Tag Archives: Thinking

How to Develop Your Thinking Ability by Kenneth Keyes

Summary

  1. Practical techniques to improve your ability to think clearly, creating accurate “verbal maps.” To be happy and successful, we must base our plans on maps that fit the territory. Only an adequate map will have the necessary predictability that will allow us to plan, to choose, to decide what is best for us to do. Clear thinking help you to predict the future. It enables you to make plans that will get you what you want out of life. We can think of all the knowledge and memories we have filed away in our heads as “mental maps.” Truth simply equals a verbal map that represents the territory. However, truth is an elusive sprite that is hard to keep penned up

Key Takeaways

  1. Steps / Tools for clearer thinking
    1. Think in terms of verbal maps – ineffective people attempt to project onto the territory the verbal maps they cook up in their heads. They are unable to open their minds and observe clearly what is before them. They think they know what things are like without checking. What they think they know blocks them from evaluating sanely
      1. Survey the territory for yourself – one look is worth 1,000 reports
        1. Scientific Method – This is what scientists tell us to do – surveying the territory provides predictability that characterize accurate verbal maps. This is the essence of the scientific method. When a scientist tries to find out which verbal map is the most adequate, he looks at the territory. He observes; he uses his sense; he opens his mind and his eyes
    2. Best way to understand/learn is to teach others
    3. Practice in small ways every day
    4. “So far as I know” – nobody knows everything, be open, humble
      1. Those who learn most, fastest are honest of their ignorance
    5. Up to a point – think in terms of degrees
      1. Think along a spectrum, avoid either/or, all/none, binary – “the narrower the mind, the broader the statement”
    6. “To me” – look who’s talking
      1. We see reality through a mirror that partially transmits and partially reflects. We see things that are outside of us, but we see them bathed in “reflections” from our own minds 
    7. The What Index – differences that make a difference
      1. Don’t think in groups, but in individuals
      2. Distance makes for seeing similarities: nearness helps us to see differences (Galilean Relativity)
    8. The When Index – keeping up to date
      1. When was the territory surveyed?
      2. Knowledge keeps no better than fish – Alfred North Whitehead
      3. Old age plants more wrinkles in the mind than in the face – Montaigne 
    9. The Where Index – when environment changes, expect other things to change to
  2. Other
    1. Men are apt to be much more influenced by words than by the actual facts of the surrounding reality – Pavlov
    2. All truly wise thoughts have been thought already thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, till they take root in our personal experience. – Goethe
    3. Little babies cannot fight as well as grownups. A new, baby idea coming into our head cannot compete with the old grown-up ones we have been embracing all our lives. We have to let the new ideas come in, grow, and mature. Frequently, it is necessary to try to understand new ideas for days, weeks, or even years. When we feel we have done our best to understand a new point of view, we should then unleash our old ideas and have a real battle royal…A closed mind is not a mind – it is a machine. It automatically spouts what is already in it

What I got out of it

  1. Really practical book that I’ll reference often as I’m making decisions 

Learning to Learn and the Navigation of Moods by Gloria Flores

Summary

  1. Emotional engagement is essential to progressing up the ladder of skill acquisition. Handling negative emotions that come with failure is hard and this book sets out to provide a guide for how to cope in these tough times

Key Takeaways

  1. Moods & Learning to Learn
    1. Outline a taxonomy of moods to build a self-awareness and know how you are progressing, where you are, and how to overcome obstacles. This process helps develop the meta-skill of acquiring skills, the art of learning to learn
    2. Learning how to recognize moods, then shift to productive moods is the skill you ultimately want to develop
    3. We can begin developing the skill of learning to learn at a very young age by encouraging children to experiment, to take risks, and to make mistakes. School can play an important role in cultivating this ability
    4. A mood of defensiveness often shows up when we hear what we interpret as criticism
    5. In a world where uncertainty and rapid change are the norm, where we cannot control changes in technology, regulations, or the environment, but where we need to cope and navigate with these on an ongoing basis, learning to learn appears all the more as an essential skill we are called to cultivate 
    6. Learning to learn requires that we be in a mood that is conducive to learning. Often we are not. Moods are “attunements” to the situation we find ourselves in at any given moment which predispose us to certain actions. Moods are windows to our assessments and to the standards that support them. If we become sensitive to our moods, we may be able to open the curtains and observe how we see things, and discover whether our automatic predispositions help us achieve our learning objectives or block us. 
    7. Moods that get in the way of learning (pg 25) – confusion, resignation, frustration, arrogance, impatience, boredom, fear/anxiety, overwhelm, lack of confidence, distrust or skepticism 
    8. Moods that are conducive to learning (29) – wonder, perplexity, serenity/acceptance, patience, ambition, resolution, confidence, trust
      1. Learning to shift from unproductive to productive moods is a critical aspect of learning to learn. As we learn to become aware of our moods, and are able to observe ourselves in a negative mood that blocks us from achieving what we want to achieve, such as resignation, we can choose not to remain hostages to this mood, and take action to cultivate an alternative mood that is more conducive to achieving what we set out to achieve (reflect on your learning objectives and why that gives you energy)
    9. List of learning to learn resources on page 149
  2. Contrast in handling mistakes! Comparing healthcare vs. aviation and the difference that learning from your mistakes makes
    1. Every time an plane accident occurs, there is a deep dive into what happened. However, in healthcare, any sort of feedback loop seems lacking. Consequently, in contrast to the 400,000-500,000 premature deaths per year in healthcare, in 2013, 210 people died as a result of plane crashes
  3. Others’ expectations and what we ‘should’ know serve as roadblocks
    1. Common categories of assessment that get in the way of learning – important to be competent, efficient, independent, self-reliant, useful, prepared at all times
    2. Moods indicate which assessments we’re making
  4. Dreyfus Skill Acquisition model
    1. Beginner – advanced beginner – competent – proficient – expert – master
      1. A master reinvents the rules; generates new discourses and disciplines from anomalies in the domain. A master is willing to override the perspective that they intuitively experience and choose a new one for the sake of learning and contributing to their field. A master is willing to regress to earlier stages in the learning scale for the sake of taking risks and learning
      2. Masters deal with wonder, resolution, ambition and need to concern themselves with arrogance and resignation
  5. Education
    1. Education is not simply about the transfer of knowledge and the ability to apply concepts. When it comes to acquiring skills, particularly communication and relationship skills, education is about enabling others to take new actions that they weren’t able to take before. Second, as the Drefyus brothers argue, in order for someone to acquire new skills successfully, they must be emotionally engaged. A person must be involved
  6. The essential elements of an offer
    1. Speaker
    2. listener
    3. Conditions of fulfillment
    4. Background of obviousness
    5. Offer/Promise – action to be performed in the future by person making the offer/promise
    6. Specified time for fulfillment of the offer 
  7. Trust = combination of sincerity, competence, reliability, engagement/care
  8. Galilean Relativity
    1. Easterners perceive things holistically, viewing objects as they are related to each other or in a context, whereas Westerners perceive them analytically in isolation; Easterners use wide-angle lens; Westerners use a narrow one with a sharper focus. 

What I got out of it

  1. This book should be better known. The idea of matching not only time and energy, but also mood, seems like a superpower to learning effectively. This book helps you understand why and how to do this

Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America

Summary

  1. Loserthink has nothing to do with IQ but all to do with unproductive thinking. The aim is to gain deep experience from many fields, learning the mode and technique of thinking and not necessarily the facts. This books is broken down into various sections so that you can learn “how to think like a psychologist” and more. Thinking clearly is in fact rare and not the norm. You must learn the techniques for thinking from various fields, mitigating blindspots that even a smart person can have because of lack of exposure to a certain field. If you don’t have deep experience across many fields, you are prone to loserthink. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Thinking like a psychologist 
    1. The mind reading delusion – people are dreadful at reading other people and knowing what they’re thinking
    2. Occam’a Razor – In science the simplest exclamation that fixed it fits the fact it’s quite easy to arrive at however nearly every other round this is in a good jurisdiction because everyone has a different opinion on what is a simple fact
    3. Projection – people accuse others of having faults flaws or biases that they themselves have
    4. Ego is a tool that you should be able to dial up and down if you want to accomplish something ambitious turn off your ego and if you’re dealing with loved ones turn it down. Don’t choose ego over effectiveness  Put yourself and potentially embarrassing situations often as practice and realize how little somebody else’s embarrassment impact see it
  2. Thinking like an artist 
    1. Failure of imagination – The best explanation to most things in life is something that has never occurred to you. Most people fail because of a failure of imagination
  3. Thinking like a historian 
    1. History is extremely filtered and biased based on who wrote it. Every government writes its own version of history to brainwash its citizens no one history is objective everyone is slanted
    2. Don’t forget about the past but it is more productive to look forward to understand what the paths to success are rather than what has happened 
    3. Slippery slope – things will continue on their path until they go too far. Almost everything can be considered a slippery slope so it’s more productive to look at forces and systems
    4. Privacy is overrated. Sometimes it helps but context is important. When gay men started coming out, their lack of privacy helped their cause 
  4. Thinking like an engineer 
    1. A new expert will always call the work of the previous expert a joke
    2. The one variable illusion – people look for a silver bullet when in reality almost always multiple variables matter
  5. Thinking like a leader 
    1. Directional truth filter – truth has two important aspects: accuracy and direction. If you don’t know which one is more important, you might be falling to loserthink. Getting the direction right is almost always important but being 100% precise is only sometimes so
    2. Confusing hyperbole with legitimate opinion – make sure you know which you are dealing with
    3. Systems vs goals – a good system is doing something on a regular basis to increase your odds of doing something productive even if you don’t exactly know the final outcome 
  6. Thinking like a scientist 
    1. Coincidences are more than likely simply confirmation bias. We are surrounded by coincidences and most mean nothing at all
    2. Anecdotes – beware drawing patterns or assigning too much confidence in anecdotes
    3. Inversion – always ask what if the opposite were true. Beware forming opinions too early and always realize that you could be wrong 
    4. Judging a group by its worst members – beware falling for this mistake
    5. Proving a negative – can’t be done and best you can do is say it hasn’t been detected or found up to this point 
  7. Thinking like an entrepreneur 
    1. Couch lock – do what you can do, not what you can’t do. This will give you a small step to take, leading to the next, building momentum. Small but steady and consistent steps is how big things happen in a lot of realms. The effort in totality is humongous but in any given day it is manageable 
    2. Leave your lane – pick up different skills from different realms. This makes you more valuable and gives you different perspectives
    3. Sense of control – people who think they can control their situations are more likely to do so
    4. Humility and testing – be aware that you are probably overconfident but this should not stop you from experimenting. You learn from failure as long as it doesn’t take you out of the game completely. Find ways to start small so that nobody gets hurt
  8. Thinking like an economist 
    1. You can expect bad behavior when there is money to be had, when the chance of being caught is low, and lots of people are involved 
    2. The ends justify the means. Must consider all the costs and benefits that goes into a decision – ethically, morally, pragmatically, emotionally, financially…
    3. How to compare things – this is a skill that can be learned but most people don’t even know this is a skill. Compared to nothing is the lowest rung of the skill ladder, compare to how someone else performed in the same/similar situation, compare to the next best alternative
    4. Halfpinions – must compare full cost of the plan to the full benefit 
    5. Time value of money – those who only focus on the near term are childish and those who can look long term and understand the full costs and benefits are adults. Should discount things in the future back to the present to understand the trade offs. Money received in the future is worth less than money received today
    6. Consider the alternatives – important for any decision
    7. Confusopolies – companies in an industry are so complicated that knowing what is the best product or service is difficult if not impossible
    8. Straight line predictions – the world is dynamic so assuming anything stays stagnant is by definition incorrect. Don’t assume that the future will look just like the past. Humans are not good at predicting but are good at solving important and slow moving problems. You should also look at industries that have a lot of entrepreneurial energy as these tend to stick around 
  9. Things pundits say that you should not copy 
    1. Pundits are almost always advocates so are biased. Do not blindly mimic what they say without understanding their bias
    2. Moral equivalency – beware comparing two things which aren’t morally equivalent (even if you think they are). Somebody’s issues with their kids compared to your issues with your cat 
    3. Word-thinking – trying to win a debate or persuade by focusing on the definition of words. Instead, focus on the root of the problem, the morality of it. When people resort to word thinking, walk away as the chance of a good debate is low. Words are not reasons by themselves 
    4. The hypocrisy defense – just because the other side did something too, doesn’t make it right. If you screwed up, admit it, and communicate how you’ll solve it 
    5. Fairness – different for everyone and it can rarely be measured or doled out. People are spring loaded to prefer fairness but fairness is an illusion
    6. Feels-the-same – just because one thing about a person or situation feels the same as something, doesn’t make it fair or right to compare the two. People are pattern recognition machines, and not good ones. Analogies cannot help you predict the future. Focusing on causation rather than simply patterns
    7. Friction – adding friction of whatever kind changes behavior
    8. Mentioning is not comparing 
    9. Do your own research – doing your own research is very helpful in many realms but in the most complex (politics, climate change) it may not and may simply lead to confirmation bias. Doing some research is likely better than no research, but don’t pretend that you can tell the difference between knowledge and confirmation bias
    10. Be yourself – if who you are today isn’t benefiting your or those around you, you can change yourself. Be more positive and adapt your habits to become a better person
  10. The Golden Age Filter
    1. Bad news and drama sells, so most people don’t see or understand that the world is in a better place than it has ever been
    2. Poverty has drastically decreased, overpopulation has been mitigated, unsolved crime has decreased, inexpensive homes are improving, wars seem to be less likely moving forward as the economic and political benefits have drastically decreased, climate change technologies are quickly improving, end of unemployment may be within our lifetimes as housing/energy/technology/etc. costs and improvements help everyone, healthcare innovations, race relations have improved although the press blinds us to this often
  11. How to Break Out of Your Mental Prison
    1. Cultural gravity – some cultures have low gravity so that people aren’t ashamed of learning and excelling. Seek to surround yourself with this as much as possible. 
    2. Knowing where to start – doing the wrong thing is an excellent place to start in order to learn how to do it right. Loserthink involves doing nothing until you know how to do it right
    3. Unfocused priorities – You have to get your own health and finances in order. Only then can you help and focus on others. Priority should be yourself, family, friends, community, state, country, and then the world
    4. Context is hugely important yet most people ignore or are blind to the bigger picture 
    5. Fake news filter – can assume that if both sides present the same story that it is likely true, side that is out of power more likely to resort to fake news, beware mind reading and absurdity, be skeptical until the noise settles down a bit
    6. Persuasion – humans are not rational but have the illusion that they are. Once you accept and see this, the walls of Loserthink will soften
    7. Managing Embarrassment – getting comfortable with getting embarrassed takes training. Put yourself in the position to fail and be embarrassed and you’ll realize it won’t kill you. Learning that embarrassment doesn’t kill you is like a super power
    8. Change what you do to change how you think – thoughts follow action, so be biased towards positive action
    9. Judging the mistake versus the response – this is the best way to judge others
    10. The 48 hour rule and the 20 year rule – new manners that the author proposes. Give people 48 hours to apologize, clarify, or update you if something didn’t make sense. Forgive what people did more than 20 years ago
  12. How to break others out of their mental prison
    1. The magic question – what one thing do you believe that you don’t think I believe? This question will frame the conversation so that you can respond to specific criticisms
    2. Pacing – Agree with someone as much as you can at the beginning (without lying) to prove that you are an open and reasonable person. This will make future disagreements and discussions more productive 
    3. Define the weeds – define what is important and not
    4. Describe the long-term – what does the future look like under your scenario? If they can’t answer that clearly, they aren’t looking out far enough
    5. Call out the mind reading – by giving it a name and exposing mind reading, you will have more productive conversations
    6. Framing issues – how you frame an issue is as important as the issue itself. make sure you are thoughtful about how you frame it
  13. Other
    1. People gave greater weight to things that have names (why he created a new word in “Loserthink”)
    2. Everyone is coming from a different starting point but the purpose of this book is to explain these core ideas and how you can use them in your own life
    3. You must know not only how many times someone or something was correct, but how many times they were incorrect (the stockpicking scam where they send thousands of people productions and some salt small subset is blown away by how accurate they are and are conned out of money…)
    4. Opinion stacking – tactic of fake news where you get several people with the same biased opinion together and only one dissenting opinion 

What I got out of it

  1. Different realms require different modes of thinking and Scott Adams gives some amazing tips and tools for how to be more productive and persuasive and how to not fall for “Loserthink.” 

The Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn by Richard Hamming

“After more thought I decided that since I was trying to teach “style” of thinking in science and engineering, and “style” is an art, I should therefore copy the methods of teaching used for the other arts – once the fundamentals have been learned. How to be a great painters cannot be taught in words; one learns by trying many different approaches that seem to surround the subject. Art teachers usually let the advanced student paint, and then make suggestions on how they would have done it, or what might also be tried, more or less as the points arise in the student’s head – which is where the learning is supposed to occur! In this series of lectures, I try to communicate to students what cannot be said in words – the essence of style in science and engineering. I have adopted a loose organization with some repetition since this often occurs in the lectures. There are, therefore, digressions and stories – with some told in two different places – all in the somewhat rambling, informal style typical of lectures. I have used the “story” approach, often emphasizing the initial part of the discovery, because I firmly believe in Pasteur’s remark, “Luck favors the prepared mind.” In this way I can illustrate how the individual’s preparation before encountering the problem can often lead to recognition, formulation, and solution. Great results in science and engineering are “bunched” in the same person too often for success to be a matter of random luck. Teachers should prepare the student for the student’s future, not for the teacher’s past…Therefore, style of thinking is the center of this course. The subtitle of the book, Learning to Learn, is the main solution I offer to help students cope with the rapid changes they will have to endure in their fields. The course centers around how to look at and think about knowledge, and it supplies some historical perspective that might be useful. This course is mainly personal experiences I have had and digested, at least to some extent. Naturally one tends to remember one’s successes and forget lesser events, but I recount a number of my spectacular failures as clear examples of what to avoid. I have found that the personal story is far, far more effective than the impersonal one; hence there is necessarily an aura of “bragging” in the book that is unavoidable. Let me repeat what I earlier indicated. Apparently an “art” – which almost by definition cannot be put into words – is probably best communicated by approaching it from many sides and doing so repeatedly, hoping thereby students will finally mater enough of the art, or if you wish, style, to significantly increase their future contributions to society. A totally different description of the course is: it covers all kinds of things that could not find their proper place in the standard curriculum.”

PS – The book is expensive and hard to find but here is a PDF copy of the book and if you’re more of an auditory learner, here are Hamming’s “Learning to Learn” lectures