How to Think V2.0

The original plan was to hold the course at my home in the forest of southern Oregon. It’s a beautiful place and much of the time would be spent outside. However, the costs of travel to southern Oregon discouraged almost everybody from attending, so there weren’t enough confirmed attendees. Sadly, I cancelled the course.

But then I discovered a fabulous new technology called “the Internet”. It’s amazing! You can even hold meetings with lots of people using video! I had a stroke of genius: why not use this “Internet meeting” thingamajig to deliver my course? Congratulating myself on my brilliance, I set to work designing a new course.

The course will comprise ten sessions presented in a weekly cycle:

Each Monday morning, I will publish on this website an essay presenting a single lesson. The lesson will include images and links to additional resources on the Internet. Each registered student will have a password to that portion of the website, and will read the essay at some point during the week. Students will then, if they wish, send me an email with any questions they have on the essay. 

On Sunday, I will host hour-long video meetings in which I answer the emailed questions and then engage the students in back-and-forth discussion. The number of video meetings I hold will depend upon the number and geographical distribution of the students; I want to keep the meetings small enough to permit each student to have the opportunity to interact with me. If there are enough students, I will hold two or even three video meetings, distributed through the day to provide an easily accessible time for any student anywhere in the world. 

Here is the first-cut list of weekly topics:

1. Your mind is deeply flawed Part I: errors in perception

2. Your mind is deeply flawed Part II: errors in cognition

3. Rule A: Transcendence: see yourself as a flawed being in need of guidance
intellectual integrity; if you prefer one hypothesis over another, subject the first to the most ferocious of attacks; Whenever somebody offers an analysis that you had not already considered, deem it to be evidence of your own failure; Remember every mistake you have ever made; Be especially wary of the urge to acquiesce to common beliefs.

4. Rule B: Ask ‘How did it get that way?’
       Process versus data

Knowing facts confers knowledge, but understanding comes from grappling with processes, not facts.       

5. Evolution of the nervous system: pattern thinking versus sequential thinking
       Evolution of play
       Evolution of Homo Sapiens
       The merging of the mental modules and the Paleolithic Leap
       The Invention of Writing
       The Bronze Age Collapse
       The Skewed Regeneration of Greece
       The Invention of Rationalism
       Aristotle invents logic
       The attempts to reconcile Aristotelian logic with religion
       Aquinas, Bacon, Orestes, the Oxford Calculators, Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton
       Why didn’t other cultures develop rationalism?

6. Rule C: sort out the causalities (multi-causation, Aristotelian causation, probability, boolean thinking)
Keep asking, “What is the ESSENCE of the problem?” 

7. Rule D: Learn everything
It’s always more complicated than you thought.

8. Rule E: Play

9. Rule F: Use math to express algorithms

10. Rule G: How to be more creative
Attack every problem from as many different angles as you can. Beware of tools; the tool shapes the hand of the user. Creativity is built upon three factors: a broad base of understanding; intense emotional agonizing over the problem; and releasing the subconscious.