Welcome to The Dead Horses Project: “Focused on things that don’t work…and replacing them with things that do work, for the common good of all.”

Www.DeadHorses.org: An Expanding Catalogue of Earthly Dysfunction... and what to do about it!

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The definition of Insanity is "Doing the same things over and over again...but expecting a different outcome each time." So by this definition, the sanest person is the one most able to generate alternatives. The insane person only sees "one way" to do something and keeps repeating it, whether it works or not. The insane person is locked into a particular model of the world, according to which "there is only one way to address situations like this" and so they keep...um...repeating themselves. Know anyone like that? Sound somewhat familiar?

If not, its unlikely you are from Earth! Earth seems to be a place populated by people who are slow learners---who insist that the problem is not their impoverished model of the world, but rather the problem must be "out there." If conditions "out there" would just conform to their mental models, all would be well. This is truly a description of Insanity and thus a pretty good description of the way humans often behave.

So our conclusion is: only an insane person (or persons!) would continue to ride a Dead Horse once it is apparent that the horse is...um....DEAD!

When Riding a Dead Horse

Comanche Indian wisdom says, "When you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount."

In business, government and (sometimes) education often other strategies are tried with dead horses, including the following:

  • 1. Buying a stronger whip.
  • 2. Changing riders.
  • 3. Saying things like, "This is the way we have always ridden dead horses."
  • 4. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
  • 5. Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.
  • 6. Increasing the standards to ride dead horses.
  • 7. Appointing a tiger team to revive the dead horse.
  • 8. Creating a training session to increase our riding ability.
  • 9. Comparing the state of dead horses in today's environment vs. in history.
  • 10. Changing the requirements, declaring, "This horse is not actually dead."
  • 11. Hiring contractors to ride the dead horse.
  • 12. Harnessing several dead horses together for increased speed.
  • 13. Declaring that "No horse is too dead to ride."
  • 14. Providing additional funding to increase the horse's performance.
  • 15. Funding a study to see if contractors can ride it cheaper.
  • 16. Purchasing a product to make dead horses run faster.
  • 17. Declaring the horse is "better, faster and cheaper dead."
  • 18. Forming a quality circle to find uses for dead horses.
  • 19. Reviewing the performance requirements for horses.
  • 20. Saying this horse was procured with cost as an independent variable.
  • 21. "Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.(My personal favorite!)

For another version of this classic iteration of dysfunctional strategies, click here .

Why do we laugh at these examples?

Perhaps...because it is painful to recognize human dysfunction (the inability to learn successfully from previous experience) and so the brain sends us a mild dose of friendly endorphins to help us ease the pain. So we laugh. And then of course, we move on.

Perhaps! I don't know when its going to happen, but I am wondering if there are others "out there" on Earth who would like to make a difference by contributing to this site. People can make a difference you know. And perhaps you will choose to make a difference by identifying your "favorite" Dead Horse and creating a post on this site that will illuminate where it came from, how it died, why people still attempt to ride it and, best of all, what can be done to get people to STOP riding it! Does that sound fair enough?

"What difference would it make?"

You ask. That's really up to you! However, I have created a format that could be useful to get this thing started now. In its current form, it goes like this:

1. Players (you and the others) start by identifying a "Dead Horse" (dysfunctional human behavior) that really bothers you. It could be anything really, as long as it meets the basic Dead Horse criteria and you can provide sensory evidence (something that someone has SEEN, HEARD or FELT in some way that is verifiable).

Dead Horse Criteria are as follows:

  • The behavior does not provide the effect or benefit that it was intended to provide ( in simple terms, it doesn't work!)
  • Even though the behavior doesn't really work, people keep doing it anyway
  • The "Dead Horse" behavior produces actual harm to people and / or the planet upon which we live (not just your opinion, convincing evidence of the harm must be given)

2. Make your case for the Dead Horse by posting on this site, using the following headings:

  • Name of the Dead Horse: Include the name and your definition of the un-workable behavior
  • About This Horse: Any information that helps clarify the Dead Horse, perhaps how you stumbled upon it, or noticed that it was truly dead. What is that you SEE or HEAR or FEEL that convinces you the horse is a goner?
  • Why Its Dead: Here is where you provide sensory evidence that the horse is really and truly dead, based on your own observation or the verified observation of others. Mere opinions are not enough!
  • You Might Be Riding It If: Give a list of examples of Dead Horse behavior that will assist other players in recognizing this Dead Horse when they see it
  • Better Horses to Ride: Your recommendations for other, alternative behaviors that could actually provide the benefit that the Dead Horse merely intended. These can be actual examples from real life or your best ideas and suggestions
  • Reading List: Provide a list of books, articles, videos or other sites that have good information on behaviors that can actually achieve the outcomes intended by the Dead Horse
  • Quotes: Provide quotes from current or historical persons that you feel directly point to this Dead Horse
  • Group Links: Post links to Groups of people who notice have come together to "make a difference" for our world by taking positive action to use alternative behaviors. This could include websites, NGO's, YouTube links, My Space links, Facebook links, etc. Feel free to generate your own Group and invite others to join you in Making a Difference for our world.
  • Project Links: Post a link to a project you are involved with that actually addresses the dysfunctional behavior of this Dead Horse in ways that will Make A Difference.

Annual Dead Horse Awards. Projects will be reviewed annually by the Dead Horse Advisory Board whose members will nominate the winners of the Annual Dead Horse Awards. Prizes, including cash for worthy causes, will be announced and presented at the Annual Dead Horse Awards Ceremony.

The date of the first Annual Dead Horse Awards Ceremony will be announced in the near future. Projects that pre-date this site will also be considered in the nominations process, however, we will give priority to projects that also actively use the Dead Horses site to communicate their issues to others and to Make A Difference for our planet.

NOTE: There is no requirement for players to follow the suggested format exactly. However, players who want to win prizes in the Annual Dead Horses Awards competition are strongly encouraged to follow the format as nearly as possible. If you feel that any of the suggested format elements have become "Dead Horses" please send feedback to: [equus.rising@gmail.com]

Example of a Possible Dead Horse Posting

Click here to view an example on how War is a dead horse.


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War observably kills, maims and wounds millions of people each year and that is not good for our planet. This means there can never be a “good” war. War always creates more problems that it solves. In addition to killing and maiming millions of people, it wastes our precious resources that would be better used for education, disease prevention, creating renewable sources of energy and ending poverty. The seeds of every new war can always be found in a previous war. Fundamentally, war doesn’t work. In the best sense of counter productivity it only makes matters much worse and ensures that there will be more, even worse wars in the future. Terrorism is just war using “asymmetrical” methods. War is a Dead Horse, no matter who rides it. Perhaps, its time to stop sending our young men to other countries to kill their young men and their innocent families. Message: end war and find ways to ensure peace. Ya think? (more...)

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