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February 23, 2010


Paul Sagar

"“Cognitive biases” are just another word for “ideology.” It’s insufficiently appreciated that the cognitive biases research is a vindication of Marx’s theory of ideology. "

Got to love the delightfull deliberate provocation.

But I shan't rise to it today, as i've too much to do.

alanm crisps

I don't think you can treat class and hierarchy as the same.

There is no class difference in a couple of managerial grades.

Chris Williams

"It’s insufficiently appreciated that the cognitive biases research is a vindication of Marx’s theory of ideology."

Write the book, please.


But errr... some bosses aren't bullies. I agree with you on the therapy front, but the problem is that some people are just arseholes for whatever reason (they can change, but you can't medicalise the issue). Doesn't matter what environment you put them in either. They would be the sort of people who would mess up even a substantively egalitarian environment.

Some people just have remarkably little to contribute to a co-operative venture, regardless the of the structure on offer. Only a totalising social science theorist would try and find a 'cause' for every form of bad behaviour. Bad behaviour is just what you have when people lack the ability to co-operate on reasonable terms.


Nick - of course, not all bosses are bullies. My point is merely that having the power that comes from being a boss allows some people to indulge bullying instincts that would otherwise not be manifested, at least not outside the home.
Where there are inequalities of power, arseholes have more opportunity to do damage. A big task of the social sciences is to ask what social structures minimize arseholeness or even (and this is what markets often do)turn it to general advantage.

chris c

But yes, because central to the concept of all ideology is that we can't ever know that we're "in" it (although the idea of the prison of ideology is attributable to Althusser rather than Marx, and I always thought that was far too close to Weber's iron cage to be considered wholly Marxist) and so ideology is insidious and infects us from the outset; and the idea of cognitive bias is that it's a bias that offsets our way of thinking from the very beginning of the process.

Ideology does that, and it's a trick of ideology - and one of cognitive biases - that makes us think we can be outside any particular moment, or outside any particular error. It's why you'll hear left wingers and right wingers throw charges at each other that they're all guilty of, but because they consider themselves to be above ideology, neither of them can see their own mistakes.

Ideology is the cognitive bias to end all, because if they're right about ideology then it underpins even the biases you're trying to avoid.


"Where there are inequalities of power, arseholes have more opportunity to do damage."

I don't think Nick was disagreeing with that claim. What he seemed to be disagreeing with was this:

"Instead of attributing bullying to inequalities in power, it's blamed upon personal traits."

What you've now just said in reply, undermines that statement. "Arsehole" is after all a "personal trait".

I doubt there's anyone, "pop talk" or not, who claims that you don't need "opportunity" to bully. That's a strawman. But you also need to be an arsehole. No arseholes, no bullies.

Sensei J. Richard Kirkham B.Sc.

That's fine to understand the bully and all that, BUT STOP THE BULLIES. Let's not let innocent children and adults suffer at their hands while all the no death penalty like groups try to "understand" the bully's problems

Tom Miller

"There is no class difference in a couple of managerial grades."

Post hoc ergo propter hoc?

alanm crisps

False causation Tom? But I don't get how that relates to my statement.

I am saying class and managerial grade are not necessarily related.


I think the class/power relations described above encourage authoritarianism, or perhaps authoritarian people are more likely to become bosses. I see authoritarianism as keeping a whole workplace in a cowering state and bullying as singling out an individual. Can we say that bullying is a natural outcome of the class/power relations or just authoritarianism? If these distinctions are not accepted the question falls, but I think we do make that difference.

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