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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Pursuing Excellence: cultural rivalry disguised as common market?

Everybody talkin' 'bout Heaven aint goin' there… -- Thomas Arthur Dorsey (1899 - 1993) Walk All Over God's Heaven

"Excellence in All Things!" A friend was hired as the headmaster of a small (70 students, grades 9 - 12) private school, the dominant if not sole admissions criteria of which was the parents' ready ability to pay the tuition. This school touted its ability to transform reluctant or lackadaisical children into "Ivy League" students. In fact, scholastic achievement, as one might soberly expect, was rather variable.

At a school board meeting, several of the governing members proposed that the headmaster post and preach the slogan, "Excellence in All Things!" The headmaster suggested that such action would only provoke derision from their rather sophisticated teenagers and likely, also, a certain disdain for the competence of the staff. He, the headmaster, would personally be happy if each student could show better than mediocre accomplishment in a few areas of endeavor.

A particularly vociferous board member remonstrated that it was the headmaster's and teachers' duty to educate all the students to adopt the slogan and strive to actualize it. But another asked, "Which subjects should be favored if it turns out that time or other resources run short?" Thus began what turned out to be neither a very long nor very comfortable "discussion" among those present at the meeting.

Creating More Hamster Wheels. Many of us can look back over many, many years to see the sacrifice of the adequate, the good, even, to the pursuit of the excellent. Yet we seldom see memories of such pursuits raise much apprehension of yet another treadmill exercise. Is our communal memory so weak, our resources so plentiful or our embarrassments so forgettable? What accounts for this Sysiphean proclivity (in almost every area of organizational life)?
One kind of explanation for cavalier attitudes toward excellence comes readily to mind: disregard of how ideas of "excellence" vary even within the markets pursuing it.

Broadly characterized, a market is a (theorized) group of people looking to acquire what they perceive to be a benefit, some thing or state of affairs perceived to be of positive value. These market members pursue an exchange via some medium, be it money, labor, time, attention, material items, or the like.

These and related notions are quite run-of-the-mill. However, here we mean to include in our considerations "externalities," beneficial or damaging effects affecting persons or organizations which are not themselves involved in the markets creating those effects. The motivations of school directors and staff, paying parents and the students involved may be -- indeed, usually are -- somewhat different, despite school slogans proclaiming, say, "Our school community works together in pursuit of excellence!" (See SLOGANS: junkfood, dead-weight or poison?.)

Weak Markets Markets can be weakened by attrition or disorganization. If groups that are willing to bear the costs of pursuing "excellence" are lacking, of insufficient size or disorganized, "excellence" remains little more than a vacuous shibboleth. This is often seen with the promises so easily bandied about in our political campaigns: hopes for benefits are much more easily raised than are the sacrifices, e.g. taxes, to pay for them.

Sometimes a purported benefit is perceived to "cost" too much. Just as the initial costs and future upkeep may "price" a car "out of the market;" so, also, might the burdens of a social relationship with some persons, "high-maintenance" individuals, leave them unbefriended.
It is by universal misunderstanding that all agree. — Baudelaire
Though many people will agree on the face of it that "excellence" is better than "mediocrity," lack of agreement as to what the term, "excellence," delineates may cause an actual market to dissipate.

A potential market may not coalesce because of disputes about which criteria exactly should be used to describe the hoped-for benefit. This is a general problem in every area of life with vaguely described benefits, such as security, responsibility, ownership; and, not least, achievement, education and excellence.

Consensus is often only apparent. Sloganistic terminology abounds. Practical criteria are either missing, or lost in controversy. Leaders of long established institutions, family, schools, churches and governmental entities, may not to be able to find common criteria of excellence that serve each of their particular institutional interests. (See Engaging Conflict: a Leadership Necessity?)

For further examples pursuing these issues, see "Sacrificing Public Education to "Pursue Excellence"?

--- EGR

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Most Annoying Question: "How Do You Know That?"

He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. -- Thomas Jefferson
"How do you know that?" Unless we are teachers in a classroom, or students in a philosophy seminar, we tend to raise that question only when confronted with a statement we find unfamiliar or uncomfortable. Just posing the annoying question risks being taken as challenging the good sense or honesty of the claimant.

So it is that many us stumble through life sticking with the familiar and comfortable beliefs we've had passed down to us, even though, upon reflection, we know that what people believe, or not, is not a measure of truth or falsity. How many times throughout history have people been called to sacrifice dearly for some Faith in an unexamined "Truth"? (What "truths" have been served by setting off bombs in civilian marketplaces and schools?)

Let's relax and consider. Suppose we wanted to know why the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. As we walk down the street we see coming toward us some familiar faces: three deeply educated men, Lorenz, Maurice and Curlius, believed by many to comprise the Wisdom of the Ages. We stop, greet them and ask, "Why is it that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West?"

They answer as follows:
Laurence, a scholar of ancient religions: 'Tis because Phoebus, the Sun, rises in his golden chariot in the East, drives across the sky to the West and then spends the night traveling underground to get back East to repeat the cycle."

Maurice, Ptolemaic scholar: Who believes that anymore? Actually, it is because the Earth, as center of the Universe, is circled by the Sun. What we call night is our period in shadow. The Sun's visible arc begins for us in the East and travels to our West.

Laurence interjects: Well, Maurice, I disbelieve your story. So there!

Curlius, erstwhile Copernican companion, declares: You may well believe your falsehoods, but the truth is that the Earth travels around the sun, spinning counterclockwise on an axis somewhat perpendicular to its orbit. So there!

Laurence and Maurice, both: Utter nonsense!

This interchange illustrates some principles we come to know at an early age, even though many fail to put them into practice in the direst of circumstances.
That some people believe something does not mean it is knowledge.

That some people disbelieve something does not mean it is not knowledge.

Our continuing controversies over evolution or global warming, illustrate these principles.

(However, were we to put the annoying question to our three sages, they, being deeply educated would likely be able to produce justifications for believing their respective claims to be true, as well as for rejecting counterclaims as untrue. So much for Plato's definition of Truth as justified, true* belief!)

But this goes way beyond the concerns of classrooms and philosophy seminars. What actions might have been forestalled, what decisions reconsidered, what bodies left unbroken, what lives saved, had the annoying question, "How do you know that?" been seriously considered at the appropriate times in the long, sad history of this planet?

For references and to examine these issues further, see Questionable Assumptions in Social Decision Making

--- EGR


*The truth condition is not practically separable from the justification condition. (See The Truth Condition)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Laws and Policies: weak bulwarks against bad character?

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at it destination full of hope. --Maya Angelou

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny. -- Thomas Jefferson

The secret of success is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake those, you've got it made. -- Groucho Marx

Sadly, what Maya Angelou says about love holds also for hate, if it is strong enough to overcome the natural impulses of self-preservation. The many suicide bombers we hear about daily in the news media attest to this. Organizational efforts to protect its leaders, or even, its lowest-ranking members, can provide no foolproof barriers to those intelligent and ruthless persons willing to sacrifice themselves to overcoming them.

Conversely, leaders, despite their frequent and even vehement lip-service to widely shared organizational interests and ideals, may pursue their own exclusive, private interests even at the risk of severe collateral damage. (Of such, recent events in US politics provide ample evidence.)

Many people in organizations shield themselves from these realizations. Instead they hold on, often unconsciously, to a more peaceful, comfortable model of organizational behavior that misrepresents the nature of much organizational activity.

In his book, Ambiguity and Choice James March (with Johan P. Olsen, Bergen: Universitetsforlaget, 1976) presents a critique of this Edenic conception that he calls an oversimplified, albeit traditional model of organizational activity:
a. the cognitions and preferences held by individuals affect their behavior;

b. this behavior of individuals affects in turn organizational choices;

c. organizational choices affect environmental acts;

d. environmental acts affect individual cognitions and preferences.

This cycle is assumed closed and connected, e.g. a->b->c->d ->a->b->c….

However, March continues, there may be attitudes and beliefs which do not interact with organizational behavior: for example, rules may prevent racism in hiring. Conversely, organizational obligations may elicit behavior that has no basis in individual preferences, e.g. group-think.

March asserts that this simple model, a->b->c->d, predisposes us to assume that what appeared to happen, did happen; and, that what happened was intended to happen or had to happen.

He continues that nothing happens that can be used by organizations independent of persons who interpret these happenings as relevant events. Organizational functioning, therefore, requires trust in such interpreters. But this trust -- better, credibility (not seldom “credulity”) — in "happening-interpreters" may be extended or withdrawn as individual circumstances require.

Certain problematic happenings may fail to attain status as such within an organization because persons in positions of influence do not want to be bothered with them, whether for lack of interest, courage, resources or competence. So long as the costs can remain hidden, problems need never be acknowledged as existing. (See Hiding the “Elephant in the Room”)

For a restricted case study illustrating such a situation and its collateral damages, see


. (For broader case examples this late Summer 2017, consult your news media outlets.)

- Cordially, EGR

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Authority is Like a Condom

The Condom is a Cuirass against Pleasure and a Spider's Web against Danger.
-- Madame de Staël (1766 - 1817)

The authority we possess often distances us from others, making the pleasures of companionship or of even more ordinary forms of social intercourse strained, if not impossible. Yet, authority does not in and of itself, protect us from brute force, as any battered spouse with a restraining order knows full well.

How Does Authority Protect?

All new teachers, like many old-time missionaries, or any person newly thrust into a leadership role, discovers that the reputation of those who bestowed authority upon them may matter very little. Kids, for example, are not impressed with State issued teaching licenses. People raised in one religion, or in older forms of the same religion, are resistant to the new authorizations that have ordained the newcomer.

Authority of any kind is ultimately based on consensus, an agreement to acknowledge the validity of that authority. This consensus may based on traditionally shared beliefs, values and attitudes, or be merely expedient acquiescence or outward conformity.

This is the reality of the moral freedom we enjoy as individuals, if we only think about it. We, each one of us, can choose, if we are willing to live with the consequences, not to acknowledge as pertinent to our lives, any "authority" whatsoever. (The possibility of such disregard is why those in authority try to aggrandize power. See Usurping the Rights of Others)

This is no weird, esoteric practice to be carried out by bald monks on a mountaintop. It is exactly what we do to a great extent when we visit other countries and cultures: we acquiesce in behaving so as to keep ourselves out of jail, or to avoid social opprobrium; even though we disregard whatever other concerns a native of that culture might have. Sight-seeing in a church does not mean you will be a convert.

Not acknowledging as authority what others do may lead to conflicts of many kinds. But accommodating diversity is what makes possible the differences between families, religions, cultures and nations. But diversity, still, is what sometimes makes teaching and preaching an uphill battle. (Especially where coercive power is lacking.)

To examine these issues further, see The Indeterminacy of Consensus

Cordially --- EGR

Friday, July 21, 2017

CAUSAL CHARADES: organizational rituals of evaluation

"…the only measure of the efficiency of a cooperative system is its capacity to survive."
-- Chester I. Barnard, The Functions of the Executive, p. 44.
Any organization in which it is not clear what is being produced, or how what is produced is to be evaluated, will have someone whose job it is to whip up enthusiasm for the daily grind: e.g. provide “staff development” to obscure the indeterminacy of the goals pursued.
Lack of clear, widely accepted theory as to what causes what, produces play-acting and hugger-mugger: mysteries of "attitudinal adjustment," "leadership," or "conformity with policy." Or, even better, secrecies-acts and "classification" procedures to frustrate easy review of outputs. (See How Not to Develop Staff)

If part of my job responsibility is to sit and listen to some "expert" -- often not a technician, in any scientific sense -- expatiate about peripheralities and, especially, to invite me -- in some "humanistic" way -- to "commit to“ or "open up” and "reveal" how I “feel” about them; then, I, too, will likely sense a need to join in and pretend that that expert, too, is earning his keep.
  King Magic
The social dynamics of our "democratic" pluralism not infrequently produces exactly such obfuscatory processes in, for example, American politics and education at all levels. Veneers of consensus obscure uncertainties as to which goals are to be pursued, and how and with what rigor their attainment is to be evaluated. That an institution is considered to be a "tradition" is a strong indicator of uncertain productivity. Long survival invariably rests on muddled vision or sloganeering, e.g. "protecting American interests," "answering Society's needs," or "preparing for the future," which masquerade as descriptions of technical outcomes.

To examine these issues further in specific context, see Productivity, Politics and Hypocrisy in American Public Education

-- EGR

Monday, April 3, 2017

Understanding "Talking Lions" and Other "Black Boxes"

If a lion could speak, we could not understand him.
-- Wittgenstein[1]

Artificial intelligence is everywhere. But before scientists trust it, they first need to understand how machines learn.
-- D Castelvecchi, Can We Open the Black Box of AI? [2]

"With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon."
-- Elon Musk (2014) Reported in CNN Tech , Oct 28th.

Faust with Homunculus

Black Boxes Abound. Less so, our understandings of them. The "black boxes" are not only lions, or AI devices, but also humans, and even more. If we generalize, keeping in consideration our perceptual limitations, any source of emissions that appear to us to be more than random, from any object or even an "empty" focus of attention, is, initially, a black box.

Many commentators have remarked that Wittgenstein makes an incautious jump from speaking to understanding in the quote cited above. I will generalize their concerns: how do we know that a (what appears to us to be) non-random emission of, say, sound, is speech? Or, if the transmission is not sonic to humans, language? Animals can learn to mimic human emissions. Even non-English recordings, played backwards, can sound like English speech.

To many a monolingual English speaker, the following phrases sound like pieces of English nursery rhymes colored with a non-English accent:
1. French - Un petit d'un petit s'étonnent aux Halles (Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.)
2. German - Oh wer, oh wer ist Mai Lido doch Gong? (Oh where, oh where is my little dog gone?)
3. Spanish (Caribbean) -- Grima! Sí, comí. Te excusé que rifa. (Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat.) [3]
Black Boxes are "Understandings." How does Wittgenstein even judge what the lion is doing? What assumptions is he making? Even if the lion's emissions sound like an English sentence, what is relevant in the context? What is the lion doing? Suppose, for example, our friend, Harry, is standing before a lion's cage in which a cave has been constructed as a den. The lion, staring at Harry, emits the sound sequence, /2aym+ gowing+3 hówm1/ [4]

It sounds like the lion just said, "I'm going home." But did it "say" that? Suppose the lion then lies down and rolls over on its back. It starts to snore. Are we still inclined to think that the lion talked? (If so, did he talk to Harry? Did the lion inform Harry it was "going home?" And, thus, was the lion telling a lie?) Can Harry believe his eyes and ears? Has he jumped to conclusions? (See Artificial Intelligence Weirdness. Need categorizing relate to visual cues?)

The basic problem is how we distinguish illusions, visual, as well as audial or other, from realities. Even AI's have this problem.(See Autonomous Car Collides with Bus: an illusion of abstractions?)

And What Are Understandings? Understandings, when articulated in language, are narratives (or, if highly structured, a program) of collection or connection. We may judge them incorrect, false, or incomplete but they are still understandings -- we might say, "misunderstandings."

People may not be at all articulate as to what they understand so we may have to observe how they proceed from their present conditions toward those outcomes that we judge them to be pursuing. If we observe persistent failure to achieve a goal we might reasonably judge that their understanding of how to achieve that goal is deficient.

There is a large number of likely misunderstandings that persist in any population because they need not or cannot often be put to any test whose outcomes enjoy broad consensus as to their pertinence. (So what if kids believe in the Tooth Fairy!) These questionable understandings are often characterized as (empirically) "non-disconfirmable" beliefs. Examples are:
a. The mind is co-extensive with the body, or:
b. The mind is not coextensive with the body.
c. The universe is a hologram; or
d. The universe is not a hologram.

It would appear that any rationales, or chain of rationales, that contain misunderstandings would thereby be severely weakened. (Many pundits who presume to speak for Science share such misunderstandings with those who presume to speak for Religion. See Pseudo-Science: the reasonable constraints of Empiricism.)

The Fractal(?) Generation of Rationales. Understanding in general is the ability to produce chains of behavior or their narratives which link a confronted situation of interest to a goal to be achieved. But, understandings alone are often narrow and give may give no indication of the interests or abilities of the persons who understand and may be expected to act. Thus, understandings may be just part of what we're looking for.

Rationales can be elaborated from understandings. Rationales often bring up systemic concerns about, say, indicator validity (Cue), actor interests (Concern), and actor abilities (Control) which underly attempts at interventions based on narrower technical understandings.

Understandings can be chained together to produce rationales for action, and rationales themselves chained to produce broader understandings. Thus we may go from merely speculative understanding of how to cross a river, to a rationale for expanding commerce across that river, to an understanding of how political influence can be brought about reiteratively by using market rather than, say, armed forces. Understandings developed this way can be connected together, in chains or trees, etc., to articulate, say, foreign economic development policies. (See The Fractalization of Social Enterprise)

Why Can We Understand Human Black Boxes but find It harder to Understand AI Black Boxes?
It is because many people working in AI feel restricted to technical issues of understanding the how's of economically pertinant AI functioning. Despite the the persistent anthropomorphizing of AI output -- and despite the suspicions that the ultimate goal of AI research is to create some kind of homunculus -- issues of rationale, especially in the contexts of human development and learning are discounted as off target. [5]

Autonomous AI stimulates the same kind of misgivings that one might feel about extra-terrestrials. We are not sure we can predict, much less control what they might do with us. It is a non-sequitur to believe that high computational ability equates to altruism. (See METI. Here We Are! Come Eat Us! Our Children Are Especially Tasty!)

We have built-in, so to speak, Cue-identifying abilities inherited through evolution, both physical, mental and social, that are sensitive to the norms of the environments of our development. We are Concerned to share a world with motile, sometimes dangerous, beings that we can hear, feel, smell, taste as well as see. And we know from personal experience what fear, hunger, danger, hate and social attraction are. [6]

We measure the autonomy we are willing to extend to our ancient non-human friends and enemies because we can guess well what drives them, and how to accommodate them to our society. And, not the least important, we can, with more or less success, Control and defend ourselves against them.

To pursue the issues of understanding and rationale, see Intervention. Helping, interfering or just being useless?

Cordially, EGR

(P.S. Check out this interesting interview with Gary Marcus called Making AI More Human.)

[1] L Wittgenstein 1958b. Philosophical Investigations. ed. G.E.M. Anscombe and R.Rhees. tr. G.E.M. Anscombe, 2nd edition. Oxford: Blackwell. page 223. See comments by Simon van Rysewyk at Wittgenstein Light

[2] D Castelvecchi Can We Open the Black Box of AI? Nature magazine, October 5, 2016

[3] Sources for pseudo-English concoctions: French - Mots d'Heures: Gousses, Rames, The d'Antin Manuscript. Penguin,1980; German - J Hulme Mörder, Guss Reims. The Gustave Leberwurst Manuscript, Clarkson N Potter, 1981; Spanish -- My confabulation, EGR

[4] IPA, digits indicate tone levels. Cf. H A Gleason, An Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1955)

[5] See EG Rozycki Behavior in Measurability and Educational Concerns 

[6] See D Gross, Why Artificial Intelligence Needs Some Emotional Intelligence

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Merchandizing Science (and other things...?)

We cannot act on information alone; the information must first be understood, then interpreted for relevance, and finally command belief and commitment. But what if the citizen cannot assess the truth of the available information or its import for action? --- Harry S. Broudy, Truth and Credibility. The citizen's dilemma (New York: Longman, 1981) p. 13.

Information: Food or Sewage? The expression "GIGO," Garbage in, garbage out, used to have some meaning even beyond the world of IT enthusiasts. Now, even though it is more widely recognized, it becomes evermore reduced in cogency. Broudy's comment above was, in 1981, still merely a worry; it was dismissed by many who persisted in letting a smile be their umbrella.

However, Broudy's comment rings true as we see long revered, even though lip-serviced, standards of decency, civility and authority publicly, blatantly disregarded; especially, by self-proclaimed "pragmatic" leaders. The distinction between the concepts of "leader" and "usurper" has become increasingly blurred. (See Leadership as Usurpation)

Foresightfulness, consideration, tolerance, fairness, compassion and, especially, memory are — often publicly and with celebration — cast aside, as "activists" of all persuasions rush to exercise their roles as "change agents" or "disrupters" under the banners of "democracy," "liberty," "Amendment-protection," "entrepreneurship," "greatness" and "social justice."
Arenas of Competition
There seems to be a bias in our culture that anything characterized as research is akin to Godly Revelation. But it's no news that RESEARCH can be badly planned, badly executed, off-target or trivial. And, increasingly, individuals from scientific, religious and governmental communities either rush to participate,or, more passively, support the scramble with contributions that result from their own self-serving miscreation, e.g. tampering with research, faking news reports, ignoring critical violations of law or producing, often dangerous, sub-standard products. (See Retraction Watch)

Why does this happen? It seems that it is because we treat failure as the greatest of disgraces. Individual persons or (usually small) enterprises are expected to take great risk with their resources to provide social benefits without a compensating safety net should they fail. Yet ridicule awaits them as "losers." This anti-failure taboo is so great that even celebrities would rather be caught publicly in a lie about their attempts, than to own up about their failures. (See Barbara Ehrenreich's (2009) Smile or Die ISBN:9781847081735)

Example: The Mysterious "Impossibility" of Multitasking. President Gerald Ford used to be characterized by some as "unable to walk and chew gum at the same time." However, considered judgment held it that the intelligent and accomplished Mr. Ford had been targeted by animadversion. He was not only able to walk and chew gum at the same time, but, like most of us, do many more complex things by multi-tasking.

But -- according to some highly-degreed pundits, we were wrong! Multi-tasking is impossible! RESEARCH proves it! So it is dangerous to multi-task because we are likely to make many more mistakes because we have to switch attention too much to be accurate while we multi-task.

When do we risk such mistakes? When we multi-task! But then, we CAN NEVER make such mistakes, because as RESEARCH shows, multi-tasking is impossible! We CAN'T DO IT! And since it is, and supposedly has ever been impossible, we COULDN'T HAVE DONE IT! So Gerald Ford's detractors, who were no doubt composing their thoughts as they were typing them up while telling them to listeners and judging their reactions were -- in other words -- multi-tasking. (Is there no longer any sensitivity to self-contradiction?!)

There Are Three Problems within this "debate." The first is that to say that we can't multitask assumes there are clear, generally accepted boundaries that distinguish one task from another. That, when humans who use the word, "task," they are invoking the same criteria of identification that researchers do. This is unconvincing because the latter's conclusions about multitasking are so different from what many intelligent practitioners in various fields think about it and DO with it. Multitasking research offers, apparently, not a correction to our language, but a redefinition. The claim that it is impossible to multitask attracts attention, it seems to be an effective marketing tool. But is essentially a bait-and-switch maneuver. (See Low Cost Interventions for a Better World: Reform by Redefinition?)

The second problem is that multitasking research appears to assume that the human brain is something like a computer with only one processor, so that parallel processing, which many computers employ, doesn't exist for humans. But, even though NPR (Think You're Multitasking? Think Again)
may doff its hat to Multi-tasking Impossibility theories, many others have made similar criticisms to the ones here. (Psychology Today (3/30/11) Myth of MultiTasking)

The third problem is that the debate really deals with paying attention to the implementation of goals. Many tasks we undertake may have become for us, to some extent, automatic. This doesn't mean that they are no longer tasks. And of course breakdown in implementation may occur if we have too many things to pay attention to. This realization, once comprehended, does not promise to have much market impact.

Does a Pluralistic Democracy Require "Sleight-of-Tongue" to Persist? Even if the ambiguities of promotional language have some desired market impacts, this in no way guarantees that we will find more people cooperating on the same page of the same agendas. Nor does it promise eventual reduction of conflict or improved leadership. (See Buffering: Enhancing Moral Hazard in Decision-Making?.) It is snake oil for our societal forebodings.

Is there a future for a nation of persons who will not be concerned beyond their own individual (or familial, or tribal) interests? Are we doomed to a perpetual war of every person against each other? Many people seem to think so to judge by their willingness to put some kind of Leviathan in public office.

Nicholas Rescher in Pluralism. Against the Demand for Consensus. (Clarendon Press. 1993, p.180. ) writes
The key consideration for the conduct of interpersonal affairs is that the activities of people can harmonize without their ideas about ends and means being in agreement. (See also, page 7 on coming to terms with realities of individual difference.)
It's easy to say that we have to learn to get along with each other. But will mental analgesics, happy talk, get us to The American Dream? Or can we just work, one day at a time, at living with a lot of fussin', feuding', and fightin' as we stumble toward our Alabaster Cities, toward Making America Great? Let us be patient, think clearly and hope so.

To follow up on these ideas, see It’s Effective? Effective For What? Maintaining working relationships.

--- EGR