Complacency, Consciousness and Error in Safety
Recent research into the effects of drugs like Psilocybin, an ingredient in ‘magic mushrooms’ show some promise in helping with addictions and some mental health disorders (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01475/full; https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/psychiatry/research/psychedelics-research.html). And yet, even then, researchers still don’t understand much about consciousness and the unconscious, and use the language of ‘mystery’ to explain its effects.
The study of psychedelics provides an interesting insight into the nature of human consciousness and offers lessons for Safety in its delusions about incident causation and mythology around mistakes, error (https://safetyrisk.net/demonising-error-and-mistakes-what-can-the-book-of-job-tell-safety/ ) and complacency.
The notion of complacency is one of the darlings of Safety and yet it is an explanation of nothing. No-one in safety explains what happens when people ‘lose’ concentration, ‘lose focus’ and make a mistake. The interest of Safety is always on the behaviour and outcome not on what precedes it. Indeed, there is no research or interest in human consciousness anywhere in the industry globally. If anything, the human unconscious is demonised in safety literature even though it is never mentioned specifically, except for this assumption by Safety that it knows what complacency is.
Under psychedelics we can gain an insight into people and mystical experiences. A psychedelic experience often leads to a change in belief. It seems an intense experience in the unconscious triggers visions, dreams and a new consciousness of the world when people return to consciousness. Research shows that experiences in dreams and illusions change consciousness even though we know such experiences are not real. Researchers are yet to make the connection, it’s a mystery.
What we also know is that people easily move in and out of consciousness even when awake and without any use of drugs. Studies in lucid dreaming and day-dreaming demonstrates how people easily lose consciousness when wide awake:
In the risk and safety industry the language of ‘complacency’ is used as a tool for blaming and yet we know that human consciousness is very limited. Indeed, this is why in manufacturing they try to address this by rotations and short length activities under 40 minutes. School teachers also know this and use change and rotation of activities to try and keep students in consciousness on task and learning. You just won’t find any conversation about any of this is the safety industry. And why would you expect an industry dominated by engineering and scientism interested in consciousness?
Just look at how Safety talks about complacency:
Just read this stuff. Complete and utter mythology. Apparently complacency is something one consciously fights! (https://safestart.com/articles/fighting-complacency/ ). Really? All this shows is that Safety hasn’t got a single clue or interest in the mysteries of consciousness. The trouble is that groups sell this stuff as if they have some method or solution for complacency, how fraudulent. But people buy these generalizations and behaviourist spin as if they know something. Of course, nothing changes except you bank balance. Here we go, we ‘combat’ complacency (https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/21947-combating-complacency ) using military metaphor to give off the idea that something is happening. Completely delusional.
Even when discussing complacency safety uses language of ‘mindset’ (https://www.pro-sapien.com/blog/danger-routine-complacency-workplace/ ) and doesn’t define ‘mind’ and assumes that Mind is brain. Again, a behaviourist construct that enables safety mythology. Simplistic fodder for an industry that doesn’t want to think or be professional.
You will see in some of this stuff the delusion that complacency has ‘warning signs’ and is associated with fatigue, motivation (never defined) and ‘tardiness’. All complete and utter nonsense. This is the kind of rubbish an industry trots out because it has an aversion to critical thinking. Look at this one because complacency is ‘the enemy’ (https://www.smartsafetygulfcoast.com/battling-complacency-the-silent-enemy/ ). Just read this goop and ask why complacency is never defined? I know let’s guard the troops, marshal the forces and gather the battalion to fight a shadow.
Sometimes you read some attempt at clarity by a change of language from ‘complacency’ to ‘inattention’. Just more gobbedlygook language that still explains nothing (https://safetyrisk.net/attending-is-not-paying-attention/; https://safetyrisk.net/consciously-safe-unconsciously-unsafe-or-head-in-the-sand-safety/ ; https://safetyrisk.net/pay-attention-and-be-aware-or-safety-will-get-you/ ). These are just labels for outcomes not explanations for a loss of consciousness when conscious. So, even though Safety has no idea what complacency is, we’re going to fight it?!?! Talk about dancing with ghosts and chasing illusions.
How classic that an industry that loves to use the word ‘science’ and the word ‘professional’ shows such little interest in what science knows and doesn’t know about consciousness. Safety has no interest in science but just wants scientism as a brand and mask to cover the fact that it has no interest in the mystery of consciousness. Funny isn’t it that scientists and experts in neuroscience see consciousness as a mystery:
Not so Safety, we know what consciousness and the unconscious is and we fight it!!!
So, what to do?
- The first step in confusion and ignorance about consciousness and complacency is to tackle the research. This requires a Transdisciplinary approach to learning, something in which Safety has no interest. If you hear Safety speaking about complacency you can be sure it’s Nonsense seeking to make money.
- The second step is to move away from the idea that complacency, error, mistakes and inattention are ‘the enemy’. The unconscious is foundational to fallible human personhood and makes us who we are. When Zero is your god, fallible human persons are made the enemy. The unconscious is NOT the enemy to be combatted.
- The third thing is to reject the notion of complacency as a sense of meaningful blame. Indeed, when you hear someone use the word or the word ‘inattention’ ask them for a definition or explanation based on research. Ask them what it means.
- The fourth thing would be to learn about heuristics an intended human attribute like habit that deliberately helps humans process and work unconsciously! And heuristics and habit are not by nature anti-safety.
- The fifth thing is to start reading:
- Chalmers – The Conscious Mind
- Chalmers – The Character of Consciousness
- Claxton – Intelligence in the Flesh
- Damasio – Descartes Error
- Damasio – The Feeling of What Happens
- Durt – Embodiment, Enaction and Culture
- Fuchs – ecology of the brain
- Ginot – The Neuropsychology of the Unconscious
- Noe – Out of our Heads
- Panksepp – Affective Neuroscience
- Raaven – The Self Beyond Itself
- Robinson – Out of Our Mind
- Tversky – Mind in Motion
- Van der Kolk – The Body Keeps the Score
- Varela – The Embodied Mind
Any one of these will help you understand that we know precious little about consciousness and will demonstrate why Safety is so arrogant to suggest that it knows what complacency is and can ‘fight it’!.
Just do a quick search in your organization for the number of times complacency is used as a reason and explanation for an event. Then ask yourself what followed as a result of the investigation and inquiry. This will help you understand how complacency is defined but never articulated. How odd that once complacency is named as a cause that a solution is found in paperwork that mesmerizes people into a state of unconsciousness. No wonder traditional safety is stuck in a cycle of anti-learning.