Australian General Semantics Society Inc.




Seminar Summary - 14 th July 2013


"Applications of Creative and Critical thinking"
Here we are going to work at the problem of how to integrate and apply
Creative and Critical thinking methods
along with
 GS formulations to our lives.
So expect another very interactive and challenging problem-based session.

Led by David

Preliminary ... Catching Up

We were pleased to welcome some "returning" and "new" participant Albert, as well as the "old faithfuls".  It's "always" envigorating to meet people encountering the discipline anew, to see what draws them, and how we can bring GS as a useful and exciting study.
WritingThis is a "living document", subject to ongoing evolution as recollections re-emerge from our memories of the event, and are re-evaluated in light of ongoing experience and reflection.  It will never be "the full truth and nothing but the truth", or "a map that expresses everyone's notion of the territory"!

We considered problems of how to apply GS formulations.

Application of GS and Critical Thinking.

"When applied, it genuinely works; but, of course, we have to apply it fully. Mere lip-service will not do; because while superficial agreement is quite easy, yet physiologically, on a deeper level, we continue to follow the older harmful semantic reactions". Korzybski

Summarised list from last seminar (problem – Solution(s)):

1) Do not know formulation
     a) Ignorance of the formulation required to solve problem
          i) Learn GS

    b) Forgotten formulation
         i) Relate to other useful formulations. I.e. make it easier to recall.
         ii) Reinforce learning periodically
        iii) Practice using it

2) Fail to use formulation - even though you know it.
     Ignorance that this formulation is applicable to your current problem.

a) Memory aid

b) Practice using it

c) Over-learning i.e. learn till you know it, then learn some more.

d) Habitual response-

      i) Preliminary training to change habits
     ii) P1 => P2
    iii) Remembering past experience

e) Emotional stress e.g. Anger and hence a signal reaction

      i) Thalamic pause / symbol reaction
     ii) Think of consequences

f) Problem situation happens too fast

      i) Use a symbol reaction / thalamic pause

     ii) Preliminary training for the situation
         e.g. practice driving in a safe situation before going out on the roads.

3) Choose wrong formulation to apply or not using the best one

a) Poor choice of formulation for the problem

      i) Practice choosing the appropriate formulations for problem types.
     ii) Think of consequences of using this formulation.

b) Prior expectations influence semantic reaction to an event leading to a poor choice.

      i) Map-territory distinction.
     ii) Try alternative interpretations of the event.
    iii) Let other people help take you out of your "blind spot".
    iv) Conscious of identification errors, such as fact-inference confusion.

4) Misapply a good formulation i.e. Not using formulation in an appropriate manner?

a) Not understanding the formulation

    i) Ask others to explain it
   ii) Read it in more than one GS text book.

b) Distorting the formulation

   i) Apply rigour
  ii) Appropriate level of use 
 iii) Conditional use

c) Misevaluation of the situation

   i) Check out the territory 
  ii) Indexing and dating.
 iii) Awareness of the situation.

5) Ignorance of other knowledge needed to help solve the problem

a) Remember etc.

Three stages of training
1) cognitive phase where one learns the knowledge for the skill.

2) fixation phase where one practices the skill using feedback to improve.

3) autonomous phase where one applies the skill "habitually" (index this to Langer's formulations)
     and you concentrate on learning the strategic application of the larger learnt skill chunks.
     To apply we need to: know/remember, understand, have a skill from and use appropriately
     in a habitual manner.

GS skill application.
1. Conceptual understanding –
     comprehension of GS formulations, operations, and relations.

2. Procedural fluency –
     skill in using GS formulations flexibly, accurately, effectively, efficiently, and appropriately.

3. Strategic competence –
    ability to formulate, represent, and solve life problems with GS.
     Also how to break large or complex problems up into simpler ones.

4. Adaptive reasoning –
     capacity for logical thought, reflection, explanation, and justification.

5. Productive disposition –
     habitual inclination to see GS as sensible, useful, and worthwhile,
     coupled with a belief in diligence and one's own efficacy.

Errors are part of the process of problem solving, which implies that both teachers and learners need to be more tolerant of them. If no mistakes are made, then almost certainly no learning is taking place.

Unfortunately, one tradition of schooling is that perfect performance is often exalted as an ideal. An Aristotelian ideal. Worse still, errors are sometimes ridiculed or taken as ridiculous. The people who make them are then pilloried and that can lead to psychological problems later in life. Mistakes and embarrassment often go hand in hand. Perfect performance may be a reasonable criterion for evaluating algorithmic performance (though I doubt it), but it is incompatible with good learning or problem solving using heuristics.

A heuristic is a rule of thumb. It is a strategy that is powerful and general, but not absolutely guaranteed to work. Algorithms are straightforward procedures that are guaranteed to work every time, eg: 1,000,008/9 =111,112

Formulations we are going to use.
GS and critical thinking.
      1) Fact-inference confusion
      2) Identification
      3) Projection
      4) Happiness and expectation
      5) Abstracting & bypassing
      6) Ways we distort reality
      7) Ways we misevaluate
      8) E.g. Anchoring

Notes from "Predictably Irrational" by Dan Ariely

The Effect of Expectations

Ariely et al conducted a series of experiments that determined that previous knowledge can change an actual sensory experience. This was done with beer tasting.
He concluded that expectations can override our senses, partially blinding us from the truth.

The Truth about Relativity

Ariely also describes the ways in which people frequently regard their environment in terms of their relation to others.
Relativity helps people make decisions but it can also make them miserable. People compare their lives to those of others, leading to jealousy and envy. To break this comparison problem, people can focus on smaller "circles" to boost relative happiness, or can change this focus from narrow to broad. E.g. When considering upgrading a computer, they could expand their thinking to what else they could buy with the money they would otherwise spend on the upgrade.

We looked at an article on the "Seven steps to better thinking" and compared it's ideas to GS formulations.

We used a Maths analogy to show up structure of the process of using math formulation.
e.g. Number sequence: 1, 4, 9 ,16
      What is next in the series?
      Process involved in solving problem
      Diagnosis 1 = 1 * 1; 4 = 2 * 2; 9 = 3 * 3; 16 = 4 * 4;
      Generalisation y=x^2 and next values x=5 => 5^2=25

A. Twelve students in a GS class decided to practice conversations using E-prime. They decided that each students would converse once with ever other student. How many conversations were practised? 12*11/2=66

B. At a GS party I attended recently I noticed that every person but the host, Gavan, spoke with each other person exactly one time. Gavan spoke with everyone twice (once when they arrived, once when they left). There were 20 people at the party. How many conversations were there? 20*19/2 + 19=190 + 19 =209

Simple GS formulation applications.

We looked at some simple GS based problems.

E.g. Which is an identification and which a projection "A rose is red", "Larry is a NLP teacher"

E.g. Story problem. Larry is a NLP teacher. Paul Eng is his NLP student. Larry teaches Paul NLP for a few years. How come? Because teacher's know more than students. (Expectation) Years later, Larry learns that Paul Eng now knows more than him and gets upset (unhappy). Why?
GS formulations applicable: happiness formula, identification, dating.
I.e. Larry identifies himself as a teacher and Paul as a student. And hence has high expectations that he will always know more than Paul. When this expectation is broken he becomes unhappy.


Next Meeting:

Sat 17th August 2013
Popularising General Semantics"
S.I. Hayakawa's book "Language in Thought and Action" was widely read and debated.
Can we popularise GS without losing the essence and genius of Alfred Korzybski's groundwork?

Led by Robert James.

10:30am - 4:30pm at Bonnet Bay, Sydney, Australia.



(Updated by RJ 29/07/2013)

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