Believing Something Doesn’t Make It True

shutterstock_1077151958By Phil La Duke

I Know My Shoes Are Untied Mind Your Own Business
Lone Gunman Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence

A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed by Thrive Global about spirituality and the workplace.  I know many of you wouldn’t have me pegged as a spiritual person, so many of the people who happen upon my blog are such delicate flowers, looking to find offense and finding it even where it was not intended,  As someone once said, “You don’t know me, you just think you do”.

We fear that what appears to threaten our most cherished beliefs. And too often we attack what we fear. But if your faith is threatened by science you have no faith at all and are merely disguising your superstitions as divine truth.

After over 10 years of threats, insults, one bomb threat, and three specific death threats you get a little numb to it.  Why do people get so worked up by something that a stranger wrote? Do I really have so much power over you that you have to read something that inflames you? Or is it something deeper. Is it because I attack the Cult of Safety.  Those who have been brain-washed by a century of snake oil and malarky stand ready with lit torches and pitchforks ready to squelch anyone who dares question the Cult of Safety.  

I am meeting and speaking with more and more people who are questioning the validity of such things as, Life-Saving Rules, Fatality Prevention Programs, the Hierarchy of Controls, and even Heinrich’s cherished pyramid.  It is sending unsettling ripples through the safety community especially those who have grown fat shilling nonsense for 40 years. As these theories are questioned more and more safety cultists are growing more and more unnerved.  Like the 6-year old who wonders if he stops believing in Santa Clause if the gifts will stop coming, these safety cultists worry what will become of them when the pagan gods of safety are driven from the trade.

I get it.  I believe in the Scientific Method, and if science and logic prove that a belief is hokum, I will call it out as such.  I have often spoken of the futility of using logic to argue against an emotional state. We almost always trust our gut and the familiar, no matter how hair-brained and stupid, comforts us while change and new ideas scare us in ways more terrifying than we can imagine.

We take too much on faith when it comes to safety.  We believe in methodologies and approaches to safety that are little more than Urban Legends.  We have gotten to the point where we accept theories not because they can be scientifically proven, but because they cannot be scientifically disproven. So if I assert something that is patently not true, but sounds reasonable, and aligns with your world view you will accept it as fact even if I just made it up. Let’s take a look at some things that many of us believe despite no more scientific confirmation.  Take for example the assertion that awareness campaigns result in a safer workplace. It would seem like this is just good old fashion common sense and many of us would be content to leave it at that. I looked online and could not find a single scientifically valid study who that proved that awareness = safety. So for now anyway, the correlation between an awareness campaign and a safer workplace remains an unproven hypothesis.  To PROVE our hypothesis we would have to:

  1. We take a baseline of a population, in this case, the number of injuries.
  2. Next, we divide the population into two groups, the control group, (sometimes called the reference group) and the experiment subjects.
  3. We provide the experiment subjects an awareness campaign while providing nothing to the control group.
  4. In six months we check back in and determine again measure the injury rates.
  5. If the group of experimental subjects has a statistically significant reduction in injuries and the control group remains unchanged or worsens than even then the hypothesis has not necessarily been proven, but is considerably more credible.  
  6. The hypothesis is only proven when the experiment can be replicated by, other researchers, using similar populations and methods.

It’s worth noting that no such research has been done on awareness campaigns (at least as far as I can ascertain), but who gives a rat’s ass we like them so we do them.

I’ve heard the argument that just because one cannot prove that something doesn’t exist doesn’t mean that believing in it is wrong, and this is where safety as a religion is formed.  There are hypothesis so firmly believed without a modicum” of scientific proof that we “know” that they are true on faith alone. And that’s a problem for the field of Safety; a BIG problem. I can’t prove that Big Foot exists, and there have been reported sightings of the apelike creature in EVERY state in the US (including Hawaii—presumably the big guy took some time off from lumbering through the woods and decided to take some time off to surf.  

We stand on the shoulders of Dwarves.

I’ve heard it argued that the work of BF Skinner, Abram Maslow, and others are sufficient to essentially shortcut the scientific method.  That is true in forming a hypothesis, but it is absolutely untrue that the application of these men’s work can be asserted as unassailable fact without doing the same kind of research detailed above.

Ethics gets in the way

Why hasn’t this kind of rigorous research methods been employed to prove the efficacy of the Behavior Based Swindle? Why don’t we submit all of our most cherished beliefs to scientific scrutiny? Because we consider the ethical implications.  What happens if our hypothesis turns out to be dead-bang on, but in the course of proving that it is we kill or cripple four people in the control group? Ethically speaking, is it right to risk killing people just to prove our hypothesis is correct? Certainly not.

I am proud to announce that Marriah Publishing has published my second book, Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention.  This is all new material that cannot be found anywhere else. While homicide accounts for 10% of workplace fatalities this is a problem that can be easily prevented. Victims of domestic violence are disproportionately affected. Of women murdered in the workplace, 48% will be killed by a family member or domestic partner, while only 2% of men are killed this way.  I wrote this book at the request of my publisher, as there are growing numbers of “experts” who are treating random mass shootings (where the goal is usually a high body count) the same as single shooter events in the workplace (which tend to target a specific individual.) The research I did was eye-opening for me as I expect it will be for you too. This is one of the most powerful things I have ever written so I hope you will find it useful.

It can be purchased in hardcover or paperback at Amazon (US and Canada) or Barnes & Nobel (as it stands now B&N is only listing the hardcover but I’m told the paperback will be on sale this Monday.  It’s an important book on a serious topic as seen through my bleary-eyed lens.)

Of course, my first book is still for sale…

Did you like this post? If so you will probably like my book which can be ordered here I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business or on Barnes &

Did you hate this post? Did it offend you deeply? Maybe you should organize a book burning (minimum of 150 books) but be sure you are only burning my book, I don’t want you to go to a used book store and buy a bunch of cheap books and stack mine on top.

The book is a compilation of blog posts, guest blogs, magazine article (from around the world) and new material. Much of it is hard to find unless you know where to look. A second and third book has already been green-lighted by the publisher (expect fewer reprints and more new material).

In all seriousness, I have been blogging for free (without sponsors or advertising) for over 11 years and I think I have earned a bit of revenue so buy a damned book.