What is the Rubric for Good? | Safety Doc Podcast #70 | Dr. David Perrodin, PhD

PODCAST-Good exists independent of being filtered and shaped by humans. It endures context and situation and has superb inter-rater reliability. Yet, “good” is overwhelmingly subjected to external positionality – or to exist per the characteristics and conditions of what others deem must be present for something to be considered good.

DIRECT LINK to MP3 of this Episode:  https://tinyurl.com/SDP70


Positionality is completely different from pareidolia, which is a psychological phenomenon in which the mind responds to stimulus, usually an image or a sound, by perceiving a familiar pattern where none exists. A popular example of pareidolia is seeing familiar images in clouds. We can also be primed for pareidolia. Persons on a ghost tour are expecting to have some unusual encounter. Hence, a creaking door becomes a message from the spirits – and not a reminder to visit the hardware store for a can of WD-40. Pareidolia is internal and while it is proximal to the process of identifying good that Dr. Perrodin talks about, it still involves the steps of attempting to conform what is perceived to be dependent upon some previous experience or observation.


Understanding positionality and pareidolia empower you with keen awareness of what is authentic in your environment versus responses that are unintentionally manipulated by your brain or overtly manipulated by other people. The latter can shift you toward external validation (imagine becoming addicted to “Likes” for your social media posts) and undermine the solid footing of sense of self and ability to use face validity to craft your own rubric for identifying “What is Good”.


Dr. Perrodin shares three personal anecdotal stories to parse out how he believes that “good” can be universally recognized. He begins with recalling a tandem bike ride with Robert, a high school student who is blind and has autism. After sharing that story, he tells of the trip he made with his daughter in order for her to purchase potted daisies for Mother’s Day. David concludes by re-visiting his time as a volunteer tour guide at historic Fort Winnebago which included working with his Dad to refurbish a 100-foot split rail fence and water well in a manner that infringed only slightly on authenticity.

THE REAL MEANING OF GOOD AND EVIL (Psychology Today, 2013)

Dr. Perrodin dissects this article to point out the specific terminology and strategies deployed to persuade people into believing what is good and what is evil. For example, the article states: “‘Good’ means a lack of self-centredness. It means the ability to empathise with other people, to feel compassion for them, and to put their needs before your own. It means, if necessary, sacrificing your own well-being for the sake of others’. It means benevolence, altruism and selflessness, and self-sacrifice towards a greater cause – all qualities which stem from a sense of empathy.” David argues that empathy, altruism, etc., are all human constructs and have nothing to do with whether something or some activity has “face-validity” goodness. While David certainly doesn’t argue against empathy and compassion, he notes that they are not coupled to something that would have face-validity goodness – such as a scenic vista.


Looking for Dr. Timothy Ludwig, PhD?

Dr. Perrodin’s “Safety Doc Podcast” negotiates school and community safety. To be informed about industrial safety, please contact Appalachian State University Professor Dr. Timothy Ludwig, PhD, at www.safety-doc.com

Article cited in this episode:  The Real Meaning of Good and Evil



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