Shrink-Wrapped in Our Own Thinking:
Thinking That Transforms
 Presented by
 Ariane David, PhD
 Senior Partner
 The Ver...
Shrink-Wrapped in Our Own Thinking:
Thinking That Transforms
 Presented by
 Ariane David, PhD
 Senior Partner
 The Ver...
Non-Positional Thinking:
Thinking that transforms everything.
Today you’ll discover that
 you don’t really know what you ...
Non-Positional Thinking:
Thinking that transforms everything.
We’ll look at
 How we think vs. how we think we think
 Res...
HMAS Sydney
HSK Kormoran
What’s Up?
The Brain: The Quick Tour
Wertheimer’s Stroboscope:
the whole is more than the sum of its parts
Bartlett – making memory, meaning, and schemas
– The War of the ghosts
– “Asian” mask *
– Schemas
Bartlett – making memory, making meaning
Bartlett – making memory, meaning, and schemas
– The War of the ghosts
– “Asian” mask
– Schemas
Loftus – eyewitness testimony
What we store in memory is affected by
– Pre-existing memories
– Post-event information:
• L...
Conclusions About Memory
 What we remember is subjective
 What we remember is fluid and constantly changing: we can
neve...
Damasio – The Neurobiology of Thinking
Perception
 Sensory store holds vast amounts of information; we can
perceive only ...
Damasio – The Neurobiology of Thinking
Studies of emotions: how and why emotions?
– Emotions: the way the body responds to...
Damasio – The Neurobiology of Thinking
Memory
Memory is not a video; memories are NOT stored complete anywhere
in the brai...
…as a result
You can never be certain that what you remember
actually happened the way you remember it;
in fact, you can b...
Perception, Memory and the Past: Organizing Patterns
 Organizing patterns are what allow us to know anything
 All experi...
So What?
So What?
The constructed universe, its organizing patterns
and thinking short-cuts are perfect for physical survival,
but ...
Examples of organizing patterns,
efficiencies, errors and short-cuts …
Here's the details for the October Hill Country Wine & Supper Club
Dinner:
Date: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Time: 6:30 p.m....
You say WHAT? Organizing patterns bloopers
“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”
– HM Warner, Warner Bros, 1927
"I thi...
Positional Thinking
Major thinking errors caused by organizing patterns
 Tyranny of Knowledge
 Zero-sum illusion
 Baboo...
Tyranny of Knowledge
 Choosing existing knowledge simply because it’s
the knowledge we have.
 Doing what worked in the p...
Zero Sum Illusion
 Believing that there is a limited amount of “solution”,
including “either/or” and “fixed position” thi...
Baboon trap
Thinking for the short term, not how current actions
lead to future outcomes. Ex. Tragedy of the commons
Seein...
Lost Key Dilemma
Looking for information/solutions/answers somewhere
only because that’s where the information is easy to
...
Short Cut Errors
We take cognitive shortcuts in our reasoning to help us
make sense quickly, but fail to verify the accura...
Allport & Portman 1942
Short Cut Errors
We take cognitive shortcuts in our reasoning to help us
make sense quickly, but fail to verify the accura...
Allport & Portman 1942
Thinking Errors Reinforce Themselves
 No external evidence needed!
 Conclusions are taken as proof.
 This proof reinfor...
The Rules of Thinking: Logic
 What is logic?
 What determines if something is logical?
 Can logic be wrong?
Discussion
Logic/Reasonableness
 Logic is nothing more than the rules you’ve made up for
navigating within your constructed universe...
In the End, What Does All of This Mean?
The Uncertainty Proposition
All we know about the world is contained within our ow...
Bridge Bats Breakout
Bridge-Bats Bind: Classic Problem Solving Methodology
 What is the issue or problem?
 What information do I have?
 What...
Break, 10 minutes
A Different Way of Thinking?
We need a new way of thinking about thinking and problem
solving, one that takes into account...
Non-Positional Thinking: An Ideal
 Based on the knowledge that we cannot trust what we think we
know
 Rises above the “p...
Principles of Non-Positional Thinking
Uncertainty
Curiosity
Courage
Commitment
Principles of Non-Positional Thinking
Uncertainty
Uncertainty means realizing that we don’t know for certain what
the fact...
Principles of Non-Positional Thinking
Curiosity
Curiosity means (in the light of our uncertainty) being eager
and determin...
Principles of Non-Positional Thinking
Courage
Courage means having the determination not only to see
beyond the constructe...
Principles of Non-Positional Thinking
Commitment
Commitment is the overarching principle. In this case it means being
dete...
Non-Positional Problem Solving/Decision Making:
what is the REAL Problem?
 What is my/the goal? (is the goal to get rid o...
The Uncertainty Proposition
“Question everything at least once in your life…”
(not “something” but “everything”!)
“Doubt i...
Non-Positional Problem Solving/Decision Making:
what is the REAL Problem?
 What could be alternative explanations for the...
Additional Bat Information
This information was readily available to anyone at the
time of crisis:
 500,000 bats eat 10,0...
What is the REAL Problem?
 What is the goal? (is the goal to get rid of the “problem” or to get rid of the bats?)
 What ...
Non-Positional Problem Solving/Decision Making
 What are possible solutions for the actual problem?
 Which one best fulf...
Bridge, Bats, and Bugs Breakout
Non-Positional Problem Solving/Decision Making
 What are possible solutions for the actual problem?
 Which one best fulf...
Austin Bats Create an Industry
Creating a Learning Organization
Two Kinds of Learning
 Adaptive learning
– Based in fear
– Uses blame to succeed
– Purpose is survival
– Defensive
 Gene...
Non-Learning Organization: Positional Problem Solving
BLAME
Problem
Fear
Blame / Fault
DefensivenessDenial
Distorted Infor...
Learning Organization: Non-Positional Problem Solving
Problem
Quality information
and communication
CollaborationEffective...
Workplace Issue
Breakout
Non-Positional Problem Solving
 What is my goal in solving this problem?
 What is the issue exactly: beliefs; facts (obs...
Non-Positional Thinking:
Thinking that transforms everything.
 A great many people think they are thinking when
they are ...
Parting Thought…
It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble,
it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
...
Shrink-Wrapped in Our Own Thinking:
Thinking That Transforms
Questions/Comments/Feedback
Ariane David, PhD
The Veritas Gro...
Critical Thinking Workshop: Ventura County Department of Child Support Services
Critical Thinking Workshop: Ventura County Department of Child Support Services
Critical Thinking Workshop: Ventura County Department of Child Support Services
Critical Thinking Workshop: Ventura County Department of Child Support Services
Critical Thinking Workshop: Ventura County Department of Child Support Services
Critical Thinking Workshop: Ventura County Department of Child Support Services
Critical Thinking Workshop: Ventura County Department of Child Support Services
Critical Thinking Workshop: Ventura County Department of Child Support Services
Critical Thinking Workshop: Ventura County Department of Child Support Services
Critical Thinking Workshop: Ventura County Department of Child Support Services
Critical Thinking Workshop: Ventura County Department of Child Support Services
Critical Thinking Workshop: Ventura County Department of Child Support Services
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Critical Thinking Workshop: Ventura County Department of Child Support Services

  1. 1. Shrink-Wrapped in Our Own Thinking: Thinking That Transforms  Presented by  Ariane David, PhD  Senior Partner  The Veritas Group  Senior Lecturer  California State University, Northridge  ADavid@TheVeritasGroup.com The Uncertainty Proposition Thinking That Transforms Everything Ventura County Department of Child Support Services Ariane David, PhD The VERITAS Group California State University, Northridge ADavid@TheVeritasGroup.com www.theveritasgroup.com
  2. 2. Shrink-Wrapped in Our Own Thinking: Thinking That Transforms  Presented by  Ariane David, PhD  Senior Partner  The Veritas Group  Senior Lecturer  California State University, Northridge  ADavid@TheVeritasGroup.com The Uncertainty Proposition Thinking That Transforms Everything No need to remember everything: this PowerPoint presentation will be posted at www.theveritasgroup.com
  3. 3. Non-Positional Thinking: Thinking that transforms everything. Today you’ll discover that  you don’t really know what you think you know  you can’t change that, but you can greatly improve your odds of making good decisions
  4. 4. Non-Positional Thinking: Thinking that transforms everything. We’ll look at  How we think vs. how we think we think  Resulting thinking missteps  What is non-positional thinking, and why do we care?  Principles of non-positional thinking  Tools of the non-positional thinker  Fostering good decisions and learning organizations  Solving real problems: breakout The only hope is to realize there is no hope and start from there.
  5. 5. HMAS Sydney HSK Kormoran
  6. 6. What’s Up? The Brain: The Quick Tour
  7. 7. Wertheimer’s Stroboscope: the whole is more than the sum of its parts
  8. 8. Bartlett – making memory, meaning, and schemas – The War of the ghosts – “Asian” mask * – Schemas
  9. 9. Bartlett – making memory, making meaning
  10. 10. Bartlett – making memory, meaning, and schemas – The War of the ghosts – “Asian” mask – Schemas
  11. 11. Loftus – eyewitness testimony What we store in memory is affected by – Pre-existing memories – Post-event information: • Language • Other information What we remember might never have happened
  12. 12. Conclusions About Memory  What we remember is subjective  What we remember is fluid and constantly changing: we can never be certain about what we remember.  Confidence in the memory has nothing to do with accuracy: memories can be completely fabricated and seem absolutely real.
  13. 13. Damasio – The Neurobiology of Thinking Perception  Sensory store holds vast amounts of information; we can perceive only a very small amount  We focus only on what’s immediately relevant and what arouses us emotionally  Perception is shaped by past experiences and beliefs (more on this later)  Our actions are based on what we believe is so, not on what actually is so
  14. 14. Damasio – The Neurobiology of Thinking Studies of emotions: how and why emotions? – Emotions: the way the body responds to what’s happening – Every sensory impression is paired with an emotional tag – The pair form the experience – The purpose of emotional tags is rapid response – The myth of rational decision-making (more on this later)
  15. 15. Damasio – The Neurobiology of Thinking Memory Memory is not a video; memories are NOT stored complete anywhere in the brain. What we think of as memory is the result the simultaneous firing of neurons. Neurons carry no content, only the pattern code by which neurons will fire, and when. Think the picture on your TV.
  16. 16. …as a result You can never be certain that what you remember actually happened the way you remember it; in fact, you can be certain that it didn't! This is the uncertainty proposition
  17. 17. Perception, Memory and the Past: Organizing Patterns  Organizing patterns are what allow us to know anything  All experiences are made to fit into existing organizing patterns  Organizing patterns are self-reinforcing  The total of all our organizing patterns create our entire reality… our constructed universe We don’t know who discovered water, but we know it wasn’t the fish. – Marshall McLuhan
  18. 18. So What?
  19. 19. So What? The constructed universe, its organizing patterns and thinking short-cuts are perfect for physical survival, but can be a real impediment to clear thinking.
  20. 20. Examples of organizing patterns, efficiencies, errors and short-cuts …
  21. 21. Here's the details for the October Hill Country Wine & Supper Club Dinner: Date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 Time: 6:30 p.m. Where: River City Grille, Marble Falls, TX Cost: $40 per person, which includes a three-course meal, three glasses of wine, and recipe booklet. Tax and gratuity not included. Featured Winery: Stone House Vineyard October Hill Country Wine & Supper Club Menu Warm Artichoke & Crap Dip with Toasted Baguettes Filet of Sole Fish En Papillote with Au Gratin Potatoes Raspberry & Chocolate Cream Cheese Stuffed Cupcakes
  22. 22. You say WHAT? Organizing patterns bloopers “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” – HM Warner, Warner Bros, 1927 "I think there is a world market for about five computers“ – Thomas Watson, CEO, IBM 1958 …and the winner “Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote.” – Grover Cleveland, US President 1905
  23. 23. Positional Thinking Major thinking errors caused by organizing patterns  Tyranny of Knowledge  Zero-sum illusion  Baboon trap  Lost Key dilemma  Fulfilled Expectations  Thinking in parts  Short-cut errors
  24. 24. Tyranny of Knowledge  Choosing existing knowledge simply because it’s the knowledge we have.  Doing what worked in the past only because it worked in the past, without examining how appropriate that strategy is in light new information.  It includes assuming the future will be like the past.
  25. 25. Zero Sum Illusion  Believing that there is a limited amount of “solution”, including “either/or” and “fixed position” thinking.  Think politics!
  26. 26. Baboon trap Thinking for the short term, not how current actions lead to future outcomes. Ex. Tragedy of the commons Seeing only parts, but not how they’re related or how they form a whole. Ex. Auto manufacturers; the “gap” Attachment to unworkable situations. Ex. Our LIVES!
  27. 27. Lost Key Dilemma Looking for information/solutions/answers somewhere only because that’s where the information is easy to access. Ex. case load, education, quarterly reports, Deming, Vioxx. Not everything that can be counted counts; not everything that counts can be counted. (Variously attributed to Albert Einstein, W. Edwards Deming and a half dozen others)
  28. 28. Short Cut Errors We take cognitive shortcuts in our reasoning to help us make sense quickly, but fail to verify the accuracy.  Stereotyping  Biases These had important survival value on the savannah!
  29. 29. Allport & Portman 1942
  30. 30. Short Cut Errors We take cognitive shortcuts in our reasoning to help us make sense quickly, but fail to verify the accuracy.  Stereotyping  Biases These had important survival value on the savannah!
  31. 31. Allport & Portman 1942
  32. 32. Thinking Errors Reinforce Themselves  No external evidence needed!  Conclusions are taken as proof.  This proof reinforces the position. Logical, you say?
  33. 33. The Rules of Thinking: Logic  What is logic?  What determines if something is logical?  Can logic be wrong? Discussion
  34. 34. Logic/Reasonableness  Logic is nothing more than the rules you’ve made up for navigating within your constructed universe!  There are as many different systems of logic as there are beings on the earth. (The jury’s out on extra-terrestrials)  Logic is subjective like taste. Nothing is ever “illogical”; things are just “differently-logical” Why does this matter?
  35. 35. In the End, What Does All of This Mean? The Uncertainty Proposition All we know about the world is contained within our own constructed universes. Our constructed universes are not the world, just a good-enough representation of it that allows us to survive(ish). Certainty that our constructed universe is the world leads to problems in thinking.
  36. 36. Bridge Bats Breakout
  37. 37. Bridge-Bats Bind: Classic Problem Solving Methodology  What is the issue or problem?  What information do I have?  What information do you need to solve it?  What is the plan/methodology for solving the problem?  What are possible solutions?  What are pros and cons of each solution?  What is your solution? Bat Breakout and Discussion
  38. 38. Break, 10 minutes
  39. 39. A Different Way of Thinking? We need a new way of thinking about thinking and problem solving, one that takes into account our understanding of the constructed universe. This is called Non-Positional Thinking
  40. 40. Non-Positional Thinking: An Ideal  Based on the knowledge that we cannot trust what we think we know  Rises above the “position” to view all positions equally Non-positional thinking does this through…  Critical inquiry: – Uses direct observables (behaviors, results) not assumptions or hearsay as the baseline from which to analyze any situation – Questions the very thinking that underlies how we see the problem incl. beliefs, assumptions, values, norms, and reasoning; our own and others’. – Examines the language used to speak about it – Looks for disconfirming information
  41. 41. Principles of Non-Positional Thinking Uncertainty Curiosity Courage Commitment
  42. 42. Principles of Non-Positional Thinking Uncertainty Uncertainty means realizing that we don’t know for certain what the facts are and that memories and judgments are wholly unreliable. All non-positional thinking is based on this uncertainty proposition
  43. 43. Principles of Non-Positional Thinking Curiosity Curiosity means (in the light of our uncertainty) being eager and determined to discover what it is we haven’t seen before, what we don’t know, the knowing of which would change how we see the situation and even world.
  44. 44. Principles of Non-Positional Thinking Courage Courage means having the determination not only to see beyond the constructed universe, but to have the heart to acknowledge and act on those discoveries even in the face of our own fear. This includes being willing to change our dearly held position.
  45. 45. Principles of Non-Positional Thinking Commitment Commitment is the overarching principle. In this case it means being determined to become a non-positional thinker, i.e., to moving beyond our own point of view, assumptions, judgments, and conclusions even if it is terribly uncomfortable.
  46. 46. Non-Positional Problem Solving/Decision Making: what is the REAL Problem?  What is my/the goal? (is the goal to get rid of the “problem” or to get rid of the bats?)  What is the issue exactly – What do I/we believe the problem to be? – What are the facts (observables, behaviors, results)? – What are my initial beliefs, assumptions and conclusions? – What language is being used? Neutral or positional? Keep in mind the Uncertainty Proposition! The information used vs. the information available
  47. 47. The Uncertainty Proposition “Question everything at least once in your life…” (not “something” but “everything”!) “Doubt is the organ of wisdom.” Rene Descartes
  48. 48. Non-Positional Problem Solving/Decision Making: what is the REAL Problem?  What could be alternative explanations for the facts?  What information or evidence is there?  What information do I need?  What disconfirming evidence is there for my position?  What is my attitude about it? – What will I lose if I am wrong? (note: we ALWAYS have something to lose.) – Is there anything that could persuade me I’m wrong ? The information used vs. the information available
  49. 49. Additional Bat Information This information was readily available to anyone at the time of crisis:  500,000 bats eat 10,000 pounds of bugs every day  Bats are no more prone to rabies than squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons or other wild animals  No cases of rabid bats were reported in the area  Several cases of bat bites, most not breaking the skin  All bite cases involved people trying to handle or interfere with bats, or of bats that got trapped
  50. 50. What is the REAL Problem?  What is the goal? (is the goal to get rid of the “problem” or to get rid of the bats?)  What is the issue exactly – What do I/we believe the problem to be? – What are the facts (observables, behaviors, results)? – What are my initial beliefs, assumptions and conclusions? – What language is being used? Neutral or positional?  What could be alternative explanations for the facts?  What information or evidence is there?  What information do I need?  What disconfirming evidence is there for my position?  What is my attitude about it? – What will I lose if I am wrong? (note: we ALWAYS have something to lose.) – If there were evidence that my assumptions/beliefs were not accurate, would I be willing to change my position? Bridge-bats - what is the real problem? Breakout
  51. 51. Non-Positional Problem Solving/Decision Making  What are possible solutions for the actual problem?  Which one best fulfills the goal?  What is the reasoning process I used in order to reach this conclusion?  What effects will this decision have on the larger system now and in the long run? (mongooses)
  52. 52. Bridge, Bats, and Bugs Breakout
  53. 53. Non-Positional Problem Solving/Decision Making  What are possible solutions for the actual problem?  Which one best fulfills the goal?  What is the reasoning process I used in order to reach this conclusion?  What effects will this decision have on the larger system now and in the long run? (mongooses)
  54. 54. Austin Bats Create an Industry
  55. 55. Creating a Learning Organization
  56. 56. Two Kinds of Learning  Adaptive learning – Based in fear – Uses blame to succeed – Purpose is survival – Defensive  Generative learning – Based in curiosity and openness – Uses accountability to succeed – Purpose is growth and self-expression – Creative
  57. 57. Non-Learning Organization: Positional Problem Solving BLAME Problem Fear Blame / Fault DefensivenessDenial Distorted Information Ineffective Action / No Learning Fear /Blame No learning can take place in the space of blame.
  58. 58. Learning Organization: Non-Positional Problem Solving Problem Quality information and communication CollaborationEffective action Organizational learning Openness / Curiosity Accountability Mistakes are the price we pay for learning.
  59. 59. Workplace Issue Breakout
  60. 60. Non-Positional Problem Solving  What is my goal in solving this problem?  What is the issue exactly: beliefs; facts (observables); assumptions/conclusions; language  What could be alternative explanations for the facts?  What information or evidence is there?  What information do I need?  What disconfirming evidence is there for my position?  What is my attitude about it? Am I coming from uncertainty; am I willing to see I’m wrong?  What are possible solutions for the actual problem?  Which one best fulfills my goal?  What is the reasoning process I used to reach this conclusion?  What effects will this decision have on the larger system now and in the long run?
  61. 61. Non-Positional Thinking: Thinking that transforms everything.  A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices – William James  It is much easier to believe than to think – James Harvey Robinson
  62. 62. Parting Thought… It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. – Mark Twain
  63. 63. Shrink-Wrapped in Our Own Thinking: Thinking That Transforms Questions/Comments/Feedback Ariane David, PhD The Veritas Group Additional Information ADavid@TheVeritasGroup.com www.theveritasgroup.com Non-Positional Thinking Thinking That Transforms Everything

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