Tips for Self-Refection

?u=http3.bp.blogspot.com-CIl2VSm-mmgTZ0wMvH5UGIAAAAAAAAB20QA9_IiyVhYss1600showme_board3.jpg&f=1&nofb=1One of the most helpful tips provided to me in improving my mental health has been to engage in self-reflection.  However, the tip did not come with any other instruction than to engage in self-reflection.  Thus, I provide the following for those who are like me who need a little more than simply being told to “self-reflect more.”  Please note, self-reflection is not complicated, does not require any special tools, and is only contingent upon starting.  The following is a practical guide to helping to spur starting!  It’s that Missouri mindset, I just cannot get away from it!

Self-reflection can be guided and unguided.  For the novice, guided self-reflection is a good place to begin to learn to self-reflect and grow into unguided self-reflection.  Some people will consider self-reflection meditation, and while I fully admit meditation and self-reflection have many similarities, they are different.  Others try to inject religious overtones into self-reflection, and I fully admit self-reflection is used in many religions across the globe to improve worship services; I am not venturing into the religious aspects of religious self-reflection.

If you would like to explore the topics of meditation and religious self-reflection, I know several good resources; don’t hesitate to get in touch with me outside this forum for those resources.

Guided Self-Reflection

Deep PoetryGuided self-reflection is as simple as journaling your thoughts on a specific topic.  Yes, it is that simple.  There is nothing complicated or crazy, no gurus, no chanting (unless you want to), simply writing down your thoughts on a single topic.  The idea is to focus your mind on sticking to a single topic and write.  I find pen and paper the most challenging medium and one that I cannot reliably, methodically, and consistently adhere to, so I use a keyboard and keep a journal in MS Word.

At the beginning of guided self-reflection, C. S. Lewis 365-Journal Topics was a book I picked up, and it helped inspire journal topics to consider.  Thus, the guided aspect of journaling, using the thoughts of others to marshal your thoughts and write them down.  Making your thoughts known is vital to better understanding you.  Please note, the blank page is intimidating; thus, novice self-reflection is enhanced with motivating forces of religious texts, quotes, jokes, memes, political feelings, news stories, etc.  All of which is fodder for getting the thoughts in your head onto paper for later review.

Unguided Self-Reflection

Free-flow writing, I unguided self-reflection and is where no longer is the blank page intimidating.  More to the point, unguided self-reflection occurs where the mind enters a period of peace or tranquility, recognized from journaling and reflects upon recent events surrounding you throughout the day, cataloging these events for later dissemination and discussion in your journal.  The advanced stage of unguided self-reflection occurs at different times and seasons for different people.  Some people go in cycles between guided and unguided self-reflection due to the chaos in their lives.  Other people move rapidly into unguided self-reflection and never return to guided self-reflection.  Some people stay in guided self-reflection; there is no right or wrong to self-reflection!

Tips to Self-Reflection

        1. Start!
        2. Find what works, and stick to it!
        3. Pick a time that works.
        4. Use what you have.
        5. Be you! – A friend keeps buying new technology, new note pads, new books, new etc., and never uses them. New isn’t them.

Be you!  Be real!  If you find yourself journaling on a paper bag with lots of doodles, keep the paper bag, and get more of them.  That is real self-reflection to you!

Some random thoughts on self-reflection.

In defense of writing with pen and paper - The WriterA friend from high school journaled (self-reflected) through their art.  Words could never come, but doodles and pictures were easy.  Each day their art was either beautiful or terrible, but always dramatic and eye-catching.  Most people learned to look at the book for the art before engaging in speech.  At the end of the assignment, the teacher freaked out trying to score the assignments for my friend; the art was expressive to the point that you could relate and feel what was felt that day.  I have never forgotten that art or its impact.

Simon Sinek wrote the book “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” self-reflection helps you to know your “why” to attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, feelings, and so much more.  While I am not here to help Mr. Sinek sell more books, if you want a great resource to begin guided self-reflection, I do recommend this book.  You need to know your why.  Not knowing your why makes life more challenging, and your mind is easier to be manipulated by every wind of modern influence.  Knowing your why doesn’t necessarily make life easier, but it makes life easier to understand.  Understanding breeds compassion, empathy and allows you the freedom to make better choices.

10+ Best Sketch Drawing Ideas | Free & Premium TemplatesGeil Browning, Ph.D., in discussing reflective learning, talks about self-reflection and learning, providing counsel and essential guidance.  “Reflection is a deeper form of learning that allows us to retain every aspect of any experience, be it personal or professional — why something took place, what the impact was, whether it should happen again — as opposed to just remembering that it happened. It’s about tapping into every aspect of the experience, clarifying our thinking, and honing in on what matters to us.”  Practicing self-reflection takes discipline and intentionality. It requires pressing pause on the chaos of life and simply taking the time to think and ponder about life and the events of daily living, which is not easy for many people to do. But it’s a precious practice.

        1. “The journey into self-love and self-acceptance must begin with self-examination… until you take the journey of self-reflection, it is almost impossible to grow or learn in life.” – Iyanla Vanzant
        2. “What we perceive about ourselves is greatly a reflection of how we will end up living our lives.” – Stephen Richards
        3. “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – Carl Jung25 Beautiful Rose Drawings and Paintings for your inspiration
        4. “It is always our self that we find at the end of the journey. The sooner we face that self, the better.” – Ella Maillart
        5. “I visualize where I wanted to be, what kind of player I wanted to become. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, and I focused on getting there.” – Michael Jordan
        6. “The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.” – William Makepeace Thackeray
        7. “Our self-image, strongly held, essentially determines what we become.” —Maxwell Maltz
        8. “One of the greatest tragedies in life is to lose your sense of self and accept the version of you that is expected by everyone else.” —K.L. Toth
        9. “If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.” —Marcus GarveyBeauty will save, Viola, Beauty in everything
        10. “Self-awareness gives you the capacity to learn from your mistakes as well as your successes.” —Lawrence Bossidy
        11. ”The promises of this world are, for the most part, vain phantoms; and to confide in one’s self, and become something of worth and value is the best and safest course.” —Michel Angelo
        12. “You cannot have a meaningful life without having self-reflection.” —Oprah Winfrey
        13. “Honest self-reflection opens your mind to reprogramming, change, success, and freedom.” —Unknown
        14. ”Self-reflection is the school of wisdom.” – Baltasar Gracian
        15. “Doubt, not self-reflection, comes from a destructive energy, and when it rears its head, I talk to it like a lunatic.” —Gwyneth Paltrow
        16. “There is one art of which people should be masters – the art of reflection.” – Samuel Taylor ColeridgeArt journal spread "Who She Had Always Been"
        17. “Friendship with one’s self is all-important because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
        18. “Self-reflection entails asking yourself questions about your values, assessing your strengths and failures, thinking about your perceptions and interactions with others, and imagining where you want to take your life in the future.” – Robert L. Rosen
        19. “Emotions are there to enjoy life, but they are not used in self-reflection because they inhibit a proper reflection. They gunk us up.” – Frederick Lenz
        20. “Difficulty creates the opportunity for self-reflection and compassion.” – Suzan-Lori Parks
        21. “Self-reflection is the gateway to freedom. It also brings greater appreciation and enjoyment. We begin to enjoy spending time with our own minds, and we enjoy reflecting on our experience of the teachings. Like the sun emerging from behind the clouds.” – Dzigar Kongtrul RinpocheDecoArt - Mixed Media Blog - Project - Art Journaling the ...
        22. “It is great to be introspective; self-analysis can be useful, but only if it results in action.” —Joe Sacco (emphasis mine)
        23. “Your self-esteem won’t come from body parts. You need to step away from the mirror every once in a while and look for another reflection, like the one in the eyes of the people who love you and admire you.” – Stacy London
        24. “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” – Confucius
        25. “Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” – Margaret J. Wheatley
        26. “Self-reflection is an important stage to diagnose, develop and strengthen your creativity.” —Pearl Zhu
        27. “The ultimate mystery is one’s own self.” —Sammy Davis
        28. “To realize the Self is to be still.” —Ramana Maharshi
        29. “The self is only that which it is in the process of becoming.” —Kirkegaard
        30. “Like water which can clearly mirror the sky and the trees only so long as its surface is undisturbed; the mind can only reflect the true image of the Self when it is tranquil and wholly relaxed.” —Indra Devi
        31. “Reflection is one of the most underused yet powerful tools for success.” – Richard Carlson
        32. “Reflection can transform something familiar.” – Diane L. DuntonReflections
        33. “We have so committed ourselves in different ways that we have hardly any time for self-reflection, to observe, to study.” —Jiddu Krishnamurti
        34. “Your greatest self has been waiting your whole life; don’t make it wait any longer.” —Dr. Steve Maraboli
        35. “We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” – John Dewey

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

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What is Compassion? – Chapter Three in the Emotional Chronicles

Bobblehead DollI admit October has been a hit-and-miss month, and I apologize.  I am not sure why, but I recommit to doing a better job.  Thank you for your patience, dear reader.  Though I haven’t been sitting on my thumbs, I was invited to speak at a disability event and have been furiously writing for that.  I speak on 27 October 2021 at 0600 EST.  While the event is not open to the public, I plan to post my comments online after the event, suitably altered to hide the event and employer for contractual reasons.

Due mainly to the method of my upbringing, I struggle with conceptualizing terms like love, charity, compassion, feelings, and emotions.  I fully understand anger, hate, and rage, but the rest I am a pure novice at best, and at worst, wholly ignorant.  I read the texts, studied the books, watched films and lectures, been to psychiatrists and psychologists, and much more.  My wife is very patient with me on this topic; my friends tend to tease me gently when they trip across my ignorance on a topic.  My enemies know my shortcomings well but cannot use emotions to thwart me, for emotions just don’t work on me.Angry Grizzly Bear

However, I am not a natural people person.  I see someone crying, and I have no clue what to do if there is no visible injury.  I know problem resolution, crisis management and can act well in all types of situations, but when it comes to soft skills and “playing well with others,” guess what subject I have consistently failed?  Believe me; I have the K-12 report cards to prove my inability, as well as many a note sent home!

What is Compassion?

When the gushy parts in movies come along, I line up for the popcorn and soda machines.  I know I am not alone; sometimes, there must be 20 other people, not just men, standing out there making purchases and visiting the bathrooms.  I know I am a people watcher, so I can deduce there are more people than I who struggle with this concept.  Let’s discuss; maybe we can learn something and not be so uncomfortable.

I find the etymology of a word tends to bring enlightenment; the definition of compassion includes the following gem, deep awareness of other people’s suffering accompanied by a deep desire to relieve that suffering.  “Eyes that see and a heart that feels” is a saying the comes to mind to describe compassion as a noun.  However, as a verb, compassion means to pity, and pity as a verb is to reflect regret, sympathy, or sorrow with another person.  A word of warning, sympathy is very closely related to and often concealed by empathy. Where one is only dangerous to oneself when taken to extremes, the other is dangerous to all whenever practiced.

What is Empathy?

Sympathy v Empathy v ApathyEmpathy is all about acting like you understand another person’s emotions and you have a personal desire to share those emotions.  Empathy is fake; empathy is a choice one exercises in the attempt to control a person or situation through emotion.  Being empathetic is a skill set learned as a manner of defense or, for the more nefarious, to control others.  Empathy is nothing more than faking concern.  By encouraging empathy, a person with authority is looking to steal control over enough people to contain a group through that group’s emotional connections.  By choosing to be empathetic, control over the conscious emotional choices is given to someone else for momentary social gains.  Shift the social environment even slightly, and empathy becomes foolish.  Still, people will continue to look for something to emote about, even after being caught feeling ridiculous about being empathetic for social gain.

What is Sympathy?

Sympathy is a process of coming to a common feeling in a social setting or group.  The emotional pathway is journeyed by people or groups to feel the same emotions for someone else’s emotional state.  Sympathy is a most dangerous emotional tool, not for the one experiencing the sorrow or misfortune, but for those who jump in with the person feeling the sadness or experiencing adversity.  Understand, the sympathetic person attracts other sympathetic people, like moths to a flame or lemmings to a cliff.  I have met people in my travels who were so sympathetic with another person that they thought they had contracted cancer, become pregnant, or had an addiction to dangerous drugs.

Historical Etymology of Compassion

The following is quoted from the Online Etymological Dictionary to satisfy my inner nerd and explore the etymology further, and the link is provided above.  Latin compassio is an ecclesiastical loan-translation of Greek sympatheia.  Sometimes in Middle English, it meant a literal sharing of affliction or suffering with another.  An Old English loan-translation of compassion was efenðrowung.  “Com” word-forming element usually meaning “with, together,” from Latin com, archaic form of classical Latin cum “together, together with, in combination,” from PIE *kom– “besides, near, by, with” (compare Old English ge-, German ge-). The prefix in Latin sometimes was used as an intensive.  “Passion” c. 1200, “the sufferings of Christ on the Cross; the death of Christ,” from Old French passion “Christ’s passion, physical suffering” (10c.), from Late Latin passionem (nominative passio) “suffering, enduring,” from the past-participle stem of Latin pati “to endure, undergo, experience,” a word of uncertain origin. The notion is “that which must be endured.”

Wwwe-Buddhism Com if Your Compassion Does Not Include ...To the atheists, just because Jesus Christ is mentioned does not make something a religious discussion.  I find it interesting that passion, passio, is directly related to enduring and suffering of physical experiences of Jesus Christ.  Does this mean that a compassionate person is reflecting attributes of Jesus Christ?  If so, does this mean mortal beings can acquire godly attributes and still be mortals?  If not, to what should mortals aspire?

Along the vein of etymology, feeding my inner nerd, and discovering insight into compassion, I went looking for actions that reflect compassion, adjectives describing compassion.  The foremost adjective for compassion is compassionate; how very intriguing.  You look for concrete ways to act in a manner of compassion, and you are told to be compassionate; doesn’t this form a logic circle and a paradox?COMPASSION Is My STRENGTH Not a Sign of Weakness Dr Ronnie ...

Remember, a paradox includes two seemingly opposite points, which are opposites on the first reflection but, on further consideration, are more closely related than opposing.  In considering compassion and compassionate, we find the etymology important to understanding the relationship, physical suffering endured and experienced for others, or on another’s behalf.  According to the New Testament and other religious texts, we find this is the recorded mission of Jesus Christ.  IN the definition of compassion, we find mortals can possess a deep awareness of other people’s suffering and choose to have the awareness be accompanied by a deep desire to relieve that suffering.  But, what if the person with the awareness and desire does not have the ability; what do they do?  Are they less compassionate?  Do they somehow become reduced, heartless, uncaring, or judged for not giving when they do not have?

The answers from the different religions are fascinating on this topic, and if you belong to an organized religion, please feel free to discuss this topic with your Rabbi, Minister, Father, Preacher, Bishop, etc., Atheists, feel free to discuss this topic below and with your friends.  Those in less organized and non-standard religions do what I do, the absolute best you can, and leave the rest in the hands of people more capable.

Compassion Article and Quotes - Funny Stuff, Inspirational ...However, we still return to the core root of compassion; what is it?  From this point forward, I am going to express my limited knowledge and informed opinion.  I could be as wrong eating yellow snow in January, but here goes.

Compassion is being cognizant of the people around you.  See someone with their arms full; rush to open a door.  Offer a hand; better still, find a cart and help them fill the cart.  It’s raining, hold an umbrella—Pet a dog.  Sit down beside a stranger and listen.  See a puddle while driving, slow down, and drive throw without splashing the bus stop where someone is waiting for a bus.  See a sign asking for help, give without judgment; does it really matter what they will do with your contribution?  Say please.  Say thank you!  Say you’re welcome.  Manners matter.Compassion is the path... | Favorite movie quotes, Star ...

Modesty in speech, clothing, and behavior matters.  A friend of mine was fond of the following, saying, “Everyone can do something.  Pitch in!”  As a disabled person, I miss being part of that mentality.  I miss being able to “pitch in.”  Society tells me to stay away, we do not need you, “You’re disabled.”  See someone left out; find a way to include them.

If you question why you are doing something, keep doing it until the questions go away.  Never fear a question; fear not acting on something you feel is the right thing to do.  Want to see society change?  Start the change you want to see by exemplifying that change.  I am still not totally sure what compassion is; I know I want to help people.  I know my resources are limited, but my desire is great.  Let’s do something compassionate; if I understand compassion properly, let’s encourage one person today.  Even if that person is just you, be more encouraging to others.  Society needs more encouragement, needs more smiles, needs more humanity.

Father Mulcahy 2By the way, did you catch the news?  A huge cheese factory explosion occurred in France; da Brie is everywhere.  A large multinational response is underway.  The Kaiser is rolling Hamburgers, and the Danes sent fresh pastries.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Compliance Problems and Dead Veterans – More Shameful VA Misconduct Chronicles

Angry Grizzly BearThe Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) is filling my inbox by mid-week again, and the volume never ceases to amaze and mystify.  Over the last 10+ years of reporting on the VA-OIG reports, I have learned that when the volume is exceedingly high by mid-week, there are reports the VA-OIG is hoping to get overlooked in the crush.  Luckily for them, I am here to ensure nothing gets overlooked; you’re welcome!

We begin with more fiscal insanity and the failure to comply with regular auditing and business financial practices that would see a private company’s owners in prison.  Let’s be clear; Congress passed specific legislation to single out government agencies to demand they comply.  One of these unique pieces of legislation is called the Payment Integrity Information Act (PIIA), which audits the VA regularly fails.

Please note, last year, the VA failed two programs on the PIIA; for the fiscal year 2020, the VA failed two of the programs, consistent failure is a leadership problem.  Yet, the VA-OIG claimed the following:

To VA’s credit, it noted a decrease in improper payment estimates two years in a row and a decrease in its improper payment rates for nine programs and activities.”VA 3

Consistent with the previous fiscal year’s PIIA reports, yes; still a leadership problem, yes.  But I am not so generous as the VA-OIG, for I know many a non-profit and for-profit organization that has been fined heavily, bankrupted, and put into conservatorship over the same actions.  Nothing ever happens to the leaders at the VA failing to do their jobs!  12 programs and activities totaling $11.37 Billion, and never are the leaders held accountable for failure; let that sink in for a minute or two.  Read the report, you tell me, should real people be held responsible for failing to follow the law?

Gravy Train 3The VA-OIG conducted a comprehensive healthcare inspection (CHIp) of the Roseburg VAHCS in Oregon; for the regular readers, I bet you can guess what was found.  Yup, the employees feel morally distressed in how they are being pressured to treat the veterans.  Are you surprised; I am not, but there still might be some people, somewhere in America, surprised that the VA abuses the veterans they are honor-bound to serve.  The most tenured leaders have been in place since 2016.  I wonder if the moral distress and the leadership hiring are correlational data points, for I know that from 2012 to 2017, there was a lot of shuffling of VA leaders at the local VAMC/VAHCS level due to dead veterans in Phoenix from death list scandals.

The VA-OIG claimed the following:

The VA-OIG identified concerns with root cause analysis action implementation and outcomes measurement. Leaders were knowledgeable about employee satisfaction and patient experiences. However, they had opportunities to improve their knowledge of VHA data or system-level factors contributing to specific poorly performing Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning measures.”VA 3

Tell me something, how can you have a job for more than four years, be rated as knowledgeable about the measurement analytical methods, but not be knowledgeable about root cause analysis, action implementation, and systems-level factors contributing to poor performance?  To gain your position, you had to grow professionally through the bureaucracy and the various sub-levels of VA leadership to lead a VA Hospital.  Yet, somehow, after all this time and experience, you have inadequate knowledge about the essential functions of your job.  Quoting Colonel Potter here: “HORSE HOCKEY!”  Does this sound remarkably akin to designed incompetence to anyone else?cropped-bird-of-prey.jpg

Meaning, I do not believe your lies!

Traveling to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and the case of Dr. Robert Dale Bernauer Sr. (74), who has pled guilty to workers comp fraud and four other charges of fraud, where the total amount of fraud existed from 2011 to 2017 and more than $1 Million.  Co-Conspirators and the insurance company are not named but should be.  Worse, this scheme involved workman’s compensation insurance for Federal and State employees, Federal agencies, State agencies, and private employers.  While the lawyers and attorneys all crow about catching a doctor who committed fraud, and I am glad he was caught, where are all the state and federal employees who had to know this was going on and did not do their jobs?

Through the insurance company, the doctor was charging 1500-2000% higher for medication marked up. Indeed, this should have raised some eyebrows and questions somewhere in the six years this fraud lasted.  Who is asking why this did not raise red flags at the state and federal levels?VA Seal

Weep America, another veteran, has died by suicide, and the VA is culpable due to bureaucrat inertia and outright failure to follow the guidelines and rules as established.

The VA-OIG found that staff did not adequately evaluate the patient’s condition when reviewing the patient’s high-risk status.  Facility staff did not assign a Mental Health Treatment Coordinator (MHTC) prior to discharge or establish a facility MHTC policy, as required.  The Recovery Engagement and Coordination for Health – Veterans Enhanced Treatment (REACH VET) provider did not outreach the patient as required.  Facility staff did not comply with Veterans Health Administration suicide risk assessment procedures and did not notify facility leaders or suicide prevention staff of the patient’s death by suicide” [emphasis mine].VA 3

Why was the staff allowed to fail so severely here; they were not appropriately trained.  Staff failures and training failures are symptoms of leadership failures, and a veteran is dead!  Which staff has been fired for their failures?  Which leaders have been fired without retirement or potential for rehiring for a deceased veteran as the final act in a chain of events that began with failing to perform their job?  How many times will this story have to repeat before Congress acts to reflect the interest and the responsibility invested in their office by the electorate?  How many times is this story repeating without the benefit of the VA-OIG doing a full-blown investigation?Angry Wet Chicken

Unfortunately, the following report involves the abuse of an intimate partner and bureaucratic inertia.  While the complete record is not revealed (thankfully), what is revealed is detestable to the Nth degree and includes 214 days of spousal abuse, bureaucratic inertia, and mental health failures to protect the spouse and help the veteran, ending with the veteran’s suicide.  The saddest part of this story, it took almost three years for this suicide to be investigated by the VA-OIG (2019).

“The VA-OIG found that despite the patient’s and spouse’s intimate partner violence (IPV) reports, inpatient mental health unit staff did not consult with the IPVAP point of contact or ensure the spouse felt safe with the patient returning home upon discharge. The inpatient psychiatry resident did not timely complete a progress note addendum, which resulted in other clinicians not having access to critical IPV-related information for 34 days. Facility staff failed to consider a consultation with the Office of Chief Counsel, although the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) advises employees to “work with your Office of Chief Counsel” regarding state reporting requirements for victims of IPV. Outpatient mental health staff did not consult with the IPVAP point of contact or document discussion of IPV resources or treatment options, as the OIG would have expected. The Facility Director did not ensure the development of an IPVAP protocol, as required. Although a licensed independent provider was appointed as the IPVAP coordinator, facility staff and leaders did not identify the assigned IPVAP coordinator as a resource at the time of the patient’s care in 2019. The VA-OIG also found that VHA guidance about IPV training responsibilities was unclear.”VA 3

Let’s talk about some realities of mental health.

      • 50% of the patients seeking mental health see no improvement.
      • 10% of the patients seeking mental health support will be injured by the mental health provider.
      • 33% of the mental health patients choosing a pharmacological solution experience harm or no relief.

If you add these numbers up, that’s 93% of the population seeking mental health support not being helped or being harmed by mental health providers.  This does not mean that mental health providers need to give up, but they need to work harder to find solutions and meet their patient’s needs.  It means timely provider notes are mandatory!  It requires providers to have a plethora of options for treatments, obtain patient buy-in, and follow up with the patient.  It involves treatment facilities to write procedures and operating policies that allow for rapport between a patient and a provider that is not disturbed as long as that relationship is healthy and progress occurs.

Knowledge Check!America, it is time, and past time, for the Department of Veterans Affairs to be overhauled from stem to stern.  To be held up to scrutiny, transparent audits and the leaders held accountable and responsible for the failures and abuse of veterans, their spouses, and dependents.  These last two stories, especially, have left me spiritually sick and mentally angry!  There is no excuse for the inertia evidenced, no excuse for the designed incompetence, and no excuse for the abuse to continue!  Where is Congress?  Where is the US President?  Where are the House and Senate speakers (Major and Minor) raising a rhubarb and demanding hearings, opening Department of Justice inquiries into misconduct and malfeasance when these egregious VA-OIG reports are brought before them?  Where is the media in demanding the politicians pay attention?

Satire? Obama ISIS Speech Depresses Nation | Hooper's War - Peter Van BurenWeep America!  Those who have defended you and me are being fed into the machine of bureaucratic inertia and spat out as broken or dead constructs — bereft of hope, lost in red tape, and denied solutions and care.  Pets and farm animals are treated better than veterans, and I cannot help but wonder if this was designed purposefully to satisfy the whims and fancies of the politicians currently in office.  Treat an animal like a veteran is treated, and you will be publicly shamed on national TV faster than a snake can shed its skin.  You will receive more media attention, more lawyers and politicians will hound you, and consequences galore will fall all over you.  Shameful!  Utterly shameful!

References

American Psychological Association. (2012, August). Recognition of psychotherapy effectiveness. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/about/policy/resolution-psychotherapy.aspx

Corbett, L. (2013, December 17). Psychotherapy based on depth psychology is a superior approach [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/e4JQamcq24c

Lilienfeld, S. (2007). Psychological Treatments That Cause Harm. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2(1), 53-70. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40212335

Smith, B. L. (2012). Inappropriate prescribing. Monitor on Psychology, 43(6), 36. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/06/prescribing.aspx

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

When Fiction is Reality – The World Weeps!

Exclamation MarkI find a piece of fiction masquerading as science from today’s email, and I cannot help but ask myself, when did fiction become a reality?  How did Orwell’s 1984 escape the pages and become a reality?  Why did Animal House exit the big screen and become a way of life?  Mark Twain is one of the most often quoted authors, and I particularly like his comments on statistics which is pertinent to today’s discussion on fiction.

“There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Consider something with me; even if you initially disagree, please humor me.  Statistics prove nothing; the best a statistical analysis can ever do is represent a bias towards a specific course of action.  That is it!  Mark Twain’s quote describes the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments. Mark Twain’s point is used to doubt statistics to prove an opponent’s point.  Inherent in every statistical analysis are the researcher’s biases, the desire of the researcher to attempt to verify something via numbers that are generally unable to be proved otherwise.Anton Ego

Except research proves nothing; even peer-reviewed research, the gold standard in research, can only point a person towards a potential solution and encourage a person towards a course of action.  The numbers prove nothing, ever!  Many people have become convinced that statistical data is comparable to “Holy Writ,” which is erroneous and dangerous.  Let me prove it to you, please.

Project Implicit

Project implicit was designed by Harvard University, is hosted on Harvard’s servers, and is all about individual bias.  Implicit bias in statistics is described as bias that occurs automatically and unintentionally, that nevertheless affects judgments, decisions, and behaviors.  Bog-standard bias is considered attitudes, behaviors, and actions that are prejudiced in favor or opposition to a person, group, or thing.  But, here is the clincher, bias is judged by others as a projection of themselves when they encounter other people, places, or things.

Broccoli PNGFor example, President Bush I, did not like broccoli.  A prejudice, possibly from childhood, he does not like this vegetable and handled the situation poorly at a state dinner in Japan.  Not liking broccoli is a bog-standard bias.  Other people, especially those enjoying broccoli, will view this event and shake their heads, possibly even ridiculing the president for his disinterest in broccoli.  Others who agree that broccoli is nasty will not have a problem with the presidential bias against broccoli as they exercise the same intolerance.  Thus, a bias is a behavior, an attitude, and supporting actions against something, someone, or someplace, even if that bias is understood or not.

Implicit bias takes normal bias one step further, according to psychiatrists and psychologists.  The extra step includes the inability to explain why a person does not like broccoli.  If there is no hidden reasoning from childhood, traumatic experiences, or irrational fears, then bog-standard bias is considered implicit bias, as judged by the person observing the behaviors.  Are the differences apparent; the reason I ask this is because of the problem in naming biases, the individual doing the observing and judging.Implicit Bias Test

In a branch of science called “Chaos Theory,” there is a hypothesis “that people affect their environments to their own desires.”  The premise was accidentally discovered when humans observed particles under close study and observed under remote means, and the particles acted differently.  The human influence upon particles was a giant leap forward in science, and nowhere is the power of researchers more fully understood than in human sciences (psychology, psychiatry, etc.).  The human brain is wired to connect socially, which is part of the problem when humans are studied under observation.  The innate desire to connect means that people will choose differently when under direct observation, when under remote observation, and when under no observation.

Hence bias is a judgment of another as witnessed through a lens of another person’s understanding, opinions, biases, and experiences.  Researcher bias is a fact inescapable and remains a topic of discussion in every research paper as a contributing factor to the results.  Why; because the researcher’s influenced the results, influenced the data, and influenced the process to achieve their own desires for an outcome. QED: Thoughts become things.Thoughts Become Things | the quotes

Returning to Project Implicit, ask yourself, why would you allow someone else to judge you?  Do you know them?  Do they know you?  Do you fully appreciate that the other person and yourself will influence the results?

Project implicit claims to measure, using mathematical formula the bias of another person, using time and word lists.  Using this formula (v1-v2=BIAS), Project Implicit proclaims they can help you recognize implicit bias on a range of topics from racism to gender roles and from veggies to pets, all because the mathematics claim they are conducting science.  Except, the implicit association is rigged to produce the desired results, as discussed above; hence, where is the veracity?The problems with implicit bias training | The Spectator | Truth Conquers All

GIGO

Garbage in equals garbage out (GIGO) is an axiom that initially began in computer programming and signified that when you dump a bunch of garbage into a system, the results are garbage.  The same is true for every single human endeavor; when you begin with garbage, the best you get for a result is more garbage.  Returning to implicit associations as an indicator of implicit biases, ask yourself, who selected the terms associated with the topic under study, the researcher or the researchee?

Of course, the researcher selected the terms, chose the topic, and tested how fast you can associate a word with the topic under study.  Then comparing the two results declares you have a bias.  Except, do you have a bias; I do not think so!  But, that’s my bias, for I choose to believe that you know how to choose and act in social environments to your potential and desired outcomes.[الإنحياز الضمني] مكتبات التصنيف الجاهزة في العقل البشري | محمد بن نخيلان الشمري

An Example

I was ordered to take an implicit association test to measure my emotional intelligence in a previous position.  The test used word associations on the topic of gender roles and leadership.  Believe it or not, I failed that association test; I do not place genders into any roles as traditional or limited to one gender or the other.  The best leaders are good followers; leaders are not born, they are made; gender, like race, never plays a role in the leadership potential of the person in charge.  Yet, when I failed the association test, my organization was informed I was obstinate, difficult, and opinionated; not that I deny these accusations, I simply refuse to fit into a pre-determined box.  Plus, I would see more people escape the box that has been built for them to “fit” into!https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8368/8537356422_23bf051215_b.jpg

Later that same week, I snuck into the association exam a second and third time, mainly because the researchers kept sending active links that did not discriminate against logins that had previously taken their test.  Yes, I intentionally poked holes into these researcher’s pet project, and I will explain in a minute why.  On my second attempt, I chose what the results considered a “traditional male” with a bias against women.  In the third attempt, I decided to be a woman with a grudge against men and their traditional roles.  I wanted to show how irrelevant these word association tests are and how the results should never be taken seriously.

My plan backfired; my employer was not happy.  The researchers had to scrap their entire data set and go back to the drawing board to fix the research plan, and then after regaining approval, collect human testing data a second time.  Lots of prestige was lost for my employer.  I did not care then; I care less even now; even though I eventually left that position with people angry with me, I do not regret my actions.  Thankfully, I was not the only person offended by the word associations and the results which “snuck back” to play!Mediocrity Joke

Why is this important?

The answer to why these topics are important is found in the principles outlined:

  1. Statistics prove nothing!
  2. Statistics can only support a course of action!
  3. Research can only support a decision!
  4. Research cannot prove anything!
  5. Faux science abounds, and until researchers and academia acknowledge this problem, it will only grow.
  6. Never believe what you read, see, or hear!
  7. Faux science is being used to classify, separate, denigrate, and deride!
  8. Faux science is the excuse for stealing your liberty, freedoms, and legal rights under the US Constitution!
  9. Faux science crops up in courtrooms which is a cause for bad case law, which develops into detestable legislation!
  10. Faux science looks, sounds, and appears legitimate until you dig deeper. If you do not dig, you will be misled!

Bobblehead DollI cannot stress enough the need for every person to stop accepting the box others claim you must live in to “get along and get ahead.”  You are an individual with inalienable rights, a brilliant mind, and unlimited potential.  You are needed on the front lines of the battlefields of today.  You must play an active role, or you will not be able to leave the American Heritage and this great Republic to your children and community.

But, like the “Reading Rainbow” used to proclaim, “Don’t take my word for it!”  Meaning explore, doubt, ask questions, and keep asking questions until you are satisfied the answers are truthful, without dissemination.  Liars will tell you a thousand truths to get you to believe a single lie.  But, do not take my word for it; prove it to yourself; then teach it to another person so that you can learn more perfectly.Reading Rainbow

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.