Australian General Semantics Society Inc.




Seminar Summary - 25th October 2015


"Skills for Effective Thinking"
(at Bonnet Bay)

We learnt how to get along better with others and reduce conflict, increase our happiness and become more successful in our life and business.

This seminar gave us an introduction to basic general-semantics formulations that help us think and evaluate more effectively.

Led by Mr David Hewson

Our seminar
was graciously hosted once again, by the congenial Pauline, Gavan and Carlton at Bonnet Bay. Gavan provided a healthy and succulent barbeque-style luncheon, incorporating many of the principles of healthy eating discussed in our theory.

GS Diary
In the spirit of "applying general semantics principles" to our lives, as opposed to dwelling in theory, we considered members' accounts of observations and applications relating to the principles and formulations of our discipline.


Learn how to get along better with others and reduce conflict, increase your happiness and become more successful in your life and business.

This seminar will give an introduction to basic general-semantics formulations that help you think and evaluate more effectively.

GS deals in part, with some of the causes of conflict.

Can the same "fact" be true now but false at another time? Yes. Which extensional device covers this? Answer: dating.

Words influence and meaning

Words influencing the way we think.

At sunrise and sunset what is in motion? The Earth. What does the language imply? The Sun.

How does language do this? Habitual thought.

Other influences: projection, identification, fact – inference confusion, either / or distortion and elementalism.


Word meaning to one person is not word meaning to another. So the meanings in the discussion pass by each other.

Example: GS uses “fact” to describe the object level of the structural differential.

“Fact” in science relates predictions of a model/theory/hypothesis to observed results.

In popular culture “It's a fact.” is used in a similar way to “It’s true”.

Extensional devices

Extensional devices as solutions. What problems do they relate to?





Index, Dating





Dangerous words


Other problems

Either / Or

Degree / Up to a point


To me / Viewpoint


Mental set

We talked about mental sets and ignoring context.

We also talked about “mechanical thinkers” versus “adaptive thinkers”

Mechanical thinkers tend to:

* Over generalise,
* Believe dogmatically,
* Seldom seek new information,
* Hate changing their mind,
* By controllable by others due to inflexible reactions to situations,
* Use absolutisms and “either/or” statements,
* Like judging others,
* Like stereotypes,
* Project their own judgements onto others.

Adaptive thinkers tend to:

* Not be at either extreme of being wishy-washy or dogmatic,
* Seek new information, and be willing to change their mind if new information justifies it,
* Use “what if” thinking,
* Not put thier ego in with their convictions, so do not feel threatened by challenges to their convictions,
* Be relatively free of fixed mental sets,
* Own their evaluations and so do not project,
* Cope well with new information,
* Be not very opinionated,
* Spot hidden assumptions (P1s) and recognises the consequences of these,
* Willing to admit their own ignorance,
* Less likely to get hooked by trigger signals from others, so less easy to manipulate,
* Not get so frustrated when events do not meet their expectations,
* Keep expectations at a lower level than the mechanical thinker.

(From “Brain Power…” by K Albrecht.)

Fact – inference confusion

We talked about this identification and did a Hanley fact-inference test.

Inferred causes (causal model) are different from (factual / observed) effect. So the effect could be true but the causal hypothesis could be false.

Sea monster drawn on board and discussed number of monsters and if number is a fact or inference.

We looked at Copernicus versus Ptolemy model of universe and discussed problems with them.

We discussed the power of premise that can fill in ambiguity and lead to different conclusions for people with different premises.

Happiness notes

Happiness related to expectation. H=M/E formula only valid for high expectations and low motivation.

We related IFD to Korzybski’s E1, E2, E3 happiness theory.

Where I stands for Idealised goals. (Similar to AK’s E1)

The F stands for Frustration. The person gets frustrated at not meeting their ideal goals and gets demoralised.

The D stands for Demoralisation. (Similar to AK’s E3)

We then applied the expectation theory of happiness and identification as a model for a couple of sociological situations where one group was unhappy with another.

Business Meeting

The usual: Plans for the year: Dates and places of meetings, international liaisons, finances etc.

AGM for the year 2014-15.

Next Meeting:

Sat Dec 5
"After Work" Transition Planning
"Baby boomers" are eschewing the "R" word -
redefining "retirement" (where work grinds to a sudden halt and you’re left to figure out the rest),
to create a proactive plan for the life you want to lead –
not just work, but also a balance of family and relationships, health, recreation, mind, spirituality, interests, and community.
to be led by Robert (at BB)

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"!

Disclaimer: This "summary" is a collection of notes derived from our discussion by a number of means.  It is by no means a scholarly dissertation on the subject as presented.  It does not purport to be the "policy of AGS".  Comment and criticism (constructive or otherwise) is welcome.  If anyone has been misquoted, copyrights infringed or confidences betrayed, please Contact us.



Updated by RJ 28 Oct 2015

For details of our discussion meetings and seminars, locations and membership, Contact AGS
Web site by RLJamez