Selective Abstraction in Action

There was a lovely example of the thinking error “selective abstraction” on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning. They were discussing criticisms of the BBC’s coverage of the Royal Jubilee Flotilla, in particular with regard to the inclusion of an item about sick bags illustrated with images of the royal family. The person defending the BBC said that it was not fair to focus on one item and use this to condemn the whole show.

Incidentally, while on the subject of the Today programme, I think that John Humphrys is an exemplary exponent of Socratic questioning – he has an endearing curiosity that encourages his interviewees to examine and explain their thinking about the topic under discussion, cutting through attempts at glibness and obfuscation.

Ruminations on respiration

Further to my ruminations about dentistry, I can report that this week I was provided with a new excuse for cancelling an appointment with me. My client left a message to say that our appointment clashed with a hospital appointment regarding her breathing.

I have to concede that breathing is probably a more important function than thinking. It is also something that we try to help our clients understand better so they can control the hyperventilation that is part of a panic attack, and we use breathing exercises – such as diaphragmatic breathing– to help clients reduce their levels of anxiety and arousal.