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  • Glen Drummond

The Embedded Consensus

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

Sometimes before learning can arrive, unlearning needs to happen. What often makes this hard is that ideas (regardless of their present merit) become materialized in structures that conceal their original form as abstractions. These structures include visualizations - like the Mercator projection map. Or the geocentric view of the universe that was eventually challenged by Copernicus and Bruno. Ideas become materialized in processes that are followed uncritically because they appear "practical" rather than theoretical. For instance, the idea of operant conditioning through repetition of a stimulus has apparent limitations as a theory of communications, and yet television advertising is still purchased as if that was not the case. Ideas become embedded in metaphors that organize our thinking about things. How differently would we debate if the metaphor of "dance" replaced "war" as the organizing metaphor for argument?


Once you start to look for it, you start to see consensus ideas embedded in much more than opinion pages and tweets. But just as the consensus views of opinion pages and tweets can and should be subject to critical examination, so should the consensus views embedded in much of the man-made world around us. That's how progress happens.