Easy steps to Improve Your Thinking #1

========= Easy steps to Improve Your Thinking #1 ==========

  1. Know what you are thinking about (The focus)

Unless we know precisely enough about what is exactly we are thinking about, we cannot have reasonably usable thought.
The focus of our attention needs to be precise and practical enough, as well as stable and not wobbling, jumping, scattered, for the duration of the particular thought.

This can be (and should be) very obvious for all of us, but it’s not the case for majority (if not most) of humans. In other words, we do not know what we are thinking about, very often, and yet we think we are thinking and we can think, and even we are intelligent. The situation can be considered as “sad”, overwhelmingly funny, crazy, normal and quite ordinary, etc, depending on the perspectives (and expectation/presumption/beliefs we may have).

In practice, when we are interested in something and when we start thinking about it, we can verify the nature of our interest so that we know the perimeter, the borders that separate what we are interested and the rest, in at least a few different ways. This way, we know the subject matter we are focusing on and thinking about, and we will be thinking about what we are really interested, attracted, rather than vague and mixed bag of concept far from the real point of interests to us.

This is the first step of what I may call “Desire based thinking” and/or “Perspective logic”. And this allows us to be aware of the perspectives we are taking, and the perspectives would be aligned with our interests and desires.
When our focus of awareness is in-line with our interests/desires, it usually fulfills our needs and tends to produce satisfaction, which will fill up the particular interest/desire, eventually, and let us move on to the next one.
So, it will prevent us from thinking vaguely and turning around in the same place for long long time, often with (lots of) frustration. In other words, we can say that the majority of humans do not know how to think in “satisfactory” manner because we are not aware of what we are thinking about and we are not aware of what we want (to think/investigate).

For example, there is a (long) thread about “beauty”, in ILP.
And quite frankly it’s pretty mixed up, in different ways.
But one of the problem is the lack of clear focus on the subject matter.

The term/concept “beauty” includes wide range of aspects, related to preferences and attraction in general, in my opinion.
When we talk about “beauty” of two females, for example, the interests behind our mind may well be the “sexual attraction” to be more precise.
If we talk about the “beauty” of paintings, our interests can be the preferences on colors, geometries, styles, arrangement, theme, motif, and so on (and it englobes very wide subjects).

Unless we probe our own interests and limit the focal point to practical and manageable area, we are likely to loose the perspective awareness and stray into the wander land of associative thought chain and/or other non-satisfying way of thinking that may produce strange conclusion that may confuse us, again/more, in turn. And some of us may even call such mess as “philosophy”
in the desperate attempt to raise self-esteem, positiveness of overall world view, etc.

To reduce such nonsense, it’s better to stick to what really attract us and treat things one by one according to the priority list of the instance.
The focus, with its perimeter and criterion, is the key and we can’t really think without out it.

Practical methods that can be helpful in cultivating the habit to think more clearly with better perspective awareness:

* List up your interests/desires.
* List up what you tend to think about.
* List up things you like and you don't like. 

* Try to be more precise about each items.
* Think about the relations and differences of each items.
* Draw sketches, diagrams to visualize them. 

* Try to focus more in the area you don't like to focus, if you can.
* Do not overlook subtle/slight senses of discomfort, uneasiness, contradiction, etc, as they can be the sign post of hidden treasure for our personal evolution. 

* Dig and investigate preferences and presumptions in detail, as they are the launch pad (and the restraining devices) of our focuses. 

In actual thought process:

* Stop the thought stream, rewind if needed, to (re)identify the clear focus you had so that you can regain perspective awareness, as soon as you feel confused, lost, unclear.
* Type your thought, take a note, to (re)trace and reevaluate your thought stream and notice where you had (and you lost) the perspective awareness.
* Verify the perimeter/criterion of the focus of each perspective segment. 

Next: The evaluation

Ideas can be elucidated through dialogue, also.

It’s a dialog between people who come into it with different interests, perspectives and goals. As a result, lots of threads get derailed. But that’s also one of the things that makes the discussions interesting.

Actually we are only comparing photographs of two females and not the females themselves. It’s similar to comparing paintings, although there is an embedded element of ‘sexual attraction’ which complicates matters.It would be preferable to compare something which does not involve sexual urges. I posted pictures of chairs.

Perhaps the diversions contribute to creativity and discovery in the thought process?

Yup. If we prefer to start with unclear ideas AND if at least one person participating in the dialogue is aware enough about the focus on the subject matter. but it isn’t the case, very often.

If both parties are well aware of focuses and perspectives, it can be very interesting and elucidating.

It may contain some exchanges and remarks interesting for me or others.
I found lots of poor quality focuses, starting from the OP, though.

Maybe you were more aware about what you wanted to think/talk.

I’m not talking about “creativity” and “discovery” (whatever they are in your mind), here.

This thread is about the importance of proper focusing in our thought, and methods to foster precise/practical focus that is well aligned with our interests/desires.

Maintaining particular focuses for desired period is another practice that can help us to think better.

How do we “probe our own interests” without straying “into the wander land of associative thought chain”?

There is a working relationship to be achieved with respect to sticking to a topic, versus allowing a topic to wander. Confusion can and does occur, but I think you are relating confusion too strongly with wandering, here. It is not the wandering that is the problem, but the lack of insight. Sticking to a topic can and often is just as confused as allowing the conversation to become discursive.

We spin webs (of thought), like spiders. As with spider webs, styles of thinking vary greatly from person to person. The problem isn’t with the form of the web – it’s just a matter of whether you get caught in your own web or not.

I would say that if you are too focused then you don’t even hear what the other person is saying. If you are too focused then you are too rigid in your thinking. ‘Discovery’ means being open to different ways of thinking and different ways of looking at problems. You need to be open to diversions and be prepared to pursue them to some logical or illogical end. That’s also where the fun and play comes from.

While you were casting aspersions, did it occur to you to follow your own advice?

Perhaps you can start with the links in my signature. I had your advice in mind before you offered it, apparently.

If/when you are not so aware of your own interests, it’s better to clarify them and re-focus according to them.

I’m not talking about “topic” in the sense of “main topic of a thread”, etc.
The “focus” I’m talking here needs to be present in each segment of our thought.
And our thought stream is made of multiple focuses.

I don’t think you are understanding what I’m talking about.

When we are not aware of own focus, we do not know what we are is thinking/talking about.
It’s like playing with the foggy hazy skewed imaginations.
Such thought/talk is usually useless/nonsense/silly if we want to think more or less accurately.

And unless we understand this first step, we would not understand how we evaluate and why evaluations are relative/limited/conditional and implications that follow.

One of the biggest obstacle in realizing how badly we tend to think, is the insane and baseless conviction and certainty that we are intelligent and/or we can think.
Foggy and buggy thoughts often comes with unreasonable degree of sense of certainty.

Once we detect that there is something strange/wrong with our thought, it may reduce the sense of certainty and reality we have been feeling with the land scape of foggy thoughts.
And this may lead us to examine and understand the importance of proper focusing, in turn.

You are mixing up the problem of “sticky focus” and the problem of the lack of precise focus.

The focus needs to be stable and precise during particular segment of the thought.
The focus needs to be shifted to different things/concepts as we evaluate and as the thought stream advances.

Also, the problem of sticky focus tend to happen because we are not aware of our focuses, and also because foggy poor quality focuses tend to come with too strong sense of certainty.

And as long as we can’t focus on something properly, you can’t understand what others are saying/thinking because you cannot share the focuses of other people.
I mean, you can consider with the blurred hazy focus that you are understanding others, but it can be (literally) out of focus.

I do think our mind has the basic desire to think well, as accurately as possible, to obtain greatest certainty. And we cannot satisfy this basic desire unless we start to think with proper focuses powered by our interests (and desires).

[size=200]Easy Steps to Improve Your Thinking:
[size=150]Start Here, Don’t Stop[/size]\

sorry, I’ve become a total lesswrong whore lately. they’re just so…RATIONAL!

To be honest, your posts are usually painful to read, for me.
I have my own artistic taste, when it comes to perspective structures and movements.
And the way you build your words and ideas are not really attractive, to me.
I tried to read the posts you linked, but I lost desire/interest before long.

Obviously, you don’t need to worry, as there are many people who can read your posts and enjoy discussing with you and it’s just a matter of very subjective personal preferences of mine.

So, unless you insist, I’ll only read some of your posts. Sorry.

It seems like you’re avoiding the problem. To probe your own interests, you have to relax the mind and let it wander. You have to find that delicate balance between allowing the mind to do whatever it happens to do, and maintaining awareness without controlling the thinking process. On the other hand, if you have a clear goal that you want to accomplish, this allowing the mind to wander business can become a hindrance.

The whole time I was writing about being on-topic versus off-topic, I was thinking in terms of mindfulness versus lack of mindfulness. If not the same thing, one is at least an analogy for the other. “Focus” is a centralizing tendency of thought. “Good” thinking isn’t always centralized thinking. “Focus” and awareness aren’t the same thing. I can focus my sight on a certain object in my field of vision, while maintaining awareness of a variety of sights and sounds all around me.

Perhaps not.

But what are you actually claiming here? Not much, I think. You’re claiming that thinking logically has a different character than thinking poetically. So what? Everyone knows that. If you’re claiming that poetic thinking is fundamentally confused, I’d have to say you’re wrong.

I think many very confused people have no problem at all focusing. And many non-confused people actually do have a problem focusing. Again, it’s like spiders spinning webs. There are those elegant, radial webs that everyone thinks of as the classic spider’s web. And there are those mesh webs that seem to have no order at all, as if they were spun by a drunken spider. Neither is better than the other - but it’s a rare spider that wants to get tangled in its own web.

I take this as an admission that every insulting thing you said about the thread on beauty was totally groundless—being as you haven’t even read it. It’s not quite an apology, but it’s close enough for me.

Carry on…

I’ve read a bit their site, and related site.

What I’m talking about in this thread is lover level, or more basic, compared to what they try to do.

Also, I’m suggesting to focus on the matter we are interested in, rather than superficial and mixed up concept like “moral”, for example.
It’s important for satisfying our desire, and for the integrity/alignment of our need, emotion, and thought, among other things.

To me, both the “map” and the “territory” they talk about are products of our imagination.
So, what they are doing is trying to match one kind of images (mainly coming from sensory input and its interpretation) with another kind of images conceived in the mixture of emotional and mental field, in this perspective.
It may help to have more or less unified or better organized imaginary land scape, most probably.
And such images would reduces inner conflict/contradiction, in turn.
But I tend to feel that they still tend to mistake images for something “real”, rather than accepting that we are prbably always dealing with imaginary things when we think and with our awareness (without any delusion that we know, or we can know, “reality” or something that is absolutely objective, true, certain, etc).

Also, I don’t like their “transhuman” and/or “singularity” worshiping, as I don’t like glorifying and worshiping, much. They are a bit like borg cult, waiting for the super A.I. god. I like people who deal their petty desires with their petty means without pumping up the expectation/theory for grandiose event/idol.

But I do share some of their preferences in trying to think more accurately, too.

I’ve made a memo (for myself) when I noticed their site, this summer.

If you can observe where your attention is going, you are what you are interested in without such inefficient technique.
If you are looking at a girl, for example, the interest of that moment is the girl.

However, majority of us are not so aware most of the time, and we my need to stop the mixed up thought stream, time to time, and check the underlying issue around which our thought seems to evolve. This type of probing is done by taking notes about what kind of things we tend to think, with what kind of emotion, and so on, for example.
So, we need to be more aware of how we are thinking and observe what’s going on in our mind, and we need to record it, list up, make sketch/drawing, to bring up and clarify the interests and desire at deeper level.
Again, simply “relaxing” and"let it wonder" wouldn’t be sufficient if we want to change the habit of foggy thinking.

Do you pretend to have that “delicate balance”?
To be frank, I don’t feel that.

Also, someone who can’t think well with precise focus wouldn’t be able to go deeper in meditation.
It’s because our awareness and thought is attached (sort of) especially for someone who isn’t very aware. And the fine control of focuses translates nearly directly to the degree of calmness in which the awareness can remain in the silence without mental noise.

So, what I’m talking about is obvious for someone more or less advanced in meditation, as well as for someone slightly aware of thought process (by observing it).
But it’s not obvious at all if you haven’t observed thought process or you are not so advanced in meditation.
(And this is one reason why some monks practice debating, in some traditions.)

I think you have been out of focus.

The focus I’m talking about isn’t the “centralizing tendency” you brought up.
And you are bringing up yet other out of focus matter and confusing yourself.

I’m not making a big claim, at all. It’s something even silly to someone who is aware about reasoning/evaluating.
I’m just repeating because you seem to have big enough problem understanding it and its implication.

Again, you missed it. I’m not yet talking about “logic”. And I don’t talk about “poetic thinking”
Your focus is wobbling and wondering. And because of that, you are bring in things I’m not talking about, and you are confusing yourself.

Now, you suddenly became the self appointed representative of everyone.

Obviously, to me, not everyone is aware and not everyone is thinking well.
If you think you can think well enough, you don’t have to read a thread about improving thinking.

I’m only saying mixed up thinking is less accurate.
As you can see, you mixed up what I talked about and you are making inaccurate assumption.

Again, if you pretend that you can think well enough, you don’t need to read this thread because it’s mainly for someone who feel something strange/wrong about how we tend to think.

What I’m saying in this thread is like we need to stand up before to walk, run, jump, and so on.
What you are saying is like “no, we can roll, grab, bite”, and so on.

If you think you an run, you don’t need to read a thread about how to stand better.
If you are not interested in running, you don’t need to read, either.
I’m providing information for someone who is interested in running/walking better in particular way.

If it’s a product of the imagination, then that’s not what they’re referring to when they say “territory” so I’m not quite sure how to parse this.

I have to praise your thinking for one thing. You are a very good wishful thinker.

Although I said I didn’t finish reading the painful posts you linked, I’ve read some (or more) posts in that thread. I’ve even read some of your posts.
So, it’s a wishful thinking of your part that what I said was “totally” groundless.

And my apology is for not finish reading what you suggested.
I mean, you wanted me to read it, but it wasn’t readable for me.
Usually, I do make a bit more effort and finish reading most posts, when someone suggests.
But I really lost interest and so I just stopped reading them.

Sorry for not supporting your hope and desire.
But I’m not worried about you, at all. As you’ve demonstrated very high degree of self confidence and wishful thinking, again and again, I’m sure you will keep going on and on with the help of other patient members who can read your posts and discuss with you.

That’s exactly the point.
I mean, they presume that there is “territory”.
I do think what they presume to be the “territory” is just another images, like maps.

How do we know about the “territory” ?
Don’t we get it from sensory information and especially interpretation of them?

The sensory info is already treated by sensors and nerves. And we do interpret them, even more.
So, we’ve never been in touch with the “territory”. We just have the interpretation of “territory”.

This is why I prefer to deal with everything as “information”, because that’s all we have.
I think it simplifies things and it’s more honest, in some ways (with a lot less presumption, pretending).

Right… “some posts”…

I think what I want to do is echo your own point #1—which is a good one—in the hope that when you have time you’ll actually follow it. And that’s all.