How to Think V 3.0

January 21st, 2018

This is my third and most serious attempt at presenting this course. I’ve been practicing on some volunteer guinea pigs for the last few years and have sharpened up my plan. The course will be based on essays that I’ll place on this website on each topic. Each Sunday I will assign a new essay for students to read. (No, I’m not going to record a video of a lecture; video is a slower way to learn. The written word remains the fastest and most powerful medium for communicating ideas. Anybody who can’t swallow that truth doesn’t have the intelligence to benefit from this course.) Students read the essay during the week. On Sunday, I shall conduct a video webinar on that reading at 1900 GMT. 

1900 GMT =
1400 EST =
1300 CST =
1200 MST =
1100 PST

These times make it possible for anybody in Europe, South America, or North America to participate in the webinars. Sorry about that, Asia. 

The webinars will be conducted using the Zoom software (www.zoom.com). Users are required to download a local application to participate. The webinars are meant to be interactive. Students are invited to submit questions via email prior to the webinar. I’ll start the webinar by answering those questions. When I have managed that, I’ll take questions that roll in via the chat window. If and when I answer all those questions, I’ll open it up for general discussion. I’m not sure how long the video webinar should be. I would prefer the standard one hour format, but I don’t want to shut down a good discussion at 60 minutes. We’ll just have to see how things work out. If at all possible, keep two hours open on your calendar. 

I would prefer to permit anybody to participate in the course, but I must insure that we don’t end up with so many students that effective discussion is impossible. The whole point and purpose of the webinars is to provide interaction with the students, and if there are, say, a hundred students, then no single student will have adequate interaction. Perhaps I’ll break the course up into different sections with webinars on different days. In the meantime, however, I’ll require candidates to email me a summary of their educational background along with a short essay explaining what they hope to gain from the course. If it becomes necessary, I’ll use this to select the most promising candidates. On Thursday, March 1st, 2018, I shall notify all candidates of the results, and the first webinar will be held on Sunday, March 4th. So get your requests to me before March 1st! Send them to me at chrisc {this is a bunch of silly text to confuse bots} @ {more silly text} storytron {Nyah! Nyah! Nyah! Take that, bots!} .com.

Here is the course syllabus. While I have thought through this plan carefully, I may modify it as I learn from the webinars.

Lesson 1: Don’t trust your brain
Your brain is optimized to do some mentations very well; that optimization process simultaneously undercuts your ability to perform other mentations. You will be appalled by the demonstrations of how stupid your mind can be.

Lesson 2: Think in terms of process, not object
Reality can be perceived as either a collection of objects or a system of processes. Some subjects are best approached by thinking in terms of objects; others are best considered as processes. The computer is fundamentally a processing machine, not an object machine. Sadly, our minds think primarily in terms of objects, not processes. Designing for computers requires a profound shift in thinking from object to process.

Lesson 3: The best way to understand something is to figure out how it got to be that way
The human mind was not designed from the ground up; it evolved in response to environmental challenges. Understanding that sequence of developments will help you understand your own mental strengths and weaknesses. 

Lesson 4: Integrity, integrity, integrity!
“When a man lies, he murders a part of the world.” Lies are not sins against others; you are the greatest victim of your own lies, especially the lies you tell yourself. Integrity is more important to effective cogitation than intelligence.

Lesson 5: The many ways we lie in argumentation
A listing of the many flaws in argumentation, with real examples.

Lesson 6: Develop and utilize your intuition
We call it “intuition”, and we tend to dismiss it, but intuition is actually the operation of our most powerful system of thinking: pattern-based thinking. Recognize the situations in which your intuition is a better guide than logic.

Lesson 7: Use logic booleanly, numerically, and algebraically
Sequential thinking is especially difficult for neurons to execute, but language advanced our sequential thinking skills, and logic was the serendipitous discovery of the Greeks; starting around 1200 CE, Christendom developed logic all the way to science and technology. 

Lesson 8: Play seriously in everything: words, sounds, toys, faces, ideas 
Play is not frivolous; it is important to the success of mammals and absolutely crucial to human cognition. Most people erroneously suppress their playful instincts in adulthood — much to the loss of their cognitive powers. 

Lesson 9: Think subjunctively
Too many people think in simplistic black-and-white (boolean) terms. Yet, as James Clerk Maxwell wrote, the logic of this world is probability. Nothing in the real world is black and white; everything is a shade of gray. A good thinker uses boolean thinking only as a first approximation, and proceeds to probabilistic thinking as appropriate.

Lesson 10: The world is a lot more complicated than you think
“The more I learn, the less I know.” You have no idea of how monumentally ignorant you are; it takes years of study to appreciate just how big the world of ideas is. Everything is interconnected. The more you learn, the more illuminating interconnections your realize.

Lesson 11: Creativity
Subjunctive thinking + play + knowledge + emotion —> creativity

Lesson 12: Transcend 
When you are honest, learned, process-oriented, intuitive, logical, and playful, you become one with the universe.