Safety seems to avoid the most important things when thinking about tackling risk. There seems to be no interest in safety in the nature of the human unconscious nor any interest in anything outside of a narrow worldview that constructs humans-as-brains-on-bodies and cognition as brain-work. The assumptions of materialist behaviourism are accepted without question in safety as is evidenced by the OHS curriculum and AIHS BoK.
The idea that the body has no intelligence and doesn’t make decisions independent of the brain is simply smashed by all the evidence. How bizarre to think that the body plays no role in decision-making. The opposite is the case.
Ariely’s book ‘Predictably Irrational, the hidden forces that shape decisions’ confirms yet again that decision-making as rational brain-work is simply a construct of orthodoxy. How strange that we ignore all the evidence that tells us that our bodies have intelligence and ‘think’ independently from the brain (Claxton, Intelligence in the Flesh). As Claxton states ‘the brain doesn’t make decisions it hosts conversations’.
It was Plato in Timaeus that stated ‘the head, the divinest part of which controls all the rest’ and the ‘body as a convenient vehicle’.
It is because of this view that many interpret decision-making as a rational or irrational process. Nothing could be further from reality but hey, let’s not let reality get in the way of a neat and tidy binary construct.
In all decision-making there is a missing third, 95% of all decision making is neither rational (sensible) nor irrational (non-sensible) but rather aRational. The aRational third steps beyond the idea that rationalism guides the interpretation of human action.
The binary rational construct posits that most of our decision-making is centred in the brain. The rational/irrational divide simple constructs decision-making as a binary brain process of sifting, sorting and directing. If a decision doesn’t make sense then it is deemed non-sensible (irrational), nothing could be further from reality.
We have constructed this rational/irrational framework and endorsed it in western culture as valid, enabling simplistic judgment and neat boundaries for controlling risk.
We have segregated the intelligence of the head and privileged its activity and have deemed the body unintelligent, a carrier for the brain-as-computer. In this way we find all sources of problems in tackling risk as brain problems and rational problems and so seek solutions in reprogramming metaphors and training activity. In safety we see what we want to see (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/envisioning-risk-seeing-vision-and-meaning-in-risk/) but such a construct makes us blind to the 95%.
So, here we are again in safety lumbered with the legacy of the science-engineering construct in decision-making. The STEM-only worldview helps Safety devote 100% of its energy to 5% in decision-making and pays no attention to the 95%, the elephant in the room. Such is the way we construct cultural knowledge and make it truth.
In safety the head supervises the body in a top-down relationship that means nothing done in safety is holistic. Safety is deaf to the intelligence of the body and all we know about muscle memory, body memory, heuristics, automaticity and social memory. The construct of tackling risk as a rational process is no different from the construct of a religious world as a moral process. Both are convenient, tidy and controllable but not real.
There is no evidence anywhere that a human can be independent of others or the world. The very concept of human independence is fantasy, we can’t live without the air we breathe and all that supports it. Everything we do is affected by the world we live in and what other bodies do. Similarly, there is no privileging of rational activity over art, poetry, dance, intuition, religion, music or myth. All Poetic activities in life are not judged by some rational/irrational divide. It’s only the 5% that is rational, measurable and controllable.
All of living is an integrated whole and it is in Poetic spaces that we see aRational decision-making most exemplified. There is no judgment to be made in subjective experience; there is no rational/irrationality in music. Such a construct is nonsense. In the musicality of heuristic decision-making (paralinguistics) there is no right or wrong, it is aRational. In all our para-linguistic and linguistic activity all is aRational.
Unless safety can go beyond the science-engineering construct of the rational, it is unlikely it will re-envision risk as an aRational activity. In this rational construct paperwork is made the beginning and end in tackling risk and yet only amounts to 5% of human decision-making. 95% of what is currently considered sacred to safety could be jettisoned. It’s attributed and mythological, it is not how people make decisions. In SPoR we focus on the 95% and practical ways to understand and tackle the aRational nature of decision-making (https://cllr.com.au/register-to-study/ ).