Learning the Fundamentals, Day One: Who I am and Why I’m here

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Hi there,

This is a belated first-post kind of post. You know, the one where I introduce myself with who, what and why.

I am a passionate young woman. I have chosen to write this blog because I have ideas. My mind is like a flickering film role that doesn’t stop. I have million thoughts per minute that traverses my mind and without order. I suppose you can say it is like a plate of spaghetti. My thoughts mostly consist of humans and our ever fascinating behaviours – I suppose you can say a bit of cognitive and behavioural psychology, animals, and the relationship we, humans, have with these non-human animals. I am super passionate about equality, civil rights, animal rights, and understanding who what and why we do what we do. You might also find, in time, that I am a bit of a math geek. I value education, I value passion. I am on a journey of constant learning and I would like to share my learnings, my thoughts, the hurdles and the lot with you!

Why do I want to share this unkempt plate of spaghetti about equality, civil/animal rights, humans, non-humans, and all the rest with you? Well, I think the selfish reason is, I just want to be heard – I want you to hear what I have to say. The non-selfish reason is, I think I am worth hearing. I think you might find my thoughts and my life experiences (particularly relating to the topics I mentioned above) useful. You might feel ‘relatable’ when you read my posts, or you might think ‘wow this this blogger is totally whack’. Either way, if I can spark the slightest flame in your mind or you heart to do something positive, see the world from another point of view – maybe a view you hadn’t considered or thought of before, or give you even the tiniest bit of inspiration then I would say it has been worth blogging publicly instead of keeping a private diary.

I would love to connect with fellow bloggers who share my passion and education for equality, civil rights, animal rights, and understanding who what and why we do what we do.

I hope I can raise more awareness about these issues that I am passionate about. I hope that the things I post will make you question your own actions and behaviours. Maybe my experiences can teach you new things, and maybe you can share your own experiences and thoughts with me which can teach me new things.

Feel free to leave a comment to give feedback, or just to say hello 🙂

 

 

ANIMAL EQUALITY: Why are some more equal than others?

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The shelter kitten who changed my life

I am an engineering professional in my late 20s. I had a pretty ordinary childhood, except during my childhood I was never allowed to have pets. Not because we particularly disliked animals, but because my parents were too busy. Both my parents worked full-time. My mother barely had any maternity leave when she had me and my sister. So I grew up being quite indifferent to animals, even scared of little kittens and puppies.

It wasn’t until my 21st birthday that I ever had a pet. On my 21st birthday my then boyfriend convinced me to adopt a kitten named Winkle from the RSPCA shelter. Winkle changed my life.

Winkle made me realise that animals have personalities; they feel joy, sadness and pain just like humans. And so my transformation began.

Following Winkle, I welcomed Billy, Meg, Lily and Speckles into my life. I have also watched hundreds of foster animals come and go. I called myself an animal lover.

But I felt something was not right. So I started questioning what was so different between the animals we love, like cats and dogs, and the animals we eat, like chickens, cows, pigs, and goats. The answer was nothing.

Subsequently I changed my lifestyle. I stopped consuming and using animals. I felt liberated to finally call myself an animal lover. My actions finally aligned with my values.

I have visited various farm sanctuaries. I have met Heather – a sow rescued from a piggery, Coco – a rooster rescued from a broiler farm, and Mary – a dairy cow who has had her babies taken from her for the majority of her life. My interactions with Heather, Coco, Mary and many of their other friends only confirmed that humans and animals share the same capacity to suffer and enjoy life.

The more I learned about the animal agriculture industry, the more I believed that I have done the right thing by eliminating the consumption and usage of animals. For example, I learnt that male piglets are castrated without anaesthetics and unwanted baby pigs are killed. Apparently this was standard industry practice.

I was heart-broken. I think any person who aspires to being a good, kind and compassionate person would be.

I also read the recently published 82-paged “Life of a Dairy Cow” by Voiceless which reports that the dairy cows are impregnated and their offspring removed within days of birth. The male calves are then killed while their female counterparts are grown to endure the same fate as their mothers.

The way the animals are treated in today’s society affects the way I function my life. This includes my work, what I buy, what I eat and what I do.

Living a life that has no direct contribution to the use and abuse of animals has benefitted not only those animals but also myself. My diet is much healthier now and as a result I am healthier. I am contributing less to adverse environmental impacts by not actively participating in animal agriculture, which causes greenhouse gases, water pollution, deforestation and climate change.

We are privileged to live in a time where there are various non-animal based products available – to eat, wear and use. So if we can thrive without hurting others, why wouldn’t we?

I believe that we should thrive for a world without the use and abuse of other creatures. It will lead to a better future for creatures on earth, including us humans.

Some Resources:

Groupthink & Abilene Paradox

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How often do you think to yourself that you are not like everyone else and that your thoughts are not influenced by those around you? Well, you might be surprised that we can all fall into paradoxes such as ‘Groupthink’ and ‘Abilene Paradox’ without even realising it.

From time after time we see that even the most sophisticated teams fail as a result of poor team dynamics. We, humans, are still the most important resource in any project and it is important to appropriately manage this resource in a manner that is beneficial to us and the project we are working on. In teams, effective communication is a key contributor for successful functionality of groups. Groupthink and Abilene Paradox are two group conditions, if unmanaged, can have detrimental impact to a team’s performance.

Groupthink is defined as “a mode of thinking of people when they are deeply involved in a cohesive group. When the member’s are strivings for unanimity and they override their own motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action“(Anonymous, 2009). With groupthink, the individuals are unaware of that the team’s decision is wrong or risky.

Abilene Paradox, on the other hand, is when groups make ineffective decisions that are contrary to what each of the group members individually believe because they don’t want to ‘rock the boat’ (McAvoy & Butler 2007). The individuals are aware that a decision taken by the team is wrong or risky but do not voice their concerns due to action anxiety (Harvey 1988).

Groupthink and Abilene Paradox are similar but they are two separate group conditions. Below are symptoms for differentiating between Groupthink and Abilene Paradox.

Harvey (1988) identified six symptoms associated with the Abilene Paradox:

  1. The individuals in a group privately assess the problem they are facing.
  2. The individuals in a group come up with the steps that would be required to address the problem, however the team members do this individually, to themselves.
  3. The team members fail to accurately communicate their individual desires and beliefs to one another within the group. In fact, they do the opposite and thus mislead each other.
  4. With invalid and inaccurate information, the team members make group decisions that lead counterproductive outcomes.
  5. As a result of counterproductive outcomes, the team members experience frustration, anger, irritation and dissatisfaction. Consequently, blame occurs and the team become ineffective (Yoonho 2001, 173).
  6. Finally, if the team fails to resolve the issue, the cycle repeats itself with much greater intensity. In an organisational environment this could damage the business intensely.

Harvey et al (2004) identified seven symptoms associated with groupthink:

  1. There is a strong lead and a strong organisational culture.
  2. The group overestimate itself and creates the illusion that the group is invulnerable.
  3. There is little to no conflict or debate within the group.
  4. There is close mindedness with lack of diversity and pluralistic perspective.
  5. There is pressure for uniformity.
  6. The appointment of a leader (Harvey et al., 2004) in the group can trigger action anxiety to individuals. No one dares to question the leader publicly.
  7. Finally, the development of a ‘spiral of silence’ where an individual’s perception of the majority opinion suppresses their willingness to share challenging questions.

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