Some Christmas Reading for Risk and Safety People

Some Christmas Reading for Risk and Safety People

(editors note: Try “Fallibility and Risk” by Dr Rob Long – its free to download here: )

imageChristmas and New Years is often a time to catch up on some reading and relax on the beach or by a river and take in a page or two before nodding off for the afternoon snooze. One of my enjoyments is reading with the cricket on in the background, knowing that they will replay the catch, wicket or event 10 times in overkill (you never really miss anything). Amazing how we can unconsciously recognize the rise in excitement even though the volume is on low.

For someone who flies a lot, I read a couple of books each week (airports are so boring). The list below are a sample of some I found very helpful. Again, if the book has the title ‘safety’ in it, don’t read it. Reading outside of the confines of safety is the only way to mature in a transdisciplinary approach to risk and safety. The books are listed in alphabetical order (favourites with an asterisk).

· *Bargh, J., (2017) Before You Know It, The unconscious reasons we do what we do. Windmill Books, London.

A easy to read look at the human unconscious and why we do what we do.

· Beard, M., (2018) How Do We Look, The Eye of Faith. Profile Books, London.

A marvelous historical study of the Roman Empire and the part played by the Imperial Cult, subversive cults and the rise of Islam.

· ** Claxton, G., (2015) Intelligence in the Flesh, Why your mind needs your body much more than it thinks. Yale University Press, New York.

Claxton is simply the best, buy and read anything by him, especially The Wayward Mind. Such insightful and easy to read understanding of how humans think, learn and make decisions.

· Crawford, J., and Jussim, L., (2018) The Politics of Social Psychology. Routledge, New York.

Not for the feint hearted. A solid critique of the social psychological worldview.

· Forgas, J., Williams, K., and Laham, S., (2005) Social Motivation, Conscious and Unconscious Processes. Cambridge University Press, London.

Survey of most recent research on motivation as a social phenomenon. Complements the wonderful book on motivation by Higgins (Beyond Pleasure and Pain). Smashes the simplistic behaviourist notions of reward and punishment.

· ** Mate, G., (2010) In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. North Atlantic Books, Lyons Colarado.

A must read for anyone who wants to understand mental health and addictions.

· McGarity, T., (2013) Freedom to Harm, The Lasting Legacy of the Laissez Faire Revival. Yale University Press. New York.

Recommended by Bernard Corden and an insightful read into the influence and manipulation of the perception of risk by the interests of capital. Whilst Safety is distracted by petty risk, the real game is much bigger.

· Nichols, T., (2017) The Death of Expertise. Oxford University Press, London.

A discussion of social media and populist mythologies, Google experts and the challenges of discernment in an age of information ‘noise’.

· O’Neil, C., (2016) Weapons of Math Destruction, How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. Penguin, New York.

The seduction of algorithms as ‘intelligence’ and ‘learning’ and the delusions of big data without an ethic.

· *Raaven, H., (2013) The Self Beyond Itself. An Alternative History of Ethics, the New Brain Sciences and the Myth of Free Will. The New Press, New York.

Was on a break in Bateman’s Bay and this caught my eye in the remainders shelf, wow, couldn’t put it down. Challenges many of the reductionist assumptions in ethics and moral agency.

· Susskind, R., and Susskind, D., (2015) The Future of the Professions, How Technology will Transform The Work of Human Experts. Oxford University Press, London.

This one jumped out at me from an airport bookshelf. Demonstrates how traditional notions of professionalization are being dismantled by AI and various technologies.

· Taleb, N., (2018) Skin in The Game, Hidden Asymentries in Daily Life. Alan lane, New York.

More insights from Taleb into the nature of risk.

· Turcke, C., (2013) Philosophy of Dreams. Yale University Press. New York.

A Freudian look at the unconscious and dreams, hallucinations, the wayward mind and decision making. If you want an insight into why we dream, this is a good one.

For those who read theology

· * Erdozain, D., (2016) The Soul of Doubt. The Religious Roots of Unbelief from Luther to Marx. Oxford University Press. London.

A wonderful social history of rebels and subversives who challenged the mythologies of orthodox religious power. A real insight into the politics of salvation.

· Houk, J., (2017) The Illusion of Certainty, How the Flawed Beliefs of Religion Harm Our Culture. Prometheus Books, New York.

Religion as a pathology and the fear of uncertainty. A look at faith-based epistemologies and the problems of positivism.

· Weaver, N., (2013) The Theology of Suffering and Death, An Introduction for Caregivers. Routledge, New York.

A good complement to Becker’s book The Denial of Death. A insightful critique of suffering, pain, harm and soteriology.

· ** Wirzba, N., (2011) Food and Faith, A Theology of Eating. Cambridge University Press, London.

A fascinating history of food, conviviality, fragility, vulnerability and necessity.

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

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

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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.

12 Replies to “Some Christmas Reading for Risk and Safety People”

  1. Rob. How I wish I could sit on river bank or enjoy the cricket. Will need a big coat and woolly hat here in the UK (just)
    Have found Barge an interesting read though by the fire. thanks for sharing your reading list

  2. Andrew, my commiserations. Despite all the Christmas cards that display snow and winter, we usually get a boiler for Christmas 30+. Nothing better than recovering from Christmas with the Boxing Day Test. Where even sea gulls deserve comment. Though, I have had a Helsinki Christmas and know how cold it gets.

    Hot or cold, a good read is the gift of the season for learning.

    1. Thanks Suzanne. I am finding more and more research that shows that the brain does much less than we think but is rather an organ that conducts conversations between other bodily systems. If we think less of the brain as a computer and more pf people as ’embodied’ in decision making as a ‘mind’, then the way we approach people about tackling risk changes. Will watch the videos, I think I was at that confernce???

  3. You may have been there Rob – the links are from a couple different 2017 safety conferences in BC. I started reading the Bargh and the latest Taleb. I agree with you Rob that the brain is not a computer. I can’t stop reading and thinking abut this stuff – I have always thought it was this way but the world keeps telling me otherwise. Thanks so much for the reading list – not a big snow year so I will be reading more than snowmobiling on Christmas break. Take care.

  4. Thanks Suzanne. If Safety was even slightly more holistic in endeavour what a difference that would make. Best wishes for a great Christmas in B.C.

  5. After reading Skin in the Game, I realized the problem with Safety is that there is no Skin in the Game. But on New Year’s Eve I witnessed the perfect example of safety having skin in the game. I attended Bull-a-rama and watched many young brave men ride spinning and bucking bulls. The Bull Riders are surrounded by “safety officers” – those guys whose job it is to protect the Rider from the hazard (by flapping their arms to get the bull’s attention away from the dismounted rider and onto them), and to mitigate the hazard (get the bull through the gate into it’s holding pen). They are one team (rider included) and work together very well. I don’t think I will become one of the bull safety officers, but it is a great example of how safety works in the “real world” of high risk work.

  6. Suzanne, one of the issues of ‘skin in the game’ is that positivism/objectivity seeks distance from the object. The myth of objectivity is one of the central problems of safety (so called) ‘science’. The focus on object means safety ignores subjects and imagines that all its checklists, models and tools are objective. Indeed, all are so subjective to towards the disciplines of engineering and accounting that they make the subjective objective and then spruik the objectivity of it all when all it is is attribution. I bet the safety ‘carers’ at the Bull Riders didn’t need a checklist!

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