Adonis Diaries

Archive for May 26th, 2009

Article #12, April 9, 2005

“What are the error taxonomies in Human Factors?”

There is a tendency to separate errors made by human and those done by machines as if any man made equipment, product, or system has not been designed, tested, evaluated, manufactured, distributed, or operated by a human.  My point is any errors committed by using or operating an artificial implement that causes injuries is ultimately a human errors. 

How Human Factors classifies errors when people operate systems, and what are the types of errors, their frequencies and consequences on the health and safety of operators and systems’ performance?  Human Factors professionals attempted to establish various error taxonomies, some within specific contexts such as nuclear power plants and chemical installations, of deficiencies in design and operation that might be committed, and others that are general in nature and restricted to processes of the mind and the limitations of human capabilities. One alternative classification of human errors is based on human behavior and the level of comprehension; mainly skill-based, rule-based, or knowledge-based behavioral patterns. For example, Rasmussen (1982) developed a decision flow diagram that identifies 13 types of errors; this taxonomy identifies two kinds of errors attributable to skill based behavior such as acts relevant to manual variability or topographic misorientation, four major errors related to rule based behavior such as stereotype takeover, forgetting isolated acts, mistakes alternatives, and other slip of memory, and then seven types of errors that can be attached to knowledge based behavior such as familiar association short cut, information not seen or sought, information assumed but not observed, information misinterpreted, and side effects or conditions not adequately considered. 

These types of errors are the products of activities done in routine situations or when the situation deviates from normal routine and discriminate among the stages and strength of controlled routines in the mind that precipitate the occurrence of an error whether during executing of a task, omitting steps, changing the order of steps, sequence of steps, timing errors, inadequate analysis or decision making.  With a strong knowledge of the behavior of a system, provided that the mental model is not deficient, then applying the rules consistently most of the errors will be concentrated on the level of skill achieved in performing a job.

Another taxonomy rely on the theory of information processing and it is somehow a literal transcription of the experimental processes; mainly observation of the status of a system, choice of hypothesis, testing of hypothesis, choice of goal, choice of procedure and execution of procedure.  Basically, this taxonomy may answer the problems in the rule-based and knowledge–based behavior.

Another alternative taxonomy could be found in measurement errors considered in statistical research such as conceptual, consistent or random errors. Conceptual errors are committed when a proxy is used instead of the variable of interest either because of lack of knowledge of how to measure the latter (i.e., measuring vocabulary ability when mental ability is the object of the research) or because it is less expensive or more convenient.

Consistent errors are represented by systematic errors from respondents whether conscious or not, measuring instruments, research settings, interviewers, raters, and researchers. Consistent errors affect the validity of measures.

Random errors occur as a result of temporary fluctuations in respondents, raters, etc.  Random errors affect the reliability of the measures.

The effects of these measurement errors have different consequences whether committed relative to the dependent or independent variables. It would be interesting to find correspondence among the various error taxonomies as well as assigning every error to either a conscious, predetermined tendency along with the real reasons underlining these errors, or unconscious errors.

It is useful to specify in the final steps of taxonomy whether an error is of omission or of commission.  I suggest that the errors of commission be also fine tuned to differentiate among errors of sequence, the kind of sequence and timing of the execution.

There are alternative strategies for reducing human errors by either training, selection of the appropriate applicants or redesigning a system to fit the capabilities of end users and or taking care of his limitations by preventive designs, exclusion designs and fail-safe designs.

The Blemish (May 8, 2009)


            The blemish is this emotional feeling that prevents sleep to visiting you.  It is being illiterate among a literate society.  Illiteracy is the surface fact but the deeper felt blemish is that you lacked the courage to overcome what keeps you miserable and mediocre.  You had the mental and physical capability to learn to read (forget writing), you had facilities that were instituted specifically for you but you failed to taking advantage.  The blemish is that you know that you have no credible excuses for failing to wipe out your degrading attitude that ruined your life and the loved ones around you.

            The German judge and author Bernhard Schlink published “The Reader” of an adolescent who used to read aloud to his older lover Hanna after making love. The lady disappeared and he discovered that she was being indicted for contributing to atrocities in concentration camps during the Nazi regime. Hanna turned down a promotion in the industrial complex she worked in and accepted to be a prison guard.  Hanna decided to confess that she wrote a report on a church burning that contained prisoners and nobody dared to open the doors. Hanna was ready to spend her life in prison instead of confessing that she was illiterate.

            Blemish and the feeling of culpability are different. For example, if you feel guilty that another person was indicted or punished because you failed to confess your responsibility is within the realm of your set of moral values.  There are instances where it is hard to distinguish between blemish and guilt when they relate to character flaws that can be rectified but instead degenerated into blemish for cowing to confront and surmount the difficulty.

            The feeling of blemish does not have to be that drastic.  It is any emotional feeling that pressure you to prefer sleeplessness to cover up temporary cowardly attitude in order to hide facts; facts that are benign most of the time and are due mainly to ignorance and archaic traditions.  Late author Mai Ghoussoub admitted not sleeping one night in Tokyo because she did not know how to take the metro there and refused to ask for guidance; Mai’s blemish was not allowing Japanese to thinking that she is not a cosmopolitan girl.

            The blemish must be more prevalent in our modern society.  Technology is progressing at the speed of a bullet train and many positions require that you keep up-to-date.  Catching up with modern consumers’ good and facilities is daunting and discouraging.  I blamed my inadequacy until I learned to email.  I blamed my incompetence until I was shown how to publish on and that this facility was available for free; I blamed my unfitness for socializing until I realized that I don’t have to and that I rather read, write, and publish because that is what I love to do.

I blamed my impotency for accumulating money because I could not suffer a life long job (just to receive retirement compensation) until I realized that I have a choice of switching one type of humiliation (covert real slavery) to another benign imaginary slavery:  lack of money is mainly a blemish in the mind of society that values greed and financial success over anything else.  My new societal blemish is not handicapping my productivity that suits me better mentally, physically, and emotionally.

At a certain age your range of choices are limited and you have to make the effort, while young, to experiment with the available opportunities to learn varied skills that one of them might turn out to be your consolation prize for living longer than expected. Continuing education is no longer a luxury; it is a new created value that refers to individual and nations with dignity.  Failing to pursue educating your mind and elevating your culture to global problems is becoming a serious blemish to mankind.

A Way out of History (May 7, 2009)

The citizens of the developed Nations, within their own boundaries, feel that they have no longer any need to learn their own history.  History to the citizens of the developed nations is a drag, a waste of time, of no use, totally irrelevant. They are mostly correct in their feeling and appreciation of the uselessness of history relevant to their nation: first, as a society, they have reached  a level of social cohesion, awareness, appreciation of human dignity and human rights; and second, they are more concerned about their present state of affairs such as maintaining their current level of comfort, consumerism choices, creating diverse opportunities, future availabilities for their desires and wishes.  These modern citizens have institutions to continue the good work; institutions to analyze whatever history is appropriate for the nation, institutions for research, for legitimacy, for governance, for economy, for finance, for strategic studies, for learning, for art, for marketing, and for studying the under-developed States and minorities.

History for the citizens of the developed nation is plainly relegated to the under-developed States. The Third World and Fourth World “citizens”, (we should create another term for citizenship for the under-developed world because it is frankly too pompous and inappropriate any which way you define a citizen), have nothing left but “history” for amusement and to give them reference to an illusory identity. History for the “history citizens” has been written by the vanquishers and then translated and interpreted by the colonial powers. The archeological sites in the land of the “amused archaic citizens” were dug out and investigated by the colonial powers and the artifacts were dusted off, cleaned, and conserved in secured museums that the traveling tourists and immigrants never visit.  The chasm between the developed and the “non-developed” States is huge and growing larger by the day.  History is still being taught in the developed nations simply because more immigrants are flocking in and some sort of integration is commendable.

More likely, a citizen would visit an immigrant friend to fill him in on current news and occasionally get a good laugh on stories of their respective ancestors; yes, the immigrant might know more details on the citizen’s ancestors and the history of the citizen’s country than the “original citizen” care to know.  In fact, hard copy dailies are published to satisfy the voracious curiosities of the immigrants. Storytelling is a cultural trademark among immigrants and getting together is worthless and devoid of any interest if no bickering accompanies the assembly.

If there are rival “civilizations” it must be in the mind of the immigrants. They are attuned to any gesture, tone of voice, slang, or posturing that remind them of their “indignity”, their frequent humiliations, their total dependence on the host nation for understanding, leniency, forgiveness, compassion, and equal treatments under the laws. The immigrants are overachievers, hard working, on constant alert of changes in behavior and special laws, on foreign policies regarding their “homeland”, on unequal measures doled in foreign policies and moral values.

“Civilization clash” is in the mind of the immigrant: the original citizen doesn’t care about the agony and tribulation of his immigrant friend.  The immigrant is a sponge for all kinds of curiosities in art, theater, intellectual life, and any association that invites him to participate.  The immigrant is most likely polyglot and can converse in many languages and he has to suffer being mocked for his accent in the local slang; he has to be corrected frequently because accent is the main avenue for integration and acceptance as a civilized individual.

Discrimination is in the mind of the immigrant.  A citizen would immediately recognize an immigrant for miles if he cared to focus a second on the individual.  The citizen in an administrative position has to call upon the cleric, the community leader, or the father of the immigrant before taking any decision for any kinds of permit application; the immigrant is supposed to be looked after as an immature kid no matter how old he is. Equal treatments are covertly the domain of the original citizens;  interpretations of the law and customs are appropriate when dealing with an immigrant.  The whole gamut of the UN laws for human rights were targeted for the under-developed States that are shaming human kinds in their state of affairs.  Yet, many “non-citizens” would like to experience a new era when embargoes on military hardware, military trainers, and military experts are imposed on dictators, juntas, and oligarchies who are flaunting the UN human rights declarations in their under developed States.

Seriously learning the language of your immigrant friend is the first sign of real friendship. Blatantly observing the differences in culture and customs is an excellent sign of friendship. Vigorously and unabashedly critiquing divergence in opinions is sign of friendship. Make no mistake: any behavior that smack of covert apartheid is quickly sensed by your immigrant “friend”.  Make no mistake: the next generation of your immigrant friend will be exactly you, when you were younger. If you are serious for integration of your immigrant friend then behave as if you are dealing with the next generation, on a par.

In Want of Labors? (May 25, 2009)

You barely hear any politician discussing the entrepreneurial activities of immigrants and their real contributions to the global economy of their States.  In general, academic and social studies of immigrants tend to classify immigrants in relational database for rational general comprehension though researchers know that these are easy and dirty shortcuts and could exacerbate communication and strengthen covert apartheid tendencies. One simple way to study differences among immigrants could be by using one binary trading factors and one binary identity conservation factor. 

The economic factor can be stated as “Is it important to establish and maintain relationships in your business with other dominant groups in your new society?” The other factor can be stated as “Is it important to conserve your identity and its cultural characteristics when dealing with dominant groups?”  From these two questions (of yes or no) it is possible to have four major groups among entrepreneurial immigrants.


The first group of immigrants expands its business ventures toward the autochthones while hanging on to its roots in culture and customs.  These families are labeled the integrated new comers because they are dealing with their new citizens and still are feeling very much morally stable and balanced within the new environment. There are statistics that tend to the 60% ratio among immigrant enterprises.


The second group of immigrants opens its enterprises to the citizens but decided to burn ships with its original identity and cultural characteristics in order to feel completely assimilated in the new environment. This group is going to fight hard to have this fictitious feeling of being assimilated believable and might exercise pressures on its offspring to staying clear of its “own kind”.


The third group of immigrants can neither interact with the citizens and are disgusted of mingling with the community of origin that remind it of its failure and blame it on its current miseries. This group is labeled the marginal immigrants and they could be potential threats for laws enforcers when neglect, biases, and brutality become common perception among the immigrants..


The fourth group of immigrants separates from the citizens and transact within a fictitious ghetto that they constructed and walled its life within it.  Within this group of “separatists” many came with a mind fix of temporary stay until political or economic conditions in their home States change; conditions that usually drag on and the parents reluctantly hope that their offspring will have varieties of opportunities to finally integrate their new Nation.  Many had no choice because ghettos are definitely cheaper and easier on the nerves for the starting phase toward integration.  In general, ghettos are readily available pools for cheaper labors than autochthones when projects on large scales are contemplated such as the Chinese when laying train tracks crossing the Atlantic to the Pacific or building gigantic dams.


After the Second World War, Germany welcomed the Kurdish workforce arriving by trains with fanfare and official bands: badly ruined Germany needed to reconstruct the country.  Currently, Germany thinks that it finished reconstruction and has no idea how to repatriate the Kurds of Turkey.  Germany is offering to finance private enterprises in the Kurdish regions for any Kurdish family willing to return.  The catch is: would anyone not feeling secure and safe in his homeland return to experience the same calamities?  Would Germany re-welcome any Kurds if political conditions deteriorate in “Kurdistan”?


Sarkosy of France advocated during his campaign for Presidency that immigrants are economically beneficial when they are well selected. It turned out that Sarkosy meant those human with functional thumbs and trained since childhood to suffer in the fields and construction projects.  Sarkosy is ready to welcome domesticated human beast of burden or maybe those who are highly educated with very rich parents.


Construction workers have been erecting a large building next to our home for 6 months. Rain or shine, they are at it from 7 a.m. till pouring concrete is finished, even if they have to work 14 hours.  They are not stronger than average people but they were trained since childhood to suffer and sustain aches and pains. Most probably their fathers were also in construction and they were tempted by quick cash disbursement above average wage rates. Unless they were not injured at the job site, the fathers tend to refuse admitting that it was the nature of the job that is crippling the flexibility of their joints by the age of 40 and experiencing constant pains and aches in their cartilage and spine.




May 2009

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