Confirmation Bias, Risk and Being Offensive

imageI was sent this funny clip ( of Tim Minchin presenting his understanding of Confirmation Bias yesterday. Minchin is much more than a comedian and musician, he is a philosopher, critical thinker and ‘thought leader’ in a true sense of what that should mean. I find it simply bizarre that in risk and safety the regurgitation of behaviourism and engineering is labelled ‘thought leadership’. When you set such a low bar for intelligence Minchin is light years away from Safety.

Some might find Minchin offensive but he doesn’t need to use zero to be so ( In some ways Minchin is ‘prophetic’, he names and calls out the demonisation of persons and forthtells’ what is. This is the real meaning of being ‘prophetic’ and being a ‘thought leader’. There can be no ‘thought leadership’ without an ethic of risk.

Minchin’s wonderful song ‘Not Perfect’ is certainly not on the hit list of Safety ( Safety doesn’t want to hear about fallibility, vulnerability or mortality, Safety loves zero, the global mantra for the industry and the religious love child of perfection.

One of the best videos of Minchin is when he was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Western Australia ( where he gives the presentation ‘9 Life Lessons’.

What is so funny about Minchin is that he doesn’t need to justify being offensive because those who he offends are the same group that oppress persons. What is equally less funny is that when Safety wants to justify its many silly and brutal marketing campaigns it uses zero to do so. Zero justifies offense ( ) apparently, but the ethic of personhood does not.

How strange this industry that is happy to offend in the name of zero but condemns any critical thinking that finds zero offensive.

Safety only justifies negativity when it’s in its own echo chamber ( And this is where Confirmation Bias challenges the notion of ‘safety culture’.

Once one has been indoctrinated into the ‘safety worldview’, one is taught to reject anything that is deemed anti-safety by the safety ‘congregation’ (clubs, associations and regulators). Once one has spent time and effort in the compulsory mis-education of a safety qualification, ‘sunk-cost’ and cognitive dissonance ( help build resistance to learning. Moreso, by labelling something as ‘learning’ and ‘different’ this helps create the illusion of learning and difference, when it’s all just more of the same with different chanted slogans, myth and ritual.

This is how Safety ensures that nothing changes, and then gives out innovation awards to ideas that are not innovative and runs conferences that endorse more behaviourism and engineering. This is how safety gives value to itself based on what it doesn’t know ( This is how Safety with no expertise in semiotics, creates symbols that contradict its own foundational premises and then confirm what is so by its ignorance in what it doesn’t know.

This is how this mono-disciplinary industry ensures avoidance of expertise outside of itself. Safety shows no interest in Transdisciplinary thought. This is how engineers write books on culture, psychosocial and mental health and, education, motivation and ethics.

All of this is the vicious cycle of Confirmation Bias.

The training (not education or learning) of Safety creates and confirms a worldview that must not be questioned. This is helped by a curriculum that has no content on ethics, critical thinking, pastoral care, ethics or learning. This pattern is not about education but makes people ‘schooled’ into a worldview (behaviourist-engineering) that now knows that any criticism of Safety is non-compliant and anti-safety. Then once endorsed with a host of rituals, myths and semiotics, the cycle of confirmation is complete. At no time is the industry equipped with the skills to question fraudulence (;; and so many things proposed by this worldview are the opposite of what is proclaimed. Such is the safety code (

Now bizarre this industry that talks about a ‘safety code’ ( that is nothing more for Confirmation Bias for behaviourism.

In Transdisciplinarity one steps outside of ones confirming discipline to embrace the challenges of other disciplines with other worldviews. This requires tolerance, movement, not-knowing and doubt, all anathema to the ideology of Zero as safety.

Another of Minchin’s brilliant presentations is on Fundamental Attribution Error ( ), a favourite of Safety when it comes to nonsense like root cause ( and incident investigations. But once you have a saviour in Reason ( then any nonsense (like swiss-cheese) is made sacred.

Minchin simply looks into the cycle of cognitive biases ( and unconscious enactments, and finds humour in understanding why people do what they do.

The same could equally be applied to the cycle of Social Psychological Influences  on decision making. It’s only the ignorance of behaviourism that imagines these don’t exist.

The truth is, fallibility is a wonderful thing and a blessing ( to those who know how to enjoy life and being. Minchin clearly does.

Minchin also has a profound understanding of how the sacred, taboo and the profane work ( ( He understands how myth is made and consecrated and how such create an alternate truth. Like Ricoeur, Minchin knows that myth-making helps the denial of fallibility and the making of a new sacred reality ( ). How strange that no text on culture in safety recognises the importance of any of this.

In the case of Safety, the grand myth of all is zero. If you want to know how sacred something is, try to take it away. Such is the power of Confirmation Bias in the safety industry.

The wonderful thing about Minchin’s irreverence is his reverence for personhood and his prophetic presentation of the offence of prejudice, poverty and justified brutalism in the name of religion.

But if you don’t want to be challenges by critical thinking or be offended, then don’t watch Minchin and don’t step outside of all that the industry confirms. Such is Confirmation Bias.

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