Safety is Choice You Make’. The regurgitation of this silly saying is used in the risk and safety industries to foster judgmentalism, superiority and blame and to propose that human choice in risk is simple, black and white. Such binary thinking was evidenced recently at the World Congress in Safety that adopted the nonsense language of Zero Vision (

Deficit Framing of Human Decision making

Marketers and advertisers also know how to sway and influence choice using the same social psychological principles as magicians. The evidence shows that some of the most significant choices we make such as buying a car or a home are NOT free and open choices but are determined by a host of unconscious social psychological factors. When faced with risk, choice is rarely straight forward.

Whilst some would like to call human biases ‘irrational’ (Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely), ‘stupid’ (How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer), ‘idiotic’ (The Idiot Brain by Dean Burnett) or ‘unthinking’ (unthink by Chris Paley) this simply indicates deficit ‘framing’ of human decision making. This was recently indicated online: as the poster ‘frames’ cognitive bias as ‘stuffing’ up your thinking. free poster download here:

Many of the factors that this piece ‘frames’ as ‘stuffing’ up thinking are actually helpful in defence against risk and danger that have evolved over thousands of years. Many of these biases framed in the negative are also critical if framed positively.  One can look at fallibility through the lens of ‘fault’ or look at fallibility through the lens of learning. One can look at risk as bad and favour risk avoidance or look at risk as beneficial as essential to learning. The reality is, all of these cognitive biases have very positive affect socially as well as negatively. It is a paradox that we need to live with. For example, Groupthink (Conformity bias) can be benficial when faced with a threat and you need a defence in numbers but the same Groupthink can lead to uncritical belonging/following. You can see how groupthink works here:

If you want to know more about the paradox of choice then perhaps read Schwartz, B.,  (2005)  The Paradox of Choice. Harper. New York)

Book Competition

What would a CLLR Newsletter be without a competition involving perception, blindness and frustration? This pic was sent in by one of our SPoR Associates Tony Jenkins (thanks Tony I hope you enjoy your book).

It took me a while to find the cat but it’s there. The first 5 who find the cat will receive a copy of Rob and Roy’s latest book Tackling Risk, A Field Guide to Risk and Learning. (

You can view all of the books and products in the series of Risk  here:

You can enter the competition by showing where the cat is (mark, scan and send) and including your snail mail address to

You will love the latest book with a big focus on the philosophy of learning, stories, visual learning, semiotics and practical tools to enhance learning in the workplace.

Life and Work – Feminine Perspectives Video

Recently a number of women in the Social Psychology of Risk community gathered for a day in Canberra to discuss the challenges of being a woman in the workplace. The five women discuss life and risk from a feminine perspective.

As part of the day of learning, sharing and discussion they recorded one part of the day and produced this video. The perspectives and conversation is refreshingly honest and educative. These five women raise many critical issues that are rarely spoken about in work, leadership and risk.

Whether you are male of female you will find this video extremely helpful.The discussion was moderated by Dr Rob Long.

You can watch this unique video here:

Videos of Significance

If you missed the news, all videos in the Risky Conversations series are now free online: You can download and share as you like.

The book Risky Conversations which is a record of transcripts between Rob Long, Greg Smith and Craig Ashhurst, including references, resources and research links can be purchased here:

The recent video of Dr Long being interviewed by Gabrielle Carlton on Zero, The Maintenance of a Dangerous Idea is here:

Gabrielle will be one of the Mentors for the online study program in 2018.

This video is currently averaging over 1000 downloads per week all over the globe and stands in contrast to the populist discourse of zero vision presented at the World Safety Congress ( The language of ‘zero’ of course, can only be maintained in direct contradiction to the reality of mortality and fallibility.

InVision Pictures Understand Risk

If you enjoy the many videos available at or then you are enjoying the work of InVision Pictures.

InVision Pictures is associated with the work of Human Dymensions and the Centre for Leadership and Learning in Risk and has specialist skills in helping organisations develop high quality videos about risk, learning, culture, inductions, training or documenting work. You can see some of the specialist work of InVision Pictures here:

If you are looking for high quality video with a constructive and humanised message about tackling risk then why not contact for more information.

All of the videos for the new online learning Units for CLLR are produced by InVision Pictures.

Rumours and Gossip as Destructive Modes of Communication

This is the title of Chapter Eight in  essential reading The Social Psychology of Communication by Hook, Franks and Bauer (eds.) (2011). In any organisation of reasonable size the ‘gossip tree’ and ‘rumour mill’ can be one of the great determinants of mis-perception and groupthink about risk. And in most cases it doesn’t matter if the rumour is not true, just as long as its bias conforms to classic conspiracy theory, triangulation rules or pre-conceived notions of self-interest.

Rumours and Gossip thrive in organisations that have low emphasis on critical thinking or historico-critical thinking ( The skills of Critical Thinking are absent in many curricula associated with risk (for example: ) and so this makes the risk and safety industries particularly prone to faddism, naivety and false beliefs.

The susceptibility to rumour and gossip is evidenced in marketing campaigns that seek to make risk and safety ‘sexy’ ( and ‘trendy’ through the attraction of ‘Bells and Whistles’ ( and Eugenics. Eugenics is the selling of social order by unethical sorting mechanisms, fake tests or social engineering. Eugenics is most associated with Nazi mechanisms to filter out ‘undesirables’. In the risk and safety industry these are people determined as ‘risk takers’. You can read more about the unethical practices of safety eugenics here:

The further belief in curves, pyramids, triangles and mythology (present in most safety curricula) is also evidence of susceptibility to gossip and rumour (

Franks and Attia in their chapter in The Social Psychology of Communication show how destructive trivial and petty stories can be in eroding culture through fostering cynicism, pessimism and scepticism. These often erode all positive messages in organisations (including risk and safety messages) and are often untested by even the most basic of critical questioning or seeking of source validation. Franks and Atttia call such gossip exchanges the ‘bullshit’ factor. People are susceptible to the ‘bullshit factor’ and ‘fake news’ because they have not learned basic strategies in testing stories for truth. Often such critical questioning is rejected in the safety industry as being negative, academic or sceptical. It is not surprising that an industry that has its primary focus on conformity and punitive compliance to regulation and legislation fosters conformity and compliance in cultural formation.

The only way to really test the meaning of signs and symbols embedded in the language and discourse of gossip and rumours is to question the source and mode of reproduction. This is what Ricoeur called ‘suspicion’ (see The Question of the Subject: The Challenge of Semiology). Suspicion is what Ricoeur understands as the challenging of ‘false consciousness’. The key to this is learning to decipher symbols, signs and discern meaning embedded in language. This is a special kind of interrogative questioning that has a structure and ‘intelligence’ of its own and is part of the Quesioning Skills, SEEK and iThink Profgrams offerred by CLLR.

A lack of critical thinking contributes to the contagiousness of rumour and gossip. This is also fuelled by the righteousness that comes from compliance cultures of blaming and fault finding present in such language as: ‘safety is a choice you make’ and the ideology of zero vision. When the framing is absolute and perfectionist then fault finding in gossip and rumour become a ‘sport’ in the risk and safety industries. Eg. ‘Did you here what Fred did? What an idiot!!!’

One of the benefits of the SEEK ( ) and Semiotics ( ) workshops provided by The Centre for Leadership and Learning in Risk ( is the delivery of skills in critical thinking and effective investigations.

Both of these Workshops will be offered online in 2018.
If you are interested in any CLLR units in 2018 please send a register of interest to:

Launch of SPoR into USA with Rob Sams

Recently an SPoR Associate Rob Sams took the message of The Social Psychology of Risk to the Chicagoland Conference in the USA in September 2017.

You can read about Rob’s successful work here: or purchase Rob’s excellent book on Social Sensemaking here:

Rob will be one of the online mentors for the online units in 2018.

Skill Development in Social Resilience

As many of you know the excellent work of Gabrielle Carlton has a specific focus on organisational and social resilience. This is very different than the populist approaches to resilience that focus on individualist approaches that focus on messages of ‘tough it out’ and ‘pull your self up by your own boot straps’. Gabrielle’s work focuses on mutuality and how resilience is socially situated including social psychological pressures that inhibit resilience often present in binary worldviews and individualistic theories of resilience.

You can read about Gab’s work here:
Or write to her and book a workshop here:

All of Gabrielle’s workshops are complete with practical tools to help with social resilience and skill development in organising for collective and mutual resilience in organisations.

Occasional Paper on the Professionalisation of the Safety Industry

Recently Dr Long wrote an extended paper (7500 words) on the challenges of professionalization for the safety industry. You can read more about it here: or download the paper here:

New Links of Interest

C.S. Lewis Reading Room
The Dylan Evans Home Page
Free philosophy ebooks

Follow Us on Twitter

Always putting up interesting research and links on Twitter and interesting discussions on risk, safety and security as well as issues in the Social psychology of Risk.

You can follow us here:

Join Our Closed facebook Group

The Centre for Leadership and Learning in Risk (CLLR) has a closed Facebook group only available for those who have studied with CLLR or who have completed a Program with Human Dymensions.

If you have completed a program with Human Dymensions or a unit of study with CLLR than you are welcome to join.

You can request membership here:

NEW – Semiotics Group

Join us in sharing pictures, icons, symbols and signs that demonstrate an understanding of semiotics, semiology and the power of the unconscious affecting us in the semiosphere.

You can follow us here:

Do you have any thoughts? Please share them below