Edition #010 - Building Blocks

Indy Neogy
Indy Neogy
5 min read

As we reach the 10th edition, I'd love to hear from you if there are topics you would like to see covered in future. Find me on Twitter or reply to this email!

System 1 and System 2 Redux

Having looked at the basics of System 1 and 2 last time, it's time to dig into some of the nuances. Both Kahneman himself and the Reasoning book point to some things to consider, from the point of view of constructing a more expansive view of thinking. What I mean by that last bit is that a lot of analysis focuses on short episodes of thinking, simple thoughts or decisions. (When I say simple I do not mean they may not be difficult or important, rather that they turn on a small of information and often are just binary choices.) The expansive view is about the thinking process involved in doing complicated things, with more than one step.

The first point that Kahneman is at pains to emphasise is that "System 1" and "System 2" are largely metaphorical - there are no structures in the brain, no rush of hormones or firing of neurons that is exclusive to either "System." Rather they are ways the brain mobilises itself to deal with stimuli (including internal stimuli) of various kinds. This is important because much of the time both kinds of activity are taking place. In particular System 1 activity is continuous and automatic. We can use System 2 to veto or modify the impulses that come from System 1, but we can never become Mr Spock, that character from Star Trek who operates only on logic.  [Read More - 4 min read]

18 Ways of Thinking

Strategic and Systems Thinking consultant Bülent Duagi has made a a post and a graphic on LinkedIn about 18 ways of thinking:

Bülent Duagi 🇷🇴 on LinkedIn: 18 Ways of Thinking | 24 comments
18 ways of thinking 🤔Which ones are you constantly using?Which ones would you try? ---Now in the one-pager format that you can save, print or share... 24 comments on LinkedIn

For those in a hurry, here's the list:

Analytical Thinking
Complexity Thinking
Conceptual Thinking
Concrete Thinking
Convergent Thinking
Critical Thinking
Design Thinking
Divergent Thinking
Entrepreneurial Thinking
Futures Thinking
Lateral Thinking
Model Thinking
Process Thinking
Product Thinking
Strategic Thinking
Systems Thinking
Values Thinking
Visual Thinking

To me some of these are general purpose ways of thinking, some are methods for particular situations, some are elements that go inside almost all the methods. Some of the ways of thinking might seem to be totalising and incompatible with others - I would be very interested to hear what people think about that. Find me on Twitter or reply to this email and let me know!

For reference we can also look at the collection of modes/states of thinking from Edition #006 - mine are almost all lower level (i.e. elements) but there is some crossover.

It strikes me that one useful thing to do would be to clarify some layers and sort things into them. I hope to do this for the next edition.

Fatigue connected to decisions

It was suggested on Twitter that a "theory in the wild" might have some bearing on "decision fatigue" which I have covered recently. (Edition #007 ; Edition #008) That is Spoon Theory.

The concept was coined by Christine Miserando in a 2003 essay about the effects of lupus on her life. It has since become something quite a lot of people use to explain the effects of invisible chronic conditions.

Of course, these are much more serious issues than decision fatigue, but the idea of a fundamentally fixed pool of resources, renewed only by a period of rest (a night of sleep) is very similar.

As I'm sure is clear by now, what tantalises me is that sometimes we experience moments of relaxation that can refresh us from decision fatigue. It might not be as iron a constraint as we tend to think. It may be that this resource can be partially refreshed in ways that are not true for more serious conditions.

It feels important to explore because the "efficiency" approach (own seven copies of the same outfit, remove the "what to wear" decision from your day!) seems inherently tilted towards people living (or able to finance) quite a simplified life. However, if we want a world of better thinkers, I don't think we can settle for solutions that ignore people in complicated situations. I'll be exploring this some more in future.

Interesting Events

  • Saturday, 23rd October, 1800 London Time (BST) - Are Apps Making Us Better Or Worse? - In this Interintellect Salon Vidhika Bansal and Rosano invite you to reflect on the pivotal role technology, especially apps play in our lives, the trade-offs of its everpresence, and finding balance in the digital world. (interintellect, Online, $20)
  • Sunday, 24th October, 1500 BST. - Thinking on Sunday: How Mathematics Created Civilisation - In this hybrid (in person and online) event auithor Michael Brooks will lead the audience discovering how maths shaped the world around you. (Conway Hall, Online/London, £5)
  • Tuesday, 26th October, 1900 BST - In conversation with Sir Roger Penrose - In this event, Sir Roger joins Thomas Fink and Yang-Hui He on stage for a conversation about the man behind the science. We take a rare look into the workings of this singular mind. How does he get his ideas? Is beauty a guide to truth? What’s the basis of free will? Is AI a threat? Can art inform science? And is man different from machine? (Royal Institution, Online/London, £16)
  • Wednesday, 27th October, 1800 BST - Going Beyond the Here and Now: Counterfactual Simulation in Human Cognition - Tobias Gerstenberg is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. He will highlight the pervasiveness of counterfactual thinking in human cognition and discuss the implications. (Stanford HAI, Online, Free)
  • Wednesday, 27th October, 2000 BST - Being You Is Not As Simple as It Sounds - In this salon, Anil Seth, professor of cognitive and computational neuroscience at the University of Sussex, co-director of the Canadian Institute for Advance Research Program on Brain, Mind, and Consciousness, will join us for a Q&A discussion of his new book: Being You — A New Science of Consciousness. (interintellect, Online, $20)
  • Thursday, 28th October, 1900 BST - How to Have Better Meetings with Sketchnotes - Sketchnotes can turn any meeting into a fun exercise in creativity. In this workshop-style salon, you will learn how to draw them yourself. Your guide will be professional illustrator and sketchnoter Zsofi Lang, and together we will combine theory and practice to come away with a different perspective on notetaking. (interintellect, Online, $25)
  • I've noticed that as a number of organisations move back from online to in person events, I'm not seeing as many listings as before. If you're running or even just hear about an interesting event and think it would fit in the listing here, drop me a line!
  • And of course, Edition #011 of this newsletter will be out on Thursday 4th November in the afternoon London time - feel free to share this Edition with a friend before then. ;-)

Indy Neogy

Indy Neogy is the main author of Mind Atelier. He is a coach, consultant and thinker about better thinking using tools, spaces and principles for thought.