Regular readers will recall that, not so long ago, I talked about untold stories – the stories we don’t tell ourselves, as a population, but which we urgently need to articulate, to avert existential crises. My reasoning was that these untold stories could be the key to a survivable and indeed enhanced future for mankind. Artists, I argued, need to take the lead in telling those stories, in the many rich and resonant ways that artists are superb at storytelling. However, the crux of the change in humanity needed, for these stories to take root and bear fruit, was that each and every one of us would have to address what they think and how they go about the process of thinking, in order to raise the general quality of thought globally. Without that change in mindset, no wider change will be possible.
Leaving the responsibility for upgrading people’s thought processes and systems of belief to each individual alone, bereft of support, is a hopeless prospect. If the burden and onus falls to solitary individuals, then the necessary changes are exceedingly unlikely to occur. It just ain’t gonna happen. This transformation cannot be accomplished by individuals acting alone. It can never be accomplished that way. If that’s our best strategy, we’ll advance no further and hence, will be overtaken by the threats that loom even now.
A systematic approach is the only thing likely to be effective. But how do we create systems conducive to non-violence, flattened hierarchy, self-governance, and upgrades to the quality of thought?
Where we go wrong
One of the default modes of human agency is to make rules and enforce them. This is a closed approach, which relies on the rule maker having sufficient insight, integrity and wisdom to make the right rules and for everybody else to comply willingly, or suffer the consequences for their insubordination. The problem with this approach is that we’re trying to flatten hierarchies and avoid any resort to violence. Using our usual methods of changing hearts and minds simply undermines the ultimate goals, which I assert are necessary pre-conditions for a thriving, living world. It just won’t work.
Self-governance is, I think, the key to an answer, but leaving this to individuals can’t succeed, because people not only don’t know how; they cant even imagine how. To leverage the wisdom of crowds (although there is more to it than this), humanity is going to have to agree on some things, collectively, or we might as well give up, go home and wait for the inevitable extinction apocalypse.
You see it all the time, don’t you? People walk around thinking they’re mostly right about most things. They exude smug self-certainty that they’ve got everything figured out, and posture overtly to signal that they’re wise and wily, yet in truth they’re often arguing from a position of prejudice and woeful ignorance, bordering on sheer stupidity. Most politicians and leaders act this way. They’re bluffing.
That’s not to say they don’t have the odd good idea and moment of lucid insight. It’s just that those few occasionally brilliant ideas don’t immunise anyone from having wrong-headed, bigoted, irrational ideas. These people, though, are always right, ever-rigid and inimical to freedom of thought or action. Thinking this way makes progress impossible.
Unfortunately, we’re all susceptible. These people are us.
Moving outside of what you actually know and opining, as if your narrow expertise is universal, takes you into hazardous terrain. Context is everything. What worked over there doesn’t necessarily work over here. Advice based on best-practice case studies is highly dubious, because the context is ignored. It’s bad science and it doesn’t work.
We mimic the affectations and theatrical gestures of our leaders, whether consciously or not. Those people are our designated role models and our ideas about being a good person are based on the elaborate mythology we create to sanctify those we obey. We write this fictitious, circuitous script ourselves, but it’s reinforced continually by the institutions we also create.
The bizarre reasoning goes that our leader is a good man, who we should emulate, because he’s our leader. He’s our leader, because being the leader makes him into a good man. The office magically transforms the imperfect human. It’s self-referential nonsense. That’s how we get such obviously inept leaders. The stories we tell ourselves, today, are stupid stories, but we won’t hear of jettisoning them, because that would leave a vacuum. The stories we need to put in their place are still untold.
You need to change how you describe, see and talk about your past before you can change your future. You have to change your language and question your assumptions. Until you can tell your history in unromantic terms, stripped of the vacuous self-justifications, rationalisations, myths and outright lies, you’re stuck reliving it. Change requires intense honesty and a willingness to see history as it really is, not as the confection you’ve comfortably believed in. The truth about our collective history is that we’ve been lead to the very precipice of extinction, by self-interested people that failed to recognise what would have been better for our collective interests and that it is in their own best (self-)interest to pay attention to what’s best for everyone.
Techniques for rethinking
A promising approach to effecting change has emerged in a number of business-related fields, simultaneously, it would seem. There are people that have thought hard about the problem of how to allow people to change their minds without being told what to think. The solution lies in something called distributed ethnography, where positive solutions are derived from people’s own examination and assessment of their patterns of thought, collaboratively. Data is collected, but its interpretation is left to those being analysed. They pose their own questions and draw their own inferences from data about themselves. Open ended, rather than bounded questions are posed and the stories given in response are the source material for subsequent cogitation.
Systematically encouraging people to interpret their own stories turns out to be a powerful way to get them to find their own meaning in those stories and hence propose their own solutions at a local level. There are no explicit rules to follow and no sage wisdom that everybody must fall in line behind and support. There is no one right answer. In fact, there may be many right answers, dependent on context. Nobody tells you what you ought to find.
This is pure exploration, by the people for the people. Distributed cognition, where multiple individuals interpret items, creates a very different and interesting result, taking advantage of a range of perspectives and insights. There is no single authority trying to promote their interpretation as the only interpretation, so there is no single point of cognitive failure. This method is a lot more democratic.
People find figuring things out hard, so being challenged on things they think they have already figured out is intensely painful. In the back of your mind, you think, “if this idea wrong, then many other ideas might be wrong and there is still a backlog I know I haven’t figured out yet”. The challenge to a settled notion seems like it invites an intellectual avalanche, with potentially catastrophic consequences, so the idea has to be defended, even at the cost of rationality or denial of the evidence and facts. Having to figure something we think is settled knowledge out, all over again, seems wasteful, even though this piece of knowledge has no special sanctity, just because we thought we were certain about it. We’re often certain about the most spurious of ideas. Being sure has little to do with being right.
Rethinking needs a system that enables and encourages it. People need some clues about how to go about rethinking. There are some useful frameworks that could be applied to the existential problems facing humanity, but they tend to be proprietary and “owned” by consultancies that sell them to ailing corporations. If open-sourced, they would greatly benefit an ailing planet, but that’s for their proprietors to decide. Time might be of the essence, however.
At the risk of annoying the people that profit from these rethinking frameworks, I’ll give a brief overview of how they work and leave it as an exercise for the reader to make the connection between solving pressing business problems and solving the pressing problems facing the living world. The cognitive leap between solving corporate difficulties and solving global existential crises is not difficult, in my view.
It seems to me that saving corporations is futile, if the living world ceases to exist. At present, these frameworks of cognitive understanding are being used to solve the more trivial problems, in the scheme of things. Why? Because it’s profitable to do so. This is a demonstration, if one were needed, of why addressing the distortions imposed on human activity (and thought) by the money system is so crucial. It’s just one of the many problems that need to be solved through rethinking.
Start making sense
Use of sense-making frameworks, as opposed to traditional categorisation, can be a good way to solve problems. The diagram below is pretty self-explanatory, though there is more to the method than what a single diagram can convey. Notice that the process is iterative and adaptive. As you know more, you can do better. It’s a feedback loop, with both the problem understanding and the decisions arising being negotiated.
This approach relies on a community of interest to evaluate information and propose solutions. Instead of a physical workspace, though, we’re considering the living world. That being the case, you probably want to try small, local solutions, at first, rather than taking a big bet with the entire ecosystem. We’ve only got one of those.
This is distributed ethnography and cognition in action. Because the solutions are determined by the community of interest, there is a lot of buy-in and commitment, obviating problems of compliance. The solution isn’t imposed externally and the patterns that underlie the solution are seen and shared by all. It’s an effective form of self-governance, without hierarchy or power asymmetries.
Imagine solving air pollution or climate change this way, or building an economy that operates within the constraints of the capacity of the living world to sustain it, but maximising well-being for all, at the same time.
No all problem environments are the same and this leads to the finding that solving all problems the same way leads to egregious errors. Depending on the problem context, the way you solve it matters crucially. If you apply the wrong type of analysis and response to a problem context for which they are inappropriate, you might not only fail to solve the problem; you might make things very much worse. Our traditional approach, unsurprisingly, is to treat all problems the same, think about them the same way and propose the same sorts of solutions in all contexts. No wonder so many change initiatives fail utterly.
A framework that lets you act appropriately, according to problem context, is the Cynefin framework, for example. To my mind, it has some similarities to the Vanguard method, but we’ll get to that shortly.
According to Wikipedia, “Cynefin is a Welsh word meaning haunt, habitat, acquainted, accustomed, familiar. It carries with it a sense of rootedness—temporal, physical, cultural or spiritual. The word is similar in meaning to Heimat in German and has been compared to the Maori word turangawaewae, a place to stand”. It’s all about knowing where you are, in the problem space, recognising the type of problem context you’re addressing and adopting an effective problem solving style to match. It dovetails with the sense-making framework, in that it gives guidance for the community of interest in understanding the problem and in proposing solutions likely to succeed.
In the Cynefin framework, problems fall into one of five quadrants (sic). Most problems will yield to solution, but differently. These are either simple problems, complicated ones, complex ones or chaotic ones. In each case there is an approach to follow which works best for that kind of problem. Your challenge is to work out which kind of problem you’re dealing with. Problems of global scope that affect the living world in its entirety can fall into any of these quadrants.
Chaotic contexts require experimentation and innovation. What worked before is unlikely to work now. Complicated problem contexts need expertise and yield to best practice case studies. What worked over there will probably work over here. Complex problems are contexts where it is hard to see the wood from the trees. Multiple approaches might be needed, to see what works effectively. Only simple problems yield to processes and rules. We tend to think of all problems as simple, or else we try to shoehorn the chaotic, complex and complicated problems into a simplistic set of procedures. This fails.
The fifth quadrant is the disordered problem space, where it pretty much doesn’t matter what you try, because everything is more or less random. Relationships between cause and effect don’t exist, or haven’t been discovered. Fortunately, these problems are less common than the others. Often, they reflect a technology deficit or deficit in perception and understanding. Check out the diagrams below, which I swiped from the web and used shamelessly, without permission. They’re the work of Dave Snowden (not Dan, as shown in the diagram), but I’d like to think they can be made available outside of a proprietary ownership model. Dave?
Same framework, described differently, with added insights. Note that the Simple quadrant is often called the Obvious quadrant.
Here’s a link to help you explore some more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynefin_framework
As far as I can tell, another good framework of rethinking owes its genesis to the observation that conventional approaches weren’t doing the job. Again, like the Cynefin framework, it’s borrowed from the corporate world, but I think it has some applicability for solving geo-political and cultural problems. The man behind the method is John Seddon. Here is a link about the Vanguard method, but I recommend you follow the references at the bottom of the page to John’s own web site, where there is a plethora of relevant information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Vanguard_Method
Here’s a diagram that compares and contrasts conventional thinking to what is advocated within the Vanguard method:
The diagram has a clear corporate bias, so let’s go through each line item in a geo-enviro-political context.
- Perspective – top-down hierarchies are our default method of organising most things, with a lot of dependence on the wise and just actions of leaders. Looking from the outside in implies a willingness to consider the consequences first and to gather data widely, much like theses-making framework discussed earlier takes input and analyses it from a community of interest. Governance from below, rather than from above. It’s the antidote to hierarchical pathologies, like authoritarians and tyrants, replacing them with populations of decision makers. Of course, the practise of art making helps introduce new and alternative perspectives. As a way of thinking, being an artist has a lot to offer, when it comes to seeing differently.
- Design – expertise only really helps when the problem is complicated. When it’s one of the other types, you need generalists, who focus on the flow of value, not on maintaining their own status and privilege. If you think about the global monetary system for a second, you can see that there are a lot of specialists utterly subverting the flow of value. This is also true of environmental stewardship. In order to maximise the ability of the living world to thrive, we’re probably going to need to consider the problem from beyond the restricted field of view lenses of narrow specialists.
- Decision making – solving the problem is only valid if you work with the problem. Solutions from outside the experience of living with the consequences is precisely why you have a political class presiding over vicious, needless suffering, when administering state welfare to vulnerable people. It’s why house prices can be permitted to ratchet up, beyond affordability, to entire age group cohorts and social classes, within the population. Those making policy decisions are separated from the consequences. They have no hands-on experience of what they’re presiding over so presumptuously. This is also why politicians shouldn’t be called upon to adjudicate policy on data encryption, or climate change. They simply have no understanding of the matter whatsoever.
- Measures – we always measure tactical capability (the extent to which we comply with repeatable, standard processes) instead of adaptive capability (the extent to which we achieve the purpose and deal with variability, or novel circumstances). This is why we unleash seemingly out-of-control doomsday machines, like facebook, which happily use their algorithms to subvert election results and propagate corporate agendas. In trying to reduce everything to programmatic procedures, we take away the power to improvise rationally, when confronted with the unexpected. This is also why machine learning and artificial intelligence are likely to be sadly deficient. They can’t cope with novelty and respond inventively. Everything has to be predicted and considered in the code, at creation time. When it comes to measuring how we’re doing with respect to thriving, metrics like GDP are almost completely worthless, as they measure everything except that which makes life worth living.
- Motivation – carrots and sticks are extrinsic motivators. Intrinsic motivators are things like pride in a job well done, doing it because it’s the right thing to do or getting some satisfaction from giving through acts of selfless generosity. If we’re going to address the severe and urgent existential threats facing us all effectively, then waiting for rewards or incentives won’t work. We aren’t going to be paid to do the right thing. These are questions we’ll have to address and solve in order to thrive; not just ourselves, but everybody. Personal exceptionalism, where you don’t life a finger to help anybody else, because you’re all right, Jack, is not a viable posture.
- Management ethic – there has been a belief, for well over a century, that if people are failing, then you must manage the person, measure their failings with hard metrics and apply (considerable) pressure to correct their shortcomings directly. Humanity, at this point in time, is undoubtedly failing to run an economy and steward an ecosystem to maximise well-being for all. We’re collectively failing at it. However, the correction lies not in personal blame and punishments, or fines and other individual penalties. The more enlightened management consultants have always recognised that when people are failing, it’s usually because the system they’re participating in is designed poorly. Change the system and you reverse the failures. How you change the system can’t be a top down edict, from wise elders that aren’t involved in actually using the system. It comes from the people within the system that is failing them. Only they can fix it effectively. They’re the only ones close enough to the shortcomings to see their root causes.
- Attitude to customers – in the geo-political context, this really means attitude to all living things. Today, the fixation is on what is legal, required by regulation or that can be gotten away with. This is the wrong approach. Our attitude to the living world needs to be from the perspective of what matters to preserve and enhance it, not on how much you can steal from it. The age of taking for yourself, greedily, while snidely mocking the losers, is over. It’s like the person that pees in a swimming pool, thinking they’ve gotten away with it. They’re swimming in their own dilute pee, like everybody else. If everybody pees, thinking the same thoughts of having gotten away with it, the pool rapidly concentrates with pee. The very same logic applies to the living world. Bomb another nation with nuclear weapons and you’re swimming in your own nuclear fallout in perpetuity. Fish the oceans bare and we all have no fish to eat. Burn coal to make electricity, releasing tons of mercury into our water tables every year and we all drink neurotoxic, mutagenic water. There is no escape from the consequences of our own actions. What matters is that the living world thrives. Every other scam, to get richer, avoid tax, rape the environment, or dispose of your waste hoping nobody notices, is doing everything other than that which truly matters. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Another feature of the Vanguard method is that it identifies a thing called “failure demand”. Failure demand is the work we generate through not solving the problem properly, the first time. It’s the consequential work arising from not dealing with the problem the right way, or not doing the work correctly in the first instance. In environmental terms, its the value destroyed because we allowed the value extracted to be done wastefully or destructively, counting the costs as an externality. It represents a tremendous loss of human potential, as work is done to clear up messes. In terms of non-renewable resources, it represents an irreplaceable loss. Value demand increases our well-being and potential to thrive, whereas failure demand does the very opposite.
Failure demand, perversely, counts toward GDP, even though it shouldn’t exist, because we did the right thing, the right way. So, because our current systems are so faulty that they count increasing failure demand as growth, there is no corrective pressure to drive it out. In fact, failure demand, as wasteful as it is, is positively encouraged by Capitalism.
Transparency and trust
A lot that is wrong in the world is done because the perpetrators know they will never be found out. They maintain an outwardly trustworthy appearance, but the truth is that they act in covert, untrustworthy ways. They just rarely get caught doing it. Blockchain is a promising technology for ensuring that human transactions are characterised by trust you can believe in and full transparency, by design. Triple entry bookkeeping, which is what blockchain is, may play a crucial role in driving out crooked transactions, shady operators and unfair contracts. You’ll have to stand behind, rather than hide behind, your actions. There’s lots of material available on-line about blockchain and people should be encouraged to understand it, because as a system changing component, which could aid in rethinking our thoroughly broken status quo, it has great potency.
How do we create value in a world filled with, as the U.S. military says, volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA), where technology and strategy changes rapidly? It’s interesting that an organisation usually associated with destroying value is asking about creating it. Also interesting is their recognition of the problem landscape as being highly dynamic and not completely knowable. Those are the sorts of problems we face, as a species. Things change a lot, we not sure how, in complex ways that are difficult to understand and where the “right” response could be ambiguous.
The answer, of course, is adaptive performance. Adapting to changing conditions and being open to changing your mind (and policies), as you learn more, is the only rational response. Think how often political parties stick to their party line, even as it becomes self-evident that it’s leading to disaster. U-turns are thought to be a sign of weakness, not of learning. The First World War was fought on the basis of what worked in cavalry battles, before warfare was mechanised and industrialised. All of these things represent a failure to respond dynamically, to changing circumstances, in an adaptive way.
The diagram below shows some responses to VUCA. The perceptive among you will see parallels to the Cynefin framework in places.
Your answer’s no good unless there’s a way to prove your own ideas wrong
The philosopher, Karl Popper, was well aware of the dangers of confirmation bias, where you assiduously collect evidence that agrees with your point of view, ignoring that which challenges it. Most belief systems are subject to rampant confirmation bias. If you believe in Voldemort, then every bad thing you encounter is evidence of the existence of Voldemort. Evidence that casts doubt on the existence of Voldemort is simply discredited or discarded. It’s explained away, often by reference to Voldemort providing that evidence just to mess with you.
As a way to cure the ill of self-confirming theories and belief systems, Popper proposed the use of a falsification mindset. Using this rethinking technique, you lay out clearly, ahead of time, what specific evidence would prove your idea wrong. For any belief, ask what it would take to change your mind. Be specific about the hard evidence that would make you change your views. Then, look for that evidence. Change your mind, if you find it. If there genuinely is no way to prove or disprove your belief, then you’re into the land of pure conjecture, not knowledge or information. There are some questions that nobody currently really knows the answer to.
When I hear climate change deniers and climate catastrophe zealots, or pro and anti vaxxers, I want to ask each one of them what hard evidence, if presented, would change their point of view. I also want to ask them how hard they’re looking for that contrary evidence. In every case that I’ve encountered so far, they’re not able to say what would change their minds and they’re certainly not looking for that evidence. Rather, they’re taking somebody’s word for it. The truth of the matter is that unless you have good, solid supporting evidence and you’ve exhaustively searched for disproving counter evidence, your belief is mere opinion – something you reckon, but with no basis in fact. Nobody should take your outbursts seriously. Conjectures are products of the imagination.
Sadly, this, too, seems to be the default way of thinking, at present. People adhere to what they think, in the absence of any repeatable, objective evidence whatsoever. They don’t admit they don’t know and certainly can’t identify the evidence that would change their mind, or show how they have searched for it.
Here’s a link to read more about developing a falsification mindset: https://betterhumans.coach.me/the-falsification-mindset-how-to-change-your-own-mind-db4a0a9ae7f2?source=linkShare-fd48b17c3b72-1508706677
What’s the rush?
In this article, I have made the case for rethinking much of what we hold to be our traditional systems. Our systems of governance, money, corporate behaviour, environmental stewardship, justice and education are all in need of a serious rethink, I contend. I’ve tried to present some approaches to how that might be accomplished, which avoid placing the onus on each individual, in isolation. System changes are more effective at causing behavioural changes than individual introspection can ever be.
There are systems of self-determination and free self-governance that are workable, not chaotic and lawless and which lead to superior outcomes to the current situation. You may agree with all of that, but insist there is no urgency. You may hold that we have the luxury of time to get our collective act together and address some of the issues I have asserted are more pressing than that. What’s the rush?
My contention is that the technology of manipulation has never been quite so effective as it is today. The consequences of that manipulation technology, applied for profit, or posturing, or to have the biggest swinging dick on the block, is that we can be easily stampeded into supporting our own annihilation. We can be marched off to catastrophic nuclear war, thinking it’s our free choice, when in fact we’ve been manipulated into it, but were unaware of it.
Take a look at the blatant warmongering evident in this analysis of current media behaviour and the US military’s ongoing preparations for nuclear war: https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/revolution-is-racist-populism-is-sexist-economic-justice-is-homophobic-e0ad351e0ffa?source=linkShare-fd48b17c3b72-1508573770
Still think we have time to address this problem slowly?
The reason you’re manipulated is that you’re manipulable. In order to develop cognitive self-defences, you’ll have to change your entire relationship with thought itself. That’s going to need a framework where you can systematically address that challenge. This is why I have written this article. It is my small contribution to shining a light on a possible way forward, before it’s too late. Rethinking everything is long past overdue.
The book “Democracy for Realists” paints a bleak picture of individual’s inability to effectively drive democracy. In their analysis, the authors find that people vote for the group they most identify with and use political knowledge to rationalise their prejudices. They want to be “one of us”, in the sinister yet incisive words of the late Margaret Thatcher. The authors state that people are incapable of the thought processes required to grapple with the issues under debate in an informed way. Democracy is wholly undermined by the low general quality of thought in the electorate. Yet, democracy must be made to work. Do we need new identity groups? A sense of identity divorced from traditional political parties, or work identities is what I think is needed. If you want to be one of us, then us has to represent better, more informed ideals and ethics than are currently on offer through vocational or political inclusion. Enfranchisement, through belonging to new groupings, is the answer. Telling the stories of how these new groupings think, what they represent, and what a typical group member is like, is the work still left to be done. These are the very untold stories I was referring to.
This kind of closed-minded thinking happens in groupings other than political parties. Even so called rational groupings, such as scientists and medical practitioners, are susceptible to groupthink in the worst sense. All group thinking needs a rethink about how the group thinks. What people believe is actually cultural, not evidential. It is based on their concept of what kind of people they want to identify with. That’s why doctors and scientists think like each other – not to find the evidence and counter evidence that would change their minds, with integrity and purity, but to reinforce group cultural norms. When a member of the group challenges the orthodoxy, they are routinely turned upon by the remaining members of the group, to preserve the group culture. Whether or not the dissenter is right or not doesn’t seem to be a consideration. We’ve got to cut that shit out. If the most rational groups can’t handle evidence that would change their minds, what hope have other groups got? Time to change our systems of rethinking. Now.
We can, I think, all agree that economic policy has a lot of influence on all our lives. Our outcomes, whether we thrive or perish and whether our well-being is enhanced or diminished, hinges on economic policy decisions. You would expect that the Institute of New Economic Thinking (INET) might have a handle on what’s wrong with economics, why current economic policies are failing and be able to suggest some alternatives to the orthodox theories of old, wouldn’t you? Not so. Read this dismal first hand eyewitness account of a recent conference held by INET: http://www.coppolacomment.com/2017/10/beyond-disappointment.html
This in-group is so closed, that they don’t even recognise the existential threats facing us all, let alone have a cohesive response to it. In their world, business as usual is the right course to steer. Meanwhile, economic policies push millions into abject misery and rebellion. They elect unstable, dogmatic leaders, who are cavalier with their threats and menaces. The economists, however, see no looming danger. It’s more important to them to maintain the fiction that they’ve been right all along, than it is to be effective.
Anomie is the lack of usual social or ethical standards in an individual or group. Capitalism could be said to be characterised by widespread anomie. The opposite of anomie will require systems designed to enhance ethical guidance and social standards of behaviour. We don’t have plenty of time to accomplish this. Every day takes us one step closer to oblivion.
Putting it all together
This post has outlined some potential ways to begin changing our minds – a precursor to telling the untold stories we need to tell each other, in order to effect meaningful change. I’ve approached the problem from the point of view of changing our systems of thought first, thereby changing our relationship with our own beliefs, propaganda, the media, our leaders and what we think we know. If we adopt better systems of thinking, we’ll be less manipulable, more free and able to navigate chaotic, complex and complicated problems, without resort to simplistic rules and hierarchies of violent enforcement. It’s our last, best hope of having a meaningful say in the fate of the living world.
To the usual practices of art, I would add that thinking is an art, worthy of development through practice and with its own aesthetic criteria. Thinking beautifully is an attainable goal. Improving the quality of thought everywhere has very few downsides to speak of. Adopting frameworks of understanding that support collaborative thought improvement is a necessary first step to devising the as yet untold stories needed, to counter the prevailing and discredited neoliberal and socialist stories which are currently imperilling us all.