You can’t see things you have no attraction to. You can’t see things without the motivation to see them. You can’t see things without the expertise to interpret what you see. You can’t see through things without critical envisioning. You can’t envision risk without a mindset that has its primary focus on persons.
In the last book in the series on risk (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/envisioning-risk-seeing-vision-and-meaning-in-risk/ ) I explored the nature of human perception and vision. Why is it that people can’t see things? Well, there are physical, psychological and cultural reasons why you can’t. Human eyesight is so sophisticated but also flawed. Human vision is fallible. It’s why we don’t see things until someone informs us, it’s why I do ‘find the cat’ puzzles in my quarterly newsletter (https://spor.com.au/downloads/newsletter-archive/ ). Human vision is a wicked problem. There is still so much scientists do not know about vision.
Have a look at the following illusion, Figure 1. Cylinder and Squares.
Your eyes tell you that square A and B are light and dark however they are not.
Now, look at the following Figure 2. Cylinder and Squares Two. and you will see that A and B are the same. Our eyes tell our brain they are different but this simply plays on the way the cells work in our eyes. The cones, rods and ganglion cells in our eyes work in mysterious ways and it is relatively easy to convince someone that what they see is true, when it isn’t. This is only one aspect of vison, things get much more complicated with it comes to psychological and cultural perception. Even more complicated and ‘wicked’ when people act on faith in things one cannot see. There are about 6 billion people in the world who claim to ‘know’ something by faith.
Figure 2. Cylinder and Squares Two.
Now look at Figure 3. Three or Four. and you get some idea of the problem. Try having an argument with something someone ‘believes’ in. This is why you will see all plastered over zero propaganda the slogan ‘just believe’. Zero vision is very much a faith-based movement.
Figure 3. Three or Four.
Psychological and cultural perception is complex and ‘wicked’. When perception relies on psychological and cultural knowledge we simply can’t see things without shared experience. Similarly, those who have faith in a mantra wonder why others criticize it. Such is the nature of belief. One would need a pretty hefty study in theology and metaphysics to get an idea of why people believe what they do.
Have a look at Figure 4. Spots. What do you see?
Now look at the following Figure 5. Spotted Dog. Maybe now you will see the spotted dog. Because the image is instructing you to see it. This is how perception works, it’s is a learned experience.
However, one has to know of dogs and dog behavior to see the dog but it also depends on simple physical principles of sight.
In many ways our worldview (philosophy) shapes what we see in safety. If you have been indoctrinated through the WHS curriculum or AIHS BoK, it not likely you will see much more than objects and hazards in a workplace.
One is hardly likely to be able to see persons in safety when all the available information excludes any focus of persons. This is why at present Safety has little chance of envisioning risk beyond the naming of material objects. It’s still all about controls, hazards and behaviours. Heinrich still reigns supreme (https://safetyrisk.net/ration-delusions-and-heinrichs-hoax/ ) in an industry fixated on pyramids, swiss-cheese, coloured boxes, squares, bow-ties and curves.
Perception in safety is formed by constant reference to objects and numerics. Without a semiotic reference point to understand the many models and images in safety semiotically, without some experience in semiotics (https://safetyrisk.net/zero-as-a-semiotic/ ) it is not likely Safety sees any problem with its worldview. This is how engineers end up becoming more religious and spiritual in zero and can’t see it (https://safetyrisk.net/the-spirit-of-zero/ ). This is why Safety will gather in May in Spain and celebrate the mantra of zero in its fifth year as the religious icon for the safety industry. And as Safety gathers about banners of ‘just believe’, ‘safety saves’ and ‘all injuries are preventable’ there will be no discussion of how fallible humans cannot be perfect. Indeed, even as to why human physical vision is flawed. Any optical illusion should smash the silly nonsense that people can be perfect.
This is why the safety industry cannot envision risk, this is why safety has zero vision. Blinded by zero and all it conjures up, all safety can see is a number. And when safety is all about a number it’s a piece of cake to brutalise people. Safety will never get around gendered abuse, sexual abuse and mental health until it walks away from an objects-centric worldview. Indeed, Safety cannot see people in safety because persons form no aspect of the safety worldview. Safety semiotics rarely include persons, it’s always about a number (https://safetyrisk.net/its-always-a-number/ ) even when it claims some sense of new vision. In safety it’s never about what counts, only what can be counted. This is how you end up with nonsense like ‘resilience engineering’ prioritizing systems over persons and making persons a sub-set of systems. This is how we end up with studies about ‘human factors’ that is not about persons but systems.
If Safety ever wants to become professional it will have to step away from this objects-myopic worldview and its many models of objects and embrace a Transdisciplinary worldview that includes knowledge of semiotics, social psychology, linguistics, poetics and a host of new ways of envisioning risk so that persons can be seen in how to tackle risk. This is how envisioning works.