Comment from Charles Tsiang (MCHS ’62) at the post at which Elvis Presley said that the image is one thing and the human being is another

I’ve recently taken a break from work on the MCHS 2015 Reunion, but work has now resumed. My absence from the volunteer task of helping to organize the reunion, a task that focuses on the wider community, of which I am a part, is accounted for by the fact that a government agency alerted me that certain tax returns, which every citizen is required to file, had remained unfiled in the case of a certain individual.

I’m sure that every person who reads this post is up to date on their tax returns, and has not had the occasion to be the subject of a message alerting a person that they have a task that needs to be completed. Anyway, when you get such a message, it’s a good idea to put other things aside and attend to the task at hand.

I have a large number of posts involving photos to catch up on. But first, a post about Elvis and the nature of reality.

I’m pleased to share with you the following comment from Charles Tsiang (MCHS ’62), who was president of the Student Council at Malcolm Campbell High School in 1962-63, among his many other notable achievements over the years. The comment is at a post entitled:

Elvis remarked: “The image is one thing and the human being is another.”

Comment from Charles Tsiang

Oh my goodness Jaan, you float a whole raft of ideas in front of us with numerous items to poke at. I’m willing to nibble at the evidence based medicine subject. My feeling is that the desire to address alternative medicine 1) acknowledges reader interest, and 2) reflects the possibility that there might really be something legitimate beneath the surface that when discovered might make you sound dumb. I do agree however that there is the danger of conferring legitimacy upon something by being willing to set it up on stage next to a well-accepted view. Isn’t that false equivalency or false balance in reporting…whatever the term is. But what I’d inject into the conversation is the technique employed quite often… that is to destroy faith in legitimate study by 1) making claims of contradictory findings without having scientific/sound bases for that, and 2) misrepresenting what the original researchers actually observed and concluded. I think your material points to a case of that happening.

Comment from Jaan Pill

The question of evidence based medicine is of much interest Charles. I agree with the points that you have made, in your comments. I would add that my understanding of the underlying issues is more basic than your own understanding, which appears to have a stronger foundation than my own level of understanding.

A topic that comes to mind, when I think about the nature of evidence, and what the term evidence-based practice entails, concerns two particular ways of looking at Tibetan Buddhism, among all of the possible ways that the topic can be approached. I’ve addressed this topic in a preliminary way in a previous post:

In which Buddhist cultural practices meet ethnographic and neuroscience research

The salient observation, that occurs to me, is that Sherry B. Ortner brings offers much of value in her analysis of Buddhist cultural practices from the vantage point of sociological theory and ethnographic research. The second form of research, also addressed in the previous post, concerns studies that have been conducted within the academic frame of reference of neuroscience. The latter research also addresses Buddhist cultural practices, but from another academic frame of reference, and using tools of analysis that differ from ethnographic field research.

I found the Scientific American article, referenced in the blog post that I’ve referred to above, of interest.

Narratives based on neuroscience

I have an interest in these topics because I’m a beginner practitioner of mindfulness, having taken an eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course a decade ago, and having been meditating regularly every day ever since. That’s a particular reason why the Scientific American article is enjoyable for me to read.

The ethnographic research creates a kind of distancing effect, which is characteristic, for better or worse, of quite a bit of academic research. Neuroscience research, while it can readily give rise to narratives that some observers would describe as not helpful, in this case brings a person a little closer, I would say, to the topic at hand.

National Film Board contrasted to Maysles brothers

With regard to frames of reference, and how approaches to reality influence our perception of it, I also have a strong interest in the contrast between the traditional National Film Board approach to documentary making (starting with prewar and wartime filmmaking) and the approach developed by the Maysles brothers in the United States. I’ve referenced this distinction in a recent update at the following post. Again, it’s a topic that is of interest to me:

Erving Goffman began his graduate work in Chicago in 1945

The update brings attention to the vastly different approaches to documentary filmmaking at the National Film Board as compared to the work of the Maysles brothers. The update notes that an excerpt from Albert Maysles (2009) observes that Albert Maysles focused upon what Erving Goffman’s called “the presentation of self in everyday life.” Albert and David Maysles approached documentary making from a perspective that vastly differed from that of the National Film Board. Albert and David Maysles: Interviews (2010) shares an overview of the work of the Maysles brothers.

Perceptions about Regent Park, currently a desirable destination for people seeking to buy a condo

A related post, which deals with how Regent Park, a Toronto housing development that has recently been redeveloped, has been represented and portrayed by the NFB in years past, is – along with the above-noted post about Erving Goffman – among the most frequently visited posts at my website according to Google Analytics:

Framing Regent Park: The National Film Board and the construction of “outcast spaces” in the inner city – 1953 & 1994


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