Continuing our series on Safety Myths – see them all here
Nothing surprises me much more when I get sent wacky stuff concocted by Safety. If ever there was an immature amateurish industry it is this one. It seems a passion for safety makes one qualified and expert in anything. Have a look at this one:
Can you just imagine what a ‘Mental Focus Specialist’ does or would do to people?
Of course, this goop is paraded as neuroscience when it is not. Such is the nature of safety code (https://safetyrisk.net/deciphering-safety-code/) and it is clear that Safety cannot think critically about this. A Critical Discourse Analysis shows that this is just behaviourism branded as neuroscience. I have written about this trend before:
Here’s a typical quote from the website that articulates no expertise or identity to the organisation.
A lack of transparency is an instant give away of unethical practice.
Such stuff should ring alarm bells about fraudulence, all paraded under the banner of ‘professional’ (https://safetyrisk.net/the-safety-professional-myth/ ).
One should be instantly concerned with the use of the metaphor of ‘focus’.
Then this classic:
‘95% of all accidents, incidents, and service quality issues are related to a lack of focus.’
My goodness, here we go again: eyes on the task, human error, complacency myth (https://safetyrisk.net/the-complacency-myth/) and all the same shlock one gets with any BBS marketing (https://safetyrisk.net/spor-and-the-bbs-myth/). None of this is neuroscience.
Let’s look what comes under the heading of learning:
- Brain-centrism is not the focus of neuroscience but rather the body-mind problem and the whole person as Mind.
- ‘Impulse control’, is the stuff of behaviourism just as the idea that one can generate ‘focus’. Just another way of stating that concentration can be controlled.
- Of course, there is no mention of the unconscious, personhood, Socialitie and host of critical elements related to influence and decision making.
- ‘Behaviourism psychology’ is listed under ‘Mental High Performance’. This is behaviourism to the back teeth.
- ‘Safe decision making’ WTF? What would this be? Just more woolly nonsense that demonstrates no expertise in human judgment and decision making. The correlate of course is ‘unsafe decision making’, would that be risk?
- Target Short and long-term goals. Classic behaviourism.
- The use of Mental is never explained. The use of the language of ‘Mind’ and ‘person’ is not used which is common in all literature in neuroscience.
- The site offers no demonstration of expertise or transparency about personnel, qualifications, experience and expertise.
If you are interested in neuroscience then can I suggest starting here:
- Claxton, G., (2015) Intelligence in the Flesh. Yale University Press. New York.
- Colombetti, G., The Feeling Body, Affective Science Meets the Enactive Mind. MIT Press, London.
- Damasio, A., (1994) Descartes’ Error, Emotion, Reason, and The Human Brian. Penguin, New York.
- Damasio, A., (1999) The Feeling of What happens, Body and Emotions in the Making of Consciousness. Harvest Books, New York.
- Durt, C., Fuchs, T., and Tews, C., (eds.) (1997) Embodiment, Enaction, and Culture. MIT Press. London.
- Fuchs, T., (2018) Ecology of the Brain, The Phenomenology and Biology of the Embodied Mind. Oxford University Press. London.
- Ginot, E., (2015) The Neurophsychology of the Unconscious, Integrating Brain and Mind in Psychotherapy. Nortons. New York.
- Noe, A., (2009) Out of Our Heads, Why You Are Not Your Brian and Other Lessons from The Biology of Consciousness. Hill and Wang. New York.
- Panksepp, J., (1998) Affective Neuroscience, The Foundations of Human Animal Emotions. Oxford University Press. London.
- Thompson, E., (2010) Mind in Life, Biology, Phenomenology, and the Science of the Mind. Belknap Press. London.
- Tversky, B., (2019) Mind in Motion, How Action Shapes Thoughts. Basic Books. New York.
- Van Der Kolk, B., (2015) The Body Keeps the Score, Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Penguin, New York.
- Varela, F., Thompson, E ., and Rosch, E., (1993) The Embodied Mind, Cognitve Science and Human Experience. MIT Press, London.
And this is the tip of the iceberg.
And let’s get a few things straight:
- Neuroscience is NOT the study of the brain and the human brain is nothing like a computer.
- Human brains are not ‘programmable’ and any language about such simply demonstrates that the speaker has no expertise in Neuroscience and is a behaviourist.
- As much as Safety would like to turn Neuroscience into behaviourism, such language completely manipulates what the human nervous system is about – a nervous system.
- Neuroscientists most often study the embodied human as a ‘Mind’.
- The nervous system is complemented by the endocrine system and immune systems, all working independently and embodied.
- The brain doesn’t ‘control’ the nervous system, at best it functions as an organ that hosts conversations between these three independent systems.
- Anyone who uses the language of the ‘subconscious’ has no idea of the history, development or knowledge about unconsciousness.
- Human decision making is not ‘made in the brain’, human decision making is embodied and many aspects of automaticity don’t involve the brain.
- The concept of ‘inattention’ is simplistic nonsense for how fallible humans embody the following: cognitive biases, social biases, emotions, feelings, heuristics, habits, intuitions, implicit knowledge and experiential learning.
- Safety might like to turn Neuroscience into some simplistic behaviourist sausage, the human unconscious is a wicked problem.
- Yes, there are reasons why people do what they do, but don’t go seeking answers from Safety.
- Any talk of zero associated with Neuroscience is an indictment of the speaker. No one with any expertise in Neuroscience would entertain for one second that human decision making and zero were compatible.
This neuroscience myth in safety is usually accompanied by semiotics of brains with cogs. Here’s what pops up first in a Google search for ‘neuroscience safety’, see Figure 1. Neuroscience Safety.
Figure 1. Neuroscience Safety.
All this demonstrates is that the presentation knows nothing about neuroscience but is rather using a brand as a smoke screen for behaviourism. The brain is not a machine but simply one organ among many in the body. Such is the safety myth about brain-centrism (https://safetyrisk.net/homeostatic-regulation-and-the-feeling-of-risk/).
What a shame people in safety are unable to discern such things, such is the lack of critical thinking in safety (https://safetyrisk.net/culture-silences-in-safety-critical-thinking/).
What is most alarming about this myth is that none of the organisations pushing this wheelbarrow have any expertise in neuroscience, many lack any skills in research or are qualified in any way to make claims about neuroscience (https://www.habitsafe.com.au/the-book). Similarly, discussion about habits lacks any mention of heuristics or the unconscious. If you ever want to read safety goop just get anything Safety writes about habits.
And hidden in the text and the deception of the brand is BBS, which apparently is always good for other people. Such is the love of Safety for brutalism, bashings and bullying in the name of good. BBS is the love child of Zero.
There are positive alternatives and we offer these in SPoR (https://safetyrisk.net/spor-and-myth/) and it works (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/it-works-a-new-approach-to-risk-and-safety/).