How to Stifle Creativity

This guide was NOT inspired by “How to Argue like an Idiot” guide. THAT guide is designed to destroy thinking of any and all types. This one targets only creative thought.

“One of the serious problems in planning the fight against American doctrine, is that the Americans do not read their manuals, nor do they feel any obligation to follow their doctrine…”
– From a Soviet Junior Lt’s Notebook

Why Discourage Creativity at Work? The new economy demands it. Global competition and world wide technological stagnancy in fields such as automotive and medicine have left many of us scrambling. If your business is a moneymaker, and profitable, STATUS QUO is the order of the day. DO NOT INNOVATE. STICK WITH WHAT WORKS! After all, things like toilet paper and umbrellas have not changed significantly in thousands of years, and they work great! If people really had a voracious appetite for ideas and innovation , they would change things themselves, not wait for you to do it!
Punish Failure. If anyone dares to try something risky or creative and fails, be sure to let them know you “told them so.” Make them regret it for the rest of their days there, which should be few, because you need to use them to set an example. The biggest success stories result from the one guy that knew absolutely what he was doing and was a super genius without compare. Remember Edison and the light bulb?
Eliminate Ambiguity. Something either works, or doesn’t. You. Are. The. Boss. Stamp out uncertainty. If you think it won’t work, it probably won’t. Why try if failure is even a possibility? FEAR FAILURE! Straight A students didn’t get straight ‘A’s because they were smart, they got them because they were terrified of failure!
Interrupt your Inferiors and pull them away from what they are doing without asking. Don’t ever let them build up enough steam to do anything worthwhile that might improve working conditions or threaten your job.  Periodically, even the best employees begin to work up come creative mind-flow which must be disrupted. Preferably, wait until you see them furiously intent on what they are doing. If they are working with power tools, so much the better because there is nothing better than when the “Days Without An Incident” sign reads “0”. Remember, productivity decreases by as much as 40% when people “multitask”, and if people are 100% productive then that is less productivity for you to steal.
Don’t Pay Attention to Others when they say things you don’t understand. How dare someone have an idea in your magnificent presence? When someone comes to you with an idea, or you hear an idea, interrupt them with an idea of your own, yawn, grimace, frown, sneer, look at your email, look at your blackberry, start a side conversation, do ANYTHING but pay attention to them. And DON’T make eye contact! It will only encourage their rambling. Be sure to write their idea down, though, so that you can claim it as your own later on.
Censor EVERYTHING. Stifle the creative juices by monitoring employee communications. Correct employees on everything from grammar to punctuation. If they send a funny email out to the entire company that is relevant, pertinent, and thought provoking, call them into your office and chew them out. “’Everyone’ is for HR only!” Make sure they understand that all of their ideas must come from you first. The added benefit to this is that if you run across an idea that actually has merit, you can take it.
Sleep During Meetings. If you don’t hear the idea happen, then it didn’t. Long, unnecessary meetings, full of boring graphs and charts that berate and belittle every department, including your own, are fantastic sleep induction devices.
Create Rules and Boundaries. People are supposed to toe the line, not cross it! Punish violators severely. Promote at least 50% of your staff to some sort of management responsibility so that the rules may be enforced most effectively. Post inspiration slogans on the wall like these time honored axioms:
• “Stay Within The Lines”
• “Follow Procedures!”
• “Watch the Bottom Line”,
• “Quarterly Profits are not everything, they are the ONLY thing!”
Remember, a demoralized staff is a hard working, obedient staff.
Don’t Ask Questions. People ask questions when they are interested in something. You can’t maintain conformity and status quo if things are being questioned. Things are going just fine the way they are. Why mess with your perfect world?
Happiness is the Enemy. Foolishness, silliness, storytelling, imagination, etc… these are all things that distract from productivity. Nip them in the bud on sight. Begin your correction of the wayward employee with phrases like :
• “Well THAT won’t work.” (or any variety of “it can’t be done”)
• “Let me tell you what we’re not going to do…”
• “Be Serious”
• “Think before you speak!”
• “Sit down and shutup.”
• Get back in your box?”
• “Who let you off your leash?”
• “We don’t do that here.”
• “Wipe that smile off your face! If you are smiling, you aren’t working!”
Procedures Must be Followed. In the military, there is an entire command of officers and non-com’s who exist for the sole purpose of approving any changes to procedures. It takes months, if not years, to change even a simple procedure. And look at how successful they are! In some countries, they are the ruling body! Establishing a rigid command structure will guarantee your corporation a place in the annals of history.

Some day, I will release a book that is a tell-all about all the shitty bosses I have been plagued with in my life.  For now, though, this will have to do.

P.S. If you have read this far and don’t realize it is satire, then you just might be a shitty boss.  Good luck with that.

A response to Laura Erickson’s Humming bird predation post.

Recently, a friend of mine forwarded me a post about hummingbirds:

Laura Ericson’s Blog posting regarding Hummingbirds and predators:http://lauraerickson.blogspot.com/2014/09/predation-and-hummingbirds.html

In her post, she presented an interesting postulate : That a 1985, scientific paper, written by Miller and Gass and titled “Survivorship in Hummingbirds: Is Predation Important?” is basically wrong.  Now, whenever a layperson begins bashing a scientific paper, my ears perk up.  I’ve spent a lot of time writing technical papers, books, and chapters for books, and I’m always interested to see how people perceive technical and scientific things.  Ultimately, Laura’s interpretation of the paper lacks foundation and is meritless, and is just another piece of Internet drivel (not unlike this one).  In the hopes that this blog post will crop up near Laura’s should anyone be unfortunate enough to locate and read either post, I have put the following editorial together.

I have no delusions that I can just say “she’s wrong” and then get on with life.  Rather, I am presenting evidence that she is wrong and I am also asking the reader to do some independent research and see where it leads.

Originally, I thought I would post this to her blog, but I do enjoy retaining copyright, as well as the ability to consolidate all of my Internet ranting to one place.  There is nothing worse that being unable to go back and remove an undesirable post (20/20 hindsight) or being unable to revise a malformed sentence.

This is the message to Laura as I originally intended to post it:

I have just a couple of question/comments after reading your blog post and the original paper you are discussing.

Question 1. The paper you mock refers to”‘natural predators’ in the usual sense” and you even quote this. Immediately, this excludes opportunistic predation and predation caused by things like cars, buildings, and cats, but your blog goes on to use these as refutation of the paper’s central argument.

That you mention cats as a hummingbird predator pretty much destroys your entire argument.  “Natural” predation also excludes opportunistic predation induced by human activity, such as introduced invasive predators, or luring hummingbirds in large numbers to poorly concealed, non-exhaustive hummingbird feeders where those invasive predators lie in wait. Where backyard feeders are concerned, we may as well be in league with the hawks and the cats. This wasn’t really a question, was it?

Question 2. How many squirrels are killed by Red-tailed hawks? Squirrels are definitelyHawk food.  A staple of their diet, as it were.

Question 3. How many hummingbirds per day are killed by, say, Cooper’s Hawks, which have been seen chasing hummingbirds (and vice versa)? I have never seen a hummingbird being chased by a hawk in nature myself, but even if did, a single incidence does not a pattern make. Even if 100 humming birds were killed by hawks, in the grand scheme of the food web, it is trivial. Thousands of squirrels are killed by hawks every day. Less than a thousand humming birds have been killed by hawks, possibly in the history of the species.

Question 3. It’s agreed by most people that, aside from other humans, we have no natural predators. Yet, thousands of humans are killed every year by lions, tigers, snake bites, sharks, etc. (I offer this as perspective). Are we to say, then, that humans are not apical?

Question 4. Finally, you argue the Hummingbirds’ alertness adaptation as foundation for their prey status. And it is an adaptation – it looks around a lot because it is hard-wired into its head to do that. It doesn’t mean the bird is flying around, terrified for its life all the time. So, why does it do this if it has no natural predators? Examine the adaptations of the kiwi bird for a clue. Why does the Kiwi possess such fabulous anti-arial attack adaptations when, in reality, no arial threat exists? (Hint : the Haast’s Eagle is extinct now).

In conclusion then, “chuckling” at the scientific and researched conclusions of actual scientist might best be left to disciplined minds…don’t get me wrong, I admire your work and understand and sympathize with your position that the hummingbird is a victim of opportunistic predation – I’m sure it is. I just think you went about expressing your point in a very unscientific manner, and that you victimized a very well written paper for seemingly opportunistic motives.

How to Argue Like an Idiot

Idiot n : A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot’s activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action but “pervades and regulates the whole.” He has the last word in everything. His decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions of opinion and taste, dictates the limitations of speech, and circumscribes conduct with dead-line.

                                 ~Ambrose Bierce “Devil’s Dictionary”

(This is based on all the ridiculous ways people try to win arguments and has nothing to do with the “12 Ideas for Arguing your Point Effectively” that I read the other day; you just think it does because you’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny.)

  1. The Selfishly Selfless Position: Make the argument about you. Defend your turf and the superiority of your decision making skills. Do not accept that you may be wrong. After all, you were there first! Just make sure that you frame it as “It’s not just me, but I am sure that everyone thinks…”  or “Think of the kids…” and “It’s not you, it’s me…”
  2. The Ignorance, oh the ignorance: There is only one side to any argument – the winning side. Your side. Do not pay attention to your opponent’s arguments. The best thing to do with an argument you don’t understand is to ignore it.
    Create lengthy arguments over easily reconcilable differences. Reconciliation takes time and means giving up something you want. Don’t do it.
  3. The Verbose, Brilliant Idiot: If you can’t blind them with your brilliance, baffle them with industry-speak and techno-babble. If your opponent uses masterful language and relevant examples and metaphors, rip them apart as irrelevant and fanciful. This is also known as the Proton-proton Chang of Nuclear Confusion.  If nobody understands your argument, it cannot be proven to be incorrect.
  4. The Irrefutable Irrefutableness of Irrefutability Argument: Allow people to believe that your opinions and beliefs are irrefutable truths, regardless of the fact that you are completely speculating and making it up. If they refuse to drink your lemonade, criticize them on a personal level, and point out their past failings.
  5. The Impending Gloom of Doom Offensive: For example, “I don’t see this project ever coming to light, don’t you remember what a huge failure your project management software solution was (ignore the fact that you may have caused it to fail). Certainly you can’t be trusted with an initiative like this one!” or “Coming from someone with a constant problem of x…” or “Allen is an imbecile and can’t be trusted with this” or “Whaaaah, my dog died last night.”
  6. Inverted Nascency : If it isn’t time tested it isn’t true. Likewise, if it isn’t brand new it must be worthless. Take whichever stance is applicable.
  7. The Defensive Offense: Be offended by even the slightest social misstep of anyone. It will give you great power over them. A good defense is the best offense.
  8. The Inverse Rule: “If everyone is doing it, then so should we.” Rely on arguments that stress wide acceptance and popularity, even if the others are not in the same industry, market, or building. It is also fair to execute the inverse of this argument, depending on your position. “Just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean we should.”  Many arguments can be fairly inverted, this is just one example (and a good one! You read it on the Internet, right?)
  9. The Oz Emulation If your opponent’s argument is exceptionally strong, submit a straw man attack. For example, “Julie, I am surprised to hear this position from you. I wouldn’t expect this pro-nouveau argument from someone who still uses a PALM IV to organize her day.”
  10. Injected with Redirection: Simply create an argument that has nothing to do with the fact. Phone conferences are best for this. “I can’t believe the email I just got. Mike, your special project is over budget, again? I guess this means I can’t fund my special project to generate tons of new revenue sources and make me look really good after all….” You may not win, but Tim will be destroyed. Do your best to misdirect the attention from yourself. Make this appear to be inadvertent.
  11. Unobtainable Perfection Theorem: If the solution being offered is not perfect, it will not work. Do not accept anything less than perfect. This is called the “unobtainable perfection postulation.”  Your opponent’s way will NEVER be perfect; key-in on the imperfections and bloat them with aggrandized tales of your own horrific experiences with imperfect solutions. Once you get this argument tacked onto his back, he will slink back under that rock that he came from.  Get back in your box,Bob!
  12. The Kluge Deterrent: Do not accept “work-arounds” as anything less than costly and ineffective or allow them to mitigate the risks associated with imperfection. You will not lose this battle. Everyone hates “kluged” and “rigged” solutions. Say things like “We don’t want to leave any revenue on the table” or “We need to extract value from this engagement” and “We need to optimize profit potential” to emphasize your bottom line driven focus. How else will you get that Rolex?
  13. The Interior Posterior Perspective : Employ flattery. For example, tell the person how ‘cool’ they will be if only they help you and do as you ask. Inviting people to a special event is a form of flattery.  This idiot tries to jam his entire head up your butt.
  14. The Internet Proof: It’s on Wikipedia/Google, so it must be true (never mind you that I put it there and then used muy own book as a source for it to prove it.)
  15. The Trepidation: We’ve all played this angle, so you know the power of this one! If all else fails, throw a fit, yell, call them names, and break things. Nobody will dare defy you ever again. If there is no rebuttal, then you win. Here is a great example a friend sent over to me:  “…so outweighed by the fallacies as to firmly place you in the category labeled “dumbass”. Thanks for playing.*
  16. Locus of Origination:  If you aren’t from around these parts, you got no business being here, let alone sticking your nose into our business.  This works best when combined fluidly with The Trepidation: “Are you a complete MORON or just a Liberal import into Colorado from California that is trying to ruin this state like you did California. I guess you can’t fix STUPID!”*
  17. The Pabst Deflection: If it has a pretty blue ribbon, it must be good. (never you mind that the ribbon is 100 years old) If you can make your argument short enough, sweet enough, and put it in a pretty package with a pretty blue ribbon on it, nobody will ever look inside.  Heck, even if they do look, the package is so pretty they won’t care what’s inside.  It could be a pile of dog poo, and they will love it!  The best example of this is the many memes that get posted onto facebook.  If the picture is pretty, or says something you beleive in and connects point A to point B, nobody cares how accurate it is.  It’s TEXT.  On a pretty PICTURE -> therefore it MUST be true.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these tremendously powerful tools. Remember, if everyone else is using them then you should,  too!  As you embark today into the world of idiots, remember : In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is just a lying fool, telling fancy tales.

*Quote is used for educational purposes and originated in a long, trailing post of idiocy by multiple people on that bastion of idiocy known as “facebook”.  Quote authors are Mike Wilson, whose profile pic is a picture of his girlfriend, and Nancy Shileikis, a former Target and Hobby Lobby employee.  Original thread can be viewed here.