Saturday, September 20, 2008

Guest Column

...By accident! Conan the Objectivist and I had been bemoaning a set of particularly silly Stupid Human Tricks to one another in e-mail and in response to a flippant one-liner ("Perception is reality -- to some."), he produced this:

I suspect we live in the nexus of intersection of two worlds. In one of those worlds, reality is perception; in the other, reality is what is.

In the first world, work consists of manipulating other people's perceptions; in the second, work consists of manipulating reality. In the first world, the successful person's job is his career; in the second, the successful person's career is his job. (To amplify, in the first world, the successful person works at his career. His job is incidental, a means to an end--the goal is the career. Any productive work he actually accomplishes is a coincidental byproduct of his efforts to advance his career by creating the perception that he is performing productive work. In the second world, the successful person works at his job. His career is a means to an end--the goal is the performance of productive work.)

In the first world, the purpose of speech is to cause other people to do, or think, what the speaker wishes; in the second world, the purpose of speech is to accurately convey facts and concepts and to facilitate cooperative effort. We find living in the first world politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers, actors, TV personalities, most "journalists," and most business managers (which explains the state of business in this country). Residents of the second world include scientists, engineers, technicians, and--you hope--your doctor. Some poor souls attempt to live in both. I can't imagine a good outcome for them.

Words to ponder.


Alan said...

How true!

I've lost count of how many times I've been called "not a team player" because I won't agree to some physics violating fantasy that the sales and marketing people come up with.

I don't like their world.

Adrian K said...


Said ad-mixture sounds a lot like Enterprise-class Software Support.

Project Managers definitely fall into Category #1 and we have to bridge the gap between them and the normal people over in #2.

You're probably right that it's not good for us though. Co-worker of mine had a mini-stroke a few weeks back, and he's otherwise healthy.

Roberta X said...

It happens to me as well, Alan. And as bad is my refusal to play the odds; this brings me right up against the living-in-two-worlds group, who like to bet some device or system will last long enough, based on scant evidence, and want my blessing. I'll go along with whatever bet they care to me, but I won't endorse it. It's a career-limiting outlook.... On the other hand, if I advanced any further, I wouldn't be able to play with hot solder or cold software, or build Heap Big Physics with unistrut.

Adrian: see? Cyncism is probably your best defense.