The Public Relations BlogMedia & PsychologySocial PsychologyThe Borg Complex: I'm Guilty of this Psychological Fallacy

The Borg Complex: I’m Guilty of this Psychological Fallacy

I pledge to stop using technological determinism indeterminately.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

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Unfortunately, I’m guilty of the Borg Complex.

Via Waldemar Ingdahl, I came across the Borg Complex, a term I hadn’t encountered before.

The Borg Complex refers to a spe­cif­ic form of tech­no­lo­gic­al determ­in­ism, but in my case, it’s also a psy­cho­lo­gic­al fal­lacy.

And yes, I’m guilty.
Big time.

Here’s how:

The Borg Complex: A Definition

The term Borg Complex was coined on a whim by L.M. Sacasas:

A Borg Complex is exhib­ited by tech­no­lo­gists, writers, and pun­dits who expli­citly assert or impli­citly assume that res­ist­ance to tech­no­logy is futile. The name is derived from the Borg, a cyber­net­ic ali­en race in the Star Trek uni­verse that announces to their vic­tims some vari­ation of the fol­low­ing: ‘We will add your bio­lo­gic­al and tech­no­lo­gic­al dis­tinct­ive­ness to our own. Resistance is futile.’”
Source: L.M. Sacasas 1Sacasas, L. M. (2013, March 1). Borg Complex: A Primer. L.M. Sacasas. https://​thefrailestth​ing​.com/​2​0​1​3​/​0​3​/​0​1​/​b​o​r​g​-​c​o​m​p​l​e​x​-​a​-​p​r​i​m​er/

Do I qual­i­fy in the group of tech­no­lo­gists, writers, and pun­dits?
Yes, I guess I do.

Have I been guilty of expli­citly assert­ing or assum­ing that res­ist­ance to tech­no­logy is futile?
Yes. More times than I can count.

Does know­ing about the Borg Complex change my mind?
Yes, and no.

I still lean heav­ily towards the side of tech­no­lo­gic­al determ­in­ism.
I still think that res­ist­ance, for the most part, is futile.

But wheth­er I’m right or wrong is beside the point — at least in this context.

Symptoms of the Borg Complex

Here are, accord­ing to L.M. Sacasas, some of the symp­toms of the Borg Complex: 

1. Makes gran­di­ose, but unsup­por­ted claims for tech­no­logy
2. Uses the term Luddite a‑historically and as a cas­u­al slur
3. Pays lip ser­vice to, but ulti­mately dis­misses genu­ine con­cerns
4. Equates res­ist­ance or cau­tion to reac­tion­ary nos­tal­gia
5. Starkly and mat­ter-of-factly frames the case for assim­il­a­tion
6. Announces the bleak future for those who refuse to assim­il­ate
7. Expresses con­temp­tu­ous dis­reg­ard for past cul­tur­al achieve­ments
8. Refers to his­tor­ic­al ante­cedents solely to dis­miss present con­cerns”
Source: L.M. Sacasas 2Sacasas, L. M. (2013, March 1). Borg Complex: A Primer. L.M. Sacasas. https://​thefrailestth​ing​.com/​2​0​1​3​/​0​3​/​0​1​/​b​o​r​g​-​c​o​m​p​l​e​x​-​a​-​p​r​i​m​er/

Yes, I’ve been known to make such claims without sup­port­ing them with evid­ence. I’ve equated con­cerns to reac­tion­ary nos­tal­gia. And I’ve been known to announce a bleak future on occasion.

Have I been wrong?

Well, it’s not evid­ent that I’ve been expli­citly wrong. Technology has proven to be a driv­ing force majeure in soci­ety. Another way to put it: I could be right.

But being right is beside the point.

L.M. Sacasas puts it bluntly:

We need more think­ing, not less, and Borg Complex rhet­or­ic is typ­ic­ally deployed to stop rather than advance dis­cus­sion. What’s more, Borg Complex rhet­or­ic also amounts to a refus­al of respons­ib­il­ity. We can­not, after all, be held respons­ible for what is inev­it­able. Naming and identi­fy­ing Borg Complex rhet­or­ic mat­ters only inso­far as it pro­motes care­ful think­ing and respons­ible action.”
Source: L.M. Sacasas 3Sacasas, L. M. (2013, March 1). Borg Complex: A Primer. L.M. Sacasas. https://​thefrailestth​ing​.com/​2​0​1​3​/​0​3​/​0​1​/​b​o​r​g​-​c​o​m​p​l​e​x​-​a​-​p​r​i​m​er/

Mind Your Technological Determinism

I cel­eb­rate intel­lec­tu­al debate and diversity of thought. I would nev­er seek to silence any­one pro­pos­ing an oppos­ing line of reas­on­ing. Not con­sciously, at least.

But uncon­sciously?
Well.

I’ve been uncon­sciously season­ing my writ­ing with sprinkles of tech­no­lo­gic­al determ­in­ism to close doors instead of open­ing them. Therefore, I think of the Borg Complex more as a psy­cho­lo­gic­al fal­lacy than a per­sua­sion strategy.

Moving for­ward, I pledge to be more mind­ful of think­ing, writ­ing and dis­cuss­ing technology.

The Borg Collective in Star Trek can be used as a cau­tion­ary tale for qual­it­at­ive research­ers, chal­len­ging sim­pli­city in meth­od­o­logy and product, and mak­ing com­plex aca­dem­ic writ­ing more access­ible and enjoy­able.”
Source: Qualitative Inquiry 4Brkich, C., & Barko, T. (2012). “Our Most Lethal Enemy?”. Qualitative Inquiry, 18, 787 — 797. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​1​7​7​/​1​0​7​7​8​0​0​4​1​2​4​5​3​019

Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing art­icles with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tions and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. You might also con­sider my PR ser­vices or speak­ing engage­ments.

PR Resource: Logical Fallacies and Biases

Logical Fallacies and Cognitive Biases - Doctor Spin
Logical fal­la­cies and cog­nit­ive biases.
Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

List of Logical Fallacies and Biases

We often fall prey to the tricks our psy­cho­logy plays on us. These “think­ing errors” exist because they’ve often aided our sur­viv­al. However, know­ing and under­stand­ing vari­ous types of com­mon fal­la­cies and biases is help­ful in every­day life.

Here are a few examples of logic­al fal­la­cies and biases that I’ve come across while study­ing pub­lic rela­tions and linguistics:

  • Fallacy of Composition
  • Fallacy of Division
  • The Gambler’s Fallacy
  • Tu Quoque (Who Are You To Talk?)
  • Strawman
  • Ad Hominem
  • Genetic Fallacy (Fallacy of Origin or Fallacy of Virtue)
  • Fallacious Appeal to Authority
  • Red Herring
  • Appeal to Emotion
  • Appeal to Popularity (The Bandwagon Effect)
  • Appeal to Tradition
  • Appeal to Nature
  • Appeal to Ignorance
  • Begging the Question
  • Equivocation
  • False Dichotomy (Black or White)
  • Middle Ground Fallacy
  • Decision Point Fallacy (Sorites Paradox)
  • Slippery Slope Fallacy
  • Hasty Generalisations (Anecdotal Evidence)
  • Faulty Analogy
  • Burden of Proof
  • Affirming the Consequent
  • Denying the Antecedent (Fallacy of the Inverse)
  • Moving the Goalposts
  • No True Scotsman
  • Personal Incredulity
  • False Causality
  • Texas Sharpshooter
  • Loaded Question
  • Chesterton’s Fence
  • Survivorship Bias
  • Dunning-Kruger Effect
  • Confirmation Bias
  • Heuristic Anchoring
  • Curse of Knowledge
  • Optimism/​Pessimism Bias
  • Sunk Cost Fallacy
  • Negativity Bias
  • Declinism
  • Backfire Effect (Conversion Theory)
  • Fundamental Attribution Error
  • In-Group Bias
  • Forer Effect (Barnum Effect)
  • Cognitive Dissonance
  • Hostile Media Effect
  • Cherry-Picking (The Fallacy of Incomplete Evidence)
  • Spiral of Silence
  • Yes Ladder
  • Bystander Effect
  • Reciprocation Effect
  • Commitment and Consistency
  • Fallacy of Social Proof
  • Liking and Likeness
  • Appeal to Authority
  • Principle of Scarcity (FOMO)
  • Loss Aversion

Learn more: 58 Logical Fallacies and Biases

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ANNOTATIONS
ANNOTATIONS
1, 2, 3 Sacasas, L. M. (2013, March 1). Borg Complex: A Primer. L.M. Sacasas. https://​thefrailestth​ing​.com/​2​0​1​3​/​0​3​/​0​1​/​b​o​r​g​-​c​o​m​p​l​e​x​-​a​-​p​r​i​m​er/
4 Brkich, C., & Barko, T. (2012). “Our Most Lethal Enemy?”. Qualitative Inquiry, 18, 787 — 797. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​1​7​7​/​1​0​7​7​8​0​0​4​1​2​4​5​3​019
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.net/
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.
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The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has

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