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How To Think

A course
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It occurs to me that a lot of the difference between a person’s fortune and expression through agency in life is down to how good they are at thinking.

School really teaches almost nothing in this regard, as it is taken as a natural act which everybody does, but in varying amounts of efficacy, and those variables are magically assigned to, well, pretty much anything going at the time.

People walk in different ways, and we’re never taught exactly how to walk, we just pick it up. A person doing sports on a serious or professional level might learn how to actually run or whatever it is sport people do, on a more scientific basis than just randomly tripping over whatever strategy arrives first and calling it your way of doing it. Similarly we talk in our own voice, but what is our voice - it is mostly the result of the first method we randomly encountered. We weren’t taught the voice we have. If we learn to speak professionally or sing, we might have structured lessons in how to approach making those sounds a bit better.

The way each person thinks could be taught. I don’t particularly mean how to handle big complex lofty ideas, and how they interlink with other lofty ideas. That’s already taken care of in education and suchlike. I mean how precisely a person is to ‘hold’ an incoming thought in their mind, where to put it while it is there, how long for, what exactly to do with it in your mind, what the result of doing this feels like looks like seems like etc. How to pipeline thoughts together and what results to expect and in what time frame. How to recognise thoughts and their types. How to process them. All this sort of stuff which we all no doubt do all the time but pay no attention to the doing of it, because we’re busy thinking the thoughts themselves all day.

What exactly is a thought, what are the possibilities of what can be done to it, and what are the processes available. What about two thoughts, or more. What about designing outcomes for thinking. What about thinking exercises and tests. How do we know how fit we are? Can thinking be flabby and unhealthy, can it be toned up, what is a fit thinker’s process like? How do we recognise and calibrate what we’re doing in comparison to that? What does it feel like to process a thought or several thoughts a thousand times more effectively than a typical randomly encountered strategy that we’ve ‘always done that way’ since we each discovered how to think.

This has nothing to do with the content of the thinking, or what we think etc. It is to do with the process of thinking itself regardless of the actual thoughts.

[needs editing later, maybe, too stream of consciousness]

Ian Tindale, Jan 13 2019

This discussion reminds me of one of my early posts... Math-modified_20Language
Beating around some thoughts as to the limitations imposed by language. [RayfordSteele, Jan 14 2019]

Countess Howe https://drive.googl...mJbVUu2UbatcpVp-q4P
[not_morrison_rm, Jan 14 2019]

/r/HowWeThink https://www.reddit.com/r/HowWeThink
Subreddit I created a while ago for discussion about different thinking modalities [notexactly, Jan 17 2019]

Your selectively selective mind won't let you see https://www.scienti...ll-not-let-you-see/
in/visibility depends on meaning [Sgt Teacup, Jan 19 2019]

[link]






       I suspect "how" people think begins to fall into the dyslexia category for the purposes of this suggestion..   

       In the sense that you can't teach people how "not" to be dyslexic.   

       Sort of, do you understand what I'm saying?
Skewed, Jan 13 2019
  

       //School really teaches almost nothing in this regard// At my secondary school, we had classes called "Sharper Thinking", which addressed this.   

       After two terms, we were all able to think "why are we having these classes?"
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 13 2019
  

       Behavioral psychology might work. You just have to come up with some criteria first, like larger digit span, or more thoughts pipelined together. Then have people get a candy everytime they increase their digit span (as measured with a very quick computer quiz). If it works you do not have to research what they are doing in their minds to cause the measurable improvements. It is worth a try, as you could aim for 95 the percentile on things like digit span or connected ideas.
beanangel, Jan 13 2019
  

       //After two terms, we were all able to think "why are we having these classes?"//   

       My first foray into secondary education was even worse than that, for me anyway.   

       It was a college BTEC Business Studies course, only took five minutes of sitting down in my first class & having the lecturer stand at the whiteboard & say "this is a filing cabinet, you can file things chronologically, alpha numerically.." & I was thinking exactly the same thing.   

       Everybody in the damn class had been through secondary school already & he's starting off with something I wouldn't expect to hear in any classroom beyond pre-school.
Skewed, Jan 13 2019
  

       Basic courses in general logic, game theory, and philosophy are sufficient. If they're not the person never will learn how to think.
Voice, Jan 13 2019
  

       No, you’re all still concerned with the content of thinking.   

       I’m introducing the idea that there are variables or submodalities that matter, such as when you’re thinking of a thing or stimuli or process or action or result, consider:   

       How big is it in your mind – does it occupy a tiny area in the mind, is it about handleable size, does it fill the available space?   

       Where do you put it – is it in front of you, to the left, to the right, are you over it, under it, what’s the perspective you have of it?   

       Is it moving, moving much, moving a small loop over and over, performing an action, is that action the important action or merely a recognisable characteristic ‘label’ action?   

       Is it the correct colour and tonality? Should it be? What if it weren’t?   

       Do you have a word label for the thing, and word labels for what you’re about to do to it? What if the labels were changed?   

       How slow is the perception? Is it fast and zippy, slow and statuesque, elegant, clumsy, doesn’t fit in?   

       Is it central to the attention or off centre and becoming peripheral (suggesting, I would suggest, that it isn’t fully understood in the current perception)   

       Is it crowded with other things and nearby or past/future things/processes, or is there loads of space around it. Should there be?   

       …and lots more of that sort of stuff. You see what I mean, it has nothing to do with analytical ability or content recognition or, well, anything we currently associate with being intelligent vs stupid, it’s an entirely different kind of aspect, altogether.
Ian Tindale, Jan 13 2019
  

       It's an entirely different kind of aspect.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 13 2019
  

       The problem is partly that humans don't "know" how they think, partly that there's no solid, reproducible model of how "thinking" works, partly that humans have different abilities and aptitudes (mathematics, music, literature, cookery), but almost entirely that the manufacturing process for humans is so sloppy, inconsistent and badly planned that (almost - identical twins are WKTE) no two units are the same, and thus knowledge gained from the study of one unit is not necessarily applicable to any other unit.   

       A statistical model can, of course, be produced, but - to the horror and disgust of politicians, journalists and other professional liars - it is never valid to extrapolate from the general to the specific.
8th of 7, Jan 13 2019
  

       How about Chester Nimitz? He was a general who was extrapolated to the Pacific.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 13 2019
  

       Admiral, actually.
8th of 7, Jan 13 2019
  

       I don't know, if poorly executed this could lead to a preponderance of philosophy majors.
RayfordSteele, Jan 13 2019
  

       Executing philosophy majors, even in a clumsy and inefficient way, does sound like a good way of improving the overall standard of critical thinking.
8th of 7, Jan 13 2019
  

       Indeed, that is a moral hazard.   

       But to continue further even more, the teaching of this sort of stuff could include:   

       Shifting of perceiving a thing from visual representation to for example, sound representation, or movement representation.   

       If a perception has a word label associated strongly with it, shift to a different made-up abstract thing that has no word associated with it (and try to prevent yourself from making one up for it).   

       Is a person more predisposed to think in perceptual labels that are effectively nouns, even if visual representation, even if dynamic active representation? Or is a person just as likely to represent verbs of ‘doing’ in terms of process or actions or acts? How are these represented and manipulated in the mind? Where? How long for?   

       How many actions are there? Do we have a kind of catalogue of possible actions or acts in a process, and are more complex processes composed from lots of these simple acts? Or do we simply assume each thing has a unique set of possible acts? Or does everything have the same single stereotypical ‘title frame’ essence which represents their commonly known effect.   

       Anyway, I think exercises such as this (and I’m no expert, I’m just as lazy, I really should step outside the thinking and examine how I’m thinking, myself) could to a certain degree counteract the idea that we all start with different intellectual capabilities. I mean, that may still be somewhat true, but far less so than we imagine. I suspect the differences are mainly due to sticking to the first strategy we trip over which seems to actually work. Much like the differences in how people walk, talk, sing, run, swim, etc. Natural ability isn’t fixed, it’s simply where you stopped when you were looking for how to do a thing.
Ian Tindale, Jan 13 2019
  

       //Is a person more predisposed to think in perceptual labels that are effectively nouns, even if visual representation, even if dynamic active representation? Or is a person just as likely to represent verbs of ‘doing’ in terms of process or actions or acts? How are these represented and manipulated in the mind? Where? How long for?   

       Well speaking personally if I notice what my mind is doing when I get up from a chair, there is an non-enunciated kind of "up and traverse" feeling or better a wordless cognition of what is about to happen or that urge. Sometimes my mind will also "say": I'm getting up; but this is not necessary or possibly even desirable. That runs completely opposite to your idea of thoughts made of nouns. Many of my better thoughts have a strong non- enunciated component.   

       Much of spontaneous understanding comes without words or perceptible feelings of category.   

       I still think that even grammerless thoughts and better thinking styles can be practiced and learned with (drumroll) behavioral psychology.   

       //How many actions are there? Do we have a kind of catalogue of possible actions or acts in a process, and are more complex processes composed from lots of these simple acts? Or do we simply assume each thing has a unique set of possible acts? Or does everything have the same single stereotypical ‘title frame’ essence which represents their commonly known effect.   

       ...It sounds like you would be a highly structured AI enthusiast, with lots of If-then and Case statements...   

       Ian, you might be like a music major perceiving a stream as notes and instruments at a tune, but I think it is frequent and normal just to experience music rather than to cogitate the structure.   

       Recognizing and appreciating your (potential) value of structure: Now from what I perceive, being able to appreciate art like music often goes better, or has new dimensions of fun, with knowing things and making mentally enunciated observations. Notably these often blend with what feel like unenunciated tropisms.   

       Something you might mentally experience at an art gallery: The painting feels lively, and that that art style often feels lively, and this is among the liveliest versions of that style I have ever seen! All as an unspoken gist. Then this can be increased in fun value with a mentally enunciated comment "I read that <Artist> had a mistress and It's like I can see her making this while they were in love".   

       So, um, what? I guess I could just reiterate support that different styles of "gists" could be cultivated on purpose with the positive reinforcers of behavioral psychology, and I also have a cautious feeling about training people to have improved enunciated grammer at thinking. Although that could be beneficial too.
beanangel, Jan 13 2019
  

       Creative thinking can be learned and taught at all levels.
xenzag, Jan 13 2019
  

       But only on an individual basis. There is no methodology that will function reliably every time for the vast majority of target systems, due to the lack of consistency in manufacture.
8th of 7, Jan 13 2019
  

       //How To Think   

       Gave it a go, it's over-rated.   

       // having the lecturer stand at the whiteboard & say "this is a filing cabinet,..."   

       A)The lecturer is generally paid by the hour.   

       or   

       b) In every educators career, you will get lumbered with a course that is such a pile of pooh. Under this circumstances it's best to try and make it work + take the money with a smile.
not_morrison_rm, Jan 13 2019
  

       Here’s an analogy. Several years ago I was taking lessons in Mandarin, prior to forgetting every single bit of it all a few years later.   

       One of the interesting side-effect aspects to me was that there were new vocalisations or sounds made by the mouth which simply didn’t occur in the normal British (or even Australian) English that I’ve been used to all my life. The tutor tried to teach us all the sounds of certain words we had trouble with by repetitively uttering those sounds herself until we came close but on some we never came exactly close. I looked at other books from other courses and one of them presented something quite interesting, a sort of side view of the human head in cutaway fashion, showing what exactly is expected to be occurring to the various flappy flabby protruberances in the mouth area (the tongue being the main and pointymost one of those flappy protruberances). This was actually tremendously helpful, and really helped a lot in terms of helping me understand what is supposed to be occurring inside, which is normally hidden.   

       Well, this is the same sort of thing, but with thoughts, not utterances. We’re used to perceptions and representations being in a certain way because they’ve always been like that in us (as individuals). What I’m saying is that other people might juggle their perceptions, thoughts and mental representations of things and processes each a bit differently to one another, and this might prove to give an advantage, and if only we knew what is going on in the head of another we could steal those ways of doing it and do it that way ourselves.
Ian Tindale, Jan 13 2019
  

       The ability to think is limited to a great extent by language.   

       Consider the case of the kangaroo. Until Europeans visited Australia, there existed no notion of a "kangaroo". There was no word for it, no description of it, no way of discussing or thinking about kangaroos because there was no kangaroo-shaped area in the European world view.   

       When kangaroos were then discovered, a kangaroo-shaped conceptual space was relatively simply arranged for all kangaroo-related things to be kept in.   

       But that space did not previously exist, nor could it, other than a placeholder reading "Put new animals here". Ancient philosophers could not discuss or compare the relative benefits of quadripedal, bipedal, or bouncing locomotion as that third method was unknown in large mammals.   

       Human imagination can create all sorts of stuff, and can then think about it as if it were real. There was a time when aeroplanes and cars did not exist; but they were imagined, then built, and then many of the parts had to be assigned previously nonexistent names.   

       A thing that has not yet even been imagined, an "unknown unknown", cannot by definition be thought about, as the terms and language to describe it do not yet exist.
8th of 7, Jan 13 2019
  

       There are visual descriptions and communications that do not rely on language. When Rothko was making his colour field paintings (for example) the only language involved was the visual interaction of masses of colour being juxtaposed on large canvases.
xenzag, Jan 13 2019
  

       Supporting your idea:   

       Synchronized fMRI: Have people adjust their thinking gestalt, content and style to match, in realtime measurements, that of the fMRI of a person that allegedly thinks well.   

       So while your brain is being functional magnetic resonance imaged the instructor says things like: "OK, now imagine you are a famous person giving a speech and unroll your thoughts as you Orate!", "Say it like you were telling a friend at lunch", "Imagine what a 5 year old would think of it" Or a variation on talking aloud to a rubber duck to improve code: "talk out what part connects to another part, like a map", "Imagine like when you were last in love, and talking to them feeling that way".   

       Besides plausible sounding strategies like those there is a nifty other way: Validating the unspecified with the MMPI-like approach. When measuring personality, Instead of constructing thought-out indicative things to ask a person the people making the MMPI had the interesting and apparently effective insight that you could just ask a lot of questions, then correlate them with measured personality or mental illness. I think they then refined the model, winnowing the questions on the ability to accurately predict a diagnosis.   

       As a result you have a psychological test with things that seem like non-sequitors like "I like flowers" (t/f) that, cumulatively and numerically stated, are highly predictive of personality or illness.   

       So take the MMPI approach of a bunch of less-formalized and non-strategic thought patterns, then measure and winnow to find the thought patterns that can move the fMRI visual graphic towards the same fMRI output as an allegedly "better thinker". The person might learn that from their perspective, Orating a rubber duck session causes logical and expressive fluency at the same time. And hey, since we are just aligning brain-scan outputs maybe an MMPI-like seeming non-sequitor like "pretend you are standing with an exaggeratedly upright posture at a ballet class causes factuality with likeability. fMRI MMPI Thinking style taught!   

       Another application of learned thinking style: perhaps the fMRI effects of "imagine saying it when you were in love" synchronizes with the fMRI of a thought-to-be-successful intimate conversationalist. Thus, accumulate a practice and feel for that romance-gone-right way of thinking and use it at small talk with friends, This could quite possibly influence the nonverbal communication that is supposedly 85% of live interaction. Aha! to be popular, think this way. Skill learned.   

       This could also be a way to ameliorate, or even possibly cure some mental illness. When the fMRI of an ill person matches that of a well person, and they also feel better with fewer observed symptoms, then it's doctor- prescribable.   

       Summary: have the learners do whatever mentally works to make their brain scan look like the brain scan of an allegedly effective thinker.
beanangel, Jan 13 2019
  

       //have the learners do whatever mentally works to make their brain scan look like the brain scan of an allegedly effective thinker//   

       Hey! My drunk brainscan looks just like Einstein's drunk brainscan!
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 14 2019
  

       But apart from twins, and even there there will be some differences, no two brains are alike, so you can only work by "averaging".   

       If you want to race-tune a car engine, which is manufactured to narrow tolerances, you still have to set up that specific engine in that specific chassis for optimal performance. The settings that work in another allegedly identical car will work well, but not be absolutely "race-winning" optimum.   

       On the other hand, all units of a particular GM or Ford vehicle will have the same code in the engine management system, and will perform very similarly when new.   

       So, what's best ?   

       "Think about physics in different ways until your brain scan looks like this scan of Einstein/Feynmann/Dirac's brain" ?   

       But will that be right for your specific brain, and make you the best physicist you can possibly be ? Probably not.   

       "Think about physics in different ways until your brain scan looks like this average scan of people who are good at physics" ?   

       You might well end up being good at physics, but do you then run the risk of not becoming an Einstein, a Feynmann, or a Dirac, because your unique brain's optimal operating configuration is sufficiently different from the average to make you a genius physicst rather than a good one ?
8th of 7, Jan 14 2019
  

       I'm really liking the new and improved beanie.
RayfordSteele, Jan 14 2019
  

       [Ian] Mandarin & English.   

       There are some word sound elements of English that just don't exist in Mandarin, if a child (who's first language is Mandarin) isn't exposed to English before the age of (around 7 I think it is?) they actually can't hear the difference between that sound & it's nearest equivalent in Mandarin.   

       And there are sounds & inflections in Mandarin that (in the same way) a native English speaker can't actually "hear".   

       That'll be (part of) why you had difficulty learning it.   

       You know that racist comedy Chinese accent the comedians used to use in the 80's? well that's probably (sort of) what you sound like to Chinese people when you speak Mandarin :P   

       It's much the same as facial recognition in that respect, someone raised on a sheep farm will recognize individual sheep at a glance in he same way most people can recognize other people, cats & dogs simply by their face.   

       Someone not raised with sheep around the place can't.
Skewed, Jan 14 2019
  

       // someone raised on a sheep farm will recognize individual sheep at a glance //   

       ... in the case of the welsh, along the lines of "Hi there, Aunty Betty !"   

       // there are sounds & inflections in Mandarin that in the same way a native English speaker can't actually "hear". //   

       Now there's the project to fire up the fMRI for. Scan the brains of Mandarin speakers, English speakers, examples of both who have learned the other language as adults, and adults brought up as bilingual from infancy.   

       There's a Ph.D. in that for some lucky neuropsychologist.
8th of 7, Jan 14 2019
  

       //There's a Ph.D. in that for some lucky neuropsychologist//   

       Pretty sure it's already been claimed, hasn't it?
Skewed, Jan 14 2019
  

       You see ? We're right yet again.
8th of 7, Jan 14 2019
  

       All very good points in the comments, everyone.   

       The Rothko thing, and his colourfield works are a good example too. There’s lots of non literate / non wordy modes of communication such as visual art, dance, flower arranging, music, architecture and possibly even gardening. The interesting thing about those is that they nevertheless work on the basis of process and action and constituent acts within actions. There has to be thought processes to envisage the overall process and desired end result and effect, in the same way as something we can describe and write down in words using an established verbal language.
Ian Tindale, Jan 14 2019
  

       Non-verbal (or rather, non-symbolic) communication is vulnerable to ambiguity.   

       A common phrase is "In this picture, the artist is trying to say ..." followed by the speaker's interpretation (based on their own unique internal world view) of what the picture means - to them.   

       However, symboic representations, particularly mathematics, are effectively independent of the reader's internal state. F = m x g x Sin(alpha) means the same thing to everyone who understands the basic rules.   

       A chaotic swirl of colours can indeed be an entirely valid representation of "How I feel when I stub my toe on a partly closed door" and is the consequence of entirely non-symbolic processing from physical sensation through internal visualization to final painting. Which is fine, but not as useful in most practical situations.
8th of 7, Jan 14 2019
  

       A simpler example is the raised middle finger.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 14 2019
  

       Such a gesture can be insulting in some cultures, meaningless in others, or simply indicate the number "one" in yet others. Context-sensetive ...
8th of 7, Jan 14 2019
  

       //However, symboic representations, particularly mathematics, are effectively independent of the reader's internal state. F = m x g x Sin(alpha) means the same thing to everyone who understands the basic rules.// Do they? This means that there is no debate in mathematics? Language is fundamental to thought but thinking still occurs outside of the use of language, as does communication.
xenzag, Jan 14 2019
  

       // there is no debate in mathematics? //   

       No, there isn't. While new theorems and proofs are discussed and debated, existing theorems, like Pythagoras, are fixed and immutable. The "sum of squares on the two smaller sides" was, is, and always will be valid.
8th of 7, Jan 14 2019
  

       Yes, there is. For instance, is Golbach's conjecture true, false, or unprovable? What's the best approach to solving Riemann?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 14 2019
  

       // new theorems and proofs are discussed and debated //   

       ... durrrrr.   

       Of course there are things that remain unresolved, and are debated. Some conjecturese are not amenable to proof or resolution; others give rise to paradoxes. But there is no debate about the meaning of, or method of calculation, or significance of the tangent function, or quadratic equations.
8th of 7, Jan 14 2019
  

       There's a huge amount of debate in mathematics, indeed, anyone can spin off and create their own, entirely independent branch, in which they literally determine the rules, notation and everything else - they important part is whether it's interesting (or useful) to anyone else .   

       I think this "How To Think" idea is exactly describing mathematics - not just pedestrian algebraic stuff to do with messing about with triangles, though it is here the foundations are built; but more-so when it gets exciting; where having realised that if a thing can be expressed mathematically, you get to go off and literally "do algebra" with it; Mountains, faces, interpersonal-dynamics, the meanings of words, economic interactions, all of time, space and the world .   

       If *thinking* is being able to understand the world such that you can reinterpret and recreate new ideas and implement them in real life, then I'd recommend a diet of more maths.   

       Sadly, it's all too common for people to get hung up on the tricky technicalities - which is probably more to do with the way the subject is taught, but in this day of near-free computing, it's probably time that changed - the computers will always perform calculations faster and with more precision than even the most gifted human abacus - but that's not maths. What's not currently taught is the creative side of mathematics - but I appreciate that's not an easy goal to set.
zen_tom, Jan 14 2019
  

       // anyone can spin off and create their own, entirely independent branch, in which they literally determine the rules, notation and everything else - they important part is whether it's interesting (or useful) to anyone else //   

       That's the equivalent of a fantasy novel, where the author creates an internally consistent Universe and populates it with planets, creatures and characters. It may be interesting and entertaining, and sell millions of copies, but its relevance to the "real world" may be limited.   

       A science fiction novel, while similar, may contain concepts that are actually more practical, because it's set in a framework of the real laws of maths and physics.
8th of 7, Jan 14 2019
  

       Yes, but here the use of the word "interesting" means that the new spin-off will consist of a rich enough framework that it can generate new ideas and concepts that might (perhaps a thousand-years hence) be practically applicable. Non Euclidean Geometry was poo-pooed by people who thought the idea of messing with the parallel postulate didn't have a basis in "real- life", but turns out it's pretty handy for describing the universe. That happened by breaking down the accepted convention.   

       The history of Mathematics is punctuated by (exceedingly adept and technically capable) people breaking convention, and while that might sound like science fiction, I think Gauss, Newton, Leibnitz and whichever caveman decided to first scratch lines on a bone would take issue with that characterisation. But I think we're actively agreeing from opposite sides of the argument though - it all comes down to where you personally draw the boundaries around the definitions of "interesting" or "useful".
zen_tom, Jan 14 2019
  

       //But there is no debate about the meaning of, or method of calculation, or significance of the tangent function, or quadratic equations// You've never had much to do with accountants, have you [8th]?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 14 2019
  

       Unfortunately it's not permitted to hunt them, so no.
8th of 7, Jan 14 2019
  

       //existing theorems, like Pythagoras, are fixed and immutable// You may want to take a look at Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem, which forced mathematicians to question what it means to say something is true in mathematics.
xenzag, Jan 14 2019
  

       That challenges the definition of "true", not the validity of Pythagoras' theorem.   

       Mathematicians can cheerfully proclaim that it's not true, or proveable, but importantly the "sum of squares" thing will continue to work regardless.   

       It isn't necessary to prove that gravity is "true" for an apple to fall out of a tree. It's presumably possible to prove that there's no such thing as gravity, but observation (macroscopic, not quantum) will still indicate that apples fall off trees and land on the Earth.   

       Going back to a previous point, in science fiction stories the authors rarely mess with truly fundamental stuff. They may hypothesize FTL travel, or near-instantaneous communication, or instant cloning. But there are comparatively few stories in which there's no gravity, or the General Gas Law doesn't apply, or light moves in spirals.
8th of 7, Jan 14 2019
  

       //the visual interaction of masses of colour being juxtaposed on large canvases.   

       Isn't that all paintings?   

       Posh tottie (Countess Howe) wants a pic, gets the upper torso painted, bogs off leaves dress on hanger, goes home. Painter forgets where the feet should be, paints 3 feet, gives up and settles for the least stupid look etc.   

         

       >
not_morrison_rm, Jan 14 2019
  

       // Isn't that all paintings? //   

       No. Some use only black, white, and shades in between. Some use only very small amounts of colour.
8th of 7, Jan 14 2019
  

       //Isn't that all paintings?// That's a debatable issue. With photorealism (for example) decisions regarding colour mixing and application are subject matter related. Once you take away all subject matter, you are left with a different set of values to consider.
xenzag, Jan 14 2019
  

       //You may want to take a look at Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem//   

       Gödel had two incompleteness theorems. It's not that they cast any doubt on proven theorems; rather, they show that there will be some things in any mathematical system that, although true, cannot be proven to be true.   

       Worse yet, he also proved that there is no universal way to decide in advance whether a given theorem is both true and provable. Pythagoras' theorem is true and proven. The Mersenne prime conjecture was proven false. Goldbach's conjecture seems to be true (no counterexamples have been found), but has not yet been proven and may be unprovable - we won't know until it's either proven or disproven which, if it's true but unprovable, will never happen.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 14 2019
  

       As regards the original idea, I devised and taught strategies for creative thought and the resulting (mostly) visual solutions for many years. These were acheived via sets of exercises designed to release unanticipated outcomes.
xenzag, Jan 14 2019
  

       //exercises designed to release unanticipated outcomes// Many pregnancies start that way.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 14 2019
  

       //[Ian] Mandarin & English.//   

       It occurs that many of the same elements of brain development that presumably lead to those observed effects may apply to your idea.   

       It might not be possible to teach an adult to "think better" once they've passed a certain age.
Skewed, Jan 14 2019
  

       That may be so, but there is still scope for experimentation.   

       It would be useful to take a representative sample of elected representatives, i.e. all of them, and "re-educate" them to "think better", by means of violent beatings, starvation, electric shocks, waterboarding and forcing to them to work like slaves.   

       Then the survivors, if any, could be evaluated to see if the therapy was successful.
8th of 7, Jan 14 2019
  

       //It would be useful//   

       Sp. "enjoyable"
Skewed, Jan 14 2019
  

       Useful and enjoyable ?
8th of 7, Jan 14 2019
  

       //"re-educate" them to "think better", by means of violent beatings, starvation, electric shocks, waterboarding and forcing to them to work like slaves// Sounds like Brazil (the Terry Gilliam movie, and also possibly the country).   

       Math is a language, and although it is more universal than other languages, it still has regional expressions. (Just ask a Russian to show you how to do long division.*) Language is personally produced, and ‘corrected’ to express a cultural point of view. (see e.g.: children raised by wolves, working-class vocal negatively affects ability to rise in social strata) Therefore, Math, like other languages, depends upon point of view.   

       Yes, no matter what you call it, or whether you believe in it or not, gravity still works. Yes, Henry Hudson’s ship still sailed in, even though the Uummarmiat, Inuvialuit and Inuit could not ‘see’ the ships, having no words for boats larger than kayak or umiak (see 8th’s kangaroo example). Everything we describe is still as it is, but we can only see what we can see, based on our cultural point of view. This often leads to unfortunate misunderstandings.   

       Perhaps ‘how to think’ is better learned as an approach, rather than a body of knowledge. The knowledge we can access changes—most peoples of the world did not believe the bit about germs until the microscope, and people still don’t understand what animals are trying to tell them (‘So long and thanks for all the fish’?!). ‘How to think’ is more like the approach to life using tools found in mindful meditation classes.   

       *The Chinese consistently out-perform the English (and most other languages/cultures) in mathematics because they have better names for the numbers. What the hell is an ‘eleven’?! It is called ‘ten plus one’ in both Mandarin and Cantonese. A ‘twelve’ is more sensibly called ‘ten plus two’ in China. Why do the English then say ‘thirteen’, and all the teens, up to the next weird thing ‘twenty’? The Chinese call it what it is, all the way up; ‘twenty’ is ‘two tens, one hundred is ‘ten tens’, and so on. Non-Chinese children’ progress is retarded by having to learn arcane names for the numbers, while the Chinese are already inherently learning multiplication in the very naming of numbers.
Sgt Teacup, Jan 14 2019
  

       // believe the bit about germs until the microscope //   

       Because, until then, it was an unproven theory.   

       "Disease is caused by poisonous vapours arising from decaying organic material" is a good an explanation as "Disease is caused by tiny, almost invisible, nasty biting things" until the technology exists to prove one and disprove the other.   

       The point here is that one thing the scientific method specifically wants you NOT to do is "believe". Religion requires belief; science requires doubt, enquiry, and critical judgement.   

       If you ask a scientist about, for example, cholera, they would say "Cholera is caused by a bacterium. On this microscope slide are some stained, fixed cholera bacteria - you can look at them. Here is an enlarged image of a bacterium. On this DVD is the genetic sequence of cholera. In this vial is a sample of live cholera bacilli: if you swallow it, it is highly likely you will become extremely ill with cholera, and you might die. This procedure is not recommended, but if you absolutely insist on the ultimate proof, here it is".   

       It gets a bit more tricky with physics, because physicists tend to offer complex equations as "proof"; but such proof does pass another important test in that the equations predict in an consistent, reproducible way, independent of time, location and experimenter, the behaviour of physical phenomena.   

       So, you shouldn't believe what you're told ...
8th of 7, Jan 14 2019
  

       //Why do the English then say ‘thirteen’, and all the teens// Well, because it's a contraction of "three and ten", only it's one word.   

       There is a debate over arithmetic regarding the balance between "things you know" and "things you can calculate". In the West, you just "know" that 3+7=10, and that 8x9=72, and you don't have to work out the answers. This gives an advantage in common day-to-day contexts, but at the expense of being less quick at actual calculation.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 14 2019
  

       An interesting aspect of those people that can give an answer to multiplication of large numbers is that generally they’re looking inside when they do it, their eyes are simply not connecting with the outside world. What they’re apparently doing is seeing the number combinator as a shape or form, and viewing the form from a certain rotational transform allows ‘reading off’ the answer. They’re not doing any calculation at all in the normal –  difficult – sense. I find that quite interesting (mostly interesting in that you’d think we’d have derived a way of letting everyone do it – education clearly fails at this).
Ian Tindale, Jan 14 2019
  

       Yeah I wish I could see math in my head the I can visualize widgets. If I ever win the lotto I'm hiring a tutor.   

       //Useful and enjoyable ?//   

       Useful, enjoyable and cathartic ?
Skewed, Jan 15 2019
  

       All of the above.
8th of 7, Jan 15 2019
  

       sorry I'm kind of late to this thread.   

       Teaching people how to think is like teaching people to be curious. Has there been any demonstration of the success of such an effort, anywhere?
theircompetitor, Jan 15 2019
  

       Dunno, not interested.
8th of 7, Jan 15 2019
  

       I’m not sure it’s really like teaching people to be curious at all. I’d accept that after having done some teaching of a person to think in the way described, they may exhibit more curiousity as a side effect of the manipulation.   

       The more I think about it it really is much like teaching what happens inside the mouth when a very foreign person speaks. You can’t see what’s happening to the tongue against all the inside flappy and ribby and soft and wet bits, behind the labia which under most circumstances hide what’s going on inside while all the manipulating is going on. Strange sounds are emitted and unless you know how it happens, it’s an occluded mystery what’s happening inside.   

       Well, it’s the same with the mind. Imagine the mind has a kind of ‘tongue’ and side walls and teeth and flappy soft bits and ribby harder bits and an up and a down and orientation and places you can put things, move things, store things while you turn another thing around or upside down, etc. The same as a mouth. Thoughts and perceptions come in and you can either just gulp them down linearly, or you can swirl and swish and crunch and sieve and suck and press and tickle and flatten and bunch what comes in as it goes past in order to feel more of the experience.
Ian Tindale, Jan 15 2019
  

       <obligatory> I think you think too much</obligatory>   

       point being that while extensive exercise may cause some level of improvement, some people are curious and other people are not, and some people think all the time, and other people don't think. Haven't seen much evidence otherwise.
theircompetitor, Jan 15 2019
  

       <Caesar>   

       "Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous."   

       </Caesar>
8th of 7, Jan 15 2019
  

       Thinking is the culmination of a complex strata of brain processing from primal to modern. That's a lot of stuff in the dark that produces the moving star that is consciousness and it's downstream, thought.   

       How to course thought? Meditation might be good, equally sleep, exercise or the right nutrients but, ultimately, a really large set of lego-y facts with some reality lessons for grounding.   

       Variety is good.
wjt, Jan 17 2019
  

       [beany] // Synchronized fMRI: Have people adjust their thinking gestalt, content and style to match, in realtime measurements, that of the fMRI of a person that allegedly thinks well. […] Summary: have the learners do whatever mentally works to make their brain scan look like the brain scan of an allegedly effective thinker. //   

       Did you undergo this procedure a few months ago, using brain scans of top halfbakers as the target? Because, if so: it worked!   

       [8th] // "Think about physics in different ways until your brain scan looks like this scan of Einstein/Feynmann/Dirac's brain" But will that be right for your specific brain, and make you the best physicist you can possibly be ? Probably not.   

       "Think about physics in different ways until your brain scan looks like this average scan of people who are good at physics" ? You might well end up being good at physics, but do you then run the risk of not becoming an Einstein, a Feynmann, or a Dirac, because your unique brain's optimal operating configuration is sufficiently different from the average to make you a genius physicst rather than a good one ? //   

       Rather than averaging, use some kind of machine learning to find patterns in the differences between genius physicists' (e.g.) brains and regular people's brains. Maybe amazing physicists all fit a pattern where the ratio of activity in region A to activity in region B is inversely related to the activity in region C. Then use that pattern as the training goal for the subject who wants to be a physics genius.   

       The machine learning model doesn't even need to be explainable: just train it to discriminate between "great physicist" and "normal person" given a brain scan, with the outputs being scalar confidence values that the presented brain scan fits each category. Then run that trained model on the live subject, and have them just try to think in whatever ways maximize their "great physicist" category score. Kinda like a GAN, but less back-and-forth iterative.   

       [Sgt] // The knowledge we can access changes—most peoples of the world did not believe the bit about germs until the microscope //   

       But how could van Leeuwenhoek see the germs if…   

       // the Uummarmiat, Inuvialuit and Inuit could not ‘see’ the ships, having no words for boats larger than kayak or umiak //   

       …?   

       (BTW, I've never heard a claim of European ships being 'invisible' that far north. Further south, I've heard such a claim, but I've also heard it's been debunked: they saw the ships just fine, and there's no original source for them not seeing the ships.)
notexactly, Jan 17 2019
  

       // how could van Leeuwenhoek see the germs ... Inuit could not ‘see’ the ships //   

       He couldn't see "germs". He could, however, see "tiny, clearly living, moving, reproducing creatures". Then the word "germs" was appropriated, or coined, to be a label for "tiny, clearly living, moving, reproducing creatures that can be observed in water", later amended with " ... that can make you very ill if you swallow them".   

       Initially there may have been no connection made between bugs and infectious disease. After all, since even a sample of water from a "clean" well that was "wholesome" would probably contain some bugs; but not dangerous ones.   

       The Inuit could see "Very big things made of wood, with people on them, floating in the water". But they had no word for "ship". The first report would probably be "There is a gigantic umiak-like thing floating in the bay, and there are many people standing on it".   

       Humans don't currently say "I've just seen a q-ThadBlakk 400DS4 Bobutron", they say "I've just seen a metallic saucer-like flying thing with flashing lights round the edge". But they do say, "I've just seen an Airbus A380" because that is a "Big metal* bird b'long white man, go up in sky." and is a known thing. No description is required; the name relates to a consensus description of "Four-engined double-deck passenger carrying jet aircraft".   

       *Unfortunately, not enough of the really important bits to actually make it safe to travel in ...
8th of 7, Jan 17 2019
  

       I wonder if I can take a course to get my left ventricle to relax just a bit more before each beat.
wjt, Jan 19 2019
  

       //the scientific method//   

       I think its worth elaborating on peer review here. People who are pretty good at thinking can usually get quite far in the review process by introspection and applying the scientific method to their own thinking. Its as if while thinking you have an inventor and someone trying to smash the idea in your head at the same time. Such an internal dialogue can verify thinking to a high degree of certainty without resorting to talking to other people. But some people literally cannot think without using someone else to critique their neuron output, which is a great waste of time for all concerned.   

       The internal dialogue technique can be further refined by adding in more characters for different facets like business or social impact. Even non everyday language based thinking can be vetted e.g. a music score can be run by the maths guy in your head to see if he appreciates the from-the-gut composition - all viewpoints of the truth must align for a valuable thought worth committing to a page.   

       If there is any discord between characters it means more in-depth ramification of concepts is required. When I used to smoke, we'd all just go outside and chill for 10 minutes before internally re-engaging. Sometimes a second smoke would be required.   

       On rare occasions the whole brain needs a reset and we'd have a fancy dress party with lots of alcohol, but I'd still find myself in the kitchen - everyone else having fun apart from the dominant personality being the designated driver. And there's always that dick of a devils advocate wanting to have that last glass of whisky and packet of peanuts while he rants on the HB in the early hours.
bigsleep, Jan 19 2019
  

       A course in self debate. Am I in pain? Is this really pleasure? or can I get dollars for this crying. Body>Heart>Mind   

       Eventually in a field, say an engineer, the knowledge is wholistic the simple thoughts don't even reach the surface until interrogated. That won't work - why? - main beam is too light.
wjt, Jan 19 2019
  

       Turn the thing you’re percieving upside down. That’s easy to imagine.   

       Now turn the thing you’re imagining the same way it was. Turn your mind upside down – the space you put things in, turn that space upside down but keep the contents as they were.   

       Are there walls in your mind? What are they like, and what’s near them, and is there a big gap between the walls of your mind and the things in the centre where you position the things you’re paying attention to.
Ian Tindale, Jan 19 2019
  

       //wholistic//   

       Did you use that particular word & spelling deliberately, hoping to trigger someone on sp. ?
Skewed, Jan 19 2019
  

       Cool topic.   

       You can lead a human to oughta... but you can't make'm think.   

       It all comes down to sensory input and how we're hard-wired during gestation as to what we are capable of learning. An unformed mind would have the potential to do anything any previous human had been mentally capable of and more, as can be seen in cases of acquired savant syndrome, but without a seriously lucky knock on the head Mozart was never going to be famous for his paintings.   

       Having been forced to play Devils advocate about everything, and learning mostly by doing the empath thing and jumping into people's heads to figure out why the hell they do the things they do, it can be very effective at predicting outcomes.
I didn't have scientific method to back it up though so there's just possibilities which haven't been eliminated yet.
  

       The conscious mind is fractal like a tree or anything else in nature. Stuck to one train of thought at a time, and needing to access the trunk to zip down branches to memory leaves.   

       The subconscious mind has none of these restrictions and it might as well be the air surrounding the tree for how limitless it is for the tree to grow into, and can touch all of the leaves simultaneously while thinking as many thoughts at a time as it wants.
In my teens I went through depersonalization/ derealization/ panic issues etc. without any words for what was going on in my head so I... explored them. I would try to hold on to the sensations and eventually I learned to induce them so that they wouldn't just 'happen' to me anymore.
  

       It worked and I gained control over these things, and more, but that's not the point.
The point is that, it is while in that state of depersonalization, when you forget your self, it allows access to the subconscious mind and what its been thinking, about what you've been thinking, for as long as you can maintain that state of mind.
  

       It's where the inventions come from.   

       That’s interesting.   

       Sometimes I wonder why I don’t wonder whether I should ask how I know it’s me thinking.
Ian Tindale, Jan 19 2019
  

       I have a strong suspicion that I know why some people have difficulty thinking.   

       My strong suspicion is that they don't really try. I don't think I was born good at thinking, but for some reason I decided that thinking was what I wanted to do for a living, so I thunk and thunk, and eventually got better at it. Now I think well enough to get paid for it. If I'd decided I wanted to play golf for a living, I expect I'd have golfed and golfed, and would now be OK at golfing. Fortunately, it's a lot easier to be a professional thinker than a professional golfer.   

       So, the first thing I'd ask if someone asked me how to think better, would be "how many hours per day, on average, do you actually spend thinking hard?" If the answer is less than eight or nine, then I know why they can't think well.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 19 2019
  

       hmmm... at age three or so average human brains are all little mega-genius sponges soaking up every little nuance unfiltered right?
So is it specialization and a whittling away of this capacity that determines whether someone either loses or keeps the ability to think deeply?
  

       We all used to think really deeply without knowing it and without much effort.
So what changes?.. and does it have to?
  

       //We all used to think really deeply without knowing it and without much effort.// Do you mean in an evolutionary sense, or an individual sense? Either way, I think I disagree.   

       Most people I know now simply don't think very much - they either don't need to, or else they think they shouldn't need to and that the answer should just come to them somehow. When I was a kid, I'm pretty sure I thought more than other kids did - most of them just didn't try.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 19 2019
  

       // Sometimes I wonder why I don’t wonder whether I should ask how I know it’s me thinking//   

       don't we already have the "I think, therefore I'm thinking" tagline? It's a little late to channel Descartes
theircompetitor, Jan 19 2019
  

       Actually, [Ian], it's not you who's thinking. You remember a while ago when you wondered "I wonder if he's thinking what I'm thinking"? Well, he was. You weren't. The guy who thinks what you think you're thinking is actually someone you thought up previously. Recursion can be a cruel mistress.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 19 2019
  

       // Recursion can be a cruel mistress. //   

       [xenzag] probably won't appreciate the competition, though.
8th of 7, Jan 19 2019
  
      
[annotate]
  


 

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