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« Reflections on Reviews, Rebuttals and Respect | Main | Academia Redux: Joining the Institute of Technology at the University of Washington, Tacoma »


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Scott Berkun

Looks like typepad ate my comment - you should use WordPress! :)

Excellent post, as usual. You have a thoughtfulness and link-richness that is very rare these days on the web.

As a reference: In Taleb's Black Swan, he talks in the early chapters about narrative fallacy, a kind of cognitive bias, where we project stories and narratives into data where there isn't any sort of story at all. Narratives have potency, but they also have flaws.

Joe McCarthy

@Scott: I've experienced some frustrations with Typepad, myself, and am sad to learn it's also affecting you (and probably other prospective commentators). I have reserved, but am resistant to migrating ... and losing whatever Google juice I've built up over the years here at Typepad.

Thanks for the pointer to The Black Swan. I saw Taleb - along with Nouriel Roubini - interviewed by Paul Solman on the PBS Newshour several months ago, and was intrigued with the theory. I forgot to add the book to my reading list, but have now.

Your description of narrative fallacy reminds me of the definition of apophenia - "the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data". I first discovered the term through danah boyd's blog ("apophenia: making connections where none existed"), and as someone who [also] regularly experiences this phenomenon, I was somewhat disheartened to discover later that the term is generally used as a descriptor for a mental illness ... i.e., it is seen as a bug rather than feature in the medical community.

The issue of truth and fallacy also reminds me of the specific Carse quote that Valeria Mantoni had included in her blog post about his book:

Storytellers do not convert their listeners; they do not move them into the territory of a superior truth. Ignoring the issue of truth and falsehood altogether, they offer only vision. Storytelling is therefore not combative; it does not succeed or fail. A story cannot be obeyed. Instead of placing one body of knowledge against another, storytellers invite us to return from knowledge to thinking, from a bounding way of looking to an horizonal way of seeing.

Kia ora Joe e hoa,
Interesting thoughts as always. I suppose we all have a story to tell, and would all love to be the hero and ride off into the sunset with the girl in the end. I know in my own place in this virtual world where I try to share a love of the mountains and wilderness, the one aspect I sometimes forget about out here in the hindsight and comfort of my home are the moments of doubt, or the times I simply don't want to climb anymore, or find the route down too steep, ect. Of course I have to to get past that, but sometimes those moments are very real and perhaps add to the story. For instance I just returned yesterday from the mountains where a day and a half from the roadend I took a bad fall off a rock in a river and badly sprained my ankle. It was a real journey down the rest of the river to the hut, a restless and painful night, then a further 5 hour hobble to the car. There didn't seem to be much connection to the story I tell on my blog. But today, in hindsight, I guess there is. And that is in wilderness there is also risk as well as reward. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Thanks for your place here Joe, just wanted to also wish you and yours a very peaceful and healthy new Year. Ti hei mauri ora e hoa! Kia kaha.

Joe McCarthy

Robb: I am always inspired by the stories of the mountains you tell on your blog.

I often find it challenging to decide which details to include in or omit from a story, and the challenge increases with the scope of the story, e.g., deciding what to include in a story of my life vs. deciding what to include in a blog post about a conference I've attended.

Your reference to wilderness, risk and reward is very relevant to the next blog post I plan to compose, in which I will be making some choices about which details to include in the latest update to the story I make up about my life (and the choices I've made) ... which involves risks and rewards in a metaphorical wilderness, reminiscent of Dante:

In the middle of the road of my life I awoke in the dark wood where the true way was wholly lost.

Thanks for new year wishes. I particularly like - and am not surprised by - your choice to not offer the traditional "happy" new year salutation. I'm increasingly coming to see happiness as overrated, and am more concerned with meaning - and peace and health - than happiness, so I wish you and your family a meaningful new year.


"For much of the past year, I've been wrestling with a revision to the story I make up about myself, as I iteratively recalibrate my self perceptions in response to the feedback I've received from others."

So, Joe, I would call this a bit of a teaser line -- unless you've addressed it someplace else. (It sounds very much like the beginning of a good story). Care to disclose more?

Best to you!

Joe McCarthy

Dan: I was initially tempted to broaden and deepen my subsequent post - about joining the University of Washington, Tacoma's Institute of Technology - to include more of the story I make up about myself. Given the time constraints of getting up to speed in this new life / work chapter, I decided to limit the backstory for that post to a single paragraph of preemptive self-disclosure.

I remember an invitation to disclose you passed along as part of a blogosphere meme four years ago, to which I responded by disclosing 5 things blog you might not know about me (or, more properly, 5 things other blog readers might not know, given that you know me pretty well). I found that reflection and writing exercise to be very rewarding, and passing the meme along helped open up and/or strengthen other relationships ... exemplifying Rene Brown's ideas about enhancing connections through embracing vulnerability. However, the post represented 5 mini-stories rather than a "heroic narrative" that pulls together the remembered past, perceived present and anticipated future.

I welcome yet another invitation to stretch. I wholeheartedly intend to reflect further on - and disclose more about - the story I make up about myself ... as soon as I can carve out the time, amid all the demands of my new role.


Thank you, Joe. I'm sure you are very busy and I, too, want to offer my congratulations to you for achieving this next "chapter." Per my last blog post an interesting side topic might be the stories (and dreams) about ourselves that we lose along the way. [Or as I heard Oprah say one day to a guest disappointed in her life, "It's time to get yourself another dream..."] All the best in your new position. They are so lucky to have you!

Joe McCarthy

Thanks, Dan - for the kind words and the pointer to your post about the alchemy of lost dreams & renewed resolve. I do think some of my dreams - or goals - have shifted from chapter to chapter, and I seem to have come around full circle on at least one of them ... and I'm sure I'll have more to say about that when I write [more] about the story I make up about myself.

sewa mobil

Nice article, thanks for the information.

Jake Eagle

Joe, thanks for introducing me to McAdams, I was unfamiliar with his work. You read a blog on my Green Psychology website: and in response you suggested people who are interested should read your blog. I agree. You provide a robust perspective on how one creates and is influenced by their personal narrative. On my website I am approaching this from a similar point of view, but I focus on 7 areas that contribute to a healthy narrative. I don't think any of them conflict with what you are presenting here. Thanks for sharing.

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