Sustained Incoherence

From the wikipedia entry for David Bohm

In Bohm’s view:

…the general tacit assumption in thought is that it’s just telling you the way things are and that it’s not doing anything – that ‘you’ are inside there, deciding what to do with the info. But you don’t decide what to do with the info. Thought runs you. Thought, however, gives false info that you are running it, that you are the one who controls thought. Whereas actually thought is the one which controls each one of us. Thought is creating divisions out of itself and then saying that they are there naturally. This is another major feature of thought: Thought doesn’t know it is doing something and then it struggles against what it is doing. It doesn’t want to know that it is doing it. And thought struggles against the results, trying to avoid those unpleasant results while keeping on with that way of thinking. That is what I call “sustained incoherence”.


March 2, 2011 at 12:44 am Leave a comment

Naive Realism

Now this is the hard work. Taking your knowledge that other people’s views are shaped by their experiences, that they have filters over what they are willing to consider as evidence, and pressures on them (from without and within) to stay consistent, and a) admitting that you are just the same and b) figuring out methods to analyse your own views/filters in light of that and c) actually consistently implementing those methods consistently and persistently.

If we DON’T do that, then we’re just wallowing in naive realism

Naïve realism is the conviction that one sees the world as it is and that when people don’t see it in a similar way, it is they that do not see the world for what it is. Ross characterized naïve realism as “a dangerous but unavoidable conviction about perception and reality”. The danger of naïve realism is that while humans are good in recognizing that other people and their opinions have been shaped and influenced by their life experiences and particular dogmas, we are far less adept at recognizing the influence our own experiences and dogmas have on ourselves and opinions. We fail to recognize the bias in ourselves that we are so good in picking out in others.

February 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm Leave a comment

Cool Ben Franklin quote!

“So convenient a thing is it to be a rational creature, since it enables us to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to.”
Ben Franklin

As De Bono says, it’s the intelligent people who have to watch out, because they can use their smarts to construct plausible (to them and others) stories of their motives and actions. Rationalisation!

February 20, 2011 at 6:59 am Leave a comment


Via Keith Stanovich’s “What Intelligence Tests Miss” I’ve come across David Perkins and his concept of “Mindware“.

If reflective intelligence is the target of opportunity, then we should examine its nature more deeply. What is it “made of?” Is it a bag of tricks, a bundle of attitudes, a repertoire of habits?
All those things and more. One encompassing way to describe reflective intelligence is to say that it is made of “mindware.” Just as kitchenware consists in tools for working in the kitchen, and software consists in tools for working with your computer, mindware consists in tools for the mind. A piece of mindware is anything a person can learn — a strategy, an attitude, a habit — that extends the person’s general powers to think critically and creatively.
Mindware does three jobs, all of which concern the organization of thought. It works to pattern, repattern, and depattern thinking. Concerning patterning, a student may not have an organized approach to, for example, writing an essay. There are a number of strategies that help to pattern the writing process, not in rigid ways but in flexible and fruitful ways. As to repatterning, a person may suffer from bad thinking or learning practices. For example, many students adopt the strategy of reading something over and over as a way of understanding and remembering it. Research shows that this is not in fact a very effective strategy. Students need to repattern their reading, adopting more powerful strategies.
As to depatterning, a person may suffer from overly rigid or narrow ways of approaching problems and managing situations. For instance, people display a strong tendency to look at situations in one-sided ways. Also, people generally fail to question their tacit assumptions. Brainstorming, assumption identification, and other tactics of exploratory thinking can help people to depattern their thinking, opening it up to more possibilities and evading the ruts of habit and prejudice.

Seems reasonable enough, though of course any brain-as-latest-technological-invention metaphor needs a warning label attached…

February 12, 2011 at 11:04 am Leave a comment

Choking versus Panicking

From Malcolm Gladwell’s 2000 essay on The Art of Failure.

Panic, in this sense, is the opposite of choking. Choking is about thinking too much. Panic is about thinking too little. Choking is about loss of instinct. Panic is reversion to instinct. They may look the same, but they are worlds apart.

February 10, 2011 at 3:56 am Leave a comment

Everything Old is Jung Again…

This snippet from a long and thoughtful post called “Double Binds” by Antonio Dias caught my eye…

I firmly believe that we are tied to our own perspectives. Everything is personal, once we are disabused of the benefits of commodification and compartmentalization. I keep returning to Jung.
“…when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate.”

February 9, 2011 at 1:38 am Leave a comment

The Gish Gallop (or “baffle them with bullshit”)

Real Climate is spot on the money, as usual. Good mix of “real” science, by people at the coal face, and those who’ve got the scars on their backs from trying to communicate the science to the public and policy-makers. Here’s something I was familiar with but didn’t have a name for… [excerpted from a Jan 6 2011 post]

Bell uses the key technique that denialists use in debates, dubbed by Eugenie Scott the “Gish gallop”, named after a master of the style, anti-evolutionist Duane Gish. The Gish gallop raises a barrage of obscure and marginal facts and fabrications that appear at first glance to cast doubt on the entire edifice under attack, but which on closer examination do no such thing. In real-time debates the number of particularities raised is sure to catch the opponent off guard; this is why challenges to such debates are often raised by enemies of science. Little or no knowledge of a holistic view of any given science is needed to construct such scattershot attacks.

Yep, you end up playing whack a mole, and that’s if you’re lucky. And by the time you “win”, you’ll have lost the audience, who’ll have taken home the message that there’s still a real “debate” going on about the science. Either way, the denialist nutjobs win…

February 5, 2011 at 10:13 am 3 comments

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