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Hope-mongering through reframing


Credibility Crunch engendered by Hope-mongering: "Credit crunch" focus as symptom of a dangerous mindset (Part #17)


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This is illustrated by the well-known tale of the person searching under a lamplight in the street at night for keys that had been lost outside the lighted area -- because it was easier to look under the light. The real challenge, being more problematic, is consciously or unconsciously reframed -- but in such a way as to avoid its resolution. This might be termed personalized hope-mongering -- promotion of the hope that the keys are where it would be convenient for them to be.

This approach might be seen as characteristic of the use of many tools, models and strategies through which problems are tackled. It is exemplified by the adage: If all you have is a hammer, then any problem looks like a nail. Consultants may well adopt this approach -- hope-mongering to clients that the proposed approach is the most adequate and appropriate.

Specialization may be seen in these terms, framing the scope of a discipline or methodology to effectively exclude parameters that are problematic so as to transform the problem from a "hard problem" into one that is "amenable". Disciplines may even deliberately avoid hard problems for this reason -- and discourage attention to them -- at the same time promoting the appropriateness of the discipline. This is then a form of hope-mongering. The very authority of the discipline, and those with its expertise, then engenders hope -- authority as hope-mongering through the expectations it engenders.

Of particular concern is the manner in which systemic issues -- requiring a comprehensive set of tools and insights -- are inappropriately reframed into narrower frameworks. This is indicative of situations in which, through a form of "conceptual gerrymandering", boundaries of relevance are inappropriately defined for convenience -- anything beyond the boundary then being understood implicitly as irrelevant to the challenge at hand.

For those faced with the challenge of governance of complex systems, the offerings of specific disciplines, and consultants with their particular models, poses a continuing problem of how to respond to their hope-mongering. On the other hand, for those seeking to avoid responsibility, use of a narrow range of expertise from the most eminent authorities may be readily used as an excuse for not responding more effectively top more complex problems -- where the situation is beyond the capacity of such a limited skill set. Responsibility for what proves to be higher orders of complexity is thereby framed as deniable. Implicit denial of this possibility in governance, and the associated incompetence, then constitutes a form of hope-mongering by those claiming to be responding effectively to the expectations of the governed.


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