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About media framing • (written by Brian Dean)

Archive for the ‘Robert Anton Wilson’ Category

UPDATES – Overweening Generalist, ‘Degrowth’, RAW, ‘ego depletion’

I’ve combined a couple of “Updates” posts into one here (as the menu was getting a bit messy).

April 18, 2016:-

1. A new piece from one of my favourite websites, the Overweening Generalist blog, which comments on (among other things) an article I wrote about Robert Anton Wilson and George Lakoff (the longer version of the piece published at Disinfo.com).

It contains some brilliant observations and comments – give it a read: George Lakoff and Robert Anton Wilson and the Primacy of Metaphors (Overweening Generalist)

2. I’ve just seen a new paper from Ecological Economics journal (April 2016), from Stefan Drews and Miklós Antal, titled Degrowth: A “missile word” that backfires? It discusses the “degrowth” campaign/slogan from the perspective of cognitive framing, and references a piece that I wrote on the subject. Full text (PDF) here.

April 8, 2016:-

1. My Disinfo.com article about Robert Anton Wilson was originally much longer than the one I submitted to Disinfo. I’ve posted the original, longer piece (over 2,000 words) right here, along with a much bigger image.

2. I’ve previously written about “ego depletion”, a seemingly well-supported phenomenon in psychological studies (Daniel Kahnemen cites the work in his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow). But as this fascinating new article claims, “An influential psychological theory, borne out in hundreds of experiments, may have just been debunked”.

Nassim Taleb commented on Twitter, ‘Fortune tellers are about 50% right. With psychology it seems worse. Hypocritical to call this “science”‘. That seems an interesting debate in its own right. Input/feedback welcome, as always…

Rather than leave you hanging on that question of whether psychology should be considered science, I’ll give you a few links with some quality input:

  1. A discussion on BBC Radio 3 between Rupert Read and Keith Laws, which tackles this question. Starts 35 minutes in, and I found it fascinating (the debate continued on Twitter, and Rupert made some interesting comments on that debate here).
  2. Since this debate brings up figures such as Popper and Kuhn, why not invite the whole party, to get an idea of what’s going on – Feyerabend, Lakatos and others are here at this Overweening Generalist piece. (It even includes a reference to Robert Anton Wilson, making it more topical with regard to my other update, above. Not bad, considering.)

Written by NewsFrames

April 18, 2016 at 11:21 am

RAW: new article for Disinfo

22 March 2016 I’ve written an article for disinfo.com about the resurgence of interest in Robert Anton Wilson’s ideas. As well as looking at a couple of new RAW-related books, it continues the theme I’ve already written (briefly) about – on the harmoniousness between RAW’s mutiple-model neurosemantics and Lakoff’s Frame Semantics.

I shortened it from my original 2,000 words to 1,200 (which is Disinfo’s preferred maximum article length), but I’m pleased with the result, and think you’ll enjoy it. (The accompanying photo is of my Robert Anton Wilson “stash”). Here is the article:


UPDATE (Aug 2019): Disinfo.com seems to have closed down, so the above link is now dead. There’s a version of the article here.


Written by NewsFrames

March 22, 2016 at 11:11 am

Robert Anton Wilson & framing – a few notes

robert-anton-wilson-framingWilson was heavily influenced by General Semantics – in particular, Alfred Korzybski’s book: Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics. Several writers who I find important or interesting in various ways (William Burroughs, Neil Postman, Robert A. Heinlein, etc) were influenced by Korzybski, although General Semantics seems to have picked up a reputation as “pseudoscience” in some circles, perhaps partly because of misrepresentations by some of its critics (or the fact that it seemed to have appeal for L. Ron Hubbard).

Most often when Wilson cites Korzybski, he’s making a point about how common prejudices and bigotries arise from – and are perpetuated by – confusions inherent in the structure of everyday language. These confusions of the map (symbolic language) with the territory (“reality”) manifest as over-generalisation, various logical fallacies, etc – but they’re difficult to spot unless you go looking for them. There’s an article here, from ETC: a review of general semantics, which discusses George Lakoff’s work on framing from the perspective of General Semantics.

Another theme that repeatedly comes up in Wilson’s writing is metaphor. For example, in the chapter, Models, Metaphors and Idols, from The New Inquisition, he writes that to want something is, metaphorically, to be empty – “want” and “vacant” coming from the same root – and that talking of desires as “appetites”, etc, expresses the same metaphor. He goes on to write that even the word, “the”, is a metaphor which assumes the world really is divided up according to the categories we assign to it.

This approach to metaphor, not as something peripheral, a mere flourish of language – but as central to thought, a fundamental mechanism of mind, strikes me as similar to that of Lakoff, et al, in the field of cognitive linguistics. In other words, it seems to me that Wilson is talking about conceptual metaphor, although the more precise work in that field is probably too recent to be referenced in Wilson’s books (Wilson had been thinking about Korzybski’s ideas since the 1950s, whereas the earliest work on conceptual metaphor from Lakoff was published in 1980: Metaphors We Live By). Still, there are some references to “framing” in its wider sense scattered throughout Wilson’s work – for example this excerpt from Cosmic Trigger volume 2 (scanned from p236-7 of my copy). [“Huge Berserk Rebel Warthog” is an anagram of George Herbert Walker Bush, aka Bush senior]:


The aspects of Robert Anton Wilson’s writings which he called “guerilla ontology” or “model agnosticism” intersect and dovetail in very interesting ways with the frames-based view of cognition and language, particularly in the area I’ve labelled metaphoric pluralism. This is something I’ll write about in more depth in the future (possibly in book form, with respect to Robert Anton Wilson’s ideas).

“The Western World has been brainwashed by Aristotle for the last 2,500 years. The unconscious, not quite articulate, belief of most Occidentals is that there is one map which adequately represents reality. By sheer good luck, every Occidental thinks he or she has the map that fits. Guerrilla ontology, to me, involves shaking up that certainty. I use what in modern physics is called the “multi-model” approach, which is the idea that there is more than one model to cover a given set of facts. As I’ve said, novel writing involves learning to think like other people. My novels are written so as to force the reader to see things through different reality grids rather than through a single grid. It’s important to abolish the unconscious dogmatism that makes people think their way of looking at reality is the only sane way of viewing the world. My goal is to try to get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone, but agnosticism about everything. If one can only see things according to one’s own belief system, one is destined to become virtually deaf, dumb, and blind. It’s only possible to see people when one is able to see the world as others see it. That’s what guerrilla ontology is — breaking down this one-model view and giving people a multi-model perspective.”Robert Anton Wilson: Searching For Cosmic Intelligence – interview with Jeffrey Elliot (1980)


Written by NewsFrames

January 14, 2016 at 2:00 pm