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Re: I may have learned something already Re: Rant: Who took the P2 out ofResource Conservation?




Having shared an office with you for about 4 years, I've missed the rants.

But then, I might be wrong.

This discussion of definitions and new terms (P2, sustainability, product
stewardship, source reduction, and whatever tomorrow brings) reminds me of
the saying, "There is nothing new under the sun."

I've seen it happen in many fields (heresy and blasphemy alert). In order
to get published, get funding, or get noticed someone repackages ideas,
gives a slightly new twist  and gives it a new name. Suddenly it's the new
best thing.

These twists usually involved taking something away, adding something,
combining several things previously separate ("we've simplified from 12
step to 7 step: wash and rinse is now one step rather than two separate
actions") or dividing something into several things ("added value: the old
7 steps is improved to 9 steps because we've realized that wash and rinse
are actually discrete behaviors that are only tangentially or
chronologically related and accidentally similar but certainly not
identical"). A great place to see this is in all the personality profiles.

Carl Jung said there were two basic personality traits: extroverted or
introverted. Within those, there are four functions that everyone has/uses
in unequal amounts: thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuition. A few
decades later, these were refined into the Myers-Briggs Type Assessment.
I've seen at least two "simplified" variations on this model, each giving
due credit to Jung and MB. A person can identify style of action/reaction
with a handy 4 letter code. (Technically there are 8 variables but that's
only because Jung was a firm believer and teacher in the concept of
opposites: there can only be a white if there is a black.)

Now there are "Colors" which does the same thing by identifying everyone
with a color: blue, green, orange, gold. There is also a style with
animals: lion, otter, beaver, and golden retriever (which at least has the
merit that it rhymes). I'm sure in about two years someone will come up
with fruit: "It'll never work out--you're a pineapple and I'm a peach."
"Your tangerine is infringing on my avocado."

These styles focus on traits like think about it, knee jerk reaction,
empathy, take charge (overstating simplistically). This is interesting
because the ancient Greeks held that everything in the world is made up of
four elements: fire, air, earth, and water. Each element had a personality
or characteristic behaviors attached to it. Fire was hotheaded,
reactionary; air was spiritual, ethereal, etc. No one or nothing was pure
water (not even water). When these elements were properly in balance (in
harmony) all was well. Building on the Greeks, people in the Middle Ages
and Renaissance referred to humors: phlegm (phlegmatic), blood (sanguine),
black bile, and yellow bile. (Ben Jonson wrote a play "Every Man in his
Humor" showing how people acted true to type--what we'd call "profiling"
today.)

I've seen the same thing happen with educational and other behavioral
models. Social Marketing, repackaging old concepts with new labels is but
one example.

As Ellen Degeneres said, "My point, and I do have one" is that often what
we see as the latest and greatest innovation is old stuff decked out in new
robes. Academics don't make money if they don't get published, and grants
don't get funded unless something new is presented. A book entitled "Ditto"
with page after page of  "" "" "" "" ""  is not likely to see the light of
day.

Like the song says, "Everything old is new again."

But I might be wrong.


Phillip J. Rooney, Ph.D.
Environmental Health Educator II
Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department
3140 N Street
Lincoln, NE 68510

phone:  (402) 441-8644
fax:   (402) 441-3890


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