CLLR–Quarterly Newsletter–August 2017

Publication of Book Six Tackling Risk, A Field Guide to Risk and Learning

imageRisk aversion mitigates learning by making people less experienced and more ‘fragile’. This fragility leads to less experience and increased risk. This is observed when we seek technical and bureaucratic solutions only to pay the price in depersonalised processes.

Gone are the days when kids were left to experience the discovery of free unsupervised play. However, the risk of harm in free play hasn’t been eliminated, we now have an obesity epidemic in the west with greater potential for long-term harm than the risk of harm in discovery, trial and error and play. This is the learning-risk paradox.

‘There is no learning without risk and there is no real-living without learning’ (Dr Rob Long). This is the challenge for the proponents of risk aversion. The ideology of risk aversion is an anti-learning ideology. Learning is essential to what it is to be a fallible human person. The need to learn and mature is founded on the need to risk and learn. The denial of fallibility is a denial of the need for learning.

This book tackles the challenges of risk and how humans learn through risk. It explores theories of learning and how all learning requires risk. Whilst we all experience learning, many have meta-knowledge about how learning is acquired through risk. This book tackles this challenge.

The paradox of learning through risk is not just a complex problem; it is a ‘Wicked Problem’. Wicked Problems have been discussed extensively in previous books in this series on risk. In the face of a Wicked Problem there is no possibility of ‘taming’, ‘solving’ or ‘fixing’ situations. Wicked Problems are intractable, messy, and paradoxical. For every action there is always a trade-off and complex by-product. What appears to be a solution often results in hidden forms of alienation and necessity, creating a paradox. This is why learning is the flip side of risk and why risk aversion is anti-learning. There are no decisions or actions without some by-product or trade-off.

Welcome to the sixth book in the series on The Social Psychology of Risk (SPoR). Dr Rob Long has teamed up with Roy Fitzgerald to explore the challenges of Tackling Risk and Learning. Both Rob and Roy have extensive hands-on experience in learning and education including tackling risk in: higher education, workplace training, industry training, executive leadership, risk intelligence and executive critical thinking. They have International experience in the planning and design of learning and education programmes in risk for small and very large groups across all industries.

This book is a Field Guide and therefore provides practical insight into how to tackle learning in risk. It seeks to maintain a balance between academic expressions, ideas, stories, graphics and practical tips. This book is a combination of all of these. If anything, it is a generalist scan of all that is available for those seeking a new way of tackling risk and a priority on learning.

You can purchase your copy here:

Book Launch and Free Workshop Perth 5 September

Dr Rob Long and Roy Fitzgerald are proud to invite 20 people to a free Workshop on 5 September followed by the launch of their book Tackling Risk, A Field Guide To Risk and Learning.

Places will be granted on a ‘first-in best-dressed’ basis.

The Learning and Risk Workshop will start at 1.30pm and conclude at 4.30pm with the book launch, along with sharing of drinks and nibbles. If not in the workshop you are still invited for the launch at 4.30pm.

The workshop will feature critical aspects of learning and risk featured in the book and share some of the practical tools in the Social Psychology of Risk. Content of the workshop will include:

  1. Understanding risk aversion as anti-learning
  2. Current approaches that make organisations fragile about risk
  3. Positive ways to help people and organisations tackle risk
  4. The power of visualization in learning strategically about risk and,
  5. Practical tools to help people learn about risk.

The location for the workshop is the Flying Angel’s Club, 76 Queen Victoria St, Fremantle. WA 6160.

If you want to book a spot in the free workshop please email Roy and reserve your spot:
Even if you miss the workshop you can come at 4.30pm for the book launch and enjoy the launch of Roy’s first publication with Rob.

Due Diligence One Day Workshops New Zealand 30 August

Following in the wake of the new WHS Act in New Zealand Dr Rob Long and Greg Smith are proposing to hold their One Day Due Diligence Workshop in Auckland on 30 August. The workshop will be held in Auckland.

You can download a brochure on the Workshop here:
You may be aware of Rob and Greg’s very successful video series and book on Risky Conversations, The Law, Social Psychology and Risk.
You can see their video on Due Diligence here: and other videos in the series here:

Don’t be conned by all the fear mongering and calculative stuff floating about on Due Diligence as six steps or some kind of formula. Rob and Greg present a very compelling workshop on the nature of Due Diligence and leave participants with very practical tools (and a signed complementary copy of their book) to help practice Due Diligence in risk and safety.

If you are interested in coming to this Workshop then send you expression of interest here: or here:

The cost is $495.00 for the day per person with discounts available for groups and group size strictly limited to 20 persons.

The Social Amplification of Risk (SARF) Workshop Brisbane 18-20 October 2017

The final unit for the year in the Social Psychology of Risk will held be in Brisbane on 18-20 October at Asset Aviation Institute Level 5 10 Market St, Brisbane. You can purchase your place here:

For those who have already attended more than 3 units in 2017, please email Rob directly for a discount.

The unit is based upon the work of Pidgeon, N., Kasperson, R., and Slovic, P.,  (eds.) (2003) The Social Amplification of Risk. Cambridge,  New York.

This unit teaches how risk is socially amplified by numerous organizational dynamics including: beliefs, myths, politics, social media, propaganda, fear, semiotics, discourse of zero harm, binary safety and safety anxiety. The model pictured above shows how SARF works. Why is SARF a problem and what can be done about it?

The workshop helps participants identify ‘Real Risk’ and gives participants practical tools to tackle and attenuate the dynamics of amplification.

For more information contact Rob at

Considering Studies for 2018?

The Centre for Leadership and Learning in Risk will publish available units and dates for studies in September and these can be viewed here:

You can download a prospectus here:

You can register for studies here:

A discount is available for registration for more than 3 units.

You can see testimonies from past students here:

If you are an International student, a full online program is available. Please enquire at:

Don’t Forget: After completing Three units all other units can be studied online.

Presenting InVision Pictures

Human Dymensions is proud to be associated with the work of InVision Pictures. InVision Pictures is Directed by Rick Long.  Rick produces professional videos and multimedia for Human Dymensions and InVison clients.

Rick understands the needs of industry professionals and works with Human Dymensions in The Social Psychology of Risk to help organizations produce:

• Induction training
• On-Site Training
• Documentary Videos
• High Risk Introductions
• Targeted Online Training resources
• Conversation Skills
• Risk and safety Videos
• Education and Learning Seminars/Workshops
• Promotional Media

Rick holds a Bachelor Degree in Multimedia Production from Canberra University with a Diploma in Audio Production from the Canberra Institute of Technology. He provides the complete package.

Examples of InVison work is here:

Induction Videos
Industry Videos
Creative Videos and Documentaries
Risky Conversations Risk Series
High Risk Videos
The Sabotage diaries
Harris Farm Market Training Videos Cashing Up
Love Local
Meat – Ticketing and Cleanliness
Meat – Demo Cooks and Sales

Videos for the Centre for Leadership and Learning in Risk
Videos for Human Dymensions

Some videos are password protected. You can request a password, a quote  and further information at:

Wicked Problems One Day Workshop

Dr Rob Long and Craig Ashhurst offer a one day Workshop on Wicked Problems and Leadership. The very practical program helps leaders understand the difference between simple problems, complex problems and wicked problems. The recognition tools used in the workshop can help leaders better identify Real Risk and what to do when problems seem insurmountable.

If you are interested in learning more about Wicked Problems and the challenges for leadership you can request more information at: or

Download an overview here:

Social Resilience One Day Workshop

Dr Rob Long and Gabrielle Carlton deliver a One Day Workshop on the Social Psychology of Resilience.  The workshop looks beyond the individualist messages and methods of resilience to the need for A Social Ecology of Resilience. You can find out about more on a Social Psychology of Resilience here:

It is very rare that people experience resilience without strong communal, organizational and social support. The idea of ‘bouncing back’ or ‘pulling oneself up by the boot laces’ simply creates failure and self defeating cycles of inadequacy. Rob and Gabrielle run a practical workshop on how to create a culture of support to foster resilience and help leaders and managers create resilient organisations.

If you are interested in this workshop please contact

Rob Sams Presentation Chicago 18-21 September 2017

For those in the USA or Canada who have been following the work of the Social Psychology of Risk (SPoR), this is a must.

Rob Sams, author, International presenter and colleague of SPoR is the keynote speaker and workshop presenter at Chicagoland 18-21 September 2017.

Following on from Rob’s highly successful workshops in Austria and New Zealand earlier this year, Rob will be presenting on all the crucial aspects, methods and tools of SPoR in a Ond Day Workshop too at Chicagoland. Why don’t you walk up to Rob at the conference and say g’day!

You can register and find out more about Rob’s presentation here:

You can purchase a copy of Rob’s book Social Sensemaking here:

It is because of Rob’s excellent work that the following book competition involves the name of his business Dolphyn.

Book Competition

To celebrate the publication of book 6 Tackling Risk, A Field Guide to Risk and Learning Rob and Roy are giving away 10 copies of the book in the following competition.

To win a book you have to state how many dolphins are in the stereogram located here:

email your answer to: along with your name and postal address. Generally all prizes are gone within the first hour of posting the Newsletter.

Research Section – The Non-Sense of Machine Learning

One of the great Misnomers is that of ‘machine learning’. I write about this in Chapter One of the Tackling Risk, A Field Guide to Risk and Learning. The naming of the repetition of algorithms as ‘learning’ is just more spin and propaganda of the STEM bias towards knowledge and a mechanistic definition of personhood. The last place I would be looking for a definition of learning is from Science, Engineering, Technique or Mathematics. Learning is a profoundly human and social process. Here are some points from the book (p.19)

It is easy to see how people in mechanistic disciplines (e.g. engineering and computer science) who know so little about learning, education and metaphysics; could come up with such a non-sense discourse. e discourse just assumes an anthropology for a machine. Such a discourse assumes that learning is about data transference and replication. What this non-sense teaches us is that just because certain language is used does not make it so.
Let us therefore look at some serious problems associated with this discourse.
1. The idea that learning is about data transference is so removed from the real meaning of learning that it makes such language meaningless. According to this definition, anything can ‘learn’.
2. There is no reference to subjects but only objects in this theory of machine learning.
3. Machines do not have an unconscious, and cannot be self-conscious. How does a machine dream? How does it ‘get an idea’? How does a machine ‘daydream’? How does a machine pray? How can a machine meditate? How does a machine create? How does a machine innovate? When a machine ‘switches off ’ what does its ‘mind’ do? How does a machine imagine? How does a machine formulate a metaphor?
4. Machines cannot have a conscience or sense moral necessity in and of themselves. How does a machine experience confusion and paradox? How can an object ‘believe’? In what sense can a machine be a person? How can a machine express faith?
5. Machines have no sense of social identity; nor any sense of meaningfulness to the notion of family or group. On what basis does a machine choose between competing moral values? Some of the latest research shows clearly that artificial intelligence (AI) cannot ‘cooperate, collaborate or even ‘think’ in such a way. Indeed, when given a comparative task AI becomes more aggressive. A classic quote from the research is: ‘We are fascinated by ‘machine learning’; but in the end, the machines only learn what we tell them to learn.’
6. See ( content=bu er2d2c2&utm_medium=social& er).
7. The idea that some thing ‘artificial’ (e.g. artificial intelligence) can be made non-artificial (human) is also a non-sense. I wonder how a machine de fiines ‘trust’? How does a machine heal itself when it gets a virus? What is a machines immune system? How does a machine sexually reproduce? How does ‘it’ understand the ‘miracle’ of birth? How does it ‘know’ that the heart is not just a pump? How does a machine die or grieve for the loss of another machine?
8. Despite the attributions from this discourse that machines display personhood, such anthropomorphic attribution is simply non-sense. (see: At what point should an intelligent machine be considered a ‘person’?
9. World Economic Forum cited April 2017 point-shouldan-intelligent-machine-be-considered-a-personutm_content=bu erf48cf&utm_ medium=social& er). How can a machine ‘feel’? How can a machine be irrational and aRational? How can a machine ‘love’?
10. Since when did a capacity to process data become a ‘mind’? How can data transfer and data replication properly be labelled ‘thinking’ or ‘learning’? How can a machine create, innovate, sing, invent, write poetry, self generate art, belong, meditate, hope, cry, have faith, trust and possess countless metaphysical qualities?
11. There is no ‘learning’ that can be attributed to an object. Humans are much more than the sum of shifting data and change. Learning without an anthropology of personhood cannot be learning.
Why does this all matter? The semiotics of machine learning have huge implications to the propaganda of perfectionism associated with risk. There is no learning without risk and no risk without learning. How we ‘frame’ our understanding of fallible personhood and how we confuse the place of machines in our world has huge implications for how we understand risk.
The ideology of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Knowledge (STEM) and perfectionism is hidden in this discourse on machine learning. One can only believe in machine learning as an act of faith, something a machine cannot have. So, we see, there is no machine ‘learning’ because machines do not have unique personhood. Without an anthropology of learning and capability of personhood there is no ‘learning’. We saw in Australia during 2017 how the ideology and discourse of ‘machine learning’ can come undone in the Census debacle and the Centrelink debacle.
The delusion of STEM is that more data leads to more insight yet, all the evidence shows that more data leads to greater confusion and bounded rationality. The nonsense of ‘predictive analytics’ is one of the cons of machine learning for people in the risk, safety and security industries. The nonsense of telling the future, of predicting the unpredictable in a random  messy world with fallible mortal humans, is just more spin that shift focus away from humanizing the workplace to higher levels of surveillance and dehumanization. Just have a look at these employees accepting a microchip in their bodies under the propaganda of safety.
A good read is Madsbjerg, (2017) Sensemaking, What makes Human Intelligence Essential in the Age of the Algorithm.

The Computer Will See You Now

This is the title of a piece in the Scientific American (Aug 2017, pp. 24-25). What we see here is further indoctrination and spin about what STEM knowledge wants us to accept. It is in the best interests of the wealth makers and Silicon Valley to ‘sell’ these narratives to an uncritical population. Is anyone asking, ‘where is the power in this proposed transformation’? ‘What is the trajectory for humans in this discourse’?

Masked as a good idea to minimize ‘human error’ the article projects the value of computer diagnosis over the fallibility of humans.

The idea of the article is this: In the future humans won’t need a human doctor, nor the associated imperfections of human diagnosis but one will have the ‘so called’ reliability of a computer to undertake diagnosis. As the article states, it’s a ‘safer and smarter approach’. After all, there is nothing more important to Safety than to eradicate mistakes, harm, imperfection, injury and risk. Somehow this new dependence on a computer will eliminate the risk of malpractice and ethical challenges? But as usual, no connections are made. No sense of learning is discussed. No thinking of trajectory is undertaken. One must accept STEM because STEM is god.

What is the trade off for this silly trajectory? A loss of touch, empathy, listening, conversation and diminishing ability to observe as well as by-products of: indifference, delusional discourse of care, devaluing of relationship and engagement, dismissing love and a profound need to affirm personhood. Yep, that’s what STEM promises.

Unfortunately the quest for risk aversion and risk elimination is also the quest for anti-learning. The philosophy of STEM is anchored in positivism and reductionism and the denial of fallibility.

A great read about learning, mistakes and the necessity of fallibility is: Hallinan (2009)  Why We Make Mistakes.

Technical Perfectionism

The ideology of perfectionism is endemic in STEM aspects of risk and safety. The Love of Zero ( ) and the language of zero dominate the risk and safety industries to the point of the absurd. Take for example the recent campaign for ‘Zero Suicide’ ( In the fine tradition of dumb down binary thinking (para 10 – “Even if you believe we are never going to eradicate suicide, we must strive towards that,” Steve said to me. “If zero isn’t the right target, then what is?”) we witness the nonsense language of perfectionism applied yet again to another wicked problem (

Of course, the ‘Zero Suicide’ campaign is all about numbers and the emotive nature of the problem. But, there is no discussion of poverty, greed, inequality, social condition, family violence, gambling, crime, substance abuse or a host of social issues that are critical factors in understanding suicide. No, its all about counting and prevention without any mention of complexity or humanity.

The campaign is based on the Bridge Documentary and the closing off of avenues of suicide on the Golden Gate bridge as a success. The same happened in Melbourne when they closed off the West Gate Bridge and then the suicides on the rail network doubled in the next year, leading to the unethical Dumb Ways to Die campaign by Melbourne Metro. Apparently it is ‘dumb’ to suicide.

The article projects Zero is a ‘strategy’ without any thought of its semiotic, by-products or trajectory. And where will things be in 20 years time when suicide increases because none of its underlying causes haven’t changed??? How dumb will Zero look then? Where will the suicide statistics be shifted to after all railway crossings have been eliminated? Maybe to another place we counting is easier to hide?

So when such a ‘strategy’ fails what is next? Oh yes, of course, we will have to go ‘Beyond Zero’. When a semiotic fails let’s just seek more linguistic nonsense, beyond perfectionism.

Perfectionism is a mental health disorder. It is a fundamental denial of reality, humanity, fallibility, mortality and real world living. The costs of perfectionism are: anger, stress, anxiety, abrasiveness, controlling, distrust, rigidity and self flagellation.

Perhaps read more about it: Perfectionism is the enemy of everything

Or: What is Perfectionism. What is Perfectionism.pdf

One Brain Three Minds

The most popular download of any video in the Human Dymensions site is the One Brain Three Mind video (
Over 1000 downloads each week testify to the fact that people want to know about human judgment and decision making. In the latest copy of Scientific American Mind (August 2017) there is a series of articles on ‘gut thinking’. The idea of ‘gut thinking’ is not just a metaphor, there is a real connection to how we make ‘gut decisions’.

The idea that decisions in risk are rational simply doesn’t match the evidence. Why is it that regulators and safety people think that mistakes occur because of a lack of thinking or choice? Why is it that every time something goes wrong the solution is more paperwork, more systems and more rationalistic focus? Unless we get our heads around the workings of the unconscious and ‘gut thinking’ it is unlikely that any of the proposed solutions to problems in risk will match the way the problem was generated.

The Nature of Self-Talk

‘Self talk’ is about what we say to ourselves, we do it in our heads as we ruminate on things and toss ideas around. Self-talk can be harmless or destructive. Negative self-talk is when people become convinced of a perception and continue to confirm it in their own head, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Self-talk can sometimes reveal an inability to accept the perspective or views of others This can happen sometimes with disastrous consequences eg. eating disorders, reactive violence, reading into what others say, conspiracy theories etc.

The best way to tackle negative self-talk is through social interaction and trust. An understanding of social psychology better enables with strategies of how to tackle negative cycles of self-talk.

The Centre for Leadership and Learning (CLLR) in Risk facebook Group

If you have undertaken more than two units with CLLR just a reminder that the facebook research and discussion group is available to you.

New Videos on Human Dymensions Vimeo

A new video is up about the SEEK Workshop

Have you seen the Problem with Zero Harm video

Several New Videos are scheduled to be released soon and the SEEK Program is no online for those who have completed more than 3 units in the Certificate in the Social psychology of Risk.


The following people have all studied extensively with Dr Long and have consultancies in leadership, risk and culture in the tradition of the Social Psychology of Risk. Please contact each directly if interested in work in your area. Alternatively, write to Dr Long ( for a recommendation for your next presentation or workshop/advising needs.

Craig Ashhurst –

Gabrielle Carlton (Canberra) –

Hayden Collins (Melbourne) –

James Ellis (Sydney) –

Dee Henshall (Brisbane) –

Dennis Millard (Brisbane) –

Rob Sams (Newcastle) –

Dave Whitefield (Brisbane) –

Interesting Links

Some of the following links will be of interest to you

Semiotics –

George Monbiot –

The Mind is a Metaphor –

Marc Armitage and Play –


Human Dymensions –

Centre for Leadership and Learning in Risk –

In Memory of Max Geyer

I first met Max four years ago when he decided to do studies in the Social Psychology of Risk. Max and I are the same age, with birthdays only weeks apart. The first thing you learned about Max through his scallywag smile was his insatiable thirst for learning and sharp mind in critical thinking. Max was worried (like some others) how we would cope with his first foray into post graduate studies and once he got into the swing of things wrote and presented some great work.

Max came to studies with a wealth of hands-on experience in mining, manufacturing, farming, heavy industrial, civil construction and logistics. There wasn’t many tough jobs Max hadn’t turned his hand to. He had worked across all states across Australia and I remember long conversations about his time at Rosebery in Tassie and all he had learned in underground gold mining. We shared stories about Beaconsfield and our mutual friend Matt Gill (ex GM Beaconsfield).   Max worked for some familiar names: ETSA Leigh Creek Mine, Pasminco (Rosebery, Broken Hill, Elura, Century), Renison Ltd, Wambo Mining, Bulga Coal, The Bloomfield Group, Goldsprings Earthmoving & Heavy Haulage, Hills Tankers, DGI Trading, and MMD (Aus) Pty Ltd.

After some time in moving about Max started his own successful business in business consulting and later in risk and safety. After completing his Grad Diploma on SPoR Max changed his business name to ‘Risk Saavy’ following on from the work of Gigerenzer’s book of the same name and work by Dylan Evans in Risk Intelligence. Pretty soon Max developed a passion for reading and started building a library of books to complement his fine library of red wine. One thing Maxed loved was coming to my study (he called it the cavern) for some coaching, and I was delighted to receive the odd drop with a 2005 vintage or better. When Max came to some of those cold winter workshops in Canberra there was always Max with his positivity to have a laugh and some fun in the learning journey.

The following story tells you as much about Max and it does about his selfless focus and support of others. During our studies Max learned of my work and relationship with Pro. Karl. E. Weick after doing a complete unit on Weick’s work. Max had read all of Karl’s works and when it came to our first conference on the Social Psychology of Risk in 2015 (at which Max was a presenter) Max did something very special. Max purchased a first edition of Karl’s first book The Social Psychology of Organising posted it over to Karl for him to sign and insert a greeting and then presented it to me at the conference dinner as a surprise. Well, what I could I say, I was so thrilled by such effort and gratitude, if Karl has a bigger fan I don’t know who it is. This is who Max was and what Max did, he was so delighted to see my face beaming and appreciative, this is what gave Max joy, bringing happiness and delight to others.

Earlier this year we all learned that Max was not well and were informed he didn’t have long to live. Gab and I drove to see Max a few weeks ago and despite restrictions on body movement and a host of limitations on heavy medication he joked and smiled with us as if we were about to set off on a school camp together. Max was a person of love, it never took long in conversation that if you got to talk about his wife, children, grandchildren, family or friends, Max would well up with tears talking about who mattered most in life.

To end this Newsletter I’d like to publish the Dedication to Max from the front of the new book.

This book is especially dedicated to our dear friend and fellow traveller in life-long learning and risk – Max Geyer. Max joined the journey in the Social Psychology of Risk with two-dozen others in 2014 when the Programme was first conducted at the Australian Catholic University, in Canberra.

Those who meet Max are instantly infected by his positivity, happiness and love for others. It is nothing to be with Max and watch him break into tears as he talks about the people who are dear to him. He understands what matters and has little time for the love of objects over subjects. Max hasn’t done an education degree but he is a teacher, he has no Community Services degree but knows all about caring and helping. His passion for learning through relationships, love and community is infectious.

At the time of writing this book Max took ill, spent some time in hospital and is currently convalescing at home; and so this dedication is to Max. Many a time has been spent in Rob’s study with Max who always shows up for coaching and learning with gifts of rare wine to enjoy and savour after a day of discussion, questions and laughter. This book is a prayer for Max, Sylvia and family.
Some Articles Published by Max on SafetyRisk

Due Diligence

Legislation and Culture

A Crazy Symbol about Risk

Sensemaking and Symbols

Building Resilience

Our love and prayers extend to Sylvia and family from all in the Social Psychology of Risk Community. Max is fondly remembered and greatly loved.

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long

Latest posts by Dr Rob Long (see all)

Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

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