Category Archives: Historiography

Thought for the Day: Defining Bullshit

The Chronicle of Higher Education has just made my day, or rather two professors at The University of Washington. It’s a crying shame they aren’t located in D.C. and/or that they haven’t YET exported their wit to every State in the Union.

Here is the opening line from The Chronicle’s current Post Truth issue:

“Facts and figures are like cow pastures. Unless you squint, you can’t always tell how full of bullshit they are.”

That’s correct readers. It seems AT LEAST TWO tenured (?) academics have struck marketing gold! At my Alma Matter, the class was titled Borderlands of Science and Religion and you can view the wit who created it, under this blog’s About tab.

The current Chronicle article has a Q & A with the academics in question and I recommend giving it a read.

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Absolute Values Part Three: Language and Professionalism in Context

*This is the third installment of a four-part series on Professional Development for Spa Therapists. The series utilizes the terms Masseur, Masseuse and Massage Therapist as a Touchstone.

What does the structure of language have to do with Professional Development for Spa Therapists/Technicians?

What is the difference between an adjective, a metaphor and a simile? Are they synonyms for one another and if they are not, what makes them distinct and discreetly different? Why does it matter what anyone calls themselves as long as they give a ‘good’ massage?

adjective noun

An adjective is a word that describes a noun and can include the words Masseur and Masseuse.

  • The red car.
  • I am tired of dating him.
  • He is too idealistic.
  • He is a self motivated professional.
  • The name of the book is Stone Soup.

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A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase compares two very different objects, concepts, ideas, or feelings to provide a clearer description.

  • He is the black sheep of our family.
  • You ain’t nothing but a hound dog. – Elvis Presley
  • A blanket of snow fell today.
  • I have a half-baked idea in mind.
  • “Why I am a little black rain cloud of course!” – Winnie the Pooh

Giraffe Similie

Metaphors are different from similes. A simile is a figure of speech involving the comparison of two different things and 9 times out of 10 will incorporate the words “like” or “as.” Because simile’s AND metaphors serve the purpose of enhancing a description they are both considered literary devices. More precisely, the true distinction between a metaphor and a simile is that a simile makes an explicit comparison, while a metaphor makes an implicit one.

BUT WAIT!!! What does this have to do with Professional development?

PLENTY! And here is WHY: As you may have already noticed, the definitions above OVERLAP. What one person will call an adjective may be further categorized as a metaphor or in some instances as a simile depending on the usage. These definitions underscore both the creativity and subjectivity involved in personal self-expression.

Massage Therapist: Tenor or Vehicle?

I’m not talking about music or cars! So what do Professionals mean when asking the question above?  Metaphors can be described by several means and methods. Tenor and Vehicle are terms that were coined by I.A. Richards in the early 20th century.

  • The Encyclopedia Britannica defines the terms this way: “tenor and vehicle, the components of a metaphor, with the tenor referring to the concept, object, or person meant, and the vehicle being the image that carries the weight of the comparison.” This is not the only way to define the terms.

Here is a broader definition.

An academic source from Carson Newman College’s English Department affords tenor and vehicle more liberal definitions: “In common usage, tenor refers to the course of thought, meaning or emotion in anything written or spoken.”  

“A modern theory would object, first, that in many of the most important uses of metaphor, the co-presence of the vehicle and the tenor results in a meaning (to be clearly distinguished from the tenor) which is not attainable without their interaction. That the vehicle is not normally a mere embellishment of a tenor which is otherwise unchanged by it but that vehicle and tenor in co-operation give a meaning of more varied powers that can be ascribed to either. And a modern theory would go on to point out that with different metaphors the relative importance of the contributions of vehicle and tenor to this resultant meaning varies immensely. At one extreme the vehicle may become almost a mere decoration or coloring of the tenor, at the other extreme, the tenor may become almost a mere excuse for the introduction of the vehicle, and so no longer be ‘the principal subject.’ And the degree to which the tenor is imagined ‘to be that very thing which it only resembles’ also varies immensely.” (I.A. Richards, The Philosophy of Rhetoric. Oxford Univ. Press, 1936)

Philosophically speaking, the witty amongst us will have already noted that Richards describes a “modern theory” and thereby indicates that he has a basis for making a distinction between tenor and vehicle that avoids the solipsism he is describing!

Richard’s may have had an agenda of sorts or not. Regardless of his own views of what constituted “modernism” or even his private politics, by categorizing “modern” rhetoric as having “relative” meaning Richards accomplished or obscured two important historical developments of his era. Richards wrote the passage above in 1936, prior to Hitler, Hiroshima and the Holocaust. As previously noted in this series, logical positivism was reaching it’s zenith in Europe in the 1940’s as the discovery of the atom bomb illustrated. The taxonomy Richards created and “embellished” beyond rhetoric and into literature as a whole stream of thought, rather than the nuts and bolts of language structure allows us to note that the solipsism he describes is a feature of both logical positivism AND relativism which facilitates the unspoken “POST MODERN” label predicated on Richard’s own definitions which imply reflexivity.  This occurred at least 40 years prior to the supposed advent of the term in the 1970’s according to art historians.

The relationship between logical positivism and language as we have noted in prior installments of this series was carried forward by Ludwig Wittgenstein and his contributions to logic and language. Popper and Kuhn built on this existing legacy and made contributions to the philosophy of science that form the basis of many massage education curriculums today.

Professional Foundations and the Individual: Why and Where does gender matter in professional communication?

Let’s revisit the second post in this series to provide a starting point and context from which to answer the question above.

“Logical Positivism was supposedly abandoned because it was revealed that empirical PHILOSOPHICAL claims which were presumed to undergird scientific endeavors cannot be VERIFIED to be UNIVERSALLY true and that this revelation placed limits on how much we can know. This “revelation” (a form of knowledge itself) filtered into common parlance (language) in phrases such as “the linguistic turn” cited above. It is also another way to describe phrases such as “asymmetrical information” which are frequently floated to describe a variety of imbalances in power implied by terms such as “Balkanization” and resulting abuses.”

Awareness of how the growth of modern views on language and linguistics fits into the history of science can shed more light on WHY the professional massage, spa, wellness and allied CAM community has agreed by general consensus to uphold the term “massage therapist” as the most appropriate term for professional use by bodyworkers.

“Masseur” and “masseuse” are descriptive stand alone words. With such gendered terminology as a starting point, who is the observer and who is the subject?

Massage Therapist is not a metaphor any more than Masseur or Masseuse: therefore it is illogical to ask what is the tenor and what or whom is the vehicle in this word phrase.

One of the facts of professional practice for LMT’s in the 21st century is that the massage profession will never be able to replace the scientifically mainstream profession of physical therapy. Due to this impasse, the massage profession is viewed by some within the industry as ‘struggling’ against everything from health care politics and monied vested interests, to conspiracy theories of every stripe and even with private matters for individuals such as religion, faith and sexuality.

Choosing the term “Massage Therapist” is in many respects a discretionary decision. Many LMT’s make this choice because it is what they were taught. Other’s make this distinction predicated on axiology and value judgments. Yet others if asked will say that they find the decision to utilize the professional designation “Massage Therapist” because they are supporting the growth of the profession and of the wellness industry as a whole.

Regardless of the reasons one has for choosing to ‘follow the crowd’ there are still more reasons than we have yet discussed for chosing to adhere to the term “Massage Therapist” as a professional designation.

We will touch on some of those reasons in the final installment in this series. Until next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Announcing Fruits, Nuts and Flakes: Massage and Bodywork Edition

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Announcing Fruits, Nuts and Flakes: Massage and Bodywork Edition!!

I am fundraising to print, produce and ship a card set for Massage educators, massage aficionados and their nemesis!!

I would like to be able to print at least 2,000 decks or more. Please share any and all feedback and thank you. I will be adding an option to purchase 1 set immediately.

Absolute Values Part Two: Epistemology, the Individual and Professional Development

This is the second article in a four part series on Professional Development for Massage Therapists. The series utilizes the terms Massage Therapist, Masseur and Masseuse as a touchstone.

imre-lakatos-philosopher-quote-the-clash-between-popper-and-kuhn-is

The  quote above is by philosopher Imre Lakatos, taken from a paper titled Falsification and the methodology of scientific research programs. The distinction beetween Popper and Kuhn is beyond the scope of this artice but the difference between the two is ONE point of departure to examine questions of Epistemology, Education and Professional Development for Health Professions.

What is Epistemology? (link)

Epistemology is the study of knowledge. If or when this definition is expanded to include “How we know what we know” then the resulting definition begins to reveal an insight into the rationale behind modern disagreement regarding a revised understanding of the scientific method, religion, philosophy and the individual.

What is the role of logic within Epistemology?

To ask what the role of logic is within Epistemology without resorting to reflexivity illustrates why early efforts to answer this question were superceded in many professional disciplines during the last century.  When a linguist says a word or a concept is “reflexive” they are saying that there is an absence of logic agreement between subject and object or a circular relationship between cause and effect. Thomas Kuhn approaches Wittgenstein with his emphasis on “the linguistic turn” as part of his rationale for paradigm shifts, which ultimately derive from Wittgenstein’s early and later stages of work. And then, he steps back.

Why?

In the history of science, the logical positivists or logical empiricists as the case may be, were of the opinion that philosophy needed to be legitimized and the resulting legitimacy shared with science – (author emphasis). Logical positivists also proceeded with the idea that ONLY statements verifiable EITHER logically or empirically would be cognitively meaningful. This definition presents issues that we recognize today in debates between science researchers such as Kuhn and Popper.

Logical positivism is justifiably credited with scientific reductionism. Another way to describe this is to define it as A.J. Ayers has done; an “Attack on Metaphysics.” Many academics, intellectuals and political scientists recoiled from Logical Positivism at this time, including many faith based religious groups and denominations. A former note on the result can be seen in the shift of political and voting demographics in the American South after the Second World War from predominately Democrat to Republican.

Logical Positivism was supposedly abandoned because it was revealed that empirical PHILOSOPHICAL claims that supposedly are presumed to undergird scientific endeavors cannot be VERIFIED to be UNIVERSALLY true and that this revelation placed limits on how much we can know. This “revelation” (a form of knowledge itself) filtered into common parlance (language) in phrases such as “the linguistic turn” cited above. It is also another way to describe phrases such as “asymmetrical information” which are frequently floated to describe a variety of imbalances in power implied by terms such as “Balkanization” and resulting abuses.

Professional Development and Massage Terminology

Massage Therapist, Masseur or Masseuse? There are many reasons it is legitimate for a LMT to explore their professionalism and professional growth and development thru language. What is important to note is that the search by empiricists discussed above has several presumptions embedded in it about the limits of knowledge and by default, these presumptions encapuslate the limits of how LMT’s and CAM practitioners can go with a mind-body-spirit paradigm of holistic wellness.

Pop culture’s view of modernism credits Freud, rightly or wrongly, with being the first psychologist to articulate a perceived need for a body based psychotherapy,
predicated on the premise that none existed. At the time of Freud’s early musings on this idea, modernism was in full bloom and approaching what many advocates of a religiously (monotheistic) based ontology for psychotherapy would come to call “decadence” at full speed. This is one reason among many that Freud and Jung continue to receive criticism from both liberal and conservative scientists, researchers and practicing members of the various psychological professions…(not to mention but also implied, are those practicing members of fields such as massage and physical therapy. )

By definition, physical therapists and massage therapists are members of the health professions that would be the counterpart or missing piece of such empirical “solipsism” on one hand or more kindly “the quest” to create a science based view of universal history with all that implies.

Many members of the CAM professions utilize some view of religion, philosophy and spirituality in various ways as a stop gap measure when confronting questions such as the one mentioned above. This is not the only avenue in which gender, (in scientific parlance a mere variable) substitutes symbolically for a subjective view of wholeness; raising additional aesthetic questions about the relationship between individual and universal values.

Ludwig Wittgenstien made a comment many years ago on the role of the subjective deployment of language in order to make a larger point. One way to condense Wittgenstien’s position into something tangible is to do what any Deconstructionist would: take the words apart!

I tried this myself in a college English writing class in 2006, unaware that there was a meme coined by Saturday Night Live by that title and created a pitifully poor poem in my own and my professors opinion! The title of the poem was of course, “The Rapist.”

im-actually-the-rapist-im-not-a-therapist-thumb

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Knowledge, Language and The Individual

Ludwig Wittgenstien more eloquently stated in his work Philosophical Investigations: “The words of this (private) language are to refer to what can be known only to the speaker; to his immediate, private, sensations. So another cannot understand the language.” But there is more. It is worthwhile to quote another paragraph from Stanford’s online encyclopedia entry on the subject according to Wittgenstein.

“Immediately after introducing the idea, Wittgenstein goes on to argue that there cannot be such a language. The importance of drawing philosophers’ attention to a largely unheard-of notion and then arguing that it is unrealizable lies in the fact that an unformulated reliance on the possibility of a private language is arguably essential to mainstream epistemology, philosophy of mind and metaphysics from Descartes to versions of the representational theory of mind which became prominent in late twentieth century cognitive science….Wittgenstein suggests that the existence of the rules governing the use of language and making communication possible depends on agreement in human behaviour—such as the uniformity in normal human reaction which makes it possible to train most children to look at something by pointing at it. (Unlike cats, which react in a seemingly random variety of ways to pointing.) One function of the private language argument is to show that not only actual languages but the very possibility of language and concept formation depends on the possibility of such agreement.”

Professional Development and Axiology

Axiology is typically defined by it’s first branch, ethics. In this way it can be said that Axiology is concerned with how value is understood and determined. Axiology however contains a second branch known as aesthetics. Do note, Aesthetics is NOT synonymous with Esthetics. Often, Axiology is accused of putting the cart before the horse and assigning value unethically or dualistically rather than universally; i.e, racism, nationalism, classism etc.

Basic questions derived or culled from Axiology are:

  1. How are values related to interest, desire, will, experience, and means-to-end?
  2. How do different kinds of value interrelate?
  3. Can the distinction between intrinsic and instrumental values be maintained?
  4. Are values ultimately rationally or objectively based?
  5. What is the difference between a matter of fact and a matter of value?

In professional massage, the question of language is actually a settled matter that was reached by consensus. Hence, current manifestations of individualism thru the application of gendered terminology or terms such as body worker, or even those terms that would purport to change the subject object relationship embedded in the professional designation really are a moot point. However, its not wrong to question if there are situations or contexts in which discussion of gender labels and professionalism are appropriate.

Is there ever a time when gender distinctions in professional massage are inappropriate?

All the questions cited above are value based. Because of the historic connections between eugenics, health and aesthetically grounded idealism, yes. There are instances where gendered terminology, art and discourse can conflict ideologically with norms and values embodied in a professional setting for a variety of reasons. That these reasons are 99% of the time subjective and personal matters of taste, style or belief for individuals or groups, illustrates why diversity is commonly considered alongside axiology.

My Own Radio Show?

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I was approached in the last month about hosting a radio show based around this blog! I am flattered to be honest and I would love to give it a try for at least a season to see how things would work out.

It would be a partnership and I would have to come up with some financial capital for the first season. However, the beauty of partnerships is that there is more support for the program itself and more shoulders to carry the financial burden as well. I am sketching out some ideas for a few shows now and also looking for topic suggestions if anyone has any subjects they would like to know more about. Another perk of having corporate sponsorships to shoulder the task would be the ability to get to information and guest speakers that might not ordinarily be available.

As this blog is focused on both mainstream and fringe topics in the CAM field, there is a wide swath of territory to cover and I would love to see if I can pull this off and make it happen actually. My mother has been after me to do something along these lines with radio for years. I do wonder however if there is truly a market for this kind of broadcast??

Please leave your comments below if you have any or send me an email! I would love to hear others thoughts on the subject.

Sacred Cows in the CAM Industry

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I recently had the misfortune to have a public argument over what academics call nit picking with a sacred cow of the Massage community.

This is a snippet from the middle of a discussion that began in a professional group for massage educators on Facebook, followed recommendations to contact industry authorities for more information and clarity, ricocheted back onto Facebook as if public slander and legal action were about to follow and all of this is documented both in email and on Facebook :

“Heidi – It is Judith, not Janet, and my last name is DeLany. You wrote your first email to our business email address on Sunday. We were closed Sunday and Monday so it was not handled until today. My two responses to your rather abstract emails have taken most of my day today. Before I got linked to this Facebook discussion, I spent several hours collecting and sending to you a number of supporting documents, peer reviewed articles, and a substantial chapter from one of my strongly referenced texts. Even though I do not know you, have never seen any historical document or any articles that you have written on this subject or any other, nor have you ever been in my class nor read my books or articles, I freely gave of my valuable time to support your efforts to obtain all of your information so that you did not have to purchase textbooks or subscribe to the peer-reviewed journals you so want to cite. You are collecting history on NMT, the very history that I have lived for 30 years. You do not have NMT textbooks or articles, not even the Travell books on trigger points, yet you have posted what I interpret as off-color remarks about my life work. Your comments above are disturbing, as you accuse flawed logic, yet do not disclose what you think is flawed and make broad sweeping statements that discredit me and cast my three decades of hard work, solid references, peer reviews, professional editing, and exemplary co-authors, as a comment on socialism. Your comments will not change the history of NMT, as it evolved on two continents under the hands of many, many people. You should not cite a simple website posting as an academic reference. There are many referenced sources, several of which I gave freely to you this morning. Read the books, read the articles, reframe your position. There are many historical and technique-based differences in NMT European vs NMT American version (my personal method) yet their foundations have some similarities. The textbooks and articles discuss these similarities and differences fully. Websites (which ARE opinions and marketing tools) do not contain the same content as a referenced source. There are also many other methods of NMT that are worth looking into. If you are writing about or teaching anything on this subject, I hope you spend the time to educate yourself on more than just internet websites and wiki. – Judith Delaney”
 
“Dear JUDITH –
 
  1. You are obviously not trained in Historiography and I am. Based on HISTORICAL methodology, your web sites definitions are REFLEXIVE. Based on that bit of LITERARY use of post modern discourse, it makes using your website problematic from a historiographical point of view
  2. You obviously did not note the date and time the conversation in this forum took place and failed to notice that I state I had emailed you for clarification. If you look at the sentence as I worded it, it’s obvious that I fully expect your published work to have detail that a website might very well lack. Therefore, your courtesy to me in providing me with more information is merely a professional courtesy and you have come to this forum late, misinterpreted the time line of events -again a history issues- and have accused me effectively of being ungrateful. Your moralizing will not shame me for any reason and is inappropriate.
  3. I don’t think issues about historiography revolve around you or your school alone. Consider Universal History and it’s implications and then have a second look at the upshot and rationale of the FSMTB’s MPA for starters. Again, they are codifying what in my opinion is a DISCOURSE in order to provide structure to the profession. As a trained historian, your on my home turf now and as a historian, I wont put my academic credentials onto a publication that utilizes websites with these kinds of errors and when authors such as yourself are graciously available to answer questions and willing to do so. You came to the conversation late and assumed I was attacking you. I state that I lacked information in that post and needed to contact you for clarification and yet, you call a public rant like the post above some kind of defense against me slandering you.
  • I stated up front that I did not have access to the information I needed and based on my training, I am NOT WRONG to say that your wording is reflexive. In the email I sent you, I also point this out and offer to explain why I would not be comfortable merely citing your website and if you had any questions to respond and ask me and I would be happy to explain.
  • I don’t recognize ‘sacred cows’. And no, this is not an apology. It’s my opinion about the difference between objectivity and subjectivity and if the massage profession were truly invested in creating infrastructure to support growth, there would be more discussion about the role of history to begin with. And I think we all have enough common sense to know why this NEVER gets discussed in public amongst massage professionals
  • TEACHING NMT is your home turf. What I am doing, is writing an introductory overview of the subject which is intended to provide BASIC information which therapists can use to determine if they want to pursue a more IN DEPTH study. If you note what I said, I said I did not want to read into any personal or subjective implication in your word choice and need to contact you for clarification.
  • I am not writing a full scope NMT history as you imply. Again, I am providing an overview of key terms and concepts. While I am fully capable of explaining in my brief that your website utilizes reflexivity and that for this reason, the terminology used to distinguish your views as expressed on your website are not at all common or accepted across the entire profession, I shouldn’t HAVE to make that comment in a publication to make massage industry professionals who are considered “Revered” or even more questionable, “lineage teachers” or commonly, “sacred cows”.
  • You should have enough education under your belt to know what reflexivity is in the first place, why from a research writing standpoint it’s problematic and while I am fully capable of going AROUND the issue, again, I shouldn’t have too.
 
While this is NOT an apology I most certainly had no intention of slandering you. I am sorry if you had that impression. However, honestly, I really should NOT have to point out what I have to someone of your stature in the professional massage community, who is a published author with research credits under your belt. Period.
 
Sincerely,
 

Ashley M Heidi Carter BS, LMT”

Despite whining to the contrary I do not see evidence of a Massage Therapy Industry. I see a community that likes certain terminology and labels and that wants the laurels that go along with those things but does not want to do the work.
 
The ‘professional’ HEALTH CARE Industry and NOT the Massage Industry, CAM INDUSTRY, Spa Industry or any other single discipline made a joint and unified effort over the past 15 years to introduce more use of evidence based practices involving research. As I pointed out to others who witnessed this hilarious whining diatribe about hair splitting between two professionals with different views of what academic and research literacy entail I had to remind at least one published author of a massage text book that is considered a classic, one author of noted research papers and news writer and more than a few writers of continuing education for massage therapists of a few details that amount to facts.
 
Sacred Cows Take Note:
 
  • Regardless of when the original push for greater research uptake and applied EVP began, CULTURE happens in waves – not history. Therefore, the CULTURAL return on the investment in human capital made by these efforts will also return in waves in it’s own time. Not every wave is a damn paradigm shift but that WAS PART the upshot people oh Utopian idealist engineers of fascist infrastructure………..
  • When the younger generation like myself, who are under 40 and who happen to be degree holders need to point out the obvious, be zen like before showing your asses and illustrating the reasons why massage has the stereotype of being a field of primadonnas when you reply.
  • And while your at it note, it’s A DAMN DISAPPOINTMENT to those of us who actually had some Utopian ideals when we entered this profession to find that the sacred cows are not as educated and organized as the Library of Alexandria, there is disagreement and identity politics rife in the vaunted halls of academy and when we get a bit grumpy about the equivalent of peeling paint, of crumbling dry wall and infestations of intellectual termites in the public facade that passes for “Massage Industry Infrastructure” – don’t get cocky. Get off your high horses and remember pluralism is fragile.
  • None of you know me, my background or why I might have a reason to be cocky or humble. Anyone who has met me in person knows I am cocky online and cautious in person. I am also damn honest, and fair. Don’t expect a free ride people. Period.
  • This is not the commentary I originally planned on but since you all set the stage why should I not tip my hat to the crowd ladies and gentlemen? I leave those of you with the intelligence to recognize your unique positions with this thought and these two videos below. “We don’t need to control him. We need to unleash him.” – Troy