Active Thinking Topic 10 - Everyone Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Face [Mike Tyson]

Monday 19 July 2021, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Any replies to the organizer -

Venue: Cafe Brunelli, 187 Rundle St · Adelaide (You must buy a drink or something. We are 'renting' the space for 2 hours)

About Focus Questions: a) Please read them before you come to the meetup. Think about them so you have more than "instant opinions" to offer. b) Feel free to add more focus questions. c) THE FOCUS QUESTIONS ARE JUST A MENU TO CHOOSE FROM. From this menu we can discuss whatever seems interesting. d) Focus questions are not intended to push one viewpoint! You can adopt any position you wish. We actually like friendly disagreement - it can lead to deeper understanding

Focus Questions

1. When did you last feel that nothing could stop you? What punched you in the face? How do you learn to roll with the punches?

2. Is overconfidence just dumb, or can it be a workable survival plan? Examples?

3. Children grow up in all kinds of families. Some are encouraged and rewarded. Some are gaslighted. Some are neglected. Some are shouted at, while some get hugs and kisses. Some do chores and some are spoiled. How well do all these various kinds of childhood experience predict how a young adult will react when they are finally "punched in the face" by tough adult experiences?

4. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide are one or two meals away from starvation. Tens of millions of Americans are one personal health crises away from bankruptcy (it is the leading US reason for bankruptcy). Most of them have no workable plan to escape this situation. Why? Australians are much more insulated from personal ruin. Is this a good thing?

5. There is an argument that when a country has lived in peace and (relative) prosperity for one or several generations, then the people in it become soft, become unwilling to endure challenge or hardship, lose initiative, and become distracted by trivia. What are your feelings about this argument? Does it have any relevance to Australia?

6. There are three common ways individuals and organizations approach life: a) have no plans; b) have short & long term plans; c) have short & long term plans + a Plan B. When have you had a Plan B in the past? Plan B for the future?

7. How important is it for organizations and governments to have a Plan B? What is the evidence? When have such plans failed to be implemented (e.g. think of Covid). ?

8. Do you think that strategy games like chess, or bridge, or professionally coached sports can be useful training for careers and business, and the military. what is the evidence?

9. What is your plan for fighting dictators (in the home, your workplace, the nation)?

10. "Courage is grace under pressure" [Ernest Hemingway]. What do you think this means? Is it a standard that you can meet? Where has an absence of grace under pressure led to failure or catastrophe?

Extra Reading

Robert Burns (1785) - 'The best laid plans of mice and men are apt to go astray' [modern English transliteration from Scots dialect of Burns' famous poem, To A Mouse] - see the poem @ 

John Steinbeck (1937) "Of Mice and Men" [novel] - review @ 

Rachel Clun (July 1, 2021) "Why Scott Morrison brought in the army to ‘wargame’ the pandemic response". Brisbane Times @ 

Simon Mwanzia (December 10, 2020) "Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Face" Linked-in @  [Quote: Mike Tyson explained in an article back in November 9, 2012, "People were asking me [before a fight], 'What’s going to happen?,' " Tyson said. "They were talking about his style. 'He's going to give you a lot of lateral movement. He's going to move, he's going to dance. He's going to do this, do that.' I said, "Everybody has a plan until they get hit. Then, like a rat, they stop in fear and freeze.' " It's how you react to that adversity that defines you, not the adversity itself".]

Luis Villazon (n.d.) "Is it possible to turn off the internet worldwide? - Disabling the entire internet would be like trying to stop the flow of every river in the world at once. ... [but] In 2011, during the Egyptian Revolution, the Egyptian government ordered the four national internet service providers to turn off the Domain Name System (DNS) and alter the Border Gateway Protocol of their servers. This prevented any internet traffic in or out of the country". BBC Science Forum @ 

Annalisa Barbieri (4 July 2021) "Why I’m glad that I’m an ‘overthinker’". The Guardian @ 

Dimitri Burshtein (May 21, 2021) "The key to China’s military mind is the Communist Party’s defence - China is not the enemy. Communism is". The Australian @ 

Thor May (2014) "Is learning “grit” the best way succeed ? - How have you managed your failures, and has failure made you a better person? Everyone fails at something sooner or later. The important thing is how they handle failure". The Passionate Skeptic website @ 

Thor May (2010) "Born 1945, Still Going Strong". Video @  [Quote: "There's something about running that brings you down to earth, yet has you flying at the same time. Every day out there you come up against your own human limitations. You 'hit the wall', and then you get past it. It gives you a kind of confidence that no amount of talking can ever replace".]

Thor May (2014) "So we had a few failures. Was that the end of university?" The Passionate Skeptic website @  [Quote: "The source of this short document is intensely personal. It is the story of early university misadventure by one individual, myself. At first glance it might seem of little interest to anyone but the protagonist. I am publishing it because in fact pieces of this story fit the lives of so many students who simply disappear from the statistics and into oblivion. Educational administrators may make assumptions about them, perhaps based on personal prejudice and hearsay, while political decisions about which kinds of students to fund tend to be founded in ideology rather than the real life stories of actual individuals and their development".]

Deborah Siegel-Acevedo (July 01, 2021) "Writing Can Help Us Heal from Trauma." Harvard Business Review @ 

Zoë Heller (July 5, 2021) "What Makes a Cult a Cult?" New Yorker @  [Thor, comment: sometimes "being punched in the face" can mean that beliefs or assumptions held for a long time can suddenly be seen as false by the believer. The trigger may be a small thing. Their world falls apart... Quote: "The good news is that rational objections to flaws in cult doctrine or to hypocrisies on the part of a cult leader do have a powerful impact if and when they occur to the cult members themselves. ... It may seem unlikely that someone who has bought into the idea of Hillary Clinton drinking the blood of children can be bouleversé by, say, a trifling error in dates, but the human mind is a mysterious thing. Sometimes it is a fact remembered from grade school that unlocks the door to sanity. One of the former Scientologists interviewed in Alex Gibney’s documentary “Going Clear” reports that, after a few years in the organization, she experienced her first inklings of doubt when she read L. Ron Hubbard’s account of an intergalactic overlord exploding A-bombs in Vesuvius and Etna seventy-five million years ago. The detail that aroused her suspicions wasn’t especially outlandish. “Whoa!” she remembers thinking. “I studied geography in school! Those volcanoes didn’t exist seventy-five million years ago!”]

Dónal P. O’Mathúna (17 October 2018) "Christian Theology and Disasters: Where is God in All This?" Springer publishing @  [Thor, comment: I have included this academic link for those who are interested in how Christians (and for that matter believers in other religions) rationalize the role of an omnipotent god when disaster strikes mere humans. The most common argument is that bad stuff is punishment for human sins. Another is that god shows his/her hand to bring good salvation out of terrible situations. There is a large field of theological discussion treating god's motivations for allowing evil. Back on earth, there is also research showing that populations which live in a higher state of personal insecurity are much more likely to turn to religion (USA is among such countries; Europe and Australia are not).

PBS (March 1, 2013) "Faith-Based Responses to Natural Disasters". Public Broadcasting Service (USA) @  [.. a collection of news analyses]

Robyn Vinter (12 July 2021) "Over three-quarters of Britons re-evaluate their lives during Covid - switching jobs, moving house and even breaking up – poll shows Covid has changed our focus". The Guardian @ 

Anthony Galloway (July 13, 2021) "‘Real and present danger’: Government considers making company directors personally liable for cyber attacks - cyber crime is costing the Australian economy about $3.5 billion a year." Brisbane Times @



 Everyone Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Face (c) Thor May 2021 

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