Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Marking 5 years since Hurricane Katrina, Ed at Ginandtacos writes about the stages of "issue attention cycles."  From the pre-crisis stage, where, "All of the conditions exist for a crisis, but no one is interested. No attention is paid to the underlying, obvious, and persistent problems that will eventually become the crisis. "  Through alarmed discovery of the crisis and euphoric enthusiasm for solving it, on to realizing the true costs, followed by declining interest and the post crisis stage.  The last, according to Ed, "is misleading because nothing about the crisis has been resolved, but in the public mind it is history. We all did our part by pledging $25 to the Red Cross, and since the stories are disappearing from the TV and newspapers we can only assume that the problem has gone away."

It's a depressing cycle in which nothing is learned about the underlying causes to our crises, and the stage is simply re-set for the next one.

From the comments:

Ladiesbane: Do you think Thomas S. Kuhn read this, prior to writing The Structure of Scientific Revolutions chapter on paradigm shift in 1962? Or that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross read either prior to her model of the stages of grief in 1969? Each might have been formulated each separately, but all seem to touch on the same stages of "Doobie-doobie-doo…what?-No!-Damn.-I guess so.–Doobie-doobie-doo…."

Andy Brown: So, we have two obvious choices, join the mealy-minded masses in (to paraphrase ladiesbane), the cycles of doobie-doobie doo interruptus, or sit in our theater chairs like Alex de Large with his eyelids pried open, witnessing, but ultimately helpless to change the spectacle no matter what we do. And Beethoven gets ruined. Where's our third choice?

jazzbumpa:  As ladiesbane rather obliquely points out, this is just human nature.  We are fallible creatures, ruled more by emotion than logic, with short attention spans and no coherent understanding about what is actually good or bad for us over any time span longer than what's-for-dinner.  I'm not at all sure coming down from the trees was a good idea.

Andy Brown: JzB, [regarding coming down from the trees]  It wasn't our idea. The trees died out and left us ground-bound on the savannah, blinking in the sun. So at least we're consistent.