Induction, Deduction and Eight States of Change

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

For many years, people with terminal illnesses were an embarrassment for doctors. Someone who could not be cured was evidence of the doctors’ fallibility, and as a result the doctors regularly shunned the dying with the excuse that there was nothing more that could be done (and that there was plenty of other demand on the doctors’ time).

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross was a doctor in Switzerland who railed against this unkindness and spent a lot of time with dying people, both comforting and studying them. She wrote a book, called ‘On Death and Dying’ which included a cycle of emotional states that is often referred to (but not exclusively called) the Grief Cycle.

In the ensuing years, it was noticed that this emotional cycle was not exclusive just to the terminally ill, but also other people who were affected by bad news, such as losing their jobs or otherwise being negatively affected by change. The important factor is not that the change is good or bad, but that they perceive it as a significantly negative event.

The Grief Cycle

The Grief Cycle can be shown as in the chart below, indicating the roller-coaster ride of activity and passivity as the person wriggles and turns in their desperate efforts to avoid the change.

The initial state before the cycle is received is stable, at least in terms of the subsequent reaction on hearing the bad news. Compared with the ups and downs to come, even if there is some variation, this is indeed a stable state.

And then, into the calm of this relative paradise, a bombshell bursts…

The Induction/Deduction Change Cycle

I think that the grieving processs is considerably more universal than it first appears.  The grieving process is in reality the way we deal with any change psychologically, social-psychologically or sociologically on a micro, meso or macro scale.  And depending on the scale, the seven stages can occur over minutes, over years, even centuries.

In the list I have below I compare the resistance or friction to change with the action of change:

  • Occurrence – Recept State – Singularity – Exception occurs – Contacts
  • Shock or Disbelief – Cord State- Attempt to maintain current schedule (events) – Factums
  • Denial – Port State- Attempt to maintain current tools (location) – Factories
  • Anger – Record State – Attempt to maintain current domains (products) Factities
  • Bargaining – Report State – Attempt to maintain current attributions (services) – Factors
  • Depression – Accord State – Attempt to maintain current organization (contacts) – Factotums
  • Testing – Apport State – Attempt to maintain current motives (goals) – Factuals
  • Hope – Accept State – Pluralarity – Attempt to maintain existence (reality) – Facts

As you can see the fit with the Systema model is quite good and my “Fact” vocabulary fits well, too.  The process is inductive, you can call it the death cycle.  It works its way through the system structure, be it a person, group or hierarchy.  It also reveals something else, how each level of the organism will react.  Followed by induction, the tearing down of a belief system, we deal with deduction, which is building up a new belief system, the deductive lifecycle.


At the midpoints of the cycle exist singularities or infinity points.  At the top and bottom of the cycle exist pluralarities or zero points.

The OODA Loop

Colonel John Boyd, understood how to use induction and deduction against the enemy.  He knew that if you could disrupt the timing of your opponent you could disrupt everything else.  If your opponent lost his timing he would be in the wrong location with the wrong product for providing the wrong service to the wrong contact with the wrong goal.  Accelerate your cycle’s timing and your opponent is overwhelmed.


Norman Dixon, in his book, On the Psychology of Military Incompetence, provides a broad range of definitions of military incompetence, however Elizabeth Kübler-Ross boils it down to two phenomna with regard to change:

Getting Stuck

A common problem with the above cycle is that people get stuck in one phase. Thus a person may become stuck in denial, never moving on from the position of not accepting the inevitable future. When it happens, they still keep on denying it, such as the person who has lost their job still going into the city only to sit on a park bench all day.

Getting stuck in denial is common in ‘cool’ cultures (such as in Britain, particularly Southern England) where expressing anger is not acceptable. The person may feel that anger, but may then repress it, bottling it up inside.

Likewise, a person may be stuck in permanent anger (which is itself a form of flight from reality) or repeated bargaining. It is more difficult to get stuck in active states than in passivity, and getting stuck in depression is perhaps a more common ailment.

Going in Circles

Another trap is that when a person moves on to the next phase, they have not completed an earlier phase and so move backwards in cyclic loops that repeat previous emotion and actions. Thus, for example, a person that finds bargaining not to be working, may go back into anger or denial.

Circling is itself a form of avoidance of the inevitable, and going backwards in time may seem to be a way of extending the time before the perceived bad thing happens.

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The Brain: Hardwiring and Softwiring

I’m just finishing a very fine book by Steven Pinker, The Languange Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

and several years ago I read Donald D. Hoffman’s book, Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See. Both books deal with the same subject: What part of our minds are hardwired–instinct–and what parts of our minds are softwired–reason. It is a truly fascinating exploration.

Stephen Pinker in The Language Instinct very thoroughly explores all the aspects of spoken language. He discusses how broken pidgin languages are turned into grammatically rich creoles by children. He explains that whether a person learns a language or not they can have complex thought he calls Mentalese. He explains Chomsky’s concept of a Universal Grammar and how, with language, learning does not cause mental complexity, but mental complexity causes learning. He reveals that children have an acute sense of the morphology of words and rapidly acquire vocabulary as listemes because of the nature of the relationship between child, adult and reality. The perception of speech as well as the physical production of speech is explored. How we derive meaning from language rejects the technical concept of packets being transmitted and received for a much more subjective process of interpretation. The ability of children to learn language is treated as an evolutionary trade off existing only long enough to adopt the tribes language and then shutdown to make way for other special priorities. The “Language Organ” or region of the brain that is responsible for speech is narrowed down. The chain of being is pushed aside for the bush of evolution to reveal that hundreds of thousands of generations existed for language and homo sapiens sapiens to evolve separate from all our other primate cousins. The difference between living spoken language is separated from living written language, the discipline required for each and the fact that language is never in decay. Finally the relativism of the Standard Social Science Model (SSSM) or tabula rasa as proposed by Margaret Mead is rejected, Pinker takes sides with the Evolutionary Psychologists stating that environment alone cannot create the complexity of the mind, the mind must have many complex modules to be able to learn from the environment at all. He discusses Donald E. Brown’s Universal Person (UP) inspired by Chomsky’s Universal Grammar (UG). Finally, Pinker tries to define the modules of the human mind and here I get excited as I find I am able to fit them easily into the Six Hats, Six Coats model. Pinker says that language is a system and extrapolates to say humans are a system of both hardwiring and softwiring.

Hoffman’s book deals with an aspect of mind that more easily subscribes to the module concept than language because it is a much more detached, empirical exercise to test for the visual hardwiring that humans have through the use of visual illusions. Hoffman takes us through many aspects of vision such as facial recognition, edge and shadow and color and the perceptual development of children to reveal what appears to be hardwired and softwired. He concludes with a relativistic statement, but I think that he chooses this because of the political desire of scientists to distance themselves from the eugenics of the first half of the 20th century instead of an objective conclusion that, yes, we have a complex module in our brain specifically hardwired and softwired for vision as used by our species. In other words, when presented with the depth of Steven Pinker’s work compared to the breadth of Donald Hoffman’s work, I believe that we do have a vision instinct.

All in all I believe that Steven Pinker’s and Donald Hoffman’s work is revealing that humans minds are far more than just an empty neural net at birth. That in fact there is an evolved complex predefined structure that humans make use of through the learning stages of childhood to understand their environment that diminishes to adult levels at puberty. Consequently, no form of Artificial Intelligence will succeed unless it also comes with a robust collection of Artificial Instincts.

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Listening is Inductive; Speaking is Deductive

After going over the system models in an earlier post I had to revise my thinking and conclude that the Structured Thinking Lifecycle takes on the following character:


What this reveals is the lifecycle of a system is about communication. It also reveals that the Six Hats, Six Coats metaphor is actually a continuum from Repeating Moments to Revising Motives for induction and from Revising Motives to Repeating Moments for deduction.


This is Edward de Bono’s wisdom: “Analyze the Past, Design the Future”. That is all there is to communication. Listening is inductive; speaking is deductive.

Think about this from the perspective of the DIKW hierarchy:


listening is inductive; speaking is deductive listening is inductive; speaking is deductive listening is inductive; speaking is deductive