Rebecca Fox on… Interpretative Drift

Rebecca Fox
Rebecca Foxhttp://rebeccaonpaper.com/
Rebecca Fox is a graphic novelist and podcaster whose work explores how to communicate with people we disagree with, and how to engage critically but engagingly with pseudoscience.

More from this author

Rebecca Fox on… Interpretative Drift

Interpretive Drift is a term used by cultural anthropologists to describe how people come to their beliefs - often without conscious deliberation.

Rebecca Fox on… the art of conversation

Graphic artist Rebecca Fox shares her take on talking to people we disagree with.
Cursive writing spells "Interpretative Drift" on a dark green decorative background with black lines and swirls followed by the words "and you". To one side, a sign post warns "Beware Ideological Undertow". A white box overlays the image with the words "Interpretive Drift is a term used by cultural anthropologists to describe how people come to their beliefs - often without conscious deliberation".
A long, vertical panel with a "down the rabbit hole" layout. Again the image is set on a dark green background with black lines and swirls along either side creating the feeling of falling deeper downwards. At the top the words "Notice - Encounter a new thing", there is a drawing of a woman throwing away the paperwork from a box. The paperwork is labelled "thing" and the box is labelled "idea", "theory", "subculture". The woman says "no time to read the paperwork".

Below, the woman opens the box and begins to dive inside. Inside are the labels "political position" and "belief system".

As the woman falls deeper into the box the labels say "person", "religion", "ideology".

The words "Experience - have an experience..." appear.

The background now shows a face. Eyes close up with tears streaming down the cheeks and hands grasped in front of the face as if in prayer. A speech bubble says "it all makes sense now!", others say "I feel so safe!" and "what a rush".

Below are the hands of two people, grasping each other supportively. The speech bubbles says "they really get me!" and "I'm one of the good guys".

A box clarifies that the experience is "not necessarily a positive experience but one that is satisfying. It could be emotional, spiritual, social or something else entirely. 

As the image continues to progress downwards, the words "Transform - adopt new thinking habits..."

Now, in the background is an ink spot diagram like those used in psychiatry. It reaches the root system of a tree and there are labels which read "perception", "epistemology", "changes in attention and pattern finding", "criteria for evaluating evidence changes", "context", "knowledge base and language changes".

The roots become an abstract network of connected dots and the words "Confirm - commit to the thing" appear. 

Two hands are held framing the earlier discarded paper work with the word "thing". The hands are labelled "New interpretive frame".

Words explain "when challenged, re-examine the thing through new frame and find it convincing. 

The word "Thing" is written in cursive at the very bottom of the long image/rabbit hole. There is a a tattoo artist's tool suggesting this writing is a tattoo. A box explains "Invest identify in this thing and it will probably be yours for life".
A dark green background with a white box. The words in the white box read "My understanding of the process of interpretive drift is informed by the work of psychological anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann in her excellent 1989 book Persuasions of the Witch's Craft....and of course, by my own experiences". The image ends with the author name "Rebecca On Paper".
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