Podcast #239 (Live): Inferential Distance, Parallel Thinking, and 9/11


The second year of what I'm hoping will become an iconoclastic tradition: thinking on 9/11 in America.

This show has three parts
1. What is inferential distance and what communication problems does it cause?
2. An explanation and examination of Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats (a tools process of parallel thinking)
3. A 9/11 "truther" vs. 9/11 true believer role-play using what we've learned

Edward de Bono Presentation: Six Thinking Hats (Video)


GOAL: Rearranging things in our minds so we can think more simply and more effectively, using existing brain ability

ANALOGY: relationship between intelligence (potential) and thinking (skill) is like the relationship between a car and the driver
car's engine, transmission, etc... (potential)
but performance depends upon he (skill) of the driver

Past "attempts" at teaching better thinking: (school)
-subject focus, immersion
-mistake avoidance
-repetition (the practice of thinking doesn't make you a better thinker, two-finger typing example)

de Bono encourages A Tools Process of thinking:
-create some frameworks that are practiced in different situations
-the practice embeds skills in the tools
-take the tool and apply elsewhere, the tool is portable

ORIGINS OF ARGUMENT: lacking in constructive and creative energy, but good for discovering truth
-Socrates: mainly concerned in showing why things were wrong, and then we'll be left with what is right, but rarely had a constructive outcome
-Plato: influenced by pythagoras, very focused on "what is the underlying truth?"
-Aristotle: from the past, let's create categories (boxes); then we'll analyze things and see where they fit, syllogism

Now Add "design" to thinking
adding to the question of "what is?" (existing knowledge)
the question "what can be?" (construction, creativity, design)

The technique (parallel thinking)
-instead of A arguing with B, they think together
-directing attention to one thing at a time (one hat at a time metaphor)
-can be used for exploring different perspectives towards a complex situation or challenge. Seeing things in various ways is often a good idea in strategy formation or complex decision-making processes. It provides a means for groups to think together more effectively, and a means to plan thinking processes in a detailed and cohesive way.

Types of hats
WHITE (paper):
Facts & Information - what info is available, needed, missing, and how will we obtain what we need?
RED (heart):
Feelings & Emotions - emotion creeps into thinking, don't disguise it as logic "now it's time for my emotions"
BLACK (judge's robe):
Logical negative, evaluation, caution, risk assessment, what doesn't fit? (easy to overuse)
YELLOW (light?) :
Logical positive, looking for benefits, how can we make something work? (less natural than black hat)
GREEN (vegetation, growth):
Creative thinking & Possibilities, everyone makes an effort to participate
BLUE (sky, overview):
Control of process & Steps, while the other hats deal with components, this hat deals with overall process, decisions, outcomes, summaries

-don't create a clusterfuck in your head, the brain functions in different ways (balance of neurotransmitters) for different types of thinking
why you need a bag of golf clubs to play golf, not just a driver
-the six hats are not categories of people
my example: "working well" with other people, putting ourselves in boxes

1. Occasional
-one at a time, "right now we need some green hat thinking"
2. Systematic
-following an agenda, hat by hat with time limit
-typical sequence: blue first (set-up), other hats, then blue hat at the end (what have we achieved?)
otherwise variable, "do we need to start with the red hat?"

Main benefits of Six Thinking Hats method:
1. Allow to say things without risk
2. Create awareness that there are multiple perspectives on the issue at hand
3. Convenient mechanism for 'switching gears'
4. Rules for the game of thinking
5. Focus thinking
6. Lead to more creative thinking
7. Improve communication
8. Improve decision making

Bumper Music:
Monophonics "Goliath"
Phish "Bug"

Look Closer:
Six Thinking Hats (Book) - http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0316178314/qid=1059757507/sr=2-1?v=glance

The Trivium method - http://www.triviumeducation.com/

tragedyandhope.com - http://www.tragedyandhope.com/

Inferential Distance - http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Inferential_distance

Illusion of Transparency - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusion_of_transparency

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