Ravetz in the foreword to Independent Thinking in an Uncertain World, A Mind of One’s Own talks about ‘post-normal science’, ‘box-ticking culture’ and the ‘poverty of normal science’. He sets the scene for a conversation about the limits of the myth of objectivity and tackling some of the worlds most ‘wicked problems’. Of course we now know that all the promises of Enlightenment science have turned in on itself eg. the catastrophe of superbugs and superweeds. It seems that Science cannot tame Nature after all. Indeed, Nature has its own way of ecological thinking.
In the first chapter of the book Brown discusses the problem of the ‘one right answer ‘ approach to problems and how such approaches have historically led to authoritarian regimes. We see this in the ideology of zero. Brown talks about ‘knowledge cultures’ and how each insulates itself in its discipline and protects itself from change. This was explained may years ago by Weber who talked about ‘the institutionalization of the charisma’. Ideologies build fortresses against: change, vision, creativity, imagination and learning. Again we see this in the ideology of zero (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/for-the-love-of-zero-free-download/).
The purpose in mapping schools of thought in safety (https://safetyrisk.net/a-great-comparison-of-risk-and-safety-schools-of-thought/) was to demonstrate that there is no ‘one true way’ in tackling risk. Indeed, the map indicates the terrain in regards to the challenges of transdisciplinarity. Unfortunately, there can be no transdisciplinarity in zero. I often find it comical when people ask me to engage in a conversation about risk, just as long as I don’t challenge the immovable absolute of zero! So strange to be asked to present on risk just as long as I accept the immovability of zero. It seems one can only speak to Safety now by being silent about zero! Why won’t you present or converse with us, it’s only a word, idea and target! And so there is only one expected movement on my behalf because there will never be movement in zero.
Zero is the ideology of stasis and no movement and there is only learning in movement. Brown states:
‘While a wicked problem may not be morally wicked, failure to take account of complexity and its social implications IS morally wicked (p.13).’
This is the case with zero. There can only be one trajectory from an ideology of zero and that is brutalism. Any denial of fallibility (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/fallibility-risk-living-uncertainty/ ), mortality and human vulnerability can only be morally wicked. Any ethic of risk (https://safetyrisk.net/the-ethics-of-safety/) must acknowledge the fallibility of humans. There can be no humanization of the safety space until the rejection of zero.
In some of my presentations I show a comparison between the dynamics of Humanizing and Dehumanizing dynamics as follows:
I also show what an ethic looks like when such dynamics are compared as follows:
|Psychology of goals||Metricizing/Mechanizing|
|Listening, Discovering, Dialogue||Telling|
These kinds of dynamics are put into play through the ideology, discourse and language of zero ably enable by the brutalism of BBS.
How strange that this industry that should be caring and helping in nature is brutal and victimizing in what it does? Hiding behind the myth of objective regulation and legislation how strange that this industry is yet to talk about an ethic of risk? How odd to parade the rhetoric of ‘well being’ whilst brutalizing people through zero!
If Safety is ever to engage in a vision for ‘transcoherence’ (Ashhurst) it will never be able to do so if it continues to hang on to zero.