Left Out

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Something missing?

Well, you can safely assume that any information you are presented with has some relevant information “Left Out”.

The originator’s perspective, the logic bubble in which he perceives the world and how the  information is applied are some possible reasons for the missing information.

Also we may unconsciously miss the presented information because it doesn’t fit in our logic bubble or it contradicts our value system (we are biased). Left Out

What is Left Out could be accident or we may simply not be aware of it. But information could also be Left Out deliberately. It could be a way of framing or spinning an uncomfortable truth. Politicians and their spokesmen and women are notoriously for their way of deviating from the “truth”.

If confronted with a report,  from an accountancy or consultancy firm or from a parliamentary inquiry, be alert of Left Outs.

Don’t trust pleas from State prosecutors. Although they are legally required to seek the truth, as employees they are vulnerable for pressure from bosses and society to get suspects to get defendants convicted and to Left Out exculpatory evidence to the accused.

Left Out strategies are a proven means of  state-owned and private press enterprises. In a next blog post we will delve in the patterns of daily news to explore the mechanisms of press logic bubbles.

An interesting question has been posed by Eric Drexler in his contribution to How The Internet Changes The Way You Are Thinking: Nowadays we see better what there is not there.

Could we use the Internet to use the principle of Detection of Absence to develop knowledge, to test existing knowledge and to destroy anti-knowledge (wrong ideas)? Eric launches the idea to set up a Wikipedia, but not an encyclopedia with consensually validated information as “right”, but one with known controversies about facts. In such a kind of Wiki both sides gives as biased as possible but with their best proofs and fully documented their”facts”.

Make it a habit to ask yourself, before continuing reading beyond the heading of an article, title of a book or jumping to the summary of a report, “what is Left Out”. This could be a first step to a critical examination and exploration of the facts and information value of what you are about to start reading.

  • What is Left Out?
  • What information is relevant?
  • What information should be provided?

See also our blog post about Cassandra information.

Photo: “Left Coloured Dice Shows Www. Addresses” by Stuart Miles

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The News is Broken – Thinkibility Nibble about WikiTribune

Is WikiTribune the answer to fake news?

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has launched a crowd-funding campaign for WikiTribune. A “wiki-style” attack on the fake news by using professional journalists and community contributors to produce “fact-checked, global news stories”.

Fakes news and the role that social media networks play in spreading has resulted in several suggestions about ways to combat these problems. There are fact checking networks where humans flag news and even sites that are spreading false news. Google, Facebook and Twitter have made attempts to tweak their algorithms to combat the problems related to fake news. This tweaking is not to be the same as censorship rather “. . . a bit like a spam folder in your email, those emails still sit there, but you have to go to your spam folder to look for it,” says Claire Wardle of journalism non-profit First Draft News.

Yet, perhaps the involvement of humans is needed to deal with a problem of this character. At least at the moment, a combination of algorithms and human experience might provide the best solution.

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Photo: Hrag Vartanian

WikiTribune relies only on humans and an army of contributors will help individual journalists vet the facts by using a wide range of sources such as transcripts, videos and audio interviews. The business model is based on monthly subscriptions that will help to pay the journalists.

This sounds like a good idea, yet, there are of course always problems when you look for the truth (see Greyscale Thinking). What happens if the professional journalists start writing about the news that the subscribers do not like? Supporters are asked to put forward suggestions on topics, and what happens if the topics suggested are put forward by extreme organisations that what to highlight their own issues?

Articles are only going to be published on WikiTribune if the facts can be verified. This sounds great but there is also a danger in restricting the topics. In today’s world, news both true and fake is quickly spread around the globe. In some cases, you want a quick response to certain kind of news, for example, during an election. An election campaign is by its nature filled with propaganda.

Jimmy says that WikiTribune is “news by the people and for the people”.  Professional journalists and citizen journalists working together checking and re-checking facts. The community is given an important role, however, finding a balance between the contributions of professional journalists and the community is the main issue.

Also, reaching the people who have already fallen into the fake news vortex is going to be extremely tricky with this approach. Perhaps WikiTribune will be supported and read by individuals who need it the least. People who already have developed the skills and are using tools to spot fake news.

Want to read more about this topic? Why not check out fake news, press patterns and biases in mainstream media?

Wikitribune Campaign from impossible on Vimeo.

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Questions about Questions

QuestionsAlways the beautiful answer

Who asks  a more beautiful question.

E.E. Cummings

The single most important habit for an innovative thinker may be to ask questions. A well formulated question stimulate and inspire. Questions leads to more questions and the question is why we focus so much attention on answering questions and so little on asking questions.

Warren Berger says,
“Questioning—deeply, imaginatively, “beautifully”—can help us identify and solve problems, come up with game-changing ideas, and pursue fresh opportunities.”

Part of the answer lies in the way education values answer. The educational system is built to create workers and compliance and rote memorization are valued qualities. These qualities are not necessarily valuable qualities in the 21st century and they are definitely not qualities if you want to develop innovative thinking skills.

Seth Godin says,
“Our grandfathers and great grandfathers built schools to train people to have a lifetime of productive labor as part of the industrialized economy. And it worked.”

Warren Berger is the author of the book  A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas  and he says that the most innovative and creative people tend to be good questioners. Warren interviewed and studied innovators and designers and the common factors was the way these people kept asking questions. These people asked and formulated a question or a series of questions which lead to their discoveries. Yet, question asking is seldom taught.

Warren says,

“A beautiful question is an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something – and that might serve as a catalyst to bring about change.”

Hal Gregersen has used a technique called Question-Storming. The idea is to generate a few powerful questions, which may help to determine direction for a search for new ideas and information. A crucial step in Question-Storming is to improve upon the questions and an advantage with this approach is that “good and fruitful” questions have a certain attraction to people. They are the questions that captures people’s attention and after a session you feel inspired to continue to explore the question.

Another approach to asking questions is to use three words to generate ideas.

“How might we?”

This approach avoids the problems linked to using questions such as “How can we do that?” or “How should we do that?” When posing these types of question, it is easy that questions such as  “Can we really do that?” are asked. These types of questions are problematic when you are trying to generate ideas and explore possibilities that can lead to an innovation.

The book, A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas, is about questions that cannot be typed into a search box. Questions that challenge your thinking and inspire you to keep asking new questions. Yet questions themselves can be flawed and we must learn to question the question. The way we pose questions says something about our assumptions, biases and experiences.

“Have you visit The Right Question Institute?”

“What I am assuming when I ask that question?”

“Should I ask another question?”

 

How to Outsmart the Internet – Thinkibility Boost

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The Internet! Maybe the most outstanding communication innovation in the history of mankind. A little tap on the keyboard and we have access to all sorts of knowledge, information, ideas, pictures. . . Indispensable business tool that offers faster communication, social networking, and eCommerce.

In this blog post the focus is on the negative aspects with the Internet (Black Hat Thinking). This type of thinking should not be of a negative character; instead a  search for possible faults and risks is carried out. There are many blog posts on the Internet providing lists with disadvantages and the aim with this post is to explore risks and problems but also to encourage a search for ways to overcome  these problems. We explore search engines in general and we look at a wide range of ways that we use the Internet to access information, for example, read the News.

The Annual Edge question 2010 was  How is Internet Changing the Way You Think. Yet none  of the scientists and artists who contributed, directed their attention to possible disadvantages and risks of the overwhelming use of search engines. Instead they explored ideas such as “Is the Internet making us stupider since it is getting more difficult to read a long piece”, and “We have become hunter gatherers of images and information”.

Our brain has an effective filter. Yet when we are looking for information, this filter is not always effective. We are surrounded by things that are trying to impress us and to capture our attention. Our filter tends to leave through things that are familiar to us, while new things and things that require time to process may be ignored.

Brain is an Effective Filter

We can reduce the volume of data by processing it into information and knowledge. We may complain about data overload but we are strangers to the idea of knowledge overload. The problem could be described as a filter failure rather than information overload. When our filters fail, we end up spending time on things that we would not do if the filters were working. In some cases, it takes courage to stop opening emails that we know have no real interest to us. A more serious problem is when there are filters that we are not aware of. We may be aware of that search engines are filtering our searches, yet it may be difficult to know how to avoid the effects or at least work around the effects.

Interactivity

  • The Internet is NOT the machine that immediately gives you always the perfect answer.
The concept of search engines is interactivity: they deliver information in exchange for information from you.
Do you believe that search engines are charitable, idealistic organizations?
Search engines may provide you with information but they also want information from you.

Thus, it is not you who controls the machine.

Affirmation

  • A characteristic of the Internet is affirmation.
Search engines confirm our expectations, opinions, and ideas.

For example,  I wanted to differentiate my company for training creative thinking because the market consisted of  companies training people to use brainstorming techniques, which I consider a  weak form for creative thinking.  Brainstorming  does not fulfill the need that businesses, technical, and public organisations have concerning creative thinking. So I called my company Practice for Bold Thinking.

This resulted in my company not showing up  with search terms such as creative thinking. People looking for creative thinking will always be given links to providers using brainstorming techniques. They will not ever learn about other existing creative techniques.

The Internet reinforces opinions we may have or may have had. Thus, the way the collected data is interpreted reinforces our ideas.

The ads that I am seeing on my screen seems to be directed towards a golf enthusiastic. i must have moved to Spain to play golf and to invest my money, look at my health insurance. . . Thus, the information that has been collected by the search engine  reinforces standard thinking about people. I do not see any ads inviting me  to join the next Mount Everest expedition. Yet 90-years-olds are climbing that mountain and I am rather fit!  I do not see any ads with an invitation from Columbia university to get a degree in humanities. Or to set up a company that use fish to nibble away dead skin cells on your feet.

The Internet reinforces the idea of Wisdom of the Cloud. The items that receive the most clicks are equal to the truth. So they must be the truth. This way of working is based on the idea of consensus. However, all scientific breakthroughs are the result of breaking standard opinions about what were true till then.

Eric Drexter has suggested that next to Wikipedia there should be a Wiki of controversies. The standard Wikipedia  is the result of a process of consensus seeking, the AntiWikipedia should seek conflict. The effort required from the contributors is to make a claim pro as stark as possible, and also the opposite claim.

Then there is the trait of absence of randomness. In an earlier blog post we have stressed the importance of randomness when thinking.

Perhaps we should every time we inject a search word combine it which a word from a random word generator. The word I got was Agonist.

I tried this with the search Obesity, which I had tested before without finding any new ideas regarding  possible remedies. So I typed Obesity Agonist. I discovered the role of a 5-HT2c receptor agonist as a possible remedy against obesity.

Thus, you do not control the Internet and the Internet does not control you. “Communication” is a two-way process, even if you are typing information into a machine. In a similar way as if you do not ask your neighbour in the right questions, there is no way you will get the answer to the question regarding how much you should prune the hedge that you share. The mindset has to be that you have to be creative and inventive when you use a search engine, just like you have to when you talk to your friends, family and neighbours.

Personalisation

The full impact of personalisation puts a questions mark around the idea that the internet as a tool to opening up information.  Personalisation leads to funnelling what we see by delivering what the search engines knows, or thinks it knows, we are interested in. Personalisation can lead to a person with a good degree from a modest university from a humble background not gaining access to good jobs despite begin bright. Recruiters may target people who have graduated from certain universities and with the help of social media these people may be easier to reach. The bright student who has graduated from a modest university may never see the advert for the job. Consequently, the person will never send in an application.

If you have previously searched for articles about obesity you may get the newest research, while someone who has never searched for it but has done lots of searches about food may get links to information about links between obesity and food.

A serious consequence for society is that a person may miss out on important news because of their interest in other subjects. When a person buys a newspaper to read about a sport event, the headlines on the front page may attract his or her attention. There may be a bank crises in the country. However, on the  internet this news may not reach the person. The internet feeds a person news depending upon what he or she interacts with. Thus, a broad search using different  media is one way to make sure that we are outsmarting the Internet.

Photo “Arrows On Dartboard Showing Perfect Aiming” by Stuart Miles

Stop and Think about It

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Which animal would you like to save?

What criteria are you using when you are thinking about working for endangered animals or donating money to save a species?

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The Ugly Animal Preservation Society (UAPS) works towards raising the profile of some more aesthetically challenged animals. The panda gets a lot of attention and it might be easier to feel that this animal is worth saving compared to the blobfish with a “miserable” expression and  the promiscuous monkey with an enormous long nose.

Raising the profile of animals that are not at first sight anyway “cute and cuddly” makes us think about our underlying values and the way we are “automatically” drawn towards certain things, animals, or people. Drawing the attention to ugly animal is not in itself a new idea. There are many of the ugliest competitions such as the world’s ugliest dog, cat, men, and women competitions and using an ugly model. Yet the idea can be used to generate new ideas for things that we need to turn other attention to make the world if not a better place at least a more interesting place.

What ideas can you think of?

Photo Simon Elgood, Flickr, worldwildlife.org

Blocking the Left Brain Functions

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One of the most fascinating books I ever read was written by  Paul Watzlawick, a family therapist, psychologist, communications theorist, and philosopher.

In his book The Language of Change he explores the idea that sometimes a completely nonsensical interaction may lead to a very concrete result. He suggests that using language patterns from the left brain half ( explication, explanation, argumentation, analysis, confrontation, interpretation) is an attempt to translate the right brain thinking in images and holistic world views of the patients. As such therapists  repeats and reinforces the symptoms the patient urged to seek help from a therapist.

He proposes three strategies to change the right brain thinking of the patient by

  • using language patterns of the right brain half
  • blocking of the left brain side
  • targeted behavioral rules

This book was a breakthrough in psycho-therapy when it was first published in 1977 .

However, this post is not about therapy. But it could be interesting to transfer his findings  to other domains. What is interesting about the idea? What can we learn from it?

Many people, particularly people in the Western World,  believe that economic growth will increase as more people are educated in mathematics, which is often described as left brain thinking skills.

Other people, like the Chinese, believe that  economic growth will come from innovative thinking involving the  right brain side thinking.  An holistic and analogue approach to problems and design.

It may be that Watzlawick’s book 35 years after it was published becomes relevant for stimulating right brain thinking in ordinary, healthy people.

Using language patterns of the right brain half

  • Compressed text and Contamination: syfilisation (civilization), freudful mistakes (Freudian mistakes), popollution (population)
  • Use of images: pictures, cartoons, painting, story telling, dreaming, dramatic expression, visualization, poems,
  •  Humor: “Soldier Katz”, asked a sergeant of the Prussian Army, “why should a soldier give his life cheerfully for the Emperor? “. “Indeed, why would he?” answered Katz
  • Pars Pro Toto: a complex whole of related things are displayed in a very detailed description of a tiny part of it. “Suddenly a straw drilled like a nail in the door” reflect better the idea of a heavy storm than an extensive description about air going busses, trees and cars. A Pars Pro Toto is a part (taken) for the whole
  • Aforism:  a statement that is really quotable, it makes a profound point in a simple, easily remembered way, by using ambiguities, puns, allusions and the like. No better life than a good life. Retired government servant offers himself for work. Brains as well as new. Never used.

Blocking the language patterns of the left brain hemisphere

We saw already in one of our earlier blog posts that drawing skills can be improved when we close our right eye, and put the object of the drawing upside down. It is a way to block the right brain thinking functions.

When blocking the functions of the left brain it is supposed that the right brain take over its functions.

  • Confusion. Provoking confusion as opposed to intellectualizing or talking things to broke. Deliberate creating confusion make it impossible to make logical sense of what is said. The left brain gets overloaded. Someone do present a overly complex plan and someone will ask: when do we have lunch?” Many Zen koans have this function to disrupt ineffective thinking.
  • The Contra Paradox. Many people get caught in a paradox. Posing a contra paradox could help escape them from  vicious logical circularity. Consultant: ” Every time I give you advice, you give me four reasons why it cannot work. But I tell you, now I have the ultimate solution, but I won’t tell you”. Patient: “I can’t sleep”. Therapist: “It is very important that you try for the next week not to sleep”.

Of course, these are all techniques from psychotherapy, regarding the kind of effective communication to a patient who wants to change. And they are not easy to explain, nor to apply.

It is yet unclear how we can use those strategies by ourselves to stimulate right brain thinking. Perhaps we should explore how we communicate with ourselves, with our brains, like a psycho therapist does with his client.

See also our blog post about Left and Right Brain Thinking. We will explore this subject more in our forthcoming book Thinkibility – Thinking about Thinking, Creativity, Innovation and Design.

Information Stored About You – Malte Spitz

Flow of Information

A characteristic of modern society is the flow of information – information is the lifeblood of modern civilization. The creation, distribution, and manipulation of data are vital activities – we rely on data to draw conclusion and make decisions. The capacity to store information has dramatically increased the last decades and new ways of using data has developed. Some of these may surprise you.

Most of us use our mobile phones without reflecting on the kind of data that can be collected when you make a phone call. Mobile phones can be used as a surveillance tool to track your calls and your friends’ calls. How many times did you phone your best friend when you were travelling to work?

A problem is often that we can find more information than we need when we start searching. Prioritising is a part of the process but in an information society; information technology is used to gain advantage by using data in creative new ways. Finding new creative ways to display information to make it easier to understand  is vital. Yet the explosion of information must be properly dealt with – some of the issues are of a moral character.

Mapping Your Life

In 2006, the EU issued the Data Retention Directive, which allows phone companies to store user data for six months to two years. This legislation has been rejected or declared as unconstitutional by several countries.Malte Spitz, a German politician raises the issue of our right to self-determination in the digital age. What information does a phone company collect and retain and how this information can be used. Mapping information is a way to explore data in new ways. Spitz mapped his activity across an interactive timeline and combined it with data from Twitter feeds, blog entries, and websites. A picture of his life emerges over the course of a six months period when he asked the telephone company to release the data they had collected.

Photo: “Cloud Computing And Information” by Victor Habbick

Challenging Thinking about Exercise – Searching for Positive Benefits

Challenging Thinking

How little exercise do you need to do to get fit? Surprisingly as little as 3 minutes of exercise, a week may improve your health – improve the insulin sensitivity. It has always been assumed that training should consist of for example, 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day at least 5 days per week . However, the opposite is also true.

High Intensity Training (HIT) challenges the idea that you need to workout for a couple of hours every week. Vigorous bouts of exercise mixed with short breaks in between is not a new idea as such, athletes have used this enhanced form of interval training to strengthening their muscles and improve their fitness. Recently, researchers have looked into the health benefits of using this type of training. And the results have challenged traditional thinking and it looks like it is possible to get more by doing less.

A less extreme form of HIT, where a person does not exercise for long may suit groups that belong to a group where doctors might have concerns about them. High intensity training may be suitable for overweight, less fit, and older people. The method is also suitable for improving muscles and ten one minutes sprints on the exercise bike with a one minute rests in between, three times a week, may achieve similar effect as hours of less intensive training on the exercise bike.

Searching for Positive Aspects

The new ideas is challenging traditional thinking and a search for other groups that may benefit from high intensity training lead to these new insights. Challenging the idea that only certain groups benefit from a specific types of training, included broadening the search for possible positive benefits.from training. In this case, the idea emerged by listening to groups who claim that “traditional exercise regime” does not help them to lose weight.

Spending time broadening the search for plus points in any idea is beneficial since it helps to provide a more rounded view of the idea. It is also vital to consider if the positive features can be better used in other ways. Can the plus points be enhanced and improved? An active search for new potential plus points can significantly improve a product. New ways to incorporate these new plus points could be explored and developed.

Writing a list of advantages highlights the fact that advantages are relative – an advantage is a favourable position over one or more alternatives or opponents. Providing reasons behind why a certain idea has an advantage over another helps to emphasise the underlying positives with the idea. Identifying the group or individuals that may have an advantage if the solution is carried out is also important. We can give an advantage to a group or individual by carrying out a certain idea. For example, the unwanted side effects of an experimental medicine might be used to advantage in the treatment of a different medical condition. Thus, an open approach to how we can search advantages relies on a broadening of the concept advantages.

Different Ways to Approach a Search for Advantages for X

  • Decide what groups to include in the search for advantages and explore what these groups would highlight – children, elderly, people with good sense of smell, visual artists, animals, plants.
  • Compare the idea with another idea, what factors stand out?
  • Choose different things to compare ideas with – some that are similar and others that are completely different.
  • What would happen if the product or solution were used every day? Or everyone used it the whole time?
  • Look at different bits of the idea – it is possible that there are some positive points with parts of the idea.
  • Explore what would happen in the future if the idea were not carried out.
  • Imagine working in a society where the idea has never been implemented and we have to explain it to the people.  What would we say? And what would they say are the positive aspects of the idea?

We recommend that you explore in depth that advantages with an idea before reacting to it. We often react to an idea – looking for negative points – from our current practices, frames, vested interests, established industries, or old paradigms. This prevents us from further developing the idea and testing the idea. In this case, the idea that some groups do not benefit from exercise due to their genetic heritage could be explored from a range of perspectives to support them to a healthy lifestyle. Nevertheless, we provide you with a different view about the benefits of HIT by Adam Richmond from Lace Market Clinic.

Photo: “Walk The Dog” by federico stevanin

Misunderstandings about Innovation

In times of globalisation, it has become vital to maximise the rate of innovation. Defining the concept innovation is difficult. Often we spend little time thinking about definitions, yet how we define a word influences our actions.

There are many misunderstandings about innovations and often innovation has become a passive process. Innovation should be part of an organisations culture to be fruitful. Everyone should be provided with opportunities to contribute to idea generation and problem solving.

Innovation is an idea that leads to action and there is a difference between ideas and innovation. Consequently, an organisation needs ideas and there is no way to know which solution that will lead to an innovation. The idea is to make winning contributions rather than selecting the winner.

Some misunderstandings about innovation:

  • Innovation just happens – No, innovation does not just happen
  • We simply get ideas – No, ideas need to be designed.
  • Technology first – No, first the idea, only then we look for the technology.

Innovation does not just happen
We often hear that everything will be solved with innovation:

  • If we only had more knowledge
  •  If we only could invest more in research.
  •  If we only had time to listen to the customer and work with other companies.
  • If we had time to allow our employees to make mistakes.
  • If our workforce was better trained.
  • If we had “social innovation” and a “different” government

But the question is how? And who will provide the ideas? The market will not provide us with ideas. Using a research institute is an expensive process.Often we are dependent on a few creative people in our organisation. These ideas may not be the ones we have been looking and “wishing “for, yet we must implement them and also reward them? Or maybe all the ideas are ours and we are running out of ideas. . .
We do not get an idea: an idea is deliberately designed
Many entrepreneurs have paid a huge price by waiting for a good idea – and with a good idea we do not “mean “more of the same”. Usually brainstorming sessions at a resort turns out to lead to few ideas that can be turned into innovations.

What do we need? Designing a good idea seems to be nothing more than just craftsmanship. To choose the right thinking techniques to help us depart from ‘fuzzy’ beginnings to getting sharper and brighter ideas.

But starting point for innovation should also been our situation. And this is where innovation starts.
First the idea, only then comes in the technology.
Not vice versa. When we are travelling, we first choose a destination, and then we decide to take the train or car. Or maybe we can  walk to  the destination.

The innovation process is similar. Often the technology already exists and we must first develop the idea. Then, after the idea, we choose the technology to carry it out.

If the idea has potential we should  make and evaluation of market and explore the technological feasibility.

As with “normal” investment decisions we should consider:

  • Further research.
  • Map and reduce risks.
  • Protect  intellectual property.
  • Find funding.
  • Look for possible partners.
  • Changes the organisation.

But all of this takes place after we have designed the idea

Photo: “Future Background” by Pixomar

Creative Thinking – Left Brain/Rigth Brain Thinking

Many of us associate the search for new ideas with a brainstorming session where ideas are swirling around in the room. Another common picture of is seeing someone lying on the grass, walking on the beach, or watching the view from a mountain top while half-dreaming. In contrast, organising a meeting and deciding the agenda often conjures pictures of control.

On the surface, creative thinking and thinking involved in planning could not be more different. Creative thinking is an active search, while the planning and organising things has a calmer and a more pondering character. Yet appearances can be deceptive. Searching for ways to generate new ideas and alternatives benefit from a structured approach. Deciding the next step or approach to a problem or issues can be more fruitful if a creative approach is used.

Do creative people use their brain in a different way? The debate regarding about what goes on in our left and right brain hemispheres seems like a never-ending story. You will find support for the idea that creative people use the right hemisphere while people who are good at organising things are using their left hemisphere. But we can also find support for the idea that creative and non-creative thinking are not two different things.

The creative right brain myth gained support from Roger Sperry’s split-brain experiments in the 1960s. The problem is that the idea originated from a misinterpretation of his research. A recent study using fMRI suggests that even if a person is given a task that is specialised to the right hemisphere, we use the left hemisphere to help us look for creative solutions. So there is support for the idea that the so-called logical part of our brain plays a role in creative thinking. Well, at least if the creative task is visual or musical.

The idea about a left-brain and right brain thinking can be found in newspapers, films, and in school exercises. Even in ads like the one below.

Mercedes Benz Left Brain/ Right Brain Ads
 

Left brain text:

“I am the left brain. I am a scientist. A mathematician. I love the familiar. I categorize. I am accurate. Linear. Analytical. Strategic. I am practical. Always in control. A master of words and language. Realistic. I calculate equations and play with numbers. I am order. I am logic. I know exactly who I am.”

Right brain text:

“I am the right brain. I am creativity. A free spirit. I am passion. Yearning. Sensuality. I am the sound of roaring laughter. I am taste. The feeling of sand beneath bare feat. I am movement. Vivid colors. I am the urge to paint on an empty canvas. I am boundless imagination. Art. Poetry. I sense. I feel. I am everything I wanted to be.”

You can also find the logo for the company in the ad.

Photo: “Colorful Brain” by smokedsalmon

Thinking about Value

 

Thinking about Value

The importance of value is the theme in the book “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.  The narrator observes that grown-ups like numbers. Grown-ups think that they know a person after then have asked questions related to a new friend’s age and how much money his parent’s make. The little prince value aspects such as the games that his new friend likes.

Our value system can be investigated by asking questions related to things and activities that we like or do not like. These kinds of questions are asked in job interviews, when you try to become a member in certain societies. They are also frequently used in dating sites, where you are asked questions such as: “What do you like to do on your holiday, improve my tan or visit museum?”and “What do you like more, a town trip or a walk in the country side?” By asking about likes, problem solving solutions, behaviours, material things, hobbies the idea is to profile you in a value system.

In most other situations, value is involved and value can be of a social, economic, moral, ethical, or ascetical origin. When you are solving a puzzle or maths problem, you are pleased if you get the right answer. This is a value in itself. Yet, the value could also be to avoid boredom, intellectual challenge, or amusement.

Thinking about value can be tricky since other people are involved and their value and points of reference can be widely different. Value is subjective and often it is about what you are prepared to pay or give up having a certain object. Value refers to “something of worth” or “highly appreciated.” It could also refer to deeply felt beliefs or strongly held convictions about moral behaviour.  Identification of new market or increasing the charitable contributions may help to increase the value that other people ascribe to the company. Encouraging people within an organisation to think could be described as a positive value.

The Value of Creating

We often value the things we make ourselves and by letting people design their own  T-shirt or select the ingredients in their muesli, you provide people with the illusion that they have created something themselves. As a result, people value the product more and often they are prepared to pay more for a product that they have designed.

Knowledge and understanding about what people value may come a as surprise and getting this wrong may means that it takes longer for an idea to become popular.

The first instant cake mixes required no effort and they were not popular. By letting people add an egg, the mixtures became a hit. Now they cooks felt valued. And they enjoyed baking cakes using the instant cake mixes.

Design by Using Values

There are different approaches to understanding how, why, and to what degree people should value things. Whether the thing is a person, idea, object, or something else.  From an economic perspective, economic values are seen as an underlying value. In ethics, instrumental and intrinsic values are discussed.  Some things are good because they may result in good things – instrumental values. Others are good in themselves – intrinsic value. It is sometimes argued that wild life in itself has an intrinsic value and that this value comes before using nature as a resource for humans.

Build a car around the concept of confidence or value set of say three values, such as, confidence, reliability, and simplicity.

Confidence is generally described as a state of being certain either that a hypothesis or prediction is correct or that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective. Confidence can be a self-fulfilling prophecy as those without it may fail or not try because they lack it and those with it may succeed because they have it rather than because of an innate ability.

The task is now to make cars that make drivers more confident but avoid overconfidence. This could lead to the idea that the car’s computer gives feedback to the driver about the car’s handling. Maybe it is possible to use GPS and electronic maps for that.

Photo: Dripping Gold Color by pixtawan

“Thinking and the Meaning of Life!”

Gijs and Asa are delighted to introduce Dennis Perrin, who has kindly written this blog post. Enjoy!

1. Creativity and de Bono Thinking

2.Training makes the difference

3.Some experiences with the de Bonos

Creativity and de Bono Thinking

In the early seventies I bought Dr de Bono’s book “The Mechanism of Mind”. In the book, models are assembled which show how “the brain becomes mind”. Certain parts of the book had special meaning for me in explaining how thinking patterns become routines, how to escape patterns, and how to develop creative ideas. I was also very struck by an interesting and graphic description of how memory works. These ideas gave me hope for the future and brought a new meaning to life. Later I became a trainer in de Bono thinking skills. I wanted to share the power of escaping old ideas and the excitement of creating new ideas. When you know you can be creative, and you know you have general thinking skill, the combination is powerful and exciting.

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To many people, or even to most people, the idea of thinking and creativity development as a learned skill sounds complicated, intellectual, philosophical, difficult. But it is none of these things. Developing skill in thinking is simple. Personally, I cannot write about thinking and creativity without simultaneously including Dr Edward de Bono, Peter de Bono, de Bono Master Trainers, and all of the 80 or so books that Dr de Bono has written. In a way, I am over the top about it all. Yet to gain skill in thinking and to become creative is a simple process that anyone can do through a little training.

The enemies of good thinking are complexity and the assumption that argument is somehow part of it. Most of the time – in creative thinking and in using de Bono thinking tools –argument is left outside. Historically argument has been important in deciding who is right, which religion is right, and in the promulgation of political ideas. Once you become a trained thinker, essentially there is no argument, the mind becomes free of adversarial thinking, and there is a new – found confidence and self-esteem. Argument is used sometimes only sparingly but better thinking generally replaces argument.

So, creativity cuts across the normal patterns in thinking and produces new ideas. To become creative we simply practise thinking tools. We do not become geniuses but we do have the tools to create small ideas besides big ideas. Small ideas are also important; otherwise we will always feel inadequate, expecting only the Richard Bransons of the world are able to be creative. So very importantly: anyone can develop creativity, since it’s a skill in the same way that driving a car is a skill. Creativity is not inherent, not natural, and not confined to artists or highly intelligent people. In fact many highly intelligent people are bad thinkers because they are obsessed with argument, being right, and proving points. This is very limited thinking but it attracts attention in politics because the emphasis in politics is on articulation. One can articulate a bad idea well. An inarticulate person including children have been shown to be quite good thinkers, while many politicians are not.

Training Makes the Difference

Normal education is training in the syllabus laid down by the government’s education department. We are trained in history, maths, language, etc. Much of this is needed but also much is unnecessary and there is much left out of education. Thinking and social skills are mostly left out. In my opinion there is only one master author of thinking and that is Dr Edward de Bono. There are many copycats who use his methods under different training guises, but he started it all off and it’s only fair that I give him the credit. There are others “possibly in the field of thinking” like Tony Buzan but Edward de Bono devised thinking skills on a systematic basis.

Training in thinking is essential for all of us. Just reading the books is good but we then forget most of the substance of the books. They are interesting to read but do not provide training. Because we have been educated into argument we have also been educated into criticism, and we believe that if we can criticise something, then that is rather clever thinking. Not so. We need the tools of creative thinking. Children are good thinkers – if only they are given the chance. Training in thinking is simple and enjoyable and fun. Young people love having ideas, and with de Bono training, young people are given a simple powerful structure which is simple and easily remembered through use.

In the beginning thinking training is a little challenging. I have no intention of giving away the details of the training here since it is strictly copyright, as it should be. It cannot be given away any more than food or cars are given away freely. There is only effort needed from participants. It is like learning to ride a bicycle. The trainer gives exercises and careful watch and personal attention is given to output. There is some discussion but no more than necessary. Learning thinking is learning a discipline. There is the discipline of time, of using the tool correctly, and focus, which improves as the tools are used. The instructor’s job (my job) is to ensure the tools are learned in the way in which they were designed to be used.

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The old-fashioned way of teaching by telling is not used in the teaching of thinking. Students being trained produce ideas constantly and in their own production of ideas they then become aware of the power of using thinking tools. There are many teachers around who are not accredited and trained and who do thinking a disservice by teaching thinking badly. It must be done well by a trained facilitator (my job!). Students work alone sometimes, sometimes in pairs, sometimes in groups, and occasionally the whole class works together on subjects for thinking. The subjects in themselves are not important. Complex problems are not used. There are no trick questions or tests. The emphasis is on the production of ideas using tools and it is this tried and trusted process that produces thinkers.

Some Experiences with the De Bonos

After a de Bono course with Wolsey Hall Oxford 1984-86 I attended a thinking course in 1999 with Peter de Bono at his home in Oxford. Peter is Edward de Bono’s brother who is also a Master Trainer in de Bono Thinking. When I got home, my wife exclaimed: “Tell Peter he has given me my husband back! ” I started to become seriously focussed. Peter’s training impressed me profoundly and I immediately started training others in the way that he had trained me, with some considerable success where I was living in Cornwall at that time.

In 2001 I moved back to the Oxford area (this was the same area I moved to in 1987, when I returned from Cape Town). I became Peter’s personal assistant and looked after his office when he was away training in China. I took all the calls that came in for de Bono inquiries, and attended to office matters. From 2000-2002 I took a further three courses separately in order to become accredited in teaching the de Bono thinking skills: Lateral Thinking, The Six Thinking Hats, and DATT, the Direct Attention Thinking Tools.

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Edward de Bono

In year 2000 I first met Edward de Bono at a seminar for European trainers held in London. I became a friend and often had meals with Peter and his wife Valerie, and they came to us for lunches. Over time I learned deeper truths concerning training in thinking skills. In 2003-2006 I met Edward de Bono in hotels for drinks and chats, in Piccadilly (London) restaurant near his home, and I formally interviewed him in his flat in Piccadilly. I discussed intricacies of questions concerning training and lateral thinking directly with him and he was always kind and patient. In short, I felt like a member of the family and indeed the worldwide Edward de Bono network became a part of my life. Dr de Bono sent me to Shanghai to train Du Pont executives, to Morocco to train a shipping company, and I taught at Oxford, Norwich City College, London and many places gaining experience in handling questions and how to teach thinking simply and effectively. And of course I was always paid handsomely for my work.

If your intention is to learn thinking and creativity, I guarantee the de Bono training will do just that.

Dennis Perrin is Director at Edward De Bono Training.

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Thanks, Dennis!

 

World Governance Challenge – $5 million

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The Global Challenges Foundation, founded by the Swedish billionaire László Szombatfalvy, has launched an international competition in order to find a better system for world governance. The Global Challenges Prize 2017: A New Shape is calling on individuals, groups of individuals, universities, companies or associations from anywhere in the world to submit proposals outlining an alternative world governance model – either by revising the present UN system or by proposing completely new forms of governance. A total of US $5 million will be distributed amongst the shortlisted entries and The Foundation is committed to supporting the winning ideas towards.

As we are never impressed by the huge complexity of a thinking challenge – or at least pretend not to be, nor impressed by the very experts that have given it some thinking. So we will try – just for fun, for building up further Thinkibility skills while gathering some knowledge about the working of world governance mechanisms.

How to start?

We know one thing for sure (but we are of optimistic): We will never come up with better ideas than the experts and people who have already extensively thought about systems of world governance. So, we must be smart and have to rely on creative thinking techniques, instead of accepted scientific theories and critical thinking. We will take advantage of the curses of experience we earlier wrote about.

Preparing the thinking is a very important step. Therefore, we made a mindmap where we can collectively put all notes we have, in some categories.

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  • The Challenge. What is the focus of the thinking? To really understand what ideas are solicited for and avoiding coming up with brilliant ideas for the wrong problems.
  • The Criteria. What are the criteria the solution must meet? Criteria narrow the thinking task and make it more specific.
  • Available information. Here we put all we find about the current operating of world governing bodies, their problems,  like Wikipedia entries, news articles, scientific reports, etc. We will be extra alert of what is “left out”. What is not mentioned, what is relevant information, but not available.
  • Current thinking. As our first orientation of the problem progress, we get some notions of recurrent themes, sought solutions or ideas for improvement. We know that one of the easiest ways to get ideas is to escape from the current way of doing things. At this time we only notice them. At a later time, we will spell out what assumptions are underlying current thinking.
  • Departing points. After some reading and playing around, mostly there will emerge some “entry points”. For example some defining characteristics of the situation that are inviting us for some provocative thinking.
  • Beginning ideas. At the same time some hunches, associations and possible metaphors will enter the brain, and we make it a disciplined habit to write these down, how primitive and incoherent, even childish they might be formulated.

Now we have prepared our mindset and can we carefully design some 20 minutes Idea Boosts after we have broken down the subject in some well-defined Idea Sensitive Areas.

If you like to join us, send us a mail, and we give you access to our workspace.

online-collaboration

News, Fake News and Not News

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Recently we were thinking about the news. What makes news? Then there is the discussion about fake news. At Wikipedia we found a page that is about Fake news websites: “Fake news websites (also referred to as hoax news, deliberately publish hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation purporting to be real news — often using social media to drive web traffic and amplify their effect.Unlike news satire, fake news websites seek to mislead, rather than entertain, readers for financial, political, or other gain”.

But what about news that is “left out“, as we formulated in one of our blog posts?

“One can safely assume that any information you are presented with has some relevant information “Left Out”. The originator’s perspective, the logic bubble in which he perceives the world and how the information is applied are some possible reasons for the missing information”.

We can also safely assume that editors of media do “leave-out” news, in good faith. However, there could be some doubt about, as Naomi Chomsky pointed out in “Manufacturing Consent“:

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“The mass communication media of the U.S. are effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function, by reliance on market forces, internalised assumptions, and self-censorship, and without overt coercion”

That raises the question if there exists a keyword “Not News” in Google. Could we find “left-out”news in Google? We got only one hit:

Project Censored – The News That Didn’t Make The News and Why is a well researched website featuring the Top Censored Stories of 2015–2016: Covering up police violence by manipulation Wikipedia pages, violations of the Freedom of Information Act, compensations for vaccine injured families, big pharma lobbying, internet surveillance, FBI spying on rebellion at high schools, and lots of other disturbing news not mentioned in the mainstream media.

Admittedly, it’s all in America, but would it be different elsewhere? We earlier described the mechanisms that explain why disturbing news is not published by the mean stream media (See Press Patterns).

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By the way, in addition to “Manufacturing Consent”, we came across an interesting essay about “Manufacturing Normality”. Nowadays political dissent is stigmatised as aberrant or “abnormal” behaviour, as opposed to a position meriting discussion. Political distinctions like “left” and “right” are disappearing, and are being replaced by imponderable distinctions like “normal” and “abnormal,” “true” and “false,” and “real” and “fake.”.

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The Charm of Imperfection

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In an earlier post about focus, we stressed the importance of paying attention to the focus of the thinking. Taking a problem or challenge unquestioned as it exposes itself may lead to brilliant solutions for the wrong problem. It is therefore required to pay substantial time and effort to (re)define the focus of the thinking.

The problem of attention is best illustrated by the figure-ground phenomenon:  it is known as identifying a figure from the background. For example, you see words on a printed paper as the “figure” and the white sheet as the “background”. However, it is possible to define the white sheet as the “figure”and the “background” as the printed words. Some examples of figure–ground perception shift are:

Figure–ground perception can be expanded from visual perception to include abstract (i.e. non-visual) concepts such as melody/harmony, subject/background, and positive/negative space. The concept of figure and ground fully depends on the observer and not on the item itself.

In art, is the space around and between the subject(s) of an image. Negative space may be most evident when the space around a subject, not the subject itself, forms an interesting or artistically relevant shape, and such space occasionally is used to artistic effect as the “real” subject of an image. It is called Negative Space. The Japanese word “Ma” is sometimes used for this concept, for example, in garden design.

With respect to presented information we called this phenomenon “Left Out” and “Cassandra information“: What is not there?

Left Out
What is not mentioned in the report, intentionally or unconsciously?

We will take the figure-ground reversal a little bit further. Normally, we strive for perfection– broadly, a state of completeness and flawlessness. We value strength, beauty, completeness, velocity, winning etc. Let’s shift focus to the negative face. What is the beauty of imperfection? Amazingly, there is no such page in Wikipedia neither in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Ripping or distressing of jeans, though also arising naturally as a result of wear and tear, is sometimes deliberately performed by suppliers – with distressed clothing sometimes selling for more than a non-distressed pair. For example, Pucci sold “embellished mid-rise boyfriend jeans” for $860 USD. In other times it would be a sign of poverty.

The Golden Raspberry Awards is an award ceremony in recognition of the worst in a film. Most winners do not attend the ceremony to collect their awards.  Notable exceptions include Tom Green (Worst Actor/Worst Director), Halle Berry and Sandra  Bullock (Worst Actress), Michael Ferris, Joe Eszterhas (Worst Screenplay), and Paul Verhoeven (Worst Director)

“The Bad Hemingway Contest” is an annual writing competition that has been held for nearly thirty years, the contest pays mock homage to Ernest Hemingway by encouraging authors to submit a ‘really good page of really bad Hemingway’. Also to mention the “Hemmingway Look-alike Society”, a bunch of “portly gray-bearded old men.”: not being unique is the pursue, but striving for the likeness of someone else is worth pursuing.

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It is all about focus shift

It is all about perception shift. A shift from looking for perfection to valuing imperfection. In Japan, it is called Wabi-sabi the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”

What about the 25 inventions that are completely pointless, as a Car Exhaust Grill or a sadomasochistic tea kettle?

Leaning towers seem to attract a lot more visitors than towers standing upright.

A choir for people who cannot sing and are tone deaf was started by Nadine Cooper, 48, who wanted to join a singing group but never had the courage because she was aware she could not stay in tune. Her self-consciousness started when she was a child after a music teacher ordered her to keep her mouth shut because of her awful singing.A tuneless choir for those who . . .well can’t sing: Listen, this bunch is really hair-raising the roof!

 There are hundreds of quotes about imperfection:
At last, imperfection is even a subject of serious studies, for example, “On Ugliness” by  the legendary   Italian novelist, literary critic, philosopher, semiotician and university professor  Umberto Eco.

T29 – Day 11

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Day 11 – Info

Focus on the information.

Police sources have reported that unidentified individuals planted a bomb in front of a Mormon Church in Talcahuano District. The bomb, which exploded and caused property damage worth 50,000 pesos, was placed at a chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints located at No 3856 Gomez Carreno Street. (Source)

  • What information is given?
  • What information is not given, but implicit in the given information?
  • What information is missing or left out
  • What information is most relevant, but not available (So called Cassandra information)

It is helpful to underline the words that convey bits of information, or hinting at not yet available information

Blog post

Cassandra information

PDF-File

Thinkibility Day 11

t29

 

 

T29 – Day 9

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Day 9-11 – Info

A characteristic of modern society is the flow of information. The creation, distribution, and manipulation of data are vital activities – we rely on data to draw conclusion and make decisions. Information is the lifeblood of modern civilization. Yet, most times more information is not better or gives better solutions. This means that the way we search for and use information is becoming more important than the information itself. Information is valuable if you lack information or there is a gap in the information, whereas creativity and thinking skills are valuable when you are having an abundance of information. Creativity is also valuable when there is a lack of information.

Blog posts

More, More Information, Yes, Sure, But Relevant?

Creative Data Collection

Questions about Questions

 

Day 9

Select a topic and focus on available and needed information

It is a good habit to focus on the information that is available and that is needed, before you do any thinking on the topic. Before you design alternatives, draw conclusions, or plan actions ask yourself:

  • What information is (implicit and explicit) available?
  • What is information is needed?
  • What information is missing (needed but not available)?
  • Where could I get that information, or who could have that information?

Some suggestions for topics to exercise are:

  • a news item (world, national or a local item)
  • a report you have to evaluate (do this before actually beginning to read the report), or take some report at random such as a report from United Nations, or from your local council
  • a decision you have to make
  • your next holiday or travel
  • a party you are planning
  • planning your next week

If you want to read more about focusing on information as a thinking skill, read our blogposts Left Out and Cassandra Information

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Thinkiblity Day 9

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More, More Information, Yes, Sure, But Relevant?

In this blog post, as you can see in the upper left hand corner, we will focus on the quality of information, an essentially white hat thinking activity. Quality of information as a distinctive focus area or Area of Improvement (API) could be vital for many information intensive enterprises, but also for any other thinking situation, such as drafting a plan, preparing a decision, exploring a situation.

We will take you along the mindmap below to explain this – clockwise. A mind map is a diagram used to visually organize information. A mind map is often created around a single concept, drawn as an image in the center of a blank landscape page, to which associated representations of ideas such as images, words and parts of words are added. Major ideas are connected directly to the central concept, and other ideas branch out from those.

Caught up in social ties

Look at the top and right hand corner of the mindmap: In most thinking situations there is a need for information from outside the standard pattern of logic and perception. We have to look for unexpected information. In order to do that, we should enlarge our perception of the situation, looking for more aspects in the situation, to diversify our thinking. CoRT-tools like the PMI, CAF or C&S are excellent tools to stretch our perception space around a situation in the mind map upper right hand corner. Especially helpful is to actively look for actors which could be involved or would affected.

Center right of the mind map: It makes a difference if information is needed or is given. Given information tends to be egocentric. Ego-centrism is characterised by preoccupation with one’s own internal world. Egocentrics regard themselves and their own opinions or interests as being the most important or valid. To them, self-relevant information is seen to be more important in shaping one’s judgments than are thoughts about others and other-relevant information. Nevertheless, given information can be very convincing and one can easily be lured in a narrow defined thought path. Also, information could be left out information, deliberately or by accident, Hence, it is very useful to do some perception widening thinking before  looking at the information available, before you get locked in the thinking pattern of the information given.

Right hand corner: Doing some preliminary perception thinking is even important when there is a need for information. Many people, when confronted with a problem, begin a broad search for information. They assume that enlarging the information space inevitable will lead to uncovering the information needed to solve the problem. By doing so, a lot of information waste is generated

At the bottom of the mind map: A far more better approach was suggested in our blog post Cassandra Information. There is a distinction between available information and relevant information.

  • Available information but not relevant could be left out. It is egocentric information from the sender of the information;
  • Unavailable information and also not relevant can be completely ignored;
  • Available information and relevant is Ebne: Excellent but not enough. This is information that belongs to standard thinking, unchallenged;
  • Relevant information but not available is Cassandra information. It is information that is left out by the information provider, but still relevant. The task is to design a strategy to obtain this hidden information.

It is a good habit to assume that any piece of  information that we have is biased. Especially, as we earlier showed in our post Press Patterns, information from the Main Stream Media: those media that disseminate information via the largest distribution channels, which therefore represent what the majority of media consumers are likely to encounter. The term also denotes those media generally reflective of the prevailing currents of thought, influence, or activity.

Business Woman Climbing a Pile of Files

Key Concepts as Optical Filters – Thinkibility Boost

Filter-optics-1 Optical filters are devices that selectively transmit light of different wavelengths. They absorb some wavelengths of light – that is, colors – while transmitting others. Optical filters define what we see and what is left out.

Key concepts and filters

Key concepts do exactly the same with what we perceive. They strengthen or weaken information, change “colors”, let things out or vary the contrast. As you will see in the image below a key Western concept like “University” colors the way Westerners interpret the Chinese concept of Dá Xué.  

However, it is not even comparable to it. Dá Xué as a concept refers to “The Great Learning” as a metaphor to become Junzi, an ideal personality to finally achieve the highest ideal, Shengren. Shengren is the single most important conceptin the Chinese tradition. The original name of the National University of Peking is therefore 国立北京大学 (Guólì Běijīng Dàxué)

Conversely, you can imagine how surprised or perhaps confused Chinese students will experience Western universities, as a culture shock. They will interpret the concept of a Western university through the filter of the Chinese concept Dá Xué, as in the picture below we have tried to visualize.

key concepts

By translating Dá Xué easy-going in English “University”, it projects unconsciously Western ideas about education onto Chinese concepts. It is called language imperialism: the practice of promoting and imposing a culture by language, usually of politically powerful nations over less potent societies which determine general cultural values and standardize civilizations throughout the world.

Concepts that are seemingly the same, bus essential not at all

Most Chinese concepts cannot adequately translated and we should not try that either but rather adopt them. It is only then that we can escape from standardized ideas about universities. Otherwise, language will act as a prison of thought and will hinder Thinki bility.

For instance, Sun Tsu’s “The art of war” is an incorrect translation of ping-fa. It means “the art of empire building,” or perhaps more correctly, “the art of successful engagement management.”

Another example is the Western concept of civilization. Superficial thought could it be translated into “wenming”. However, “civilization” as city people’s mastery over materials and technology doesn’t reflect the idea of a high level of ethics and gentleness of a person as the concept of Wenming does.

Besides concepts that are somewhat the same, but in essence not at all, are concepts that do not exist in the West or do not exist in the East.

Concepts that do not exist at all in the West or East

Some Chinese concepts that are not translatable in the Western World are:

  • Kung Fu. In its original meaning, kung fu can refer to any skill achieved through hard work and practice, not necessarily martial.  This illustrates how the meaning of this term has been changed in English. The origin of this change can be attributed to the misunderstanding or mistranslation of the term.
  • Feng Shui.  Feng Shui is a system of harmonizing the human existence with the surrounding environment
  • Yin and Yang. This concept is about to circumscribe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world; and, how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.
  • Zhi. A concept that is about aspiration, will, knowledge and wisdom and could be paraphrased as “materialized lifebreadth”
  • Xin. Xin could refer to one’s “disposition” or “feelings” or to one’s confidence or trust in something or someone
  • Chinese concepts like Siren, De, Ren’ai, Ren and Yi are not even to be found in Wikipedia or elsewhere on the Web. Moreover, there are more than 35.000 Chinese words that cannot be properly translated into the English language.

Note that when you look up these concepts in Wikipedia they often refer to Chinese philosophy, an concept that according to Thorsten Pattberg from Peking University doesn’t even exist in the Chinese language. As noted earlier, we would not want it! Conversely, some Western concepts that do not exist in China are:

  • love. Love usually refers to an experience one person feels for another.
  • privacy. Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively.
  • hypothesis. The concept of hypothesis is something like speculating or putting forward a possibility, an impossibility or an intermediate impossibility
  • artist
  • philosopher
  • democracy

Concepts are like logic bubbles or thinking patterns. They define what you perceive and what alternatives, possibilities and choices you can come up with. Translating foreign concepts in native language could destroy the original meaning. Using original foreign concepts may reveal new insights.

chinese Read here more about the East-West dichotomy.

Daily Thinking – Discovering Patterns

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Daily Thinking – the thinking you do quiet effortless during the day – do have some features. In this blog we will point out some of the characteristics of Daily Thinking that differs from scientific or deliberate thinking. However, that does not mean in our opinion that Daily Thinking habits does not affect or have affected academic thinking, as for instance in economics, psychology, biology and medicine

 Daily Thinking takes place, as deliberate thinking does, in a logic bubble

The most dominant feature of Daily Thinking is that it happens in a logic bubble, and that no conscious effort is made to escape from that. The logic bubble – or the standard thinking pattern – is the thinking space that defines the width and depth of the thinking, its time frame, what is Left Out and what biases color the construction of reality. Daily Thinking is fierce controlled by social influences and the Main Stream Media.

logic bubble

Neglect of the importance of focus

 In Daily Thinking thinking happens automatically without any reflection on what exactly the subject is and what to obtain with the thinking. There is an absence of meta thinking. As a result Daily Thinking is reactive.

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There is also a tendency to focus on immediate problems, neglecting long-term challenges. Also, we habitually prefer solutions that focus on fighting results (“putting out the fire”) instead of preventing and detecting the cause (fire detectors and prevention plans). Mostly, rules follow from crises, instead of the other way around. If thinking about risks we tend to think that the worst thing that can happen has already been in the past, not in the future.

If there is an effect, then it has a cause

 In Daily Thinking we suppose  – without further thinking – that an effect has a cause, which is not always so. Or the effect could be merely coincidental with the cause, or the effect could be produced by a complete other cause or it could happen that two causes produce together an effect.

relation

There is a linear relation between a cause and an effect

We are inclined to assume that the relation between a cause and an effect is a linear one, but it could be exponential, or a flattening relation (the influence of the cause decreases in the course of time..

linear non linear

The relation between a cause and an effect could also been shaped by a bell curve, also called a life cycle curve.

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 In close relation with this phenomenon is that when thinking about effects, mostly only the nearby-in-time effect is taken into account. Effects on a longer time scale are neglected.

We tend to see only purposeful effects, and not unintended side effects of causes. Also, we assume that circumstances will not change during an effect is evolving under influence of a cause.

Logic is logic, isn’t it?

Then it is assumed that the logic any person uses is the same for all humans. In other words: Chinese, Arabs, Jewish and Americans take the same thinking paths to get to a conclusion. It is supposed to be hard wired in the brain.

However, we know that thinking is narrowly related to language. And regarding the fact that Chinese, Arabs, Jewish and Americans differ in language, in the construction of sentences, in fonts and in the direction of reading/writing we might challenge that.

writing

 We suppose that those properties of language involve other brain areas and as such influences the “logic” of the thinking, although the same conclusion has been reached.

logic different

Mechanistic reasoning

 However, the most remarkable feature of Daily Thinking is it mechanic nature. In Daily Thinking seldom is taken into account that there might be a feedback effect. Or in other words: a cause produces an effect, what will in turn effect the cause.

netwerk

Our Daily Thinking habits are far remote from thinking in system dynamics, complex networks or system theory. However these thinking strategies originates back to 1950-1960, we still continue thinking “Newtonian” in our daily practice.

Photo “Student Thinking With Textbook” by imagerymajestic

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