Zero is an Immoral Goal

I see that zero is now an innovation and a ‘science’, coming from the Safety Science Innovation Lab ( I also see the same old tired nonsense coming from the same Lab that there is no other moral goal than zero (

Unfortunately, providing the link will give it more hits (sorry) but its serves as a great example of how NOT to think about safety.

Surprise, surprise. All of this moral theory advocated by people with no expertise in Ethics, Linguistics, Semiotics, The Psychology of the Emotions/Goals, Personhood, Political Theory or Moral Philosophy! After all, this is Safety, where Engineers can be Mythologists, Historians and Theologians.

This is the kind of nonsense one expects from Safety with no expertise in Ethics. This is the nonsense one expects from simplistic binary nonsense paraded about as some kind of ‘academic’ intelligence. This is the kind of stuff one expects from the Safety echo chamber that has no interest in Transdisciplinary thinking. But, it sure helps develop an income stream with zero organisations.

Of course, when you get this kind of stuff parading as some kind of moral philosophy you can be sure there is no mention of: fallibility, wicked problems, psychology of goals, psychology of motivation or ethical dilemmas common to a study of Ethics. The only way to advocate for an ethic of zero as a goal, is to ignore and be silent on every critical element of ethical thinking common to a study of Ethics (eg. Personhood, power, goodness, ideology etc). What a shame this skill of silence can’t be used in reverse so that silence about zero is the norm.

Poor old Safety, noisy about what doesn’t matter and silent on what is critical for humanising safety.

So, let’s listen to the language of this view (also aligned with the so called ‘new view’ of safety, S2, HoP etc):

  • Zero is named as a ‘seemingly impossible goal’ (because it is). In what world is setting impossible goals moral for fallible people? What results in setting unachievable goals for mortal people? (of course, Safety doesn’t want to explore the science of Transdisciplinary research about risk).
  • Zero is named as a ‘stretch goal’ which is linguistic gobbledygook for ‘beyond reach’.
  • Zero is a strategy, which is a complete falsehood. There is no strategy of zero, it has no method. Zero is a semiotic, archetype, grammar, ideology and language but none of this is considered by the Safety Innovation Science lab. Which not nor very scientific!
  • Zero is apparently a ‘vision’, so the question must be asked, vision for what? What is the trajectory of such language? It is a vision premised on the nonsense idea that safety/numerics define the presence of safety. It assumes that safety is defined by the presence or absence of injury/harm.
  • Zero is an ‘aspiration’. Of course, an aspiration for a dangerous ideology (
  • Zero is good for ‘performance’. There is the good old safety fixation on measurement and performance. So, a simple question, how do fallible people ‘perform’ under the psychology of impossible and absurd goals?

And the silly question get asked: ‘Is it good to have aspirational goals that are unrealistic?’ Such a question is fascinating because the moral notion of what is ‘good’ is never discussed. Indeed, Safety is unable to investigate scientifically this idea of ‘moral good’ because it shows no interest in a study of Ethics or Moral Philosophy.

If you listen to this podcast by the 5 minute mark you have heard enough of all the simplistic binary nonsense common to the ideology of zero ( The old favourite is this: ‘I can’t set any other goal than zero because that would be immoral and irresponsible’. Such silly binary statements are common to this ideological Discourse (the power hidden in language). Think of all the harm that must be done in this world in order to get a ‘good’ outcome. All hospitals run on this premise. It is known as hormesis ( Poor old Safety, unable to contemplate uncertainty (risk), contradiction, complexity and ambiguity.

Of course, there is no discussion in any of this Discourse that demonstrates that zero ideology promotes poor mental health and harms people. No discussion of the psychology of perfectionism and what this does to vulnerable, mortal humans. No discussion of how the linguistics and grammar of zero work to drive unethical and unprofessional conduct. No discussion of the mental illness of denialism ( ) required to advocate impossibilities for fallible people. No mention of the trajectory of dehumanisation necessary to maintain zero ideology. No, this is the Safety Science Innovation Lab, where science and innovation matter and safety is done ‘differently’.

If one is actually interested in science and evidence then, the Zero Survey ( ) demonstrates clearly that the majority of people in safety (apart from 00.1% of executives) do NOT believe in zero, believe it to be religious ideology and consider it to be immoral!

So, if you are up for an alternate view, a ‘different’ view, here is some innovative advice for safety people about zero.

The best thing for people in safety to do is, NOT speak the language of zero and not feel entrapped into the binary immature nonsense associated with defining safety by metrics.

The best thing for people in safety to do is to move away from zero ideology that harms people through its perfectionism and obsessions (; When organisations move away from zero, safety improves and becomes more moral ( This has been demonstrated (this is called evidence) through case studies documented by SPoR eg.

There is no moral compass in zero (

Zero is an immoral language, ideology, discourse, semiotic and indeed, is a cultic and religious ideology ( as is evidenced by the apocalyptic video The Spirit of Zero ( ). (In science this is called ‘evidence’)

One would think that the use of the word ‘science’ would indicate an interest in evidence, philosophy, investigation, critical thinking and intellectual maturity. One would think the word ‘innovation’ would indicate a sense of creative stepping outside the confines of safety dogma. Apparently not.


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