Vision/threat/status

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The issue/position/argument structure is for rational argument about what should be, and what position one must take "in order to make it better" or "to stop it from getting worse."

Contents

relevant Kos projects

Understanding how the use of language affects our ability to communicate is crucial to the progressive goal of changing the direction of our country. With the Bush administration referring to our response to the terrorist attacks of 2001 as "the war on terror," and the use of right-wing framing in discussing controversial issues such as abortion, progressives need to use an effective approach when communicating with conservatives and swing voters.

A YearlyKos panel will discuss communicating the progressive vision and underlying framing concerns. Moderator Jeffrey Feldman and panelists Jim Derych, John Javna, Laughing Liberally founder Justin Krebs, and linguist George Lakoff, the "father of anonymous trolls", will discuss these questions.

The Vision for America is the goal, and ThinkTanks are methods for, these projects. The most important starting point is the FrameShop and reframe:namespace it supports.

desirable vs. probable vs. thinkable

The need to address conservatives directly is covered in writing for the enemy. However, it is not possible to define "better" or "worse" simply from position taking or issue statements/framing, and certainly not by arguments alone. There is an emotional and creative and visionary process also required to create scenarios: the possible futures that the positions try to shape.

Most scenario analysis or worst case analysis is always from one perspective about what is "worst" and what scenarios are "credible". But this is simply not adequate, and may be dangeous for encouraging groupthink about both the probability and the desirability of various outcomes. What is probable is often mixed up with what is desirable (wishful thinking or idealism), and what is not deemed probable is often deemed impossible. What is uncomfortable to debate is often also unthinkable. These create biases in decisions. Therefore:

To actually evaluate positions and prioritize arguments and issues requires that a variety of perspectives on best vs. worst be presented, and that extreme cases (like oh say those that FEMA was busy ignoring in August 2005) and threats deemed not credible (like oh say Al-Qaida's declaration of war on the USA in 1998, or oh say global warming bringing three or four category V hurricanes to the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico every year) be considered: the consequences of failing to do so, are sadly obvious. The Economist's favourite risk analyst, Ron Dembo, has stated many times that ignoring extreme scenarios is the most dangerous mistake a risk manager makes. Dembo now runs [1] focusing on real risk.

In the late 20th century, also, the value of live simulation exercises, video games, creative and visionary thinking and fictional scenarios as in science fiction and spy fiction came to be seen as an essential part of preparing for major problems. And, of course, for causing major breakthroughs, e.g. space travel, hot fusion, cold fusion, the Internet itself, etc.. A "practical" consideration of only "likely best and worst cases" would miss very many opportunities and all the high impact low probability events that tend to cause the highest regret (Dembo's term).

dealing with low probability high impact cases

Accordingly the vision/threat/status or utopia/dystopia/status form evolved to help frame best case and worst case scenarios by keeping them constantly compared and comparable with improbable or impossible scenarios, and with the status quo, so it would be obvious if best or worst cases were too similar to the status quo and not similar enough to barely-impossible scenarios (as one would expect a 0.1% probability scenario to read more like a 0.000001% scenario than like a 50% probability scenario, but it's amazing how many do).

While it's relatively easy to ensure, by including at least one genuine vision and one genuine threat, which are ("safely", from the point of view of status within the group) not believed possible by any party participating, that best and worst cases are made better and worse by including elements of extreme cases (to the limit of what is believed probable at all by at least one person - see scenario analysis for an elaborated discussion of how to make this work).

incorporating opposing visions as threats, etc.

Dealing with desirability and ensuring even treatment for painful or wished-for outcomes is quite different, and usually requires directly considering a direct and reprehensible ideological opponent's views. Any scenario might well be considered desirable, utopian and visionary by someone and also considered undesirable, dystopian, and threatening by someone else. To Republicans for instance the Contract With America was a vision. But to Democrats it was a threat, a dystopia, a dangerous "Contract On America."

Similarly, the Vision for America is a desirable scenario and outcome for progressive voters. It might however be as scary as Communism to the most extreme Republicans or Libertarians.

the status quo

When assessing the current state of affairs, that is, the status towards or away from any vision or threat, it's important to state it in terms of the various utopian and dystopian features that were laid out in the scenarios so as to motivate action. As with visions and threats, the status quo will be stated very differently by different factions. It may be best to assess the status quo in terms evocative of the best and worst cases to assess "progress" towards each.

At Wikimedia the [2] and [3] and case analysis was strongly influenced by this model, but it was not adopted officially (unfortunately). It might have been "too political" for such an autocratic theocratic GodKing-ruled privately-operated website.

In fact, the status quo was so attractive and inevitable to the Wikipedia cabal that various attempts were made to censor and those who even sought to list case]s. The status quo can indeed be powerful! All the more reason to assess very extreme cases.

This page is CC-by-nc-sa by Efficient Civics Guild. This version is released under GNU Free Documentation License with this notice as an Invariant Section, to ensure improvements remain under both licenses.

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