Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.

5.08.2012

Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts, and the Importance of Having Hobbies


Some quotes from The Social Animal about thinking:

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In his book What Intelligence Tests Miss, Keith E. Stanovish lists some of the mental dispositions that contribute to real world performance: “The tendency to collect information before making up one’s mind, the tendency to seek various points of view before coming to a conclusion, the disposition to think extensively about a problem before responding, the tendency to calibrate the degree of strength of one’s opinions to the degree of evidence available, the tendency to think about future consequences before taking action, the tendency to explicitly weight pluses and minuses of a situation before making a decision, and the tendency to seek nuance and avoid absolutism."

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They’d be in the middle of the third day of discussion, hammering out one of the proposals, and suddenly Raymond would switch sides, and argue for an entirely different approach than the one they had just agreed upon.  “You just made the exact opposite point,” Erica would cry out in exasperation.

“I know.  Part of me believes that.  Part of me believes this.  I just want all my schizo personalities to have a say,” he would joke.  In fact, researchers have found that people who engage in what they call “dialectical bootstrapping” often think better than people who don’t.  That means engaging in internal debates, pitting one impulse against another.

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Some psychologists urge patients to sit in a chair and look inside themselves.  But there’s a great deal of evidence to suggest that this sort of rumination is often harmful.  When people are depressed, they pick out the negative events and emotions in their lives, and, by fixating attention upon them, they make those neural networks stronger and more dominant.  In his book Strangers to Ourselves, Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia summarizes several experiments in which rumination made depressed people more depressed while distraction made them less depressed.  Ruminators fell into self-defeating, negative patterns of thought, did worse in problem-solving tasks, and had much gloomier predictions about their own future.

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Her description of mindfulness meditation suggested that in fact it is possible, with the right training, to peer beneath the waterline of consciousness, into the hidden kingdom.  The normal conscious mind might see only colors in a small slice of the electromagnetic spectrum, but perhaps it was possible to widen the view and suddenly be able to see the rest of the actual world.

In fact, neuroscientists--who are generally a hardheaded lot--have profound respect for these sorts of meditative practices . . . because there is an overlap between the findings of the science and the practices of the monks. . . .

Andrew Newberg found that when Tibetan monks or Catholic nuns enter a period of deep meditation or prayer, their parietal lobes, the region of the brain that helps define the boundaries of our bodies, become less active.  They experience a sensation of infinite space.  Subsequent research found that Pentecostal worshipers undergo a different, though no less remarkable, brain transformation when they are speaking in tongues. . . . The different religious practices produce different brain states, each of which are consistent with the different theologies.

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