Hostility of the Insecure LO21733

John Gunkler (
Tue, 25 May 1999 11:47:21 -0500

Replying to LO21711 --

There are some strong emotional responses generated by some of the
messages on this list and this thread (and the "Tyranny of the Experts"
thread it relates to) has, to our credit, politely danced around or hinted
at some of the intensity of the emotion. But are these emotional
responses somewhat misplaced? Perhaps. Please let me explain.

We are engaged in a learning (ergo, creative) endeavor by communicating
with each other here. It is simplistic, I know, but I was taught that
creativity involves (at least) two, very different aspects: divergent
thinking and convergent thinking.

What's appropriate for the divergent thinking phase is almost completely
inappropriate for the convergent thinking phase. In divergent thinking,
one lets everything in. Nothing is judged nor ruled out -- the ideas can
be illegal, immoral, even fattening and they still get placed on the
table. The divergent phase is a process of widening the net, capturing
the outrageous, inviting in the "stupid" and the "impossible."

However, at some point it becomes imperative to sift through the "catch"
for what is actually going to be useful, appropriate to the need, possible
to implement, etc. This is the convergent thinking phase. Here things
like "expert" opinion may matter; here being "critical" is exactly what is
called for.

I find, for myself and for most of the groups I've worked with over the
past 20 years, that it is difficult to truly free oneself and open oneself
to the divergent phase unless one has confidence in the convergent phase.
That is, people may be unwilling to let things into the net that are too
outrageous for fear that they will get through the "screen" and out into
the world. But this stifles the divergent process. So, having a healthy,
skeptical, critical, even ruthless convergent process waiting in the wings
is essential to having a healthy, free, open, even outrageous divergent

The point? While I'm more than happy to entertain all kinds of ideas in
the divergent phase of my learning, at some point I owe it to myself to be
critical -- to judge and weigh and ruthlessly challenge. Those who slight
either part of this process are not benefiting from this experience nearly
as much as they could.

What I've seen here, however, seems to most often slight the convergent
phase. It's so easy, in our "democratic" way, to say,

"Just accept anything anyone wishes to contribute."

But, you see, I do accept everything anyone wishes to contribute -- I
accept it into the net as a candidate for surviving the screening that
will later occur. But I don't accept anything (as worthy of belief or
use) without first putting it through that fine-mesh screen.


"John Gunkler" <>

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