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14 Responses to “Only Half a Backfield”

  1. Brody Bond says:

    It often seems like the practice of “returning authority” would mean that the outsider would defer to the insider. Yet, here you seem to offer why that isn’t a good course. Can you help me get through this unnecessary distinction?

  2. Mike Metzger says:

    Brody: Good question. Actually, “returning authority” means locating who is the best expert in a given situation, the one with the most experience. When it comes to sustaining technologies, insiders are the best authorities. When it comes to disrupting, the first step in innovating, outsiders are the best authorities.

  3. Brody Bond says:

    So the game quickly becomes creating desire among the insiders for disruption.

    That’s tough.

  4. Mike Metzger says:

    No, you have it backwards. It’s fostering desire among insiders for genuine innovation. They run institutions and have to see innovation as not an inside job. Insiders have to desire to include the outside view, since disruption yields innovation.

  5. Michael Cochrane says:

    The notion of “outsiders” tending to break paradigms and foster new discoveries and insights was addressed in the early 1960s by Thomas Kuhn in his groundbreaking work, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”.

    His conclusions helped me recognize much of the publication bias in much of modern science, particularly evolutionary biology and climate science.

  6. Mark Elson says:

    I agree with you that innovation is best developed by an outside source, there are all kinds of benefits there clearly helpful.
    You seem to be referring to the virtue of open-mindedness in your effort to promote innovation. But then it can’t be because in your explanation of neuroscience and it’s “findings”, virtues are nothing more than (from the right side) a certain arrangement of neurons and electrons firing in specific order. Alvin Plantinga deals with this argument in his book “Where the conflict really lies”. He also had a great interview in the New York Times a few weeks ago, if you google his name and the Times it appears at the top. This mainstream naturalistic Neuroscience is very lacking in serious thought.
    A different point – I don’t think that analytical and rationally lead thinking (left brain) is a western thing, it is rather a human thing. I think that Neuroscience would have to agree with that also.
    Curious to your response and thinking!

  7. Mike Metzger says:


    Since you asked, I’m only advocating for the kind of open-mindedness that Chesterton encouraged – one that clamps down on something solid. However, regarding your concerns about naturalism, I think you’re confusing correlation with causation. I’m suggesting that recent findings from neuroscience correlate with the need for inside and outside voices. I’m not saying you have to “buy” any naturalistic basis or causation to hold to this view, as scripture essentially says the same thing.

    What Clayton Christensen describe as the dynamic of disruption producing innovation, the Bible calls “take and eat.” Take causes death, very disruptive to the plant, but leads to life. Disruption renews. I agree that many neuroscientist are naturalists, but that doesn’t deny solid research and findings.

    Finally, good neuroscience doesn’t teach that only the left hemisphere is rational. it’s a Western thing that thinking starts in the left hemisphere, which uses that part of language to “pin” things down. But figuring out what’s important to “pin” down is a function of the right, the outside voice. I’ll have more to say about this next week.

  8. Mike Metzger says:


    The more I read your second comment, the more I see that I read you incorrectly. My bad. You’re correct – foster desires among insiders for disruption. The reason that’s difficult is that insiders rule the roost in institutions. They’ve got a good gig – so why upset the apple cart?

    Again, my apologies.

  9. Mark Elson says:

    I really wish I had more time regarding this topic but only a couple thoughts because I don’t want to distract from your main point of this article (outside brings innovation) which I have no issue with but just a response to your above thought.

    Naturalism and good scientific information are 2 separate things. John Polkinghorne once said in a lecture I heard -there are no good or individual scientific facts but worldviews that give interpretation to scientific facts. In other words scientific facts and naturalism are two different things, scientific facts say nothing by themselves – I think he had something there.

    Correlation and causation are two independent properties, agreed. Causation determines the ontological properties of a thing and correlation the existential or pragmatical function of a thing. My argument, if correct, was a causation argument. It seems the case that causation needs to be correctly identified before we can correlate, otherwise what are we correlating to?

    Please find these concerns respectfully! I look forward to finding time in reading next weeks article!

  10. Mike Metzger says:


    I agree entirely with your last set of comments. Maybe I misread you (seem to be doing some of that today!). It sounded like you were throwing the baby out with the bath water – that if neuroscientists base their conclusions on naturalism then their research must be tainted. I agree that facts are inert objects, subject to metaphysical assumptions (i.e., world views) that frame the facts and give them meaning. I too have listened to Polkinghorne discuss this topic and he’s right.

  11. Barnabas says:

    Isn’t the dynamic more productive when the individual is encouraged to be reflective/feedback on there own context, which in turns encourages groups etc to do the same. Each of us learning to honestly to reflect back to ourselves and others. Pain is a clear indicator of conflict. The complaints and technical department can impart alot of wisdom.
    Those on the front line know where the rubber hits the road. Creation around us shows the innovation that is possible, if we re-engage the aesthetic nature, adjusting from the constructs and constraints of models and technology. Individuals in community, not clones in boxes or clowns in a circus.For life is more than a mechanism or entertainment.
    Renovation has a place alongside innovation.
    Each generation has a part to play. Noting soccer, Aussie rules, Gaelic rules, rugby.
    Context and position as well as focus can effect persoective.
    Thanks for another excercise for both sides of the brain Mike.
    Remembering Apostles, prophets, teachers, pastors, evangelists is a recommended balance from inside to outside. Women at the well provoke Living Water for the thirsty.

  12. Barnabas says:

  13. Barnabas says:

    All round perspective

  14. Barnabas says:

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