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Sender: Michael Briand
Subject: Re: Is Ours a Culture of Hasty Findings? Can Transpartisans Do Better?
Date: Mon, Jun 2, 2014
Msg: 101044

A propos my previous post, I do not think lack of completeness or complete certainty is "relativist." I'm nearing the end of the first draft of a book in which I argue that value in fact is objective. It shows just how deep the divisions between people at different ends of the political spectrum run, if we must debate whether Truth exists and reach a conclusion that satisfies folks at both poles. "Completeness" to my mind is the best way to allow for the (relatively more or relatively less) "truth" of multiple perspectives while allowing that none is complete in itself. A single perspective may be better--even much better--than some other perspective. But it is almost certainly incomplete. No theory--i.e., no shorthand description of the actual world--can possibly include all the information that reality itself does. Something has to be left out, or we would remain mute in the face of universal complexity. In order to think and speak, even in order to perceive, we must leave things out. It follows that better judgments and decisions will leave less out of their descriptive propositions than those that leave out more.

Note that I do not deny that "Truth" exists (whatever "truth" is). I only deny that anyone can know it. Even our species as a whole cannot know it, as witness our historical record of false theories and facts, which we jettison in order to adopt more-complete explanations.

Michael Briand Chico, CA

From: Sandy Heierbacher Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 8:15 PM To: TRANSPARTISAN@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG Subject: Re: [TRANSPARTISAN] Is Ours a Culture of Hasty Findings? Can Transpartisans Do Better?

This reminds me of something we talked about at the 2008 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation. Some of you may not know that one of the 5 areas we focused on at that conference (in Austin) was what we called "The Framing Challenge." The framing challenge was focused on the question "How can we talk about this work (dialogue and deliberation) in a way that's accessible to a broader audience," and we looked particularly at conservatives.

Here's a segment from an article I wrote on the framing challenge and another focus area we called the systems challenge:

In their workshop, Attracting Conservative Citizens to Dialogue Events: Liberal-Conservative Campus Dialogue & Mormon-Evangelical Interfaith Initiatives, Jacob Hess and Reverend Greg Johnson explained some of the sources of wariness of dialogue on the part of many social conservatives. One is the fear of being asked to give up truth or absolutes, as dialogue can seem to assume that all truth is relative.

One participant wrote this reflection about Hess and Johnson's powerful session:

"I had a big, big revelation [during your session]. At 64, I have thought my whole life that to be open-minded, all accepting, non-judgmental toward different people, beliefs, and values was an absolute good thing. How could it be bad to be tolerant, embracing, accepting all beliefs as valid? Wouldn't everyone appreciate that attitude, since it includes everyone? What I heard from you is that having an absolute truth is fundamentally, critically important to you. It is the most important thing. It may be easier for you to deal with each other, or with others who have conflicting versions of the truth, than to do deal with someone like me who doesn't seem to advocate any particular truth, but sees it all as relative."

I attended this workshop myself, and heard others share similar realizations. Often, dialogue is said to bring people together whose viewpoints and experiences contribute important "pieces of the puzzle" for making progress on issues like racial inequity, education reform, and youth violence. But framing dialogue in relativist terms may backfire for some audiences. According to Hess and Johnson, it may be important to reassure conservatives that "truth Capital T is still welcome" -- as long as they also agree to be open to learning more.

My full article can be downloaded at if anyone is interested. If you want to dig even further into this, I highly recommend reading Jacob Hess' report on the framing challenge, which you can download at

Sandy Heierbacher Director, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation
* @ncdd & @heierbacher

Join us at the next National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation this October 17-19 in the DC metro area! Learn more at -- and follow the event on Facebook at

On May 28, 2014, at 10:29 PM, Michael Briand wrote:

Sorry, Rick, I don't mean to be pedantic about this (he says as he replies pedantically...), but John is right about uncertainty (see Godel on unproved assumptions in any system and Hume on inductive reasoning). Doesn't matter if every crow ever seen is black--the next one could be white. Doesn't matter whether everyone who's ever died stays that way--the next person might not. Even mathematics and logic don't produce certainty. Except at the theoretical extremes of continua, nothing is ever true or false, white or black, good or bad, right or wrong. There are no absolutes. That said, there are many deductive and deductive propositions that have such a high probability of being true that for most purposes we can treat them as if they always are true.

Does this matter? It does, because if we allow that some things are beyond doubt, anyone who claims to know for certain that something is true (or false) can believe that, in this respect, at least, he or she is infallible. Like certainty, infallibility just isn't a characteristic of the universe we inhabit. Not a scientist alive will say otherwise--though I can't be absolutely certain about that...

Supreme lack of doubt is the enemy of open-mindedness and healthy skepticism. Again, we can often act as if something is true or false beyond any doubt, but we have to allow for the possibility, however, small, that we're mistaken.

Michael Briand Chico, CA

From: Rick Raddatz Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 4:42 PM To: TRANSPARTISAN@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG Subject: Re: [TRANSPARTISAN] Is Ours a Culture of Hasty Findings? Can Transpartisans Do Better?

So John Miller says "uncertainty is a given."

With respect, I would like to disagree.

I believe there are a few foundational things -- useful things -- that we can be *absolutely* certain about:

0) if no life exists, no ambition, resources or conflict exist. 1) if 1 person exists, individual ambition, resources and conflict (conflict inside the individual's head) exist 2) if 2 people exist, working together, collective ambition, resources and conflict exist (e.g. "What should WE do with OUR resources?) 3) if 3 people exist, working together, 2 can out vote 1, creating enduring positions of political power, so political ambition, resources and conflict can now exist. 4) if a 4th person outside this new society exists, it's the birth of foreign ambition, resources, and conflict. 5) if we imagine a 5th person in the future (a lot of politics is about what we leave for / steal from the future) then future resources, ambition and conflict exist, at least as far as politics is concerned.

Furthermore, we can also be certain that in larger societies, if these five ambition/resource conflicts are left unstructured (e.g. If limits are not set on the ambitious) then it is likely that the most greedy (most ambitious) will "win" the resource conflicts and everyone else will lose.

But, as we see with capitalism (the economizing of individual resources), democracy (the economizing of political resources) and diplomacy/defense (the economizing of foreign resources), if we structure the competition properly (limits+transparency) then the interests of the ambitious can be aligned with the interests if society.

It is reasonable to believe, therefore, (though admittedly less than certain since ) that limits and transparency properly applied to the battle for collective resources (cap-and-prioritize) and to the battle for future resources (cap-and-trade) souls produce similarly good results.

In conclusion, I believe we transpartisans commit to the idea that nothing is certain because that commitment fosters dialog and deliberation. And that is absolutely a good thing. But let's not over-commit. Some things (the several items above) ARE certain and they offer us a chance to constrain (focus) the dialog in a rather healthy way.

- Rick Raddatz,

On May 28, 2014, at 4:38 PM, millershed@EARTHLINK.NET wrote:

Hi all!

I would just add that we like nice, neat (linear) answers and we're uncomfortable with uncertainty. That's one of the reasons I find a complex systems view helpful. Uncertainty is a given and answers are always tentative and multi-factorial. Knowing everything about ANY complex system is theoretically (not just practically) impossible--so it's impossible to have all the answers or to know you're right).

This also relates to our various allegiances, e.g. to democracy or the free market. I believe Michael Strong was pointing out the difference between how a system is supposed to work in theory (from a given perspective) and what the actual realities are. Allegiances to theory allow us to explain away evidence to the contrary. Arthur Koestler recounts how, as a member of the communist party, he took a trip through Stalin's USSR at the height of the famine. Despite continually seeing starving peasants out the train window, he held firm to his view that the communist system was the most productive on earth.

So yes, I think exploring how we come to our opinions and evolve in our views is productive. I'm also still interested in possible transpartisan breakthrough issues and possible collaborations. With that in mind, I'm copying below an email to Lawry, et al. that I tried sending twice but didn't get through (with Lawry's previous email below that). I'd be interested in whether anyone finds the benefit corporation thing interesting. All the best!

John Miller (952) 797-2302 Green Tea Party Movement

Hello Lawry,

I hear what you are saying. Perhaps it is not markets themselves that produce negative outputs so much as the way we approach them--again, our attitudes, what we bring to transacations (which can be more or less conscious of the "value" of what we are getting, in terms of the contributions of many people to its production, distribution, etc., as well as the impact that these processes have made socially and environmentally).

So I think we are basically in agreement that the market can play a hugely beneficial role. I would offer to Rick that it might be interesting to rethink cap and prioritize as a function of the economic rather than the political sphere. Steiner expected the economic sphere (business) to pay for the cultural sphere, and he modeled this in the first Waldorf school. Being a school, it was part of the cultural sphere, but it was paid for by the owner of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette company (largely as a service to employees). Since then, I don't know of any Waldorf schools that have been funded in this way. In Europe, they are largely supported by the state; in the US they are largely tuition-based.

I think government steps in when the economic sphere does not fulfill its role of seeing that needs are met (for all, not some). I would say that the liberal paradigm is that this is a good thing, but this was not Steiner's view (e.g., in his belief that education should be provided by the business sector rather than the political sector--which is driven by the value of equality (we are equal in our rights) rather than fraternity (we try to meet one another's needs, but our needs are hardly equal, nor are we equal in our cultural predilections, which are driven by the value of liberty). To clarify, it is my impression that cap and prioritize leaves intact the liberal paradigm that government should tax and redistribute to meet economic and cultural needs, which are not really its functions.

Here I think the conservative stance has great merit, but in fact--despite many charitable efforts--some of them stunning, such as the Gates Foundation--we do not see churches or non-profits meeting the needs of all. So government naturally steps in. But what if business DID meet the needs of all? So far as I know, Steiner never figured this one out (or Waldorf schools would be differently funded!). But I think a new innovation has great promise to do what he intended.

Minnesota just passed into law--after five years, and now only possible with a democratic house, senate, and governor--benefit corporations. (A number of other states have passed this, beginning in 2010.) That's a little strange, as these are very much in line with conservative ideals. That is, they take responsibility for the common good rather than relying on massive, top-down, government redistribution programs. They are for-profit, but they also have broader goals for benefits to their workers, society, and/or the environment (spelled out in their founding documents).

Can one imagine a day when benefit corporations are the rule rather than the exception? What a powerful force for good that would be! I think broad transpartisan support for this could be garnered, as really they are in line with libertarian philosophy while also favored by liberals. And NOBODY really thinks big government is the best answer. (Or big anything, for that matter--the Gates Foundation is just as monolithic as the federal government.) But the beauty of this idea (like the way EGG works) is that it is largely self-organizing and therefore responsive to local needs. Thoughts?

John Miller (952) 797-2302 Green Tea Party Movement

-----Original Message----- From: Lawrence Chickering Sent: May 24, 2014 9:51 AM To: TRANSPARTISAN@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG Subject: Re: [TRANSPARTISAN] A focus on empowerment vs. a focus on inequality


I know many people on this listserve will resist what I am about to write,

but if you follow the idea of markets as truly value-free, then you will have

to abandon most of your thoughts that markets somehow militate against

the aspiration to higher, non-materialistic values. I agree completely with

your second graf here, but inherent in it is the idea that one thing -- a

very important thing -- people value is service to others. They do this for

two reasons: first, because reciprocal kindness builds community and

connection, which is one of the most highly-valued of all things by healthy

human beings; and second, when a relationship involves an employee,

because taking care of employees is economically efficient in a narrow

sense (even assuming no spiritual commitment to it). When employers

pay 'too little' for its people, they risk high employee turnover, which is

very costly. Experienced employees are hugely valuable, as is a happy

workforce. As Becker showed in his work on discrimination, people who

discriminate lose money because they have to pay more for people of

the 'right racial or gender or beauty (whatever) pedigree'. If they want

to keep a perpetually unhappy workforce, they will pay by bearing high

costs to train people, compensating for high turnover. Successful companies

do not behave like that. Did you know that for years U.S. automakers paid

large numbers of employees to be unemployed, to wait in the wings for

expansion of demand for cars? While union contracts may have had

something to do with that, it is also likely that the companies rationalized

it, in some way, as efficient.

Lawry Chickering

Educate Girls Globally

-----Original Message----- >From: Tom Atlee >Sent: May 27, 2014 2:38 PM >To: TRANSPARTISAN@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG >Subject: Re: [TRANSPARTISAN] Is Ours a Culture of Hasty Findings? Can Transpartisans Do Better? > >Thanks for a provocative, invocative commentary, Steven! > >To me the most important thing the transpartisan movement could do is promote a culture (and processes and institutions) of deliberation and choice-creating, especially among diverse ordinary citizens ("We the People"). This is less a matter of speed or caution and more a matter of taking into account what needs to be taken into account for a wise decision or solution (for which time and pace are considerations, but not the only or even primary considerations). > >While understanding that we don't (and can't) know everything about an issue, we can endeavor to be wiser by acknowledging (personally and in our culture, processes, and institutions) that there is ALWAYS more to it than we realize and that there are ALWAYS trade-offs, downsides to our beloved favored views and solutions. This generates humility and its corollary of respect for - tolerance for, curiosity about, actively seeking out - other views. > >I find it fascinating that the National Issues Forums and Kettering Foundation have developed a detailed practice of "framing an issue for deliberation". This is explicitly distinguished from "framing an issue for debate". Framing an issue for debate involves articulating an issue with metaphors that make people think the way you want them to think about that issue (as famously promoted by George Lakoff for liberals). Framing an issue for deliberation, in contrast, involves a detailed and accessible presentation of the argumentation around 3-5 alternative approaches to handling an issue, usually in an attempt to cover the vast majority of options being debated in the existing political discourse on the subject. You don't use two options, which would involves oversimplified polarizations and would, itself, be polarizing. And you never use more than five options because most people can't hold more than five comparable ideas in their minds at the same time. Each alternative view is presented with an effort to communicate that a thoughtful person could reasonably adhere to that position. > >The purpose of framing an issue for deliberation is two-fold: To educate the citizen deliberator about the factual and opinion landscape of the issue and also to complexify their thinking, to shake up their own pet assumptions so that they are more ready to hear what each other has to say. NIF forums go on to take volunteer citizen deliberators through a process of clarifying the trade-offs - the downsides of the various approach they consider - and in the process to do the difficult "choice work" of deciding what downsides they are willing to live with in order to have the upsides of their favorite options. Here we find informed (and somewhat wise) humility instilled not so much by the virtue of the deliberators as through the process being used. > >I should note that we find some similar dynamics in "Principled Negotiation" and "Nonviolent Communication". These practices are concerned more with resolving a conflict than with solving a public policy issue (although these two situations often overlap, as in bipartisan/transpartisan policy negotiations). Principled Negotiation clarifies the legitimate interests of both/all parties and then engages those parties to work together to find solutions that satisfy all of their interests. Nonviolent Communication does similar work with each party's deep needs, albeit from a more empathic stance. In each case, people's initial demands, positions, or proposals are seen to be motivated by - and can be deconstructed into - more fundamental manifestations of their life energy - namely, their interests or needs - which, in turn, can be satisfied in many diverse ways. Recognizing that diversity of satisfiers creates space for resolutions that satisfy all parties, often in startling ways, given the stark distance between their initial positions. (And given the artistry with which some NVCer's practice empathy, conflicts sometimes evaporate through one or both parties' emotional experience of feeling fully heard, without any other action or decision involved.) > >But let's return to the challenge of diverse ordinary citizens addressing public policy issues in formal ways together... > >Citizens Juries, Consensus Conferences, and Citizen Assemblies (all of which are made up of randomly selected citizens) involve briefings and deliberative choice-work similar to the NIF practice, albeit with much more detail, depth, and intensity, given that they take longer (a week, several weekends, a year of alternate weekends, etc.). Sometimes their charge is to choose among the options presented. Sometimes they are encouraged to mix-and-match the best of any or all of them, perhaps involving intelligent compromises. Sometimes they are helped to move beyond the options totally: To try to find or create new options which are clearly better than anything being discussed in the mainstream debate. > >Dynamic Facilitation (and its political manifestation called the Wisdom Council) is an extreme form of that last phenomenon. In fact, its focus on breakthrough leads it to use briefings only to the extent that they expose the citizen participants to the conflicted energy involved with the issue they're considering. DF most powerfully works in a context of conflicted energy, using that energy to expose more of the whole landscape of the issue and (counterintuitively, using that "being fully heard" dynamic noted above re NVC) to open up participants in a profound way until they find themselves together facing the obvious full complexity of the issue and together experiencing a compulsion to resolve it in its fullness. It is that energized urge which drives them to stumble on breakthrough insights and solutions. The fact that they may not be fully "informed" on the issue is less important than their contribution to the larger dialogue going on outside - namely, dramatically new ways of thinking about the issue - sometimes in the form of proposed solutions, sometimes as provocative insights or questions, sometimes involving a deeper and potentially more productive reframing of the problem itself. The intention is to "stir the pot" of a community's or country's political life and stimulate it into more transformational awareness and initiative (with an intentional side-effect of generating a palpable sense of collective agency - of "We the People" grabbing the political bull by the horns). > >When I imagine a whole population being more capable and sophisticated in using such practices - and inclined to practice them with such familiarity and expectation that it become the normal way political decisions are made - I think it would add up to a much more wise democracy. And as a consequence, I find myself reconsidering the roles of parties and representation and debate and so many other aspects of our intrinsically adversarial understanding of democratic politics and governance. I find myself thinking that this more considered, creative and collaborative kind of politics would enable not only a whole new level of self-governance, but the precious promise of being able to creatively and successfully address unprecedented issues that not only divide us but are quite capable of bringing our civilization to its knees. > >I know some parts of the transpartisan movement share a sense that a transpartisan is "someone of any partisan or non-partisan disposition who is willing to engage in civil and respectful dialogue with people of diverse views in order to arrive at sustainable solutions to local, regional, national, and global challenges". I like to think that such transpartisans might expand the view of this movement to include and transcend relations among partisans (especially partisan leaders) in a way that embraces the challenge of creating political institutions (and their associated culture) that enable ordinary diverse citizens to break out of partisanship altogether to generate shared wisdom through such means as those noted above. > >What that would mean for our own discourse among ourselves - as in this forum - would be for us to discover, should we wish to explore it. > >Coheartedly, >Tom Atlee >Co-Intelligence Institute > >Eugene, OR 97403 > > >On May 26, 2014, at 7:57 PM, Steven H Johnson wrote: > >> I want to salute recent contributions by John Miller and Lawry and Michael S and Michael B and John Steiner and Rick and others. >> >> In my most recent email, I posed the question as to whether our Theories might sometimes be incomplete and thereby get in the way of our seeing Reality as fully as we might. >> >> As an illustration of this point, I posed the question of whether people on the lower rungs of the economy simply get paid "what they're worth," speaking in an economic sense, or whether power might also play a key role? With a Theory that focuses only on market value, we will see one Reality. With a Theory that acknowledges the role of Power, we will see a different Reality. By inference, our actions will be shaped not be Reality As It Is, but more narrowly by Reality As We Choose To See It. >> >> Lawry gave a fascinating defense of the case for not raising the minimum wage - much of which I suspect is quite valid - though I didn't think he fully responded to the issue of power at the top and how it affects the economy's larger distributional outcomes. >> >> Now, as I reflect on the point I made in the last go-round, I find myself wanting to sharpen it. There's more at play here than just a gap between "Theory" and "Reality" as I expressed it in my previous post. >> >> Let me use myself as a hypothetical example. Option One. I see an issue and treat it as a starting point for a hypothesis - e.g. "charter schools are always better." To check the hypothesis, I investigate the evidence. In doing so, perhaps I learn that some charter schools are outstanding, some are average, and some are terrible. From the evidence, I deduce a new reality - "Charter schools are a mixed bag - sometimes better than public schools, sometimes not." >> >> With that as my new Reality, I move to a cautious Judgment that charter schools should be tried, but that when they misfire, as some will, one should expect the poor ones to be shut down. Meanwhile, the best should be studied carefully to see just how they got to be so good. >> >> In this scenario, I have moved cautiously from "Might Be" - a hypothesis - to "Is" - a conclusion about Reality - and then to "Ought" - a normative judgment about policy. >> >> Now to Option Two. Suppose that I am a conventional partisan. How will my approach change? >> >> If I am a conventional partisan of the Right, I will jump swiftly from "Might Be" to "Is," I'll jump swiftly from "Is" to "Ought," and I'll declare myself in favor of charter schools, overlooking their weaknesses and overemphasizing their advantages. >> >> If I am a conventional partisan of the Left, I make the same journey, just with differently selectivity. I'll start with "Charter schools might be harmful because they'll pull the well-motivated kids out of public schools" and then I'll turn that MIGHT Be into an IS and then I'll add a policy judgment and arrive at an OUGHT - "Charter schools should be prohibited." >> >> Which scenario is more common? Option One - The cautious response? Or Option Two - The impatient response, in both its variations? >> >> >> My observation is that the impatient response is the norm. It's certainly the case that every major issue I've dug into deeply has left me disappointed. Even our credentialed specialists tilt toward premature certainties. Social Security? Conservatives favor one brand of superficial certainty; liberals favor another. Public schools? A similar sensation. (I omit Lawry's EGG from this generalization.) Global warming? Conservatives disappoint. Liberals disappoint. Markets? Conservatives disappoint, liberals disappoint. Again and again and again, I see folks being too hasty in how they process difficult issues. >> >> Haste is dangerous. It produces and reinforces silos. And then, incubated in partisan silos, our faulty ideas become a danger to the nation. >> >> The cure - in part - is widespread adoption of a more cautious cultural standard, one in which we encourage thoughtful examination of hypotheses, one in which we discourage hasty conclusions. >> >> To start with us, here, I'd like to propose that we tilt toward preferring cautious assessments. Lawry's probably right about the pointlessness of raising the minimum wage, but let's just keep it at "probably" in order to be on the safe side. Sharp as Lawry is, I'd be surprised if there isn't at least one key point he's overlooked. Rick is probably right about the value of prioritizing, under certain circumstances, but I don't think I'd go further than "probably." It's just possible that Rick has overlooked something. >> >> How do others see this? Is ours a culture that moves too swiftly from MIGHT BE to IS, too swiftly from IS to OUGHT? >> >> And is this an issue for Transpartisans to pick up on? Is it something to consciously resist in ourselves? >> >> Steve Johnson >> >> >> Steven Howard Johnson - Civic Futurist >> 410-562-0361 >> Book in Progress: Thoughtful Patriotism >> >> >> To unsubscribe from the TRANSPARTISAN list, click the following link: >> >> > >############################ > >To unsubscribe from the TRANSPARTISAN list: >write to: mailto:TRANSPARTISAN-SIGNOFF-REQUEST@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG >or click the following link: > FB: green tea party movement Home: (952) 887-2763 Cell (952) 797-2302


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Anger and partisan rage
Attention Economy
Basic principles for a Transpartisan movement
Collaborative problem solving
Common ground
Community conversations
Conscious business
Creating transpartisan consensus
Crisis of democracy
Dynamic Facilitation
Facilitated conversation/dialogue
For transpartisanism to be successful, people must transform their most basic beliefs
Holding the tension of our differences while working together with respect and an open heart
Integral democracy
Integral politics
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Out of Many, One - E Pluribus Unum
Partisan bubbles
Partisan disfunction
Political revolution
Psychological overload
Public choice economics
Science and accurate thinking
Stratified Democracy
Teleology and cultural evolution
Transpartisan alliance on specific issue
Uninvolved citizen
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Unprecedented new approaches
Us versus Them
Voter ignorance
Weave together a movement of many initiatives
What is "transpartisan"?
Wisdom Council
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Work together to create an activist vision