2.1 Overview

Catastrophes of human origin can be just as traumatic as those of natural origin, and are studied with even greater intensity for their causes. There are several ways disasters of human origin can be classified, depending on cause or size or origin. Another way of looking at them is by the kind of human activity – perhaps mining, fishing or transportation. Equally, disasters could be classified according to the kind of event that occurred during the accident – perhaps collision, sinking,
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3.1 Introduction

I've an opera here you shan't escape – on miles and miles of recording tape.

Flanders, M. and Swann, D. (1977) ‘The Song of Reproduction’ from The Songs of Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, London, Elm Tree Books and St George's Press, p. 99

Sounds, pictures, measurement data, financial statistics, personal details, etc. can all be recorded and stored on magnetic media, i.e. m
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10.2 Adding decibels

A feature of decibels is that adding two decibel values is equivalent to multiplying the ratios they represent. To see how this comes about, consider another context in which a decibel measurement is often used, that of signal amplification.

In Figure 28, the triangular symbol represents
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10.1 Introduction

For a variety of reasons, not least the very wide dynamic range of human hearing, the decibel (symbol dB) is often used as a unit for the amplitude of sound waves. The decibel is also used in other contexts, such as specifying the amplification of amplifiers or the degree to which a signal is affected by noise. In the context of sound, the use of the decibel as a unit captures something of the subjective impression of the way loudness changes with amplitude.

The decibel unit has
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7.4 Complexity from someone else's perspective

You may already have noticed, and included, the author of the case study in your rich picture. The clues that this is necessary are in Figure 5 and in my comments about epistemology in the introduction to the unit. Just how important the writer of the case study is becomes obvious when
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2.5 Review

The title of this unit could have been Juggling with complexity: searching for system. This title seemed to capture something essential about the unit. Juggling is a rich metaphor and will be used explicitly in Part 3. But it also carries the idea of a skill that needs to be practised and that might seem incredibly awkward to begin with. You may find this idea helpful as you review your work in Part 1. Juggling is also a skill that, once practised, becomes second nature. This too may b
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5.4 Product champion

Throughout the development of this innovation Edison endeavoured, by means of persuasive argument and demonstrations of progress, to convince those people who were in a position to help further the success of the electric light that it had great potential. These people included financiers who could provide capital for more research and development, industrialists who might install it in their factories, and politicians who might agree to the large-scale city installation of a lighting system.
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4 Introduction

(Please refer to Reading 4: Learning to act: managing and systems practice, by Andy Lane) This unit teaches some aspects of systems thinking and practice. But what does it mean to be a systems practitioner, and is it different to being a manager? This reading attempts to answer those questions.

First, I believe a good systems practitioner will be more competent at handling complex situations, more capable of managing their working and domestic lives, and more able to learn not only how
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2.2 Memorising, understanding and doing

You are now likely to be aware of various ways in which learning is diverse – as a process and in terms of its outcomes. In this final section is a very simple scheme for discriminating between the demands made on you, the learner, by different kinds of learning goals and the processes entailed in achieving those goals.

Theorists of learning have different ways of categorising the diversity of both outcome and process in learning. The scheme we are going to work with here uses three d
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3.3.1 Sequence of events

It was important to establish the precise sequence of events leading up to and during the collapse. From which part had the collapse started? Why had so much of the structure been destroyed? Was there any prior warning of the failure? What part had the weather conditions at the time played?

Eyewitnesses were plentiful, and each had a different perspective of the bridge as it fell. There were some common parts to their statements. Most of the witnesses, especially survivors from vehicles
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2.6.3 Boiler explosions

Stress corrosion cracks can also build up in other structures. These were a particular problem in locomotive boilers in the early days of the railways in Britain. All such boilers were made from wrought-iron sheet, riveted together to form a cylinder. In the earliest engines, the boilers were constructed using a single line of rivets, thus forming two corners, one inside and the other outside (Author(s): The Open University

8.1 Hinduism as a ‘religion’

India's population includes followers of many religions and many people who have rejected religion in any form. The modern Republic of India has a secular constitution (one which guarantees the religious freedom of all but does not give a privileged position to any one religion) but a population which overwhelmingly identifies itself as Hindu. More than eighty per cent of India's population are Hindus, practitioners of what is now widely referred to as the religion of Hinduism. Historically,
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7.4 Religion: true or false?

I noted earlier that differences between the truth claims made by religions has led those who practise Religious Studies to avoid premature judgements when dealing with questions relating to the truth and value of particular religions. By seeming to by-pass truth claims, you may feel that what I have been describing as Religious Studies avoids what many would regard as the purpose of religion – to deal in truths. This is a difficult area to cover briefly, but let me at least try to explain
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7.1 Some basic principles of religious studies

Remember that in Section 4 I suggested that possible reasons for studying religion could be clustered together under two broad headings:

  1. to understand the society in which we live, the culture we inherit and the wider world of which we are a part;

  2. as part of a personal quest for religious
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6.1 Introduction

Whatever else they may be, religions grow in historical and social settings. The present form of a religion has its roots in the past. Religion can exercise a strong influence upon society and the cultural forms of a society, but religion itself is no less affected by changes and pressures within society. Religion gives meaning to a pattern of living and may even be responsible for establishing a certain lifestyle or distinctive social organisation or institution. At the same time, religion o
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5.3 Scholarly definitions of religion

Scholars offer us many different definitions of religion, but these definitions tend to be of two types. The first type is known as a substantive definition: that is, a definition that tells us what kind of thing religion is by pointing to its distinguishing characteristic – usually its beliefs and/or practices. We can find an example of a substantive definition of religion in my summary of the definitions found in the Concise Oxford Dictionary. Think again about d. Acc
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5.2 The ‘answer’ in your dictionary

Exercise 9

Please now look at the definition of ‘religion’ given in your dictionary.

  1. Do you think that the definition is going to help you when deciding what is or is not religion? Please give
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5.1 ‘Religion’ and ‘the religions’: two new notions

I want to begin our closer discussion of the question ‘what is religion?’ by looking briefly at the history of the use and meaning of the term. You may be surprised to find how recently the word ‘religion’ has taken on the meanings attached to it today.

Contemporary scholars of religion emphasise not merely the cultural breadth but also the antiquity of religious activity. Yet, the term ‘religion’ as we understand it today is very much a Western concept.

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4.3 Religion and political stability

Wilberforce’s whole approach is strong indirect testimony to the predominance among his contemporaries of the kinds of religious outlook he is criticising, although objective evaluation requires a detachment from his own Evangelical zeal. Certainly his portrayal of the dominant tone of late eighteenth-century Christianity as one of undemanding endorsement of social harmony, decency and good neighbourliness rings true. A leading theological influence was that of William Paley (1743–1805) w
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Learning outcomes

When you have completed your work on this unit you should have developed:

  • a knowledge of key aspects of William Wilberforce’s political career and writings, and an appreciation of their historical and religious significance;

  • an awareness of the relationship of Evangelicalism to cultural transitions between the Enlightenment and Romanticism;

  • an understanding of the contribution of religion to cultural, social and political change in Britain in the
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