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Software For Your Brain

School Of Thinking -- Brain Freebie!
by Dr. Michael Hewitt-Gleeson; © 1997 All Rights Reserved

originally posted at
this copy downloaded from


Introduction - Sovereign Thinking Primer
Chapter 1 - Brain VIRUS
Chapter 2 - PTV
Chapter 3 - PLATO
Chapter 4 - PTV SOFTWARE
Chapter 5 - SPREAD
Chapter 6 - Authority to Sovereignty
Chapter 7 - TRUTHS
Chapter 8 - ANTIDOTE
Summary of PART ONE
Chapter 9 - Software Solutions
Chapter 10 - Brainpower and cognetics
Chapter 11 - Necktop
Chapter 12 - START
Chapter 13 - DO
Chapter 14 - NOTICE
Chapter 15 - THINK
Chapter 16 - CVSTOBVS - Cognetics Operating System

Introduction - Sovereign Thinking Primer

A human being either does OUR OWN brain programming and sovereign thinking, OR defaults to the programming and thoughts generated by others... Each human being either live our own life and dreams, or live vicariously through other people's life and dreams.

Thinking is the true business of life, power is the result. Inspiration is the art of receiving and makes for all that is best in life; our business in life is to understand and command these invisible forces instead of letting them command and rule you. We are at all times dealing with the magical power of thought and consciousness. What results can we expect as long as we remain oblivious to the reasoning power which has been placed within our control? -- So long as we are not Soverein Thinkers, we limit ourselves to superficial conditions, and make of ourselves a beast of burden for those who think; those who recognize their power; those who know that unless we are willing to think we shall have to work, and the less we think the more we shall have to work, and the less we shall get for our work. -- This thinking power, if understood and correctly used, is the greatest labor-saving device ever dreamed of, but if not understood or improperly used, the result will in all probability be disastrous, as we have already seen (if An Ever Better World Basic Courses have been seriously studied); by the help of this thinking power, a person can confidently undertake things that are seemingly impossible, because this power is the secret of all inspiration, all genius. -- Inspiration is the art of imbibing, the art of self-realization; the art of adjusting the individual mind to that of the Universal Mind; the art of attaching the proper mechanism to the source of all power; the art of differentiating the formless into form; the art of becoming a channel for the flow of Infinite Wisdom; the art of visualizing perfection; the art of realizing the omnipresence of Omnipotence. (Re: The Master Key System L20 #4,5, 13, 15, 19)

Learning HOW TO THINK is more important than WHAT to think... When an individual knows HOW to think, then acquiring "what" to think occurs naturally and easily, along with the skills to instantly RECALL learned programming... Understanding basics about how the human brain functions and how the brain is programmed, makes it much easier to ascend into Sovereign Thinking and consistently make choices that produce consciously desired results. The swifter the experiential consequences, the faster the brain training. This occurs because there is a direct connection between cause and effect which stimulates the brain cells to generate clear neuron links between a stimuli and result... Touching something VERY hot, instantly programs the brain to instantly KNOW and RECALL the painful consequences to this experience; thus will program the organism to AVOID that which might cause a repeat of this painful experience. The same recall/repeat mechanism also functions for pleasure sensations.

Much of our experiences and learning from experiences of others, are about achieving skills for using methods of what are termed as Stimulus Response, Scientific Thinking, Reasoning, and accumulating wisdom about life-sustaining pain and pleasure causations.

Stimulus Response is rote brain programming, which while an innate survival mechanism that is easily programmed to induce a pre-determined re-action to a certain stimuli (sound, smell, taste, training to do something in a certain way, etc)... This program is Nature's Path of Least Action System, and is used to predictably control what actions an organism will do; presumably avoid that which has been pre-determined would do harm to the organism. Unfortunately this innate survival mechanism having been designed to be easily programmed without the stimulus being subjected to any safe guards such as reasoning through to other possible consequences, makes it also very easy to be infected with many forms of what is collectively termed as a Brain Virus or Cultural Meme... A virus is something that replicates without care or consciousness as to the well-being of self or others. What are termed as "beliefs" "trends" and "fads", are common results of a Brain Virus or Cultural Meme. These are brain programming software that by-pass the "reasoning mechanism" and thus are easily accepted without evaluation as to what the result (short-term or long-term consequences) could be. - - Advertising relies heavily on this mechanism.

Scientific Thinking is another term used for Sovereign Thinking... Whatever label attached, this means the individual has programmed their brain to control the thinking process in alignment with perpepetual survival and optimum health of THE WHOLE beingness, and for the best results and consequences of all involved.

School Of Thinking main primer course reveals HOW To Identify Brain Virus Infection and achieve Scientific Sovereign Thinking.

Many consider this "straight to the point" format as the best for those seeking HONESTY about this topic. Some of us use this first text in our iConference Interaction.


I have always thought of Australia as a clever country. We even export cleverness! Australia continues to grow and export some of the world's best scientists. Indeed, the School of Thinking based in Melbourne and also in Cyberia (on the internet at, is now the largest school in the world daily exporting thinking lessons to every country on the planet.

There are more scientists alive today than all the scientists who ever lived. In every sphere of knowledge, these scientists are questioning, exploring, experimenting, researching and updating what we once thought to be true.

As a scientist, I was taught that old truths are replaced by new truths as new evidence becomes available. As a human being living in today's world I don't need to be a scientist to realise this obvious fact.

The world is full of daily examples of this phenomenon - the explosion of knowledge, the information revolution, the high-tech advances in cybermedia, the sophistication of the marketplace, productivity increases in the workplace, the changes in geo-political spheres of influence, and sporting records continue to be shattered.

Replacing old truths with new truths is called thinking. To help promote this activity, I started the School of Thinking (SOT) in New York in 1979. SOT lessons have now reached over 50 million people worldwide. In a USAir article, SOT was once described as "the McDonalds of thinking".

I have sometimes been accused by the intellectual elite for "selling thinking to the masses". I take it as a compliment since I cannot think of a better thing to sell. SOT, now the largest school in the world, teaches not what to think but HOW to think - thinking as a skill - and provides daily thinking lessons to anyone, anyplace, anytime.

SOT's mission has always been to get 'thinking' taught to kids at school by placing 'thinking' on the curriculum as a school subject. At first, there was quite a lot of resistance to this proposal. But it did receive wonderful support from some very special people like my mentor, Professor George Gallup (founder of the Gallup Poll at Princeton), who once encouraged me by telling me, "I believe your work in teaching people to think may be the most important thing going on in the world today."

Eventually, after ten years of running around the US from New York to places like Washington, Dallas, San Francisco, Puerto Rico etc etc and back to New York again talking to parents, teachers, legislators, the media, business and others, we met with great success. In the mid-eighties 'teaching thinking' became a nationwide fad in US education led by media articles in two of America's most influential publications: a cover story I gave to the Readers Digest, and a lead story about our project in the New York Times, "TEACHING TO THINK: A NEW EMPHASIS AT SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES" (Jan 9, 1983).

On returning to Australia in the Bi-centennial year, I launched the School of Thinking (SOT) at a meeting of 700 of Australia's municipal and federal states people in Canberra, 30 May 1988. To commemorate this I presented the Governor-General His Excellency Sir Ninian Stephen AK, GCMB, GCVO, KBE with his own SOT Brainusers Kit and then awarded to the Honourable Robert J L Hawke AK, the Prime Minister of Australia, a former Rhodes Scholar, a special certificate appointing him as 'Australia's Number One Brainuser' to symbolise the vast potential in turning-on the power of Australia's 16 million brains.

Later, on 8 March 1990, in Brisbane, Australia's Number One Brainuser, Prime Minister Hawke, decreed:

"No longer content to be just the lucky country, Australia must now become the clever country."

Since bringing SOT to Australia, I have worked a similar campaign to the one I used in the US, touring Australia giving lectures and working the media to see that Australian kids are taught to think for themselves. The better way to do this is to have "thinking" put on the core curriculum as a school subject. Then kids will learn that knowing HOW to think is every bit as important as knowing what to think.

In 1995, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology invited the School of Thinking to advise on how Australia can further develop its "innovation culture". Part of our submission to the Parliament said as follows:

"Developing an innovation culture in Australia is the greatest strategic hope for our productive future in this economic region. The biggest obstacle we face in doing this is the cultural lack of value we place on 'thinking and innovation' compared to the value we place on being 'right' and defending our point-of-view.

This is historically due to the importation of our education system from Europe. Since the church designed our European education system in the middle ages, the traditional focus of education has been on teaching children what to think. To date, we have not had an equal balance given to teaching our children how to think. Generally, this has tended to produce a culture which, like other European cultures, feels it is more important to be 'right' than to be a thinker, to experiment, to make mistakes, to discover, to take risks, ... to innovate!

The mission of the School of Thinking is also to see that thinking is taught in Australian schools as a core curriculum subject, by 1999.

Today, everyone is talking about the human brain. It's the new frontier. In the increasingly competitive global business theater, world class corporations are realizing that the cleverness of their employees - their brainpower - is the ultimate corporate asset. There is a new trend towards developing, managing and measuring the 'intellectual capital' of the corporate enterprise. As a senior IBM executive said, "Our most valuable corporate assets go home at 5pm and are not even recorded on the balance sheet".

The School of Thinking believes the most successful and secure route to an 'innovation culture' or a 'clever country' is to put thinking as a skill on the core curriculum of the education system.

If a child goes to school for ten or more years and never has a thinking lesson, that child can be forgiven for getting the impression that thinking is not as important as knowing things. They feel that being 'right' and defending one's viewpoint is more important than escaping from one's viewpoint to find an even better one - the cognitive process we call innovation. On the other hand, if a child receives regular deliberate training in thinking skills, if 'thinking' has a place on the curriculum, then that child sees a value being placed on 'thinking.' That society has shown it values thinking and has positioned itself as having an innovation culture. "


As a result, it has now become government policy to introduce 'teaching thinking' into all schools and teacher colleges in Australia and Territories (see Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia - Standing Committee Report on Innovation, November 1995).

It is a very hopeful thing that future Australian kids will be taught not just to get the 'right' answers and to defend 'The Truth', but also HOW to find new truths and to think for themselves.

Anyway, enough of the drum-beating and on with the show ...

Michael Hewitt-Gleeson,
September, 1997

Brain Freebie! - Chapter 1 - Brain VIRUS

What if you had a virus in your Brain? What if it was a cognitive virus, a kind of cognitive AIDS? What would it do to you? How would it affect your thinking? How did you get infected with the virus? What could you do to cure it?

EVERY TECHNOLOGY has its hackers - those enthusiasts who enjoy exploring the intimate details of the system, cracking the codes and stretching and testing the capabilities of systems. There have been radio hackers and CB hackers and you've no doubt read about the telephone hackers who have ripped-off the phone companies for millions of dollars in free long-distance calls.

We've seen nuclear hackers who have designed DIY nuclear weapons for science projects and today we have computer hackers who roam the networks for fun and profit. No doubt it won't be long before we read of genetic hackers who amuse themselves by playing around in our gene pool.

Hackers, driven by strong curiosity, often just start off by seeking amusement and showing off their skill but sometimes their antics lead to chaos, fraud and even ... disaster!

In recent years, some computer hackers started out manipulating their systems for fun by designing viruses that replicate themselves into other systems. Few hackers, however, are competent enough or even willing to fully comprehend the ongoing consequences of their antics.

Many of their viruses took off out of control and by now have infected millions of personal computers. These viruses are real! They cause real down time, real loss of capital, real damage to equipment, real destruction of databases and, sometimes, real loss of life.

Donald Latham of Computer Sciences Corporation and a former White House Assistant Secretary of Defence, says, "The dangers of viruses are just unbelievable - The threat is more serious than most people think."

Daily cybertransactions that can be infected by computer viruses include:

The mind boggles at the havoc that can be caused if these viruses spread unchecked.

Yet, there is a virus, a brain virus, which already exists in the brains of many humans from preachers to presidents, that makes these computer viruses look wimps by comparison.

This brain virus is real. It's seductive and it's very powerful. It's also highly destructive and has been fatal to over 26 million humans JUST THIS CENTURY. In the brain of a president it could unleash a missile that starts the unthinkable nuclear madness that threatens the very existence of humanity. In the brain of a CEO it can threaten the survival of the business.

And, in YOUR brain???

This brain virus is the Plato Truth Virus and chances are almost certain that you, dear brainuser, are already infected. In Part One of this book you will come to understand the virus and how it affects your life and in Part Two you will find out exactly what you can do to contain it.

Plato the Hacker

When it comes to 'thinking', Plato was the ultimate hacker.

At that time, playing around with thinking systems was as much the rage amongst an elite group of men in Greece, as playing around with software systems is the rage amongst the hackers of today. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were the most famous 'thinking hackers' of their day. These hackers of 2' years ago designed fundamental thinking technologies, systems and viruses that have dominated Western thinking right up to now, and who knows for how much longer?

Today's hackers have handles like AcidFreak and CyberSam. Plato's handle would well have been TruthFreak since it was he who invented his 'truth' concept - the strange notion that there is such a thing as 'objective truth'

Yet this bizarre suggestion has so side-tracked Western philosophers that even today many great minds in Western colleges and universities have still not escaped from Plato's 'truth' idea and their thinking remains infected with this dangerous virus.

It would be a difficult (but worthwhile) project to calculate the cost to humanity and the staggering destruction caused by Plato's 'truth' virus. It's unlikely that Plato had any idea of the extreme consequences of his invention any more than some of today's hackers will have of theirs. He was just hacking around with thinking.

In the next few chapters we'll take a careful look at the Plato Truth Virus: What is it? How does it work? What does it do? What is the up side and down side of the virus? How did the virus become so virulent? Who spread it around? How did you become infected? What is it doing to your brain? Is there a cure?

Brain Freebie! - Chapter 2 - PTV

IN PART ONE of this book we will be dealing head-on with the biggest obstacle that may prevent you being an effective thinker. It's also the biggest cognitive restriction stopping you developing your intellectual capital.

It's called PTV or the Plato Truth Virus.

Cognitive Dissonance

In cognitive science, the term 'cognitive dissonance' is often used. Cognitive dissonance is interesting because it refers to what happens in your brain when information is presented to it which doesn't seem to fit. For example, just suppose the current state of information in your brain was such that you believed the earth was flat. This, of course, seems naive to us now but not long ago most smart people saw things this way. Now, suppose someone called Fred comes along and says, "No, the earth is round!" and tries to explain to you why you should change your view. You would begin to experience cognitive dissonance.

If, though you thought the earth was flat, you were not superstitiously committed to that view you might only experience a mild case of cognitive dissonance. Then, as you followed the evidence Fred presented, you might find your view evolving from "flat earth" to "round earth".

If, on the other hand, you not only believed the earth was flat but you also believed your "flat earth" view was "absolutely right", then you might have a dose of strong cognitive dissonance, so strong that it might be easier to burn Fred at the stake than to change your view from "flat earth" to "round earth".

The Father of Modern Science

This kind of thing is not just a silly story but actually does happen. One of the most notorious examples was that of the Father of Modern Science, the brilliant, 17th century mathematician, Galilei Galileo.

Galileo had constructed his telescope to show how the earth revolved about the sun and not the sun around the earth. Since Copernicus advanced this hypothesis it had caused great controversy. Galileo now had proof.

When he demonstrated this, many highly intelligent people even refused to look through the telescope, so frightened were they of what they might see. Some people had such a strong dose of cognitive dissonance that they forced Galileo to his knees and made him withdraw his evidence and recant his discovery.

In 1633, Galileo, now 70 years old, sick and completely blind, was forced by the pope to make the arduous journey to Rome to stand trial for "heresy". Urban VIII, taking time off from cannibalising the Colosseum to build his Barberini palace, accused Galileo of causing "the greatest scandal in Christendom" for contradicting the Scriptures.

Galileo thought of himself as a devoted Catholic. He argued that the bible was not a scientific text and that we should not expect its "scientific statements" to be taken literally. He argued that it presents no challenge to faith that both nature and the bible are divine texts and cannot contradict one another.

On 21 June, after a long trial, he was found guilty of heresy, by the Inquisition. Not only that, he was bullied and actually forced into covering up his evidence. The pope demanded that he be tortured if he did not obey:

The said Galileo is in the judgement of the Holy Office vehemently suspected of heresy, namely, of Laving believed and held the doctrine which as false and contrary to the Sacred and Divine Scriptures that the sun is the centre of the world and does not move from east to west, and is not the centre of the world.

Weary and broken, the old man knelt before the pope and made his confession:

"I, Galileo, son of the late Vincenao Galilea, Florentine, aged seventy years ... must altogether abandon the false opinion that the sun is the centre of the world and immobile".

His trial was a grave and solemn milestone in the history of the Church only surpassed, in poignancy, by the trial of Jesus before Pilate.

Galileo was a brilliant mathematician and a pioneer of science which, of course, does not rely on superstition. He advocated the idea that "The Book of Nature" is written in mathematical characters, a view which is enough to make him a founding father of the scientific method.

The universe which Galileo observed at the end of his telescope totally dwarfed the one that people were seeing with their ordinary vision. He tried to show that it was important to consider the value of new observable phenomena as a way of escaping from weak truths and moving to better ones.

The 17th century, superstitious, ecclesiastical, Roman brainusers experienced such cognitive dissonance from Galileo's discoveries that, to their everlasting shame, they chose to abuse and bully an old man rather than to change their own mind.

The cognitive dissonance endured so strongly that it was only in 1993 (after a 12-year Pontifical Commission!) that, in a belated burst of Christian charity, the Vatican brainusers finally "forgave" Galileo for letting the sun out of the closet. Better late than never, I suppose.

Dosage of Dissonance

It may be that some of the material in this book gives you a certain amount of cognitive dissonance. It is difficult to design the ideal dosage of dissonance. What is fine for some readers and is just enough to help them to open up their mind will, on the other hand, be too strong for others and cause them to close down.

For example, earlier drafts of this book were more provocative in tone and probably too much so. So I sought the opinions of a fairly wide range of brainusers - different ages, different cultures, different professions, different backgrounds.

After receiving the generous and valuable feedback of hundreds of readers (especially that of my father who is the fairest man I have ever met) I completely rewrote the book and tried to find a better balance between the information I have left in and the information I have left out. Thanks to them it's a better book but the faults you may find are still mine.

At the end of the day, dear brainuser, my own goal for this book has always been to generate enough cognitive dissonance to make it interesting reading but not so much as to close your mind.

Brain Freebie! - Chapter 3 - PLATO

PLATO'S ORIGINAL idea was that there is such a thing as objective, 'absolute truth'. Plato's 'truth' idea (like all his ideas) was a product of his imagination.

He was the younger friend of Socrates whom he admired greatly and who was also his mentor. It was Socrates who invented the interrogatory style of argument involving strings of questions seeking either a YES or NO response. It's an old dinosaur known as the Socratic Method but it still survives in our legal system and could be seen on TV shows like LA Law and the O. J. Simpson trial.

Both Socrates and Plato became two of the greatest thinking hackers in Western history. To me, the most fascinating of Plato's works is Symposium because it's an insightful account of how it all began at a typical dinner-party back in Athens, around 400 BC, with Plato, Socrates and a few friends.

It's witty, entertaining and shows how their discussions and banter, laced with much wine and bawdy gossip, produced a small collection of thinking ploys, concepts, software and viruses that, amazingly, have dominated Western thinking right up to the 21st century.

Most destructive of all these inventions has been the Plato Truth Virus.

In the Western world, Plato is recognized as the one who put thinking on the map. Plato figured that the more one thought about matters and the more one tried to discover and understand their true essence or form, the more insights one could experience. But he also decided (and this is the killer) that thinking was NOT an open-ended process. Plato figured there must be a finite end to a thinker's relentless search for meaning, an ultimate destination to a thinker's efforts, so he called that destination objective 'truth'. Uh-oh! Big mistake!!

Today, 2,500 years later, much of Western society still behaves as though there actually is such a thing as an objective, absolute truth. Somehow oblivious to real world consequences, many Western universities and colleges are full of discussions about 'truth', 'right', 'wrong', 'good', 'evil', 'honesty', 'justice' and so on. This all spills out into society so that Big Government, Big Religion, Big Business, Big Brother and other groups invoke these 'absolute truths' as the basis for their policies and the justification for their actions - so often with horrific consequences.

The trouble was that once Plato had invented his truth concept, it existed. Subsequently, when other thinkers came along Plato's invention infected their ideas like a virus - and so we name the virus after him, the Plato Truth Virus (PTV). Gradually the activity of thinking came to be subverted by the insidious truth virus. Some thinkers inevitably claimed to have found - The Truth.

PTV, the truth virus, began to control the thinker's set of intellectual claims and so we see a number of philosophies and doctrines and movements that claimed to have discovered absolute truth and gave notice of filing their claims: "Stop looking! ... We have the truth! ... We are right, you are wrong! ... We are good, you are evil! ... Believe in the truth or be damned! ... The truth is on our side! ... We know what's right! Do what we tell you, or else! - Crush the infidel! - Kill the unbeliever!"

My-Teacher-is-Right - Your-Teacher-is-Wrong

The problem for the observer is the number of conflicting claims to absolute truth and unique rightness. The seductiveness of PTV is also what makes it so destructive and deadly: everyone wants to be the one who has 'The Truth Therefore, everyone infected with the virus claims to b uniquely right and that's where the carnage begins.

From time to time teachers like Buddha, Jesus and Confucius have emerged in the different cultures of the world. Most people are free of PTV and many have benefited from their teachers' messages of goodwill.

Sadly, these teachers are often upstaged by greedy PTV-infected franchisees who claim to have exclusive rights on their teacher's intellectual property. Who can blame the original teachers for the sickness of their followers?

So often, in the name of peace and goodwill, infected followers fight with a sick rage and burning hatred. The brain virus so distorts the original message that it would be unrecognizable to the original messenger. People have become more interested in the 'truth status' of the message than the message itself. Perhaps it is more important to be an 'effective follower' than to be a 'right follower'.

Truth 'R' Us

Here is small sample of PTV-infected claims which have long since upstaged those claims made by the original teacher:

Christian Science: ... is unerring and Divine ... outside of Christian Science all is vague and hypothetical, the opposite of Truth.

Seventh-Day Adventists: The General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists is the highest authority that God has upon earth.

Jehovah's Witnesses: ... alone are God's true people, and all others without exception are followers of the Devil ... At Armageddon all of earth's inhabitants except Jehovah's Witnesses will be wiped out of existence.

Mormons: There is no salvation outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ... everybody, unless they repent and work righteousness, will be damned except Mormons.

Christadelphians: None but Christadelphians can be saved.

Islam: Mohammed is the messenger of God ... the last, and final exponent of God's mind, the seal of the prophets.

The Divtne Light Mission: The Guru Marahaj Ji alone has the key to the knowledge of the source of God.

The Unification Church: OnIy the Lord of the Second Advent, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, will be powerful enough to complete the restoration of man to God.

Brain Freebie! - Chapter 4 - PTV SOFTWARE

IF PLATO WAS the hacker who invented the truth virus, Aristotle was the first to package it into a powerful cognitive operating system or thinking software package.

Aristotle started as a student in Plato's academy and remained there for 20 years until Plato, his mentor, died. By the time Plato died Aristotle was thoroughly infected with his mentor's truth virus and did much to establish "the search for certainty" as the basis of all intellectual endeavors.

Aristotle became a passionate and obsessive truth freak. Plato only went as far as saying that truth was what lay at the long end of a thinker's search, an ultimate destination. Not enough for Ari ... No sir! Aristotle said, "I want truth! I want it here! I want it now!".

Aristotle went on to insist that the ordinary fuzzy jumble of our daily reality was just not tidy enough. So, to bring order to the world he imposed a kind of truth template over everything.

Mail-Sorting and Labeling

Aristotle's medium was language. He assumed that the certainty of words could give certainty to the ineffable flow of experience. The untidy chaos of reality offended Aristotle's ordered, PTV-infected mind so he decided to break everything up into pigeonholes and categories - kind of like mail-sorting and labeling.

This goes here, that goes there, stick this label on this and that label on that! Let's just tidy everything up. Yes sir. A place for everything and everything in its place was Aristotle's motto.

In his classifying fervour Aristotle made up pigeonholes and sorted our daily reality into them. He tried to invent slots for everything. For example, he set about sorting 'government' into categories like:

'constitutional', 'tyrannical', 'monarchy', 'aristocracy', 'oligarchy', 'democracy'.

He then got busy breaking everything up into subjects like: politics, ethics, rhetoric (speech-making), metaphysics, physics, biology, meteorology. Finally, he invented his very own thinking software called logic.

Aristotle's Silly Syllogism

Aristotle's thinking software was already infected with the Plato Truth Virus from day one. For logic, Aristotle invented his silly syllogism. I say it's silly because it lacks wisdom and sense.

The syllogism starts with the so-called 'truth' as its premise. Then one simply matches up items that come along and out pops your conclusion. Simple really ... and very silly


TRUTH: Swans are white.
ITEM: This is a swan.
LOGICAL EXTENSION: Therefore it is white.

TRUTH: Salespeople tell lies.
ITEM: Amy is a salesperson.
LOGICAL EXTENSION: Therefore Amy is lying.

TRUTH: Our church is the right church
ITEM: You are not a member.
LOGICAL EXTENSION: Therefore you are wrong.

TRUTH: The earth is flat.
ITEM: Therefore it has an edge.
LOGICAL EXTENSION: Therefore you will fall off the edge if you go too far from shore

TRUTH: President is the law.
ITEM: The President did something
LOGICAL EXTENSION: Therefore it is legal. (Aristotle's Logic software caused Nixon to believe this.)

TRUTH: boss's opinion is best.
ITEM: You are not a boss.
LOGICAL EXTENSION: So when we want your opinion we'll give it to you.

No Contradictions, Please!

For Aristotle, just thinking wasn't good enough. No, you have to think logically. Logic is obsessed with hunting down contradictions. In logic, a thing cannot be in box A and box NOT A at the same time. No, it must be sorted and classified into the 'correct' box.

Although real life is full of contradictions and paradoxes (is the glass half full or half empty?) this was just not good enough for our man Aristotle. Things must be cut up into pieces like a jig-saw and then sorted into their 'true' categories.

Judging Right from Wrong

Life, according to Aristotle, is a matter of sorting things out into 'right' and 'wrong'. Judgement is the key activity. This is right. That's wrong. I'm right. You're wrong. This is black. That is white. This is American. That's un-American. This is good. That is bad. This is the right answer. That is the wrong answer.

Greyness? Fuzziness? Uncertainty? Open-endedness? Paradox? Contradiction? Well, we cannot have that sort of thing around here. You've got to sort things out! Clean up your act! Get things right! In Aristotle's Lyceum, everything was covered by rules, rules, rules. The living arrangements, the study courses, the timetables were all dominated by rules and regulations.

Ancient Software

Aristotle craved order. He loved the order that his classifications brought to his ideas and thoughts. He assumed that the same order that he found he could impose on words and language could also be imposed on the real world. Many have made the same mistake.

Aristotle's cognitive operating system, logic, has dominated Western education for far too long. How come we still think this way 2,500 years after old Ari joined Socrates and Plato on Mount Olympus? How come this ancient software has survived so long? Who kept it alive? Who spread it around? Who programmed it into your brain? We will discuss this in the next chapter.

Have a look around. Try to notice Aristotle's PTV-infected logic software in operation. You should try to notice it in your own mental information-processing and also in that of others. Look for it in this book. Look for evidence of the virus in today's newspaper and on TV. Also, try to notice it in institutions and in common situations you come across in the next 24 hours. It is so pervasive that you may have difficulty noticing the very subtle manifestations.

Brain Freebie! - Chapter 5 - SPREAD

IN THE LAST FEW chapters we looked at PTV, the Plato Truth Virus. We saw how the 'thinking' hackers of ancient Athens - Socrates, Plato and Aristotle - fooled around with 'thinking' software and how they developed and packaged the concept of 'absolute truth'.

In these next few chapters we'll explore how PTV was picked up and spread throughout the Western world, infecting millions of minds and killing millions of human beings and still flourishing 2,500 years later.

In tracking the spread of a virus, we can try to find our way back to the identification of its Patient Zero. Who was the first patient who really got the virus going? Who was the one to spread it around enough to let it take hold?

Well, when it came to the spreading of Aristotle's Logic Software (already infected with PTV) no-one was more successful than a young Italian nobleman, Thomas Aquinas.

Doctor Truth and The Truth - InDOCTORnation

Born in 1225 into powerful nobility near Naples, Aquinas outraged his family when he decided to become a Dominican friar. When it comes to truth freaks, Thomas was one of the greatest ever. He was Doctor Truth himself!

Thomas discovered a new translation of Aristotle from the Greek and so he set out to synthesise Aristotelian ideas in such a way that it was useful for defending The Truth.

Of course, as far as The Truth was concerned, there was never any doubt for our Fra Thomas. No need to look around. No need to search. He already knew exactly where and exactly what The Truth was. There was no further search required for The Truth as far as Aquinas was concerned. Just a matter of defending it and preserving it from any attempt to change it.

The Truth, proclaimed Thomas, was the teachings of the Church. And whose church might that be, Thomas? The Muslims? The Buddhists? The Jews? Picture Thomas opening the envelope, "And the winner is ... The Catholic Church".

That's it! Nothing else. Stop looking. Here it is. The lucky winner! Well, now, the winning True Church also happens to be YOUR church, Thomas old chap. What a coincidence! What a stroke of luck!

As it happened, Thomas' Church was an information monopoly. All European universities were run by the Church with head office in Rome. Rome literally owned all of knowledge and was busily exporting its corporate education system. The powerful but flawed thinking software, logic, was the cognitive operating system they used, courtesy of Aristotle via Aquinas.

This educational enterprise amounted to programming brains with what the church taught - verbatim - and repeating it back again. Scholarship was reduced to mere defence of Vatican teachings, which were known collectively as - The Truth.

Only Microsoft's export of Bill Gates' DOS has ever rivaled the Vatican's export of Thomas Aquinas' PTV.

Today, there are around 170 million PC users in the world and when they turn on their desktop or laptop computer the first thing 150 million of them see is "MS-DOS". This is an amazing accomplishment for Bill Gates and Microsoft in less than 20 years. This is only beaten by the fact that all 170 million PC users are also necktop users. And, all 170 million are using a Vatican-exported logic operating system to work their computers so they can work their PCs!

In the original Thomist Aristotle neuroware, operating system worked like this:

TRUTH: Vatican teaching is The Truth.
ITEM: Using Aristotle's logic to match things we are meant to ask: Does ITEM match TRUTH?
LOGICAL CONCLUSION: If YES, then it is RIGHT and it is TRUTH. If NO, then it is WRONG and it is HERESY.

Even people with the most superficial knowledge of history know what happened to heretics.

Truth Machines

I was recently in Amsterdam and paid a visit to the notorious Inquisition's Torture Museum. This popular tourist spot features a collection of the 'truth machines', an extraordinary array of macabre machines, racks, tongs, and spikes.

These and other implements of torture were used by the Inquisitors to 'purify' the heretics. One could only marvel uneasily at the cold-blooded ingenuity that went into the design of these instruments of truth.

The Inquisitors, invariably, were Fra Thomas's Dominicans. They were quite willing to inflict unspeakable horrors on thousands upon thousands of fellow human just for disagreeing. Thomist Aristotle doctrine could show up any contradictions.

It could show that their point-of-view did not exactly match The Truth and so they were heretics. Cut out their tongues! Crank up the rack! Get me the branding iron! Off to the stake!

It still sends shivers down my spine.

'Angelic Doctor" Truth

In the 14th century the "Angelic Doctor" was canonised for his great contribution to the defence of truth and Saint Thomas Aquinas became a kind of god in the church. There even is a famous painting by Zurburan called "The Apotheosis of St Thomas Aquinas" which shows Thomas, resplendent on a cloud in heaven in those frightening Dominican Inquisitorial robes, with popes and scholars at his feet. And below on earth, other popes and cardinals look up and pray to him in admiration.

John XXII said that to deny Aquinas was tantamount to heresy. Later, in 1879, Pope Leo XIII proclaimed that Thomist Aristotelian doctrine should be accepted as "the official doctrine of the church".

Exporting the Virus

Since Aquinas imbedded Aristotle's logic into the Vatican's education system it has become the main thinking software of Western civilisation, wherever it has been exported.

Since then, The Truth has been carried to all parts of the world with missionary zeal. In fact, Western education may be medieval Europe's most successful export.

Australia is a good example. Although Australia is geographically in South East Asia, it has culturally been in Europe for the past 200 years. At that time, along with rabbits, the Western education system was imported into Australia.

Since World War II, however, Australia has become less Eurocentric and more Euro-Asian. Australia eis now one of the world's most successful multi-cultural societies. Accordingly, 'unique rightness' has become a less useful cognitive asset to Australians than 'tolerance and plurality'.

Today, Aussie kids are less interested in defending a medieval European truth and are more interested in designing new Aussie truths that are useful and relevant to life in the Third Millennium.

Brain Freebie! - Chapter 6 -- Authority to Sovereignty

If you don't do your own thinking someone else will do it for you.

WHEN THINKING about thinking, there are two contrast approaches we can bear in mind: authoritarian and sovereign.

The authoritarian approach is all about someone else doing your thinking for you. That's where THEY say: Do what you are told! Trust us. We know what is best for you. We are the chosen ones. We are right and you are wrong. You would understand. Do not question our authority. When we want your opinion we'll give it to you. And so on.

The sovereign approach is all about you doing your own thinking for yourself. That's where YOU say: Why? Why should I do as you say? Where do you get your authority? Why is this so? Why? Why? Why? What have you not told me? What bits have you left out? What proof do you have to offer? I'll think about your proposition and I'll let you know what I have decided. I reject your claim to authority over my mind. I abhor your attempt to bully me. I assert my individual sovereignty as a thinker. And so on.

On Sovereign Thinkers, Religions, Belief Systems and PTV

It is important to emphasise here that it is the right of a sovereign thinker to think what s/he likes and to believe what s/he wishes as long as they do not prevent other sovereign thinkers from doing the same.

A thinker respects the right of individuals to believe in any of the wide variety of human belief systems and religions which are a testimony to the richness, imagination and diversity of human thinking.

Many people derive benefits from believing in UFOs, angels, gods and goddesses, supreme beings, trinities, earthly incarnations or heavenly reincarnations, stars, fortune-tellers, dreams, scientific discoveries, miracles, snake-handling and so on.

One respects these believers in the way Voltaire found he could respect others without having to agree with them. What a thinker does not respect but fears, is PTV.

For example, one respects the sovereign right of a Christian to believe in Jesus or a Muslim to believe in Allah or an Atheist to believe in nothing. One does not respect an authoritarian Christian or Muslim or Atheist infected with PTV who feels that their belief is 'the truth' and others should be made to 'toe the line or else'! A truth may be right enough for the person who uses it but not right enough to force another person to use it.

In the past few chapters we've been looking at some of the consequences of the authoritarian approach to thinking proceeding from the ideas of Plato, Aristotle and Aquinas. But the richness of human thinking has produced other alternatives and now we can examine the ideas of some who have given their support to the sovereign approach to thinking.

There are many, of course, but let's meet one of my heroes. This man, like Thomas Aquinas, was also a monk. He was only a peasant German monk yet he defied the authoritarian power in history.

The Sovereign Thinker

"It is not safe to act against your own conscience". So said Martin Luther and with those words began the world's biggest movement away from authoritarianism towards individual sovereignty of thinking.

Luther's rebellion against the authority of the Pope provided the trigger that set off a chain of events which went on long after he died. His challenge to authoritarianism led on to the splitting of the Church, the destruction of the Pope's temporal power, the bursting of the Church's monopoly on The Truth and a greater freedom of people to question things without automatically being treated as heretics. Those of us who cherish personal freedom owe a lot to Luther. What kind of a man would defy a pope?

Martin Luther was born in 1483 into a peasant mining family in Germany. At 14 he showed sufficient promise to be prepared for university. By then his father had risen to be manager of a group of smelting works and could afford for his son Martin to read law.

So Martin went to Germany's top University of Erfurt and graduated in law, second in his class. Everyone knew that he had a promising law career ahead of him. But no, Martin changed his mind and one day he suddenly decided to join an Augustinian monastery and altered his direction from law to theology.

He began to absorb the predestination ideas of Saint Augustine that men are sinners (Original Sin) and are therefore predestined to whatever God has in store for them. Such a point-of-view reduces the role the Church plays in mediating a person's salvation.

At that time, Rome claimed that it, and it alone, had the only ticket to salvation. If you wanted to get to Heaven then you bought your ticket from its representatives on the only flights scheduled to get there. "You fly with us. You buy our ticket or you don't go to Heaven at all! That's it. Take it or leave it. You're in or you're out".

"Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely"

Brother Martin was already dissatisfied with the Church's claim to being God's exclusive 'travel agent' and so on his visit to Rome he was deeply depressed and revolted upon seeing the spoils of the indulgence scheme that had been collected from the faithful and displayed in the decadence and opulence of the court of Pope Leo X.

Today we are used to modern popes who live in a much more tolerant and multi-cultural world. A lot has changed since a 14th century John XXII said that to deny Aquinas was tantamount to heresy. Could you ever imagine a 20th century John XXIII saying such a thing?

The papacy is an extremely difficult job yet Papal prestige is now at an all-time high. Most modern popes appear to have been men of goodwill who seem to have tried very hard to balance the enormous burden of their office with the exigencies of a free society. That they have done so with such popular success is an extraordinary example of modern leadership.


John XXIII said, "I am not infallible", and called Vatican II to demonstrate it.

Paul VI showed great compassion to clergy opposing celibacy, releasing them from their vows.

John Paul I wanted to clean up the Vatican bank for which some, like investigative journalist David Yallop, say he was murdered.

John Paul II was wounded and very nearly assassinated for helping Ronald Reagan to defeat the 'evil' Russian Empire.

Today's popes are popular superstars who draw crowds wherever they go. But this was not always so. In the past, why did so many men, on securing the papacy, become corrupt?

Many have written about the extremes of papal corruption throughout history. Lord Acton wrote on the papacy "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely it may explain the long history of the papacy's libido dominandi, its insatiable lust for power.

Luther's pope was one of the most infamous. He was the youngest cardinal ever. Given a Red Hat for his 13th birthday he became pope when he was 38. It is recorded that as the triple tiara hit his head, Pope Leo X turned to his illegitimate cousin, Giulio de Medici, and exclaimed, "Now I can enjoy myself".

And he did!

Leo took papal greed to new heights that trivialise the corporate excesses of the 1980s. Instead of giving everything up for Christ, Leo grabbed everything he could, in Christ's name. History records the following:

Leo had 683 courtiers on his payroll, an orchestra, a theatre and a menagerie of wild animals including a white elephant that would bow to Leo three times.

Leo gave Bacchanalian banquets of 65 courses featuring such delicacies as peacock tongues, nightingales flying out of pies and naked boys jumping out of puddings.

Flaunting canon law, Leo planned hunting trips for weeks on end.

His Roman brothels, with 7,000 registered prostitute population of 50,000 still didn't bring in enough income for Pope Leo.

He was a gambler and big spender, borrowing vast sums from bankers at 40% interest.

Although simony - the buying and selling of sacred things - was a crime, Leo invented 2,150 papal offices and positions and auctioned them off. Cardinal's Red Hats went for around 30,000 ducats. And so on.

The St. Peters Scam

But it was Leo's ultimate act of obscene greed and blasphemy that finally pushed our hero Luther into action. In 1517 Pope Leo X, in cahoots with Prince Albert Hohenzollern, pulled a major scam on the long-suffering German people.

Leo offered to sell Albert the See of Mainz and the Primacy of Germany for 30,000 ducats. But, since Albert didn't have the money they conspired to raise the cash by selling indulgences to the German people saying the money was going into a building fund for St Peter's in Rome.

Luther's Pamphlets

Luther fought back with a new weapon. Luck was on his side. Gutenberg had only recently invented the printing press and Luther not only officially submitted his arguments in Latin to ecclesiastical authorities but also wrote them in his native German tongue and published his pamphlets for general distribution to the German people.

This general distribution was a major new development the importance of which cannot be over emphasised. In one of his pamphlets he described Leo's papacy as: "more corrupt than any Babylon or Sodom ever was. It is a distress and terrible thing to see the Had of Christendom, who boasts of being the Vicar of Christ and successor to St Peter, living in a worldly pomp that no King or Emperor can equal; so that in him who calls himself most holy and most spiritual there is more worldliness than in the world itself".

Distribution of Luther's pamphlets to the general public broke the Church's monopoly on information and his arguments directly challenged the Pope's authority. The people and the local German princes had had enough! They stood behind Luther and protected him from the wrath of Pope Leo who, of course, excommunicated him. When Luther received his copy of the Pope's Bull of Excommunication, he simply burnt it in defiance.

Inventor of the Media

"The die is cast. I despise the fury and favour of Rome. I will have no reconciliation with the Pope for all eternity." These words are enough to make Martin Luther one of the greatest sovereign thinkers in history.

Using the new technology of the printing press to spread his ideas, Luther became the first thinker ever to bring his argument to the general public. His example, soon followed by others like Calvin, began the unravelling of the authority of Rome that led to the Reformation.

If Gutenberg was the inventor of the printing press, perhaps Martin Luther can be considered the inventor of the media, free speech and the right for individuals to think for themselves.

It may be that the Internet is the next biggest leap for sovereign thinkers since the printing press. Perhaps the Net is becoming the new medium that will provide a fresh hope for individuals who wish to think for themselves and who, like Brother Martin, wish to defy the authoritarianism that still exists in many of today's institutions in Big Government, Big

Religion and Big Business.

Brain Freebie! - Chapter 7 - - TRUTHS

"If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance." - Orville Wright

"I formerly thought that when a tendency to produce the two sexes in equal numbers was advantageous to the species, it would follow from natural selection, but I now see the whole problem is so intricate that it is safer to leave its solution to the future" - Charles Darwin

THE TRUTH DOES NOT exist in science. There ARE truths in science but there is no such thing as one ABSOLUTE truth. There are only truths that are more likely than other truths.

Science is uncertain. You cannot prove anything in science (in the absolute sense) because science is based on evidence. And, as time passes, there is always more and more evidence.

In science, at any particular time, the balance 'of evidence supports one point of view or 'truth' as being more likely than any other 'truth'. But, as history has shown, new scientists soon find new evidence, have new ideas and design new paradigms - new ways of looking at the world.

This phenomenon is so well respected by scientists that, as Darwin said in the quote above, they can rely on it happening. Three generations later, Sir Ronald Fisher, the father of modern statistics, solved the problem that Darwin had deliberately procrastinated.

So, science then updates itself by displacing the previous truth with the new 'more likely' truth. This is the scientific process - the search for more likely truths - that continues and continues on into the future. This uncertainty of science accounts for a lot of its progress.

Replacing Old Truths With New Truths

As mentioned earlier, the prevailing truth before Aristotle's view that the earth was the centre of the universe. With his telescope that he invented Galileo was able to produce evidence that the earth was not the centre but was in orbit around the sun. So, science updates itself and replaces Aristotle's truth with Galileo's new 'sun truth'.

Another more recent example is that of cosmologist George Smoot. He and his COBE satellite team receive worldwide recognition for providing evidence of the 'wrinkles in time' that now prove the big bang theory to be a fact. So science is now updating itself.

Competing truths are giving way to this new likely truth because of the weight of evidence provided by the COBE satellite. We now see scientists like David Spergal, the proponent of a competing theory (the textures version of topological defect theory) declaring after the release of the COBE evidence, "We're dead."

Even noted physicist Stephen Hawking was willing to admit the COBE discovery "was the most important of the century, perhaps of all time". That today's entire universe has grown out of a particle smaller than a proton, as the result of a big bang 15 billion years ago, is no longer a theory. It's a new scientific truth. Watch this space!

Crick and Watson

It has often been said that Einstein's accomplishment is the greatest feat of thinking ever performed by a human brain. It's also said that 'two heads are better than one'. If that is so, then perhaps the greatest feat of thinking ever performed by any two human brains was in 1953 when two young scientists, Francis Crick from England and James Watson from America, together cracked the code of codes, for which they jointly received the Nobel Prize.

During the war, after a German bomb blew up his physics laboratory, a young physicist joined the Royal Navy. After the war, Francis Crick changed to biology. He was around 30.

Crick was an atheist. He wanted to expose the 'mysteries' of the illusion of vitalism. He later said: "My own motives I never had any doubt about; I was very clear in my mind. I chose what we now call molecular biology, though the term wasn't common then, certainly I didn't know it - but I would have said the borderline between the living and the non living. That was the phrase I had in my mind."

Horace Freeland Judson's excellent comprehensive history, The Eighth Day of Creation (Penguin, London 1979), quotes Crick in his application for his research grant as having written:

"The particular field which excites my interest is the division between the living and the non living, as typified by, say, proteins, viruses, bacteria, and the structure of chromosomes. The eventual goal, which is somewhat remote, is the description of these activities in terms of their structure i.e. the spatial distribution of their constituent atoms, in so far as this may prove possible. This might be called the chemical physics of biology.

He won his grant for research at Cambridge University's famous Cavendish Laboratory.

James Watson was a young Indiana University postgraduate. He was also a member of a group American research scientists who gathered each summer at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island, an hour out of New York.

In 1944, a short book called What is Life? was published by the famous physicist, Erwin Schrodinger. In it, Schrodinger, a founder of quantum mechanics, speculated on the physical basis of the gene, its atomic and molecular structure. As a result of reading this book, James Watson once wrote, "I became polarised towards finding out the secret of the gene". As his work progressed, Watson became convinced that if he wanted to find the structure of the gene then he had to learn X-ray diffraction techniques so he sailed to England to study there.

Another Truth Discovered!

In October 1951, Crick and Watson met at Cambridge. Crick, 35, was just a research student and Watson, 23, just a visitor. They instantly hit it off and became intellectual mountain-climbers each helping the other up and up.

They could be seen everywhere in animated conversations, having tea, in hallways, in laboratories, in the laboratories, in local pub - so eventually they were given a room to work in together not to disturb the rest of the researchers. Says Crick, "We must have got the reputation by that time of rather talking together a lot."

Watson and Crick launched two separate attacks, on the discovery of the structure of DNA. The first ended in disaster. The second was a success beyond anything hoped for. The project required an enormous intellectual effort and research, involving many critical contributions by a number of other researchers.

Finally, Crick and Watson cracked the genetic code. They published their ideas in the first of three articles in Nature, on 25 April 1953. It was a three-page article entitled, "Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids". The article included the first published diagram of the molecular structure of their now famous double helix (which looks a bit like a ladder you might find in Escher's closet).

The Code of Life

The universal system of all life on this planet is based on a fundamental code and that code was broken by Francis Crick and James Watson in 1953. Since these men unraveled the molecular structure of the gene our world has undergone a continuing and exploding series of revolutionary insights. These scientific developments show no sign of slowing down and nothing can ever be the same.

Prior to 1953 one could still, credibly, hold on to the belief that life itself was ultimately a mysterious thing. One could still, as a thinker, speculate about the origins and 'mysteries' of life. To do so today, it may be argued, is an admission of ignorance, laziness or both.

Digital Genes

We now know that genes are digital. They are long strings of pure digital information. Like CDs and computers, the code of life - all life - is mighty digital in its internal structure. Whereas the binary code of computers has two symbols, in life the code is quaternary with four symbols. Otherwise they're digitally the same.

What, then, is the essential difference between the machine code of a computer and that of your genes? The answer is: none!

The famous Oxford Darwinist, Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene, has explained that our genetic code is so digital to the core that you could encode, with word-for-word accuracy, the whole of the bible in those parts of the human genome that are at present filled with junk DNA.

In his recent book, River Out of Eden, he illustrates the strong digital nature of genes with characteristic clarity and wit:

"The following science-fiction plot is feasible, given a technology that differs from today's only in being a little speeded up. Professor Jim Crickson has been kidnaped by an evil foreign power and forced to work in its biological-warfare labs. To save civilisation it is vitally important that he should communicate some top-secret information to the outside world, but all normal channels of communication are denied him. Except one.

"The DNA code consists of sixty-four triplet 'codons', enough for a complete upper- and lower-case English alphabet plus ten numerals, a space character and a full stop or period. Professor Crickson takes a virulent influenza virus off the laboratory shelf and engineers into its genome the complete text of his message to the outside world, in perfectly formed English sentences. He repeats over and over again in the engineered genom easily recognizable 'flag' sequence - say, the first ten prime numbers. He then infects himself with the virus and sneezes in a room full of people.

"A wave of flu sweeps the world, and medical distant lands set to work to sequence its genome attempt to design a vaccine. It soon becomes apparent that there is a strange repeated pattern in the genome by the prime numbers - which cannot have arisen spontaneously - somebody tumbles to the idea of employing code-breaking techniques. From there it would be short work to read the full English text of Professor Crickson's message, sneezed around the world."

So, if life is digital and knowable the 'mystery of mysteries' has evaporated. What effect does that have on us as sovereign thinkers? In what way has the feat of Watson and Crick helped to free us from authoritarianism? In what way has the work of these two scientists added a quantum leap to our freedom as sovereign thinkers?

Knowledge and Power

One of this book's themes is the connection between knowledge and power. Knowledge is power and thinking is the source of knowledge. Thinking is also the source of power.

Like Luther's use of the media, the genetic revelation of Crick and Watson is another huge victory for knowledge over authority. A thinker no longer needs a 'priest of the knowledge' with special mystical powers to explain 'the meaning of life'. It is now readily explicable and easily understandable by the individual without any need for an intermediary who retains special 'supernatural powers' for himself. To the sovereign thinker, this is a huge dividend of personal freedom.

No powerbase likes to surrender its power. It would be naive to think so. However the old supernatural powerbases, still operating in today's world, have lost most of their temporal power and what little remains is rapidly disintegrating at an astonishing rate of acceleration.

In some ways it is ironic how the uncertain truths of science have so overtaken the certainty of The Truth. Even the highest claims of occult certainty seem thin and puerile compared to the demonstrable achievements of science.

A Supernatural Assumption or a Scientific Demonstration

Perhaps the ultimate claim of occult certainty was in 1950. Around the same time that Crick and Watson were heading for Cambridge, a mystical methodology was producing a fresh discovery in Rome.

There has only been one infallible claim ever made by a pope since Pius IX proclaimed the doctrine of papal infallibility in 1870. An Italian priest, Eugenio Pacelli as Pius XII, suddenly, in 1950, asserted his doctrine of The Assumption.

Speaking ex cathedra and claiming infallibility he decided that Mary was physically assumed into heaven. He professed that not only was Mary's physical body actually taken into heaven but also that this claim was the supreme statement of certainty that only a Supreme Pontiff could make.

He even added that his recondite discovery was so certain a 'fact' that if any Catholics ever wished to automatically excommunicate themselves from the church, they only had to wilfully doubt his declaration and they were out. Finito.

In his anathema, he said: "If anyone, which God forbid, should dare deny or call in doubt that which We have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic faith..."

Leaving aside the impertinence of this assertion and the total lack of any evidence to support it, Pius XII's 'aeronautical invention' is relatively tame compared with those of scientists in the field.

By contrast, for example, a fallible, uncertain Swiss scientist, Daniel Bernoulli, discovered the principle of the aerofoil that today enables a pope to fly around the world in a 747, faster than a bullet, along with the entire College of Cardinals!

Throw in a movie, a reasonable meal and some French Champagne and it beats riding around on a cloud any day.

Also, there are no threats of excommunication involved in international air travel, just the occasional loss of baggage.

The End of the Mystical Millennium

More and more brainusers are turning to science for answers to questions that were once the exclusive domain of the supernatural powerbases. In Australia, the latest government census has confirmed this accelerating rejection of religions, sects and cults.

As we leave the Mystical Millennium, the superficial, childish mythologies of the truth-merchants and midevil magicians are being left behind. The information-rich revelations of science are empowering more thinkers than ever before to choose sovereignty over authority. 1953 is important because it was the definitive end of the Mystical Millennium. It was the last of the big 'mysteries' to be explained. Though there may always be many interesting questions to be asked and answered, after Crick and Watson, no thinker need ever delegate her or his authority to a supernatural magician, ever again. If she or he CHOOSES to do so for some other reason, that is their right and privilege.

The Greatest Thinkers

Francis Crick and James Watson are two of history's greatest intellectual superstars. Never have two thinkers explained so much. Their discovery of the digital gene has cleared away many veils of mystery.

Many other scientists have since built on Crick and Watson's original ideas and more work will be done in the future. But, as a contribution to the freedom of individual thinkers, Crick and Watson's achievement dwarfs those of the 'truth hackers', Aristotle and Aquinas, and provides a major blow to PTV.

As you ponder these things, what is the most liberating idea, discovery or truth that you can think of which has made it possible for you to be more of a sovereign thinker?

Brain Freebie! - Chapter 8 - ANTIDOTE

SO FAR WE have looked at PTV, how it arose spread via the medieval Church into the Western education system. We saw how this truth-driven education system with its emphasis on 'the search for certainty' was exported to Australia and around the world, and, how your own brain may have become infected.

The Effects of PTV

If this is so, how does PTV work to inhibit your abilities as a sovereign thinker? Well, as a cognitive disease, PTV in your brain can produce a number of deleterious effects. Lets look at just four manifestations of PTV:

Brain Vain

A brain vain thinker is one who is suffering from opinion pride. This PTV - infected brainuser is unable to see a better way of looking at things. Because the brain vain thinker is so proud of her or his own opinion they find it difficult to do any other kind of thinking but to defend it.

The more intelligent the brain vain thinker, the more they may suffer from this kind of cognitive conceit. Very bright thinkers who are PTV-infected may be only using their brainpower to defend their opinion. They are unable to escape from their viewpoint to look for a much better one.

Righteous and Sightless

The righteous brain is blind to consequences. PTV may have so incapacitated a True Believer that he is unable to see the results of his actions. In the belief of being 'morally right' any action is justified by the righteous and sightless, regardless of what follows. This is a very dangerous condition and so often fatal

Millions have rushed headlong into death because of Queen and country. Millions have been killed because they are 'infidels', 'Jews', 'Catholics' or 'Protestants'. "I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong" is the hallmark of the righteous and sightless condition.

In 1994, John Paul II urged all Roman Catholic Cardinals to reflect on this aspect of the Church's history. He wrote to them asking them to seize the unique beginning of the new millennium to recognise the "dark side of its history". He asked:

"How can one remain silent about the many forms of violence perpetrated in the name of the faith - wars of religion, tribunals of the Inquisition and other forms of violations of the rights of persons".

Space Glutton

In a meeting, the space glutton always takes up considerably more than his or her fair share of air-time. Space gluttons may suffer from output mania, the inability to shut up.

Gathering input by listening to the opinions of others in an important cognitive skill which is crippled in the space glutton. PTV may allow the thinker to wreak such enthusiasm for her own ideas that she is quite unable to listen to those of others.

In business, much creativity and productivity is lost in meetings due to those suffering from this condition is disastrous for those in sales or in marketing.

Lazy Critic

Lazy critics suffer from mistake-phobia, the morbid fear of ever making a mistake. The PTV-infected brain has an aversion to ever being wrong. It comes from our medieval habit of looking at the world through the concept of 'right and wrong' (not shared as much by other cultures like the Japanese).

When a sovereign thinker tries to create something, she never really knows what will happen. There is always risk and uncertainty. This risk is enough to keep the mistake-phobic hiding in inertia. As an effective disguise the mistake-phobic often assumes the role of 'the critic'.

Taking pot-shots from the relative safety of his reluctance, the lazy critic simply waits for another thinker to make a mistake and then the whining begins.

These are a few of the cognitive conditions caused by PTV, there are many others. The purpose of the School of Thinking is to help brainusers deal with these conditions.

The Brain Software

You can do this by using the brain software which we developed in the School of Thinking. This is the first real software for the brain ever invented to overcome PTV. The brain software is provided in Part Two offline of this book and is for, you to use at school, at work, at home and at play.

It consists of four software packages for your brain. These software packages contain 15 mind - tools. These mind - tools can be used by the brainuser in an ever-widening repertoire of combinations to produce a virtually unlimited number of effects.

The neuro-software is expressed in a four-part code: SDNT CVSTOBVS QRH PRR. Each abbreviation stands for a specific piece of brain software which will be dealt with in the following chapters.

Once it is programmed into your brain, the neuroware helps to neutralise PTV by giving you, the brainuser, a simple way to increase your awareness of the thinking strategies that are available to you in any situation that comes your way.


Over the next 24 hours, try to notice at least one example of each of the following:

Brain Freebie!- Summary of PART ONE

The main ideas in Part One area:

The Truth, the idea that there is an objective truth, was invented by Plato. Strong defence of The Truth diminished the thinker's ability to escape from his viewpoint to find a much better one. This condition is called PTV, Plato Truth Virus.

Aristotle imbedded PTV in his syllogism. This was picked up by Thomist doctrine and became the basis of logic. Western education has made a god out of logic and the 'search for certainty'.

The Western education system was set up by the medieval Church and spread throughout Europe and exported to other parts of the world. Even today, children are sent to school, their young brains programmed with the logic operating system, and then they're given the impression that all they have to do in life is 'to get the right answer' or 'tell the truth'.

Only Microsoft's global export of Bill Gates' DOS has ever rivaled the Vatican's global export of Thomas Aquinas' PTV.

PTV is ubiquitous. Manifestations can be annoying like Space Gluttons and Bores or fatal like Bullies and Righteous and Sightless thinkers. Over 26 million humans have been destroyed this century directly due to PTV.

Unfair Conclusion?

It is only with the unfair advantage of hindsight that one is able to look back on the evolution of our thinking habits and consider the consequences that they may have produced.

Did Plato ever realise what might happen as a consequence of the ideas that emerged from those Bacchanalian dinner parties he attended on those hot Athenian summer nights?

Did Saint Thomas Aquinas ever anticipate how rigorously later popes would prosecute his ideas and make them the core doctrine of the greatest education enterprise in history?

To be fair, I don't see how they could. Plato and Thomas were not villains. I imagine they were just doing what interested them most at the time and hoping for a modest amount of success.

Could Bill Gates ever have known he would become the richest businessman in the world when he first developed DOS? In his book he says he once remarked to Paul Allen that a million dollars was a huge amount of money, and he could never imagine having more than that. Hmmm ;)

Brain Freebie! - PART TWO

In Part Two of this book you will acquire 4 new pieces of neuroware - software for your brain - that you can immediately use to get better results at school, at home and at work. This brain software will also help you to avoid the problems caused by PTV in your brain.

The neurosoftware code is SDNT CVSTOBVS QRH PRR.

This 4-part package of brain software includes:

Brain Freebie! - Chapter 9 - Software Solutions

Imagine that you owned the best music system that money could buy.

Suppose you paid $20,000 for an amplifier/equaliser and another $10,000 for a CD/cassette player plus $40,000 for the best speakers you could get hold of. You could now boast that you owned the best music hardware system in your street, maybe even the best in your town.

Now, imagine you only had one solitary Patsy Kline CD to play on your ultra-hi fi hardware. There's nothing wrong with Patsy but a diet of I Fall To Pieces and Your Cheatin' Heart may be somewhat limiting when it comes to long term music entertainment.

These same limitations face us when we boast possession of a necktop yet only have one piece of thinking software, logic. Logic is useful enough for labeling and mail-sorting and dealing with the past but it's not nearly enough to help us cope with the challenges of the future.

We do need some more software for our brain to help us survive in rapidly changing environments and increasingly competitive and shrinking global markets. We also need more brain software because we're not happy being stuck with what we have at present.

Brainpower and Intelligence

Brainpower is how you use tools, like software, to enhance your intelligence. These tools are higher-order cognitive tools that help us think about what we should think about. Sometimes this 'thinking about thinking' is called by cognitive scientists, meta-cognition.

There are two main types of intelligences: Data Intelligence and Game Intelligence. Data Intelligence is the role that information plays in thinking. Game Intelligence is the role of strategies, clever moves, clever ideas, ploys and tricks that are the product of thinking about and exploring the information.

Data Intelligence is only necessary for the relatively dumb, unthinking reaction to situations - "What do I do next?" Game Intelligence goes a step further where the individual asks himself, "What do I think about next?" before asking "What do I do next?"

Brain software is a mind tool which permits the brainuser to go a step even further by allowing him or her to ask, "How do I think better about what I should think about next?"

Tools are important for intelligence. Tools, like a laptop, are not just the result of intelligence but they actually ENDOW intelligence on the user. When you give someone a laptop you increase or enhance her chance at arriving at more intelligent moves.

"Anthropologists have long recognised that the advent of tool use accompanied a major increase in intelligence" observes Daniel Dennett, Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University and author of Consciousness Explained. Commenting on the value of mind-tools in developing the user's intelligence he says "Tool use is a two-way sign of intelligence. Not only does it require intelligence to recognise and maintain a tool, but tool use CONFERS intelligence on those who are lucky enough to be given the tool. The better designed the tool the more potential intelligence it confers on the user."

Cognitive Science

Since the 1970s brought the explosion of the Information Revolution and the rise of personal computers we've become even more interested in the brain and how it works. "What is intelligence?" and "How can we improve it?" are questions being asked in a whole new field of science devoted to these things called - cognitive science. Cognitive science is concerned with the processes of sensing (seeing, hearing, smelling); storing information (memory) and recall; reasoning, planning and intelligent action. It also includes areas like AI (Artificial Intelligence) and robotics. In other words - thinking - both in animals and machines.

Like all human traits - height, strength, sexuality and looks etc - intelligence is distributed unequally. Some people have more intelligence than you do and some have less than you do and, of course, the same applies to me.

How's Your Brainpower?

Here is a simple audit for you to rate your own brainpower. It was designed by Dr Eric Bienstock, who ran SOT in New York. Eric based this checklist on the SOT's Learn-To-Think coursebook. How do you rate your own brainpower?

INSTRUCTIONS: Answer each of the following questions, scoring either 3, 2, 1, or 0 points for each answer depending on your objective estimate of how often you actually do what is stated. Use your best guess of the following criteria for scoring:

3 - 90% OF THE TIME (nearly always)

2 - 70% OF THE TIME (mostly)

1 - 40% OF THE TIME (often)

0 - 10% OF THE TIME (hardly ever)


______ My judgements of ideas are based on the value of the idea rather than on my emotions at the time.

_______ I judge ideas not just as "good" or "bad" but also as "interesting" if they can lead on to better ideas.

_______ I consider all factors in a situation before choosing, deciding or planning.

_______ I consider all factors first, before picking out the ones that matter most.

_______ When I create a rule I see to it that it is clearly understood and possible to obey.

_______ I try to see the purpose of rules I have to obey, even if I don't like the rules.

_______ I look at consequences of my decisions or actions not only as they affect me but also as they affect other people.

_______ I look at a wide range of possible consequences before deciding which consequences to bother about.

_______ On the way to a final objective I establish a chain of smaller objectives each one following on from the previous one.

_______ The objectives I set are near enough, real enough and possible enough for me to really try to reach them.

_______ In planning, I know exactly what I want to achieve.

_______ I keep my plans as simple and direct as possible.

_______ I know exactly why I have chosen something as a priority.

_______ I try to get as many different ideas as possible first, before starting to pick out the priorities.

_______ I will go on looking for alternatives until I find one I really like.

_______ While most people look for alternatives when they are not satisfied; I look for them deliberately even when I am satisfied.

_______ I am able to tell myself the real reason behind a decision I make.

_______ Before making a decision, I consider the factors, look at the consequences, get clear about the objectives, assess the priorities, and search for possible alternatives.

_______ I am able to see the other person's point-of-view whether I agree with it or not.

_______ I am able to spell out the differences and similarities between different viewpoints.

_______ TOTAL SCORE.


This is not a scientific test. It's just an audit or checklist to help you take stock of your thinking, that's all! A trained thinker can direct his or her thinking and use it in a deliberate manner to produce an effect. To a trained and skilled thinker, thinking is a tool that can be used at will and the use of this tool is practical. This ability to use 'thinking as a skill' is the sort of thinking ability that is required to get things DONE.

If your total score in this test was between 51 and 60 points, you already possess superior brainpower.

If you scored between 31 and 50 points, you have better than average brainpower.

If you scored between 0 and 30, you possess no additional brainpower other than the natural thinking ability that most people have.

Record your score here: _______

Brain Freebie! - Chapter 10 - Brainpower and cognetics

The design model for the mind tools presented in this book is what I have called cognetics. You don't have to worry about the name but if you don't come up with a fancy name in science, nobody takes you seriously.

Cognetics comes from cognitive cybernetics. Cognitive means to do with how the brain 'minds' and cybernetics has to do with 'feedback'. Cognetics brain software - neuroware - are higher order executive patterns that you can use to deliberately:

1. take control of your attention, and

2. manipulate your own perception.

Once it is programmed into your brain, the brain software gives the you, the brainuser, a simple way to increase your awareness of the thinking strategies that are available to you in a situation.

For example, suppose you are dealing with a problem situation and you are currently aware of only 3 strategies you can use - Strategy A, Strategy B or Strategy C. For you then, your intelligent behaviour is limited to a choice from those 3 strategies. But what if you could deliberately make yourself aware of 6 or 9 or 12 strategies you could use in that situation? Obviously you would be able to choose an even higher level of intelligent behaviour due to your increased options.

Problems and Opportunities

Brainpower or cognetics is this deliberate use and application of thinking software. In cognetics, you can choose from a range of cognitive strategies to solve any problem that confronts you or to explore any opportunity you desire.

A problem is a situation which may require a solution, a way out, an option, a cure or a new approach.

An opportunity is a situation that may need to be explored, a plan that needs to be worked out, an idea that needs to be developed, a possibility that needs testing.

Your problems or opportunities are often personal, business, family, recreational, academic, scientific, physical, or philosophical.

When we ask business people about their problem/opportunity areas they nearly always say: career or purpose in life, time and stress, getting a better balance between professional and personal life, money issues, bringing more creativity and flexibility into their company.

Here are some of the situations SOT members have worked on during their Clever Brainuser training:

OPPORTUNITIES: to buy some land; to get a better job; to improve knowledge of South East Asia; to learn acting; to play the piano again; to grow their business; to go back to school, to raise their income, to give up smoking, to improve their golf.

PROBLEMS: to pay mortgage; to cope with a difficult boss; to save my marriage; to choose between academic courses; to overcome fear of using the telephone in selling; to speak in public; to make new friends; to lose weight.

Intelligent Behaviour Equals Strategies and Options

If you wish to order take out food but you only have a pizza menu then your choice is limited to pizza. But if you have menus from 10 different restaurants such as sushi, health food, Spanish, seafood, Thai, TexMex, French and Pizza etc then you can eat twice as well. The key is to keep yourself aware of a broader menu of options.

The brain software - SDNT CVSTOBVS QRH PRR - (introduced in the next chapter) will keep you aware of strategic options you can use in situations that confront you. This book will explain these strategies and your increased skills will give you a simple way to raise your Game Intelligence by at least 100% and minimise the effects of PTV.

The four-part brain software package provides your brain with 15 mind-tools. These mind-tools can be used by the brainuser in an ever-widening repertoire of combinations to produce a virtually unlimited number of effects. Just as the carpenter can use a dozen or so tools to perform a wide range of effects, so can the brainuser.

Brain Freebie! - Chapter 11 - Necktop

Apparently I was the first to coin the term 'necktop computer'. In the eighties, while on the lecture circuit in the US and Europe, I was invited to give the keynote address to a series of IBM conferences in Monte Carlo.

I introduced CVSTOBVS as 'software for the brain' and referred to the brain as a necktop computer. It highly amused the executives in the audience so I kept in my talks for a laugh. Now it's passe.

Soon there will be 200 million PC users worldwide. Today's PCs are around 2 gigabytes where a byte is just a single storage unit of information (at eight bits) or about one printed character. 2 gigs is 2 million kilobytes or 2 billion bytes. So, 200 million PCs multiplied by 2 billion bytes is ... Wow! that's a lot of personal computer power.

How many necktop users are there? There are presently (July 1997) about 5.7 billion necktop users on planet earth. This number is increasing at the rate of 3 necktop users every second or 1.7 million every week.

In your brain a byte is, say, the strength of a synapse but your necktop has rather more than 2 billion bytes or synapses. It is a vast network of about 100 billion neurons (quite possibly even ten times as many) and each one of your neurons has up to 50,000 connecting wires (dendrites) with synapses.

100 billion neurons multiplied by 50,000 synapses multiplied by 5.7 billion necktops equals ... whew! that's a lot of brainpower on the planet.

Professor Jacob Schwartz of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University has put some figures together to give some idea of the capacity of your brain. He says that "rough quantitative guesses lead us to estimate that the long-term memory available to the brain is about 10,000 trillion bytes" and that "the computing rate needed to emulate the entire brain on a neuron-by-neuron basis may be as high as 1,000,000 trillion arithmetic operations per second".

Dr. Schwartz goes on to say that "It is interesting to compare these exceedingly coarse estimates with corresponding figures for the largest supercomputer systems likely to be developed over the next decade. These will probably not attain speeds in excess of 1 trillion arithmetic operations per second which is about one-millionth of the computation rate that we have estimated for your brain".

You and I, with our human brains are so preposterously over endowed with thinking hardware that it's almost impossible to comprehend. But let's try.

What if you were the major shareholder of the world's most intelligent enterprise, a network of ten billion computers linked together as parallel processors, producing a vast intellectual output of global messaging?

Well, you are!

Units of Intellect

Take a closer look. The atoms of your brain are called nerve cells or neurons. Each neuron is your fundamental intellectual unit - an information-processing system. The basic product of these units is: messaging.

Neurons are perfectly designed messaging systems. They have two ends: a receiving end and a transmitting end (or an input end and an output end).

At the receiving end each of your neurons has a convenient tree-like system of dendrites - input wires - which can receive information from other neurons. A neuron may receive messages in from thousands of other neurons and may, in turn, send its messages out to thousands of other neurons.

Messages In and Messages Out

Suppose we call a message in, a MI. And, a message out, a MO. So we have MIs and MOs.

A neuron receives MIs (messages in) from other neurons. It then sends a MO, a brief electrical pulse lasting about a thousandth of a second along its output wire, the axon. Axons are like 'telegraph wires' that transmit electrical signals along their own length. At the end of its wire the axon's electrical signal is transformed into a chemical output - a neurotransmitter.

A neurotransmitter is a package of chemical information which has an effect on the neuron that receives it in much the same way that a fax or an email is a package of information which has an effect on you when you receive it. The way this chemical package effects the neuron receiving it is by causing a change in its electro-chemical activity.

To Send or Not To Send, That's the Decision

Just as you may or may not respond to an email or fax you receive, your neuron behaves the same way. Sometimes a neuron responds to a MI. Sometimes it doesn't. When a particular cell sends out its own MO signal it's because it has received enough MIs from other cells to exceed a threshold amount.

Thus each of your nerve cells acts as a tiny decision unit. If the incoming messaging is above a certain level, it responds with a MO. If not, it stays silent. If your neuron does respond to its incoming messages we say it is excited, if it stays silent we say it is inhibited.

You have more than a trillion neurons - tiny molecular computers. Like other computers they have a broad selection of MOs that they can send out. Each of your neurons acts as a unit of control receiving MIs and sending MOs within the distributed network you call your brain. Each of these units is processing its inputs/outputs at the same time as are all the other units, so they achieve 'parallel computation'.

Your brain is the ultimate parallel processor! Its billions of parallel processing units are constantly taking in information MIs. These messages are processed and changed. Then new information MOs are sent out all over the global network. Your brain is the supreme intelligent enterprise. And guess what, you are the major shareholder.



Brain Freebie! - Chapter 12 - START

"Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most." - Fyodor Dostoevsky

What is starting?

It can be very difficult to start things. Once you get started there is momentum and feedback but getting started can be difficult. Most races are lost not at the finishing line but at the starting blocks. Why? Because most people never even enter the race! They just never get started. Wasn't it Lao-Tzu who pointed out that all journeys begin with one step.

The Start of the Sale = Customer Attention

What is the start of the sale? The start of the sale is Customer Attention. Before a customer can say YES or NO their attention must be on your offer. Fred Herman, author of KISS: Keep It Simple Salesman used to say, "First, you've got to get the customer's attention".

Yet, most of the time the vast majority of customers' attention is not focused on your offer at all. Whenever, at any particular moment, the customer's attention is not on your offer then there can be no hope of a sale.

The Check! Move

To manage customer attention I designed a new unit of measurement. In my book NewSell, which became a best-seller in Australia, I designed a new unit of measurement which I called - the Check! move. A Check! move (taken from the game of chess) is simply a customer contact of any kind and is represented by the symbol: C!

For years it's been a common belief in selling that most sales were lost at the close. In other words, salespeople were missing sales because they were not 'closing' them. Our research showed that this is a grand illusion. The whole issue of 'closing the sale' is a nonsense and I have offered a reward of $100,000 to the first person who can prove the salesperson closes the sale.

FACT: The decision to buy is an electro-chemical event in the brain of the customer and the salesperson does NOT control that event.

FACT:99% of sales are not missed at the close at all but at the start.

FACT: It's the failure to start the sale - to contact a customer by phone, by snail mail, by email, by fax or in person - that is the source of most lost business.

FACT: 99% of C! moves have never yet been made.

Noting their C! moves (customer contacts) helps salespeople keep a measurement of how much energy they are putting out into the marketplace. Focusing on their C! moves helps them:

Focusing on the start - C! - rather than the 'close', reduces the rejection and disappointment salespeople feel which so effects their energy levels. C! allows them to initiate many more customer contacts.

This, of course, always leads to better sales results because the only move that can turn a prospective customer into a client is CHECK! which is enough to make it the most important move in business. As Woody Allen said, "80% of success is showing up."


How to start? Most plans are full of details on how to get to the finishing line but contain little or nothing about how to get to the starting blocks. Yet nothing happens until someone STARTS something. For many years in business we have had MBO or Management By Objectives. Perhaps we also need MBS or Management By Starting.

Many management gurus write books about "Goal-Setting". Maybe they should also write books about "Start-Getting" since, most of the time, most people never get started.

To Start is the fundamental creative act. To change a switch from the OFF position to the ON position is to start something and means something has now been created. It has been said that the most important skill in writing a book is sitting down at the keyboard - getting started.

Strategic Act

Strategy is about control. If you are in control you are in a strategic position, if you are out of control, you aren't. Starting is a strategic act because we can control starting but we cannot control finishing.

Once we start, many other factors come into play: other peoples reactions, the weather, consequences and the unexpected. These may prevent us from finishing. But if we are good at starting then we can always start again, and again, and again. It may be that finishing is simply the repetitive act of starting, and starting again, and starting again, until we declare that we have "finished".

Some people are good at starting. Others are good at the follow-up. Some are good at both. What are you better at? Do you see starting as a skill? How can you improve your starting ability? Is it worth it? What would be a better skill to develop than starting? How do you start to start? To start or not to start? To flip the switch or not to flip the switch? To start is to be! I start therefore I am. He who hesitates to start is lost. Start before you leap. etc.

Where to start?

Anywhere is a good place to start. Sir Yehudi Menuhin started playing the violin at home when he was four. Home is a good place to start. He made his professional debut, when he was seven, in San Francisco. San Francisco is a good place to start.

In 1962 he started a boarding school for musically talented children, at Stoke d'Abernon, near London. Boarding school is a good place to start. Sir Yehudi's son Jeremy made his debut as a pianist, in Gstaad, in 1965. Dare I say it - Gstaad is a good place to start! Is there a best place to start? Why? Is there a worst place to start? Why?

Why start things?

When you start you begin to overcome inertia. Inertia is the enemy of starting with its lack of feedback. Once you escape from the spell of inertia you begin to get feedback. Feedback is the food of decision-making and the food of design. You can assess feedback and react to your assessment. Do I like it? Do I not like it? Do I want more? Do I want less?

We are much better at reacting than at proacting. By creating feedback it gives us something to react to and so we can make a decision and proceed. A simple way to create feedback is to start something ... anything.

When to Start?

There is really only one time to start and that time is the moment called ... Now! We need to create as many Now! moments for starting as possible. Just suppose a Now! moment is one second. In other words, let's define the time it takes to start something as one second. Here are some examples:

How long does it take to pick up the telephone? One second.

How long does it take to press 'send' on an email? One second.

How long does it take to start to get up and go for a walk. One second.

How long does it take to start a Yahoo search on the net. One second.

How long does it take to say "No"? One second.

How long does it take to start your laptop? One second.

How long does it take to start to contact a customer. One second.

There are an unlimited number of things you can start to do in the quite comfortable space of one second. How many Now! moments are there in a day? I'll save you the trouble of the maths. It's 84,000.

Unfortunately we waste most of our Now! moments because we squander most of our time immobilised by inertia because of our Western fear of making "mistakes".


Mistake-phobia is the morbid fear of making a mistake. It's an aversion to ever being wrong. It comes from our medieval habit of looking at the world through the concept of "right" and "wrong" (not shared by other cultures like the Japanese).

Compared to the Japanese our mistake-phobia causes us to lose countless opportunities on a daily basis in Western countries like Australia, Britain, France and America and may be one of the biggest single blocks to our increased productivity and potential economic success.

Have a go! One way to cure mistake-phobia is to accelerate our willingness to have a go, to get started and get busy. When you have a go, one of two things happens:

To the brainuser, both these types of feedback are useful.

If you are not afraid of mistakes, if you are not a mistake-phobiac, then you simply assess the feedback and start again. If it was a mistake you try something different. If it was an un-mistake then you can keep going. These are like loops that can be called:

Both these outcomes are useful results of starting, they just have different values. Inertia may have no value at all.

This is how we have taught computers to be intelligent. They keep doing something. Anything. They keep busy going through the loops and learning. This is how we learned as children until we were taught to dread making a mistake. If computers were as afraid of making mistakes as we are then they would take as long as us to learn. But they don't.

Computers are not afraid of mistakes and are rapidly catching up. Today's cars have more computing power than the whole world had 40 years ago. They are becoming less 'computer-assisted cars' and more like 'driveable computers' Where will computers be in the next 40 years? In the next 400 years?

Lazy Critic

Lazy critics suffer from mistake-phobia. The PTV-infected brain will turn the most amazing cognitive somersaults to avoid being 'wrong'. When a brainuser tries to creates something, s/he never really knows what will happen. There is always risk and uncertainty. Risk is enough to keep the mistake-phobiac hiding in inertia.

But, remember, nothing happens until someone STARTS something. Soren Kierkegaard said, "To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself." Do you prefer the starter or the critic? How do you feel about mistakes? Are you comfortable with them? Or do you fear mistakes? Can you take a risk?

Starting by Asking

To ask is one way to start. Mrs. Robert Lee Kidd started something simply by walking into the office of the San Francisco Examiner on May 2, 1962 and placing her advertisement which asked for the following: "I don't want my husband to die in the gas chamber for a crime he did not commit. I will therefore offer my services for 10 years as a cook, maid or housekeeper to any leading attorney who will defend him and bring about his vindication."

Her husband had been tried and convicted of the murder of a 71-year-old antiques dealer, Albert Clarke. Mr. Kidd's bloody fingerprints had been found on the murder weapon, an ornate sword. But Mrs. Kidd had insisted her husband was home with her on the night of the crime.

One of San Francisco's most eminent attorney's, Vincent Hallinan responded and proved in court that the sword was not the murder weapon after all. Subsequently both husband and wife went free. Hallinan graciously refused to take up Mrs. Kidd's offer of 10 years service. Ask and receive! Asking is one way of starting.

Ask and Receive

Every day, thousands of people start something by putting their ad in the paper asking for something eg a job, a house, a vote, a sale, a friend etc. By asking, there are literally an unlimited number of ways of getting started.

When did you last put an ad in the paper? What happened? What other ways can you ask? What did you ask for yesterday? What will you ask for today? What will you ask for tomorrow?

Getting Started

The hardest part about getting started is ... getting started! This is a circular trap that is difficult to get out of and is the cause of a lot of inertia. The way I get started is to write down a list of 10 things I can do to get started, then I just choose the ones I like.

How to get started:

- write down TEN things you wish you could get started on.

- write down TEN things you can do to get started on number 1 on your list.

- what can you ask for, to start something?

- write an ad you can place to support this request.

- if you wish, you can place the ad and discuss the results.

Brain Freebie! - Chapter 13 - DO

What is doing?

No idea is of any real value until it gets used. If an idea never gets used, why even know about it?

There's a huge gap between knowing and doing. I have called this gap - The Impossible Barrier - and written at length about this in NewSell. The reason for this is because, so often, knowing something prevents doing it.

We have something repeated to us and we say "Yes, I already know that!" and we turn our attention away. Yet it is the repetition of things we already know that gets us closer to doing it. It has been said that too often the knowers are not the doers and the doers are not the knowers.

Once we move from thought into action we immediately create feedback. Our actions have consequences and it is these consequences that enable us to evaluate the effectiveness of our behaviour. Thinking is not an escape from action it is the simply the basis for it. When in doubt, do something. Anything.

The Quest - Seek and Ye Shall Find

You may already have noticed that the recurring themes running though all this cognetics training about human information-handling is ESCAPE and MOVEMENT. To the thinker, a creative approach to life means a questioning approach.

Questing, was the kind of adventurous modus operandi of the knight of chivalry. Whether the "impossible dream", the crusade, or the search for the Holy Grail, the true knight went out seeking challenges and embracing problems. He was a knight, a man of action, a doer, doing what knights do.

Today's knights are no different. Whether a man or woman, the knight of today has the same spirit of questing only the weapons are different. In cyberia, the keyboard is mightier than the sword.

Today's cyberknights, like their ancient brothers, are the great questers of the information age. They use search engines rather than siege engines. They don't use chain mail but they do use email. They surf cyberia on their laptop instead of sailing to Outremer on their warships. But, they're out there, and this is just the beginning.

Questions are the Answer

The skilled thinker, the thinker of action, is a skilled questioner.

Who? What? When? Where? How? Why? Why? Why? The only silly question is the question you don't ask. But what is a question? According to Rochelle Myers, who runs the now-famous Stamford University Graduate School of Management course, Creativity in Business, questions are the following:

Questions Help You Do

If you can develop your questioning skills you will immediately begin to expand your options, you will have more alternatives, you will generate extra possibilities, you will have more choices. All these things will lead you into action, to DO things.

Your new questioning skills will enable you to become less of a knower and more of a doer. You will annoy authorities and astound your friends. This alone, can be a good enough reason to ask more questions.

Do it bad!

My friend, Leslie Buckland, was President of Caribiner Inc. in New York, the world's largest producer of business meetings. Leslie often used to say, "If something is worth doing it's worth doing badly." Why? Doesn't this seem a contradiction for a man that was known internationally for setting the standards of quality in business meetings?

Caribiner can go into a hotel ballroom anywhere in the world, turn it into a circus or a theatre in 24 hours, stage, for one performance only, the business equivalent of a Broadway show - original music, dancers, actors, fireworks etc - and then strike the set leaving it as they found it 24 hours later. They stage multi-million dollar productions all over the world for companies like IBM, McDonald's, and Mercedes-Benz where quality is the absolute key. Yet Les often says "If something is worth doing it's worth doing badly". Why?

Bad Can Lead to Good

This is the paradox of action, of decision-making, of getting things done. The mistake-phobiacs are so afraid of a doing something badly they get nothing done at all! "Our doubts", said William Shakespeare, "are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt."

Very often there's no "right way" to do things. Les, and other people of action, like trauma surgeons or astronauts, know that one has to get started and do something, get the process moving.

Even if you make a mistake or do it badly, get going. You can always change things, make adjustments and corrections. You can make it work and make it work well, but first you have to get it up and running. Bad can always be changed to good. Sitting back and waiting for perfection often means inertia and failure.

Using Questions

For an experiment (that is, to try out and see what happens) try asking questions like these:

One Question Two Question

If you were given the opportunity to ask anyone in the world today just one question:

1. what would be the question? and
2. of whom would you ask it?

If you were given the opportunity to ask anyone in history who ever lived just one question:

1. what would be the question? and
2. of whom, in all of history, would you ask your question?

Brain Freebie! - Chapter 14 - NOTICE

What is Noticing?

As mentioned before, cognetics comes from the words 'cognitive cybernetics'. Cognitive, of course, means to do with 'thinking' and cybernetics means to do with 'feedback'. In other words, cognetics is thinking based on feedback. The reason you think is so that you can notice the feedback created by your thinking and action. This feedback then becomes the stimulus for further thinking. Thinking ... Feedback .. Thinking etc.


The basis of all science is observation and measurement - noticing things. A clever brainuser is a clever noticer and a clever noticer is objective. The skill of noticing is objectivity. Detachment is also important in noticing things. With detachment you can have a broader, clearer view of the situation.

For example, when pouring a glass of champagne you notice feedback. You notice when the champagne level is nearing the top of the glass and so you begin to stop pouring the wine. If you didn't notice this then you might continue pouring the wine and the whole system runs out of control.

In fact, noticing things is the basis of controlling things. This champagne situation is an example of a "feedback system". Noticing and measuring feedback in systems in order to control those systems is what cybernetics is all about. Noticing the feedback created by your thinking, in order to control it, is what cognitive cybernetics or cognetics is all about.


During WWII, Dr. Norbert Weiner (Professor of Mathematics at MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology) invented cybernetics, as a body of mathematics to help anti-aircraft technology and also to help our understanding of mental acts via formal systems analysis.

The main problem with an airplane as a target was that it moved. Cybernetics worked by noticing the "degree of miss" between an ack-ack shell and the airplane target and feeding back that information to the weapon so that an immediate adjustment could be made and then firing another shell.

This loop would be quickly repeated many times allowing the weapon to "educate-itself" and close in on its target. This gave the weapon its characteristic ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack firing sequence. Fire ... feedback ... fire ... feedback ... fire ... feedback... fire ... feedback... fire ... feedback... fire ... feedback etc etc until it closed in on its target.

Feedback Loops

This kind of technology, as with many other advances, has been largely developed by the military scientists. Missiles work the same way, wiggling to their target by using heat sensors to locate the target's engine and noticing the feedback in order to make a rudder or rocket adjustment. Noticing the feedback is the central activity that allows the missile to reach its goal.

The Patriot missiles used in Iraq show how this technology has been developed to such an extraordinary degree by the USA's Star Wars project. The Patriot's ability to catch Scud missiles in the air is roughly equivalent to you driving along at 100kph and plucking a single blade of grass, previously painted red, as you go by.

This kind of advanced Star Wars cybernetic technology may be used in the future to shield planet Earth from meteors which are an increasing worry to scientists. Meteors remain just as serious a threat to life on the planet today as they were to our Jurassic ancestors.

Cybernetics is all about servo-mechanisms, goal-seeking behaviour, feedback loops, positive and negative feedback systems, self-stabilising systems, homeostasis and the control of systems, and how they might apply to biological or mechanical systems.


Edward de Bono

Although popularly known for his invention of the term lateral thinking, now in the Oxford Dictionary, Dr Edward de Bono's greatest contribution is that written up in his book The Mechanism of Mind.

De Bono follows on from MIT Professor Norbert Wiener's idea that the brain must be an information-processing machine and the way it "minds" should be capable of being expressed in informational terms.

Cognetics The Brain as a Body System

Dr. de Bono, was Professor of Investigative Medicine at Cambridge in England. He was an expert in body systems. In The Mechanism of Mind, which he wrote twenty-five years ago, Edward de Bono builds a model of how the brain, as an organ of the body, is very likely to operate as mind.

This model shows how the brain system, by operating along the lines of other body systems like the liver system or lung system can produce a mind, a biological system to process information. By showing how the brain operates as a self-organising, patterning system de Bono saw the need to promote lateral thinking as a compensation mechanism for some of the limitations of the brain/mind patterning system.

Cognitive cybernetics - cognetics - is about the practical application of cybernetics in cognitive science which is the science of information processing, in animals and machines.

In the Western world we are historically more concerned with judgement than with movement. We are more concerned with "rightness" than with effectiveness. Other cultures, like Japan, are more concerned with the PROCESS than the result.

This often gives them a big advantage over us. Effectiveness is reaching an alternating balance between thought-based action and action-based thought. Thinking ... Feedback ... Thinking ... Feedback ... Thinking ... Feedback ... Thinking ... Feedback ... Thinking ... etc.

As an experiment try pouring a glass of wine without getting any feedback, with your eyes closed? What happened? How else can you get feedback even with your eyes closed?

Who was a Noticer?

George Gallup founded the Gallup Poll at Princeton, New Jersey, which became the world's first system to objectively and scientifically measure - that is, to notice - public and customer opinion. He was also the inventor of market research and the ultimate saviour of the customer.

The very existence of the Gallup Poll has changed forever the future of the human race. The Gallup Poll makes it increasingly difficult for individuals to claim "I-am-right", to claim they alone "know what's best" for the public now that accurate scientific measurement of the public/customer viewpoint is possible.

Power to the People, Power to the Customer As inventor of market research and the Gallup Poll, Professor George Gallup has so empowered the public viewpoint that I believe his invention may be the greatest act of democracy ever performed by any scientist.

His research covered the fields of: Health; Religion; Politics; Journalism; Advertising; Entertainment; Business; Education and Human Thinking. It can be said that no other person in history has ever had the opportunity to notice and record the views of so many humans on so many aspects of their existence, and in so many parts of their world!

Teaching Thinking

A lesser known side of Dr Gallup was his interest in humans and the factors which influence their opinions, attitudes, thinking and aspirations. He told me "teaching people to think for themselves was the most important thing in the world to do."

Born in Jefferson, Iowa, in 1900, he attended the University of Iowa and spent ten years as a teacher there and at Drake, Northwestern, and Columbia universities. He had a strong interest in education and what could be done to improve it. He had more than ten honorary Doctorate Degrees from colleges and universities around the world. George died at his Switzerland home in 1984.

Notice the CVS

As my mentor, Professor Gallup helped with the design of cognetics by impressing upon me the need to measure or notice the CVS (Current View of the Situation) as a basis for moving to the BVS (Better View of the Situation). We will explore this further in coming chapters.

Dr Gallup's work, along with that of Weiner, de Bono and others, stands as one of the first great examples of the practical application of the new field of cognitive science.

Your Own Gallup Poll Question

It can cost around $US 20,000 to have a Gallup Poll conducted on just one question. If you could have a Gallup Poll conducted, what one question would you ask? Why would you ask this question?

How to Notice Things

The main point about noticing is this: try to notice those things that you have NOT YET noticed.

It's easy to notice the information that supports our CVS, our Current View of the Situation. It's difficult to notice the information that falls outside our CVS and so that's exactly why and where we must make a deliberate attempt to notice things.

Opposite Direction

Suppose you're looking north. Once you become aware of the fact, once you notice it, then you can deliberately choose to look south. Looking in the opposite direction is one place to notice things. Try looking in directions that you are not yet looking in. Where are you looking now? Where could you be looking now?


Mistakes are a useful thing to notice. Mistake-phobics are so afraid of mistakes that they can't bear to notice them. They can't see that a mistake is an opportunity to make an appropriate adjustment. They can't cope with mistakes. Mistake-phobics are always "right".

"Nothing is more dangerous than the certainty that one is right." writes François Jacob, winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine, "Nothing is potentially so destructive as the obsession with a truth one considers absolute. All crimes in history have been the result of fanaticism of one type or another. All massacres have been carried out in the name of virtue, of true religion, of legitimate nationalism, of proper policy, of right ideology: in short, in the name of the fight against somebody else's truth." - The Logic of Life, Penguin 1989.

It's important to be able to notice mistakes in order to be able to correct them and move on. (OK, move on.) To do this effectively one needs to be objective rather than destructive, to be creative rather than judgmental. Try noticing mistakes that you have not yet noticed. Correct them and move on. "Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again," said Henry Ford.

Future Consequences

Future consequences can be the most difficult things to notice especially in advance, which is one of the best times to notice them. This is a bit of a paradox. How can we notice a consequence that has not yet happened? How can we notice the future?

Actually we do it every time we ride a skateboard, apply make-up or use a chain saw. By noticing potential consequences we can avoid them in advance, if we wish. The most difficult consequences to notice in advance are the long-term ones. If I do such-and-such what will happen in ten years? In twenty years?

As the many possible futures hurtle towards us at an ever-increasing rate we will have to get better and better at noticing long-term consequences so that we can choose the futures we want to be in.

Last Chance to Choose a Safe Future

We are currently destroying the world's forests at the rate of an acre per second. In ten years, most of the earth's oxygen producing forests will be gone if we don't notice the long-term consequences and make some big changes.

We have already destroyed three-quarters of Australia's tropical rain forests and about two-thirds of the rest of our forests. We have made a hole in our protective ozone layer already the size of Mount Everest.

Canadian scientist David Suzuki, Professor of Genetics at the University of British Columbia, says "We are the last generation who will have any say on the future of our planet, because after our lifetime it will all be gone." If we are to make the necessary adjustments to our current behaviour, to ensure a safe future, we will have to get much better at noticing the future consequences of our current behaviour. Try noticing future consequences that you have not yet noticed.

Why notice things?

What would happen if you didn't notice things? Usually when we don't notice something we make a mistake. When we don't notice the mistake, we make another mistake. And so on. However when we do notice the mistake, then we can adapt or adjust in some way and then proceed. START - DO - NOTICE - THINK - SDNT - SDNT.


You have two ears and one mouth so use them in that proportion - so the saying goes. And yes, ears are certainly good for input, for noticing. Eyes come in handy. The tongue and the nose work well together. And, an assortment of fingers and toes play their part. We do have around five input senses, we are told, and these are all useful for noticing. Our experience, patterns built up over the years, can help us to notice things and, of course, they can also hinder us in noticing things.

Habits of Noticing

We can use repetition to develop special habits of noticing. In a room, a carpenter habitually notices wooden things and how poorly they are made. A businessman notices business opportunities in a situation. A lawyer notices loopholes, a soldier notices ... what does a soldier notice?

Skill and Training

Actually, the first time I was formally taught to expand my noticing skills was in my army infantry training. In those Vietnam days, we were taught how to notice things in the jungle that we hadn't yet noticed.

Shape, shine, silhouette, size, sound (I still remember). Through practice drills and field exercises we were taught to notice booby traps, thin wires, panji pits and the other hidden delights of jungle warfare not noticeable to the untrained civilian eye. We were taught to expand our range of vision from around 90 degrees to 180 degrees. We were taught to notice things at night - night vision.

How many input ports does your necktop have? How well do you notice things? How well could you notice things? What did you do today to increase your noticing skills? What will you do tomorrow to increase your noticing skills? Does it matter? Why?


Sometimes we don't notice things because we become distracted. Magicians use this principle so you won't notice how they do their magic trick. But sometimes we become distracted for other reasons.

Ten ways you can deal with distractions:

We all have blind spots - those areas that we habitually have difficulty in seeing or noticing.

Brain Freebie! - Chapter 15 - THINK

What is Thinking?

This question could keep a room full of philosophers happy for a hundred years. But in the School of Thinking we are not concerned with thinking as contemplation, philosophical discussion or academic description, we are concerned with thinking as an operating skill - the kind of thinking that gets things done. The definition we use is: Thinking is the skill of using intelligence to get things done.

Thinking vs Doing?

To many people THINKING is the opposite of DOING. They set these two activities up as mutually exclusive opposites in their mind. With practice, however, you can develop your ability to use thinking as a skill, just like you can develop cooking, golf, leadership, painting, acting or aikido. All human skills can be learned or developed.

Paul MacCready, inventor of the Gossamer Albatross and the father of man-powered flight once wrote to me from California: "When first watching a School of Thinking class in action, I was amazed that something so simple and so much fun could be so quick and effective in developing a person's "thinking muscle". We all, as individuals and as caretakers of our precious earth, need these thinking skills".

Dr. MacCready's metaphor of thinking as a 'muscle' is a good one. It's better than the old-fashioned idea of thinking as a 'gift'. If thinking is only a gift, there's not much you can do about it. But, if it's more like a muscle then there's a lot you can do to develop your thinking power.

That's why we look at thinking as a skill. We want to help you enhance your skill and develop your intellectual capital. The goal is to reach an alternating balance between thought-based action and action-based thought.

Thought-Based Action: THINK-START-DO.

Thought-based action is the kind of action that's based on thinking. For example, you are reading a magazine and you read about a story set in the Greek island of Patmos. You start to think about the Greek islands and decide you want to actually go there.

You figure out a plan, you find out about costs for fares etc, you set a date and you finally go and visit Patmos and the Greek islands. You thought something out, got started and then did it - thought-based action: THINK-START-DO. This is how I came to visit Patmos in the summer of '84.

Action-Based Thought: DO-NOTICE-THINK.

Action-based thought is the kind of thinking that's based on action. For example, a customer walks into a store and the salesperson says "Can I help you?". The customer then says, "No thanks, just looking" then pirouettes and walks out of the store. Most salespeople keep making the same mistake day-after-day, week-after-week, year-after-year.

But the thinking salesperson might say to herself something like this "Whenever a customer walks into a store and I ask if I can help them I notice that usually drives them back out of the store. Maybe I can think of some other thing I could do that would not have that effect. What could I do instead?" Action-based thought: DO-NOTICE-THINK.

The Alternating Balance

The skilled thinker can alternate a balance between thought-based action and action-based thought, between THINK-START-DO and DO-NOTICE-THINK. This is what cognetics is all about - action based on noticing feedback, and feedback based on noticing action - SDNT = START-DO-NOTICE-THINK continuing in a continuous series of loops or a kind of cognetics spiral on into the future, exploring the cognos, the vast universe of possible thoughts.

The Cognetics Spiral


.... spiralling on into the cognos.

Start Do Notice Think, or its trigger code SDNT, is a powerful search engine for your necktop that will enable the brainuser to approach any situation, any problem, any opportunity with confidence. To be doubly negative, there is no situation that can't be managed by SDNT:

This is exploring, and off you go again SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT SDNT ... on into the future, surfing the cognos.

What if ...? Thinking

One of the most famous users of the "what if ...?" type of thinking was a young thinker, a lad of sixteen, called Albert Einstein. At that age Albert wrote to his uncle wondering what he would see if he was sitting on a light beam.

By the time he was twenty-six, in 1905, he had solved that problem and changed forever the laws of physics and the way future generations would understand the world. This "what if ...?" thinking he called a gedanken or 'thought experiment'. One of the great thinker's most quoted sayings is, "Imagination is more important than knowledge."

Science acknowledges Einstein's thought experiments as among the greatest triumphs ever produced by a human brain. His thinking feats made him famous, not just in the scientific community, but amongst the public at large. He, in effect, became science's first superstar! Until he died in 1955 he was always at the centre of much publicity and public interest.

At first he was the eccentric, the genius who never wore socks. Then he became a leading pacifist and opponent of rearmament whose traditional education left him with a lifelong suspicion of all forms of authority.

As the Nazis spread across Europe he advised President Roosevelt that it would be possible to make an atom bomb. However, when the bombs were actually used on Japan he immediately sought the establishment of a world authority that would control these weapons.

Today, posters of Albert Einstein are best sellers. It's encouraging to know that these posters of the scientist, humanitarian, inventor, Nobel prize winner and thinker, are stuck on the walls of many a teenager's bedroom along with their other heroes of rock, movies and sport.

Hardware and Software

Like Einstein, we all have some pretty awesome hardware in our twin-hemispheric, necktop, personal computer. Our problem, however, is that we are very short on software. The traditional western approach to thinking is simply reactive, logical judgement - the slapping on of the "right" and "wrong" labels.

This has always led to extravagant, destructive clashes throughout history and is hopelessly inadequate for designing a safe future in a rapidly changing world. In this book you can go beyond your existing logic software with new software called cognetics.

Logic and Cognetics

If you would like to get a "feel" for the difference between logic and cognetics (both of which are software systems designed to handle information in the brain) you can try the following simple exercise:

EXERCISE: There follows two sets of words which help describe the process involved in each brain software - logic or cognetics. Relax for a moment and take a nice deep breath, then repeat the words in capitals slowly and evenly over and over until you get the "feel" for the way each software handle its information.

Do it first for logic (repeat about 10 times):


Do it now for cognetics (repeat about 10 times):


You may have noticed that logic uses a kind of labelling or "mail-sorting" approach to dealing with information. Logic reacts to information using judgement based on historical experience.

It fits, it's right; it doesn't fit, it's wrong etc.

This is, of course, very useful in a secondary way and for looking back at static, theoretical, situations. By itself, however, it's totally inadequate for dealing with most fluid, forward-looking situations in real life.

With cognetics, you may have noticed a quite different, open-ended, spiraling effect as movement is created (START ... DO) and then feedback is evaluated (NOTICE ... THINK) and further movement, with adjustments based on the feedback is then continued.

Thinking is Movement

There is no "right" way to think. The key to thinking is movement. Movement through the cognos, movement through think-space, movement through the ideosphere, movement through the universe of possible thoughts.

Whether you move out or in or up or down, sideways, backwards or upside-down reverse pikes, it doesn't matter. Whether you take great leaps, use stepping-stones, random provocations, lateral thinking, flip-a-coin, or fantastic images, it all works.

Whether you use intuition, alpha-visualisations, TM, tarot cards, I-Ching, runes, prayer, auto- suggestion, cognetics, hypotheticals, scientific method, professional counseling, net surfing or "ask the oracle" - it all adds up to movement.

The essential key in thinking is movement - escape from your CVS. Once you have movement, you get feedback and, as we have seen, it's this noticing feedback which is the essential ingredient for further thinking, which is to say, surfing the cognos.

Thought Experiment:

A Thought Experiment is an experiment you carry out in your brain, using only thinking - your imagination. For example, you could imagine what would happen if cigarettes were square and not round. You think it through and imagine the consequences and possibilities and outcomes.


Brain Freebie! - Chapter 16 -
CVSTOBVS - Cognetics Operating System



"I would love to have a management team that really understood the CVSTOBVS equation. It's the value added role in the management process." - Jack Welch, Chairman. General Electric

The Cognetics Operating System

The Cognetics Operating System is the premium software in this book and is represented by the code CVSTOBVS. It's also the most powerful and is necessarily so. It enables the brainuser to upgrade from logic, the existing primary thinking software, and to allow logic to take its useful place as a secondary software package.

CVSTOBVS is a powerful perception switch. It allows the brainuser to think outside the square. It enables you to switch cognitive patterns on command. From CVS to BVS. It is also your main antidote to the Plato Truth Virus. It is based on the Law of Cognetics.

Beyond Logic

500 years ago Columbus set sail. The Talavera Commission reported to Queen Isabella on Columbus' idea - to reach Japan in the East by sailing West and to discover other lands en route - that the adventure was "uncertain and impossible to any educated person."

They told the queen that the proposed voyage would take three years. Even if the ships could return, which was highly unlikely, the commission reported it would be a wasted expedition, "for God would surely not have allowed any uninhabited land of real value to be concealed from His people for so many centuries."

The experts scorned his project. But Columbus did set sail. Thirty-three days later he discovered half the world! I have always thought that Columbus was a very clever brainuser.

Unique rightness

Based solely on their accumulated experience, the experts pointed out that the Admiral's mission was hardly a logical one because his mathematics were wrong. So if his mathematics were wrong therefore Columbus was wrong. They were convinced of the soundness of their logic.

Yet if all our thinking and actions were based only on the "unique rightness" of our own experience, then progress would be slow or impossible. There could be no room for insight, quantum leaps, outside-the-square-thinking, or the Eureka phenomenon. There could be no room for humour. There could be no room for humility.

Sometimes experts use their experience not to explore the future, but merely to protect the past. Many an expert arrives at a situation and forms an instant judgement. This is based on his unique background, his personal expectations, his values, his mood, his agenda and other factors.

He sees things in a certain way and makes a snap judgement based on his current perceptions. If he is using logic as his main cognitive operating system, the expert often uses his expertise, not as a basis to explore the situation, but merely to back-up and support his snap judgement, and, to keep himself 'right'.

It seems that the more expert thinkers are, the better they are able to defend their point-of-view so they get trapped in it by their own expertise. They cannot escape their CVS, their Current View of the Situation.

Now I know this never happens to you, dear brainuser, (wink!) but you've probably seen other people fall into this hole. And, it's a very dangerous one to fall into.

The thinker, the clever brainuser, might take a different approach to a proposition presented to him or her. She would use her experience, whether thin or quite formidable, to provide an information basis for exploring the idea. She may notice what she thinks is good about it, and what she thinks is bad about it. Then, she may deliberately set out to notice how it could be improved, perhaps to lead to an even better idea, a Better View of the Situation.

To help you do this we use a little switch called CVS-TO-BVS. The switch is simply a neuroware device for programming cognetics into your short term memory.

It takes just one second to use this switch, to say CVS-TO-BVS. If you will practice this switch for ten days it will become a habit and become a permanent piece of neuroware in your necktop. After ten days, you'll have it forever.

The Law of Cognetics

The Law of Cognetics is: the Current View of the Situation can never be equal to the Better View of the Situation

Just think about that for ten seconds. See if it makes any sense to you and whether you can embrace the law or whether you can't. Say it to yourself out loud and see how you react to it:

the Current View of the Situation (CVS)
can never be equal to
the Better View of the Situation (BVS)

Do you have any trouble with this law? This is really the most important law for thinking. The more you can bring conviction into this, the more it'll work for you.

To simplify this you simply say:

CVS can never be equal to BVS

Antidote to PTV

This law - CVS * BVS - is a strong antidote to PTV and I will show you how to exploit it and put it to use in the next chapter. As I continue to design ways to neutralise PTV I prefer to use the tools of science. Why? What is it that makes science so unique? What is it that separates the scientific approach to matters from other non-scientific approaches? The answer is: testing and measuring.

It's only by putting a theory up against testing and measuring that we can move it from science fiction towards science fact. I say towards because we can never actually prove anything in science in an absolute sense.

What we say is that after testing and measurement of the evidence, the 'balance of evidence' as it now stands would indicate that such-and-such a theory seems valid. It's a 'more likely truth'. This always gets updated at a later stage by other scientists as testing and measuring procedures improve and as new theories, new 'more likely truths', are put forward.

Not Testing and Measuring = Faith

The absence of testing and measuring is: faith. When we are in a non-scientific mode we can use faith as a way of coming to a point-of-view. There are many things in human culture that don't lend themselves very well to testing and measuring and some people still get value out of believing in them.

For example there exists a myriad of myths and legends, folklore, superstitions and fortune-telling plus a rich collection of metaphysical beliefs. These have provided a great deal of interest to millions of people even though much of these areas elude any form of objective testing or measurement.

For example, no-one has ever been able to test or measure the existence of 'Guardian Angels'. So this is an unscientific belief that can be simply accepted on faith if one chooses to do so.

Some people take comfort in the idea of having a guardian angel and it may be a benefit to them. Others find the concept unwelcome. The thought of having a spiritual Peeping Tom following them around may seem an infringement on personal liberty.

Belief Systems

Although most of the world's total population of 5 billion or so do not support a religion of any kind, it was recently estimated by a religious leader that a large minority of around 30% still hope to get value and comfort out of religious beliefs of one kind or another.

Most of these believers were born into major world religions like Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism which are split into thousands of sub-groups with a range of variations in their beliefs and customs.

In addition, there are a staggering range of smaller religions, cults and belief systems of a variety which testifies to the richness and diversity of human imagination.

These belief systems require believers to take a leap of faith and to believe in things that we may not be able to test or measure. These religious beliefs fall outside the scientific method. This doesn't necessarily mean their claims are not true or didn't happen, it simply means that the balance of evidence is so slim that we have no way of knowing whether they are true and so, if we accept them, we do so by taking a leap of faith.

Many people, however, are quite able to take such a leap of faith. Many others may have had a set of beliefs culturally programmed into their brain when they were very small children.

To be considered scientifically valid, a proposition must be able to be tested or measured independently. It is not enough to simply measure the number of people who believe it. Just because a million people believe the earth is flat is not enough to make it flat. If a million becomes ten million the earth will still not lose its third dimension.

Laws of Moses

Sometimes we believe things we are told to believe just because we never really thought the matter through ourselves. It may simply be an area that has been protected from thinking for many years.

For example, Moses was a leader of ancient times and, like all leaders, he needed his people to adhere to his laws. He said that his ten laws or commandments should be obeyed. The reason that they should be obeyed, he claimed, is because they were given to him, privately, on a mountain, by his god, Yahweh.

By making this claim, Moses positioned these laws with the highest possible authority. They were not his laws, said Moses, but God's laws. This is a very old story that many people just accept but have never really updated or thought it through for themselves.

If you do stop to think about this story in the light of what we know today you may be able to ask yourself for a more plausible version. Since there were no witnesses or evidence of any kind we don't know whether Moses' version actually happened or not.

There are many possible explanations that could explain this story. Some are:

We simply just don't know.

However, millions of people who adhere to the Judeo-Christian tradition have simply chosen to take a leap of faith and to believe Moses' claim. A Christian or Jewish scientist could not accept this story as a scientist, but could accept it, on a leap of faith, as part of a religious belief system.

Believing Science and Believing Faith

The argument between science and religion is a false one. It is simply a matter of distinguishing between those things we believe because we have tested them and they are part of science and those things we believe because we cannot test them so we take a leap of faith.

There is no reason why we cannot hold viewpoints in both areas as long as we are able to distinguish between the two.

Your Beliefs

If you wish, you can explore some of your own beliefs, whether about your religion, your job and career or your future.

Ten Things That I Believe (But Cannot Prove)

Thought Experiment:

Try to conduct a thought experiment. In your mental laboratory try to use your thinking skill to generate another alternative explanation to Moses' story, in addition to the ones given above and tell me what you have come up with? Since it is only an experiment you can be as creative as you are capable of being.

Try to do your own experiment before looking at the ones below.

Here are some of the experiments supplied by SOT members. Of course, many of these thinkers come from cultures that do not use the Moses story. This is just a small sample of responses:

The Ten Commandments were not new. Moses, having been brought up in Pharoah's household was educated in their law. His father-in-law was a priest, skilled in moral law. The Ten Commandments he came up with resemble other sets of ancient laws. He just copied down the laws he knew, 'in his own words'. In presenting them as 'God's laws', he wasn't being deceptive, he genuinely believed that these 'universal' laws must have come from God, since they were so widely used. This probably doesn't count as an 'alternative', just a justification.

Geological formations on the mountain may have resembled stone tablets with writing on it. Moses took some pieces and said 'God wrote them'. The people would never have known, since they were too afraid to go up the mountain and verify the story.

Moses may have found the tablets, left by a previous civilisation. He may have received them from an alien.

An alternative explanation may not involve Moses at all. It is possible that the entire story of Moses was concocted many years after the alleged incident. Myth and legend constitute a large part of all religions and stories are made up and embellished through repeated tellings. In fact History is often referred to as "his story"; his referring to the entrenched power or leader of the time.

Moses may have been smoking or eating the leaves of 'The Burning Bush'. Was mescalin around in those days?

Oriental philosophies like Buddhism and yoga tell us (and invite us to verify personally) that there is a deep inner knowledge attainable through meditation and personal effort. Maybe Moses made the effort and had the insights but he felt that most of his people would not make this effort. So, to make it easier for them he used the 'God' idea.

Moses had to justify his position as leader by claiming that he was God's emissary and is the only one capable of communicating with God.

Maybe Moses had delusions of grandeur and really believed he had a private phoneline to God and that he was the chosen one to lead his people to greatness.

Moses was a control freak who would go to any lengths to make people follow him.

Moses just use the previous experience of the people 'what god says is what is right.' People can accept things easily. This could very possibly overtake the process of testing and measuring. Moses, if exist, is very clever brainuser.

Moses may have had a near-death experience on the mount.

Moses may have been a poet.

Moses was actually a slider, a time traveller from the future, who knew how the world would turn out if humanity continued down the current path, so he chose to zap back to an alternative (better) future and collect their guidelines for creating a better life. He knew, however, that the people in the time he was returning to would not believe in time travel and would accept 'the word of God' more easily.

Moses adapted the story from another story he heard as a child. He might have taken the childhood story, changed the context and added the higher authority of coming from God so that more people would listen.

Well Moses may have had a very lucid dream in which he imagined meeting an aspect of himself. He wanted to be in charge, as that was the manly thing to be, but thought that an expert needed to be called in. His expert was called Yahweh. Because his dream was on the mountain; there was not papyrus handy; only big stone blocks, so thinking laterally he grabbed the blocks of rock and chipped away at the code of practice he'd wanted all along for his followers. Can you tell I've been involved in Jungian dream groups too? Then again, maybe Moses had been smoking papyrus ....

Kenny: I'm sorry but could I skip this reply coz I'm a Christian and I don't think it's right to question the Bible. Please reply. Reply: Of course you can skip this or any other question if you feel it is not right to answer. May I ask you why you feel a Christian has no right to question the bible? Kenny: Basically, to us, Christians, the Bible is our everything. It's sort of an instruction book for us ( a book of "Do"s) and all that's stated in it are true (God never lies). So by asking what alternatives I could think of to explain the case, I feel that it's like questioning God's character. Reply: Fair enough!

I find it hard to even consider there is another explanation because I don't believe that it happened in the first place. But I guess if you need another explanation then I tender the following: Moses went to the local about 3 o'clock in the afternoon promising his wife that he would only be an hour. However he met some of his mates and they got on to the pool table and started to play pool. They kept winning and kept drinking. Before Moses knew it was 11.30 at night. Now he knew that he was going to be in deep trouble with his wife because he was late again (his wife being about 5 stone heavier than him). So he made up this story that on his way home he saw this bright light and met this Dude named God who wanted to get rid of these secrets (tablets). Now Moses, never one to walk away from an opportunity, took them as he saw it as a way to get out of a beating by his wife. That's the way the Ten Commandments' came into being.

He was rehearsing for a play he had written, and was stunned to find people actually believed what he was saying.

Maybe he was channeling messages from aliens.

Maybe the priests and wise men of the town chose him to tell this story (which they made up based upon their experiences) because he was a charismatic speaker.

Moses believed in God and believed that his laws were "divinely inspired" by God. He didn't just make up the story to give his laws more authority. He really BELIEVED they were issued from God. He carved the tablets himself, though. Of course, as an atheist, I reject Moses' belief in God, although some of his commandments are objectively valid when human life is used as the standard of measure.

Moses derived the basic 'rules' of the commandments for his people to follow; a code of conduct of sorts. Throughout the year(s) the story was embellished upon either by fervent followers or rulers to bend the consciousness of the people to a 'higher cause'.

The story was possibly a complete fabrication; Moses, had he really existed, was a figurehead or puppet, only to lend credence to the myth.

An alternative explanation to Moses' '10 commandments' story: The story was written 100 years after a person named Moses who led people was alive. It was written when a new leader was elected to lead the tribe of Israel. This leader made up laws because he was having trouble keeping people in line. These laws were then taught as gospel.

Some of the kids decided to play a practical joke on good old Moses... Burning bush... voice of god... . The ten commandments? Moses saw through it and decided to play a little trick on the rest of the tribe.

100 years after Moses supposedly lived, there was chaos as different tribes came into contact with each other through travelling due to trading. One man designed a code of behaviour for people to agree on and made a good profit marketing it-the 10 commandments. The 'burning bush' idea came to him when he was on a trip and saw a small tree was just struck by lightning.

Perhaps Moses was actually God. That is, God had manifested himself into a human body - and called himself Moses - so that he could pass on the 10 commandments. Then he realised that there was no way that he could claim to be God, as people would think that he was crazy, so he had to make up a story that sounded more believable. Therefore, he became - as he was - a messenger from God. He knew that this would not be questioned, as no one had come with such 'radical' ideas before - and Moses (who was actually God) had enough leadership skills to pass on the laws with conviction. After all - we are his 'children', his 'creation - so he knew how people would react.

Moses may have either been manipulated by a group or part of a group who wished to create a better way of life and living for the masses and needed a capable leader of integrity to deliver the guidelines.

Moses was deceived by a group of misfits playing a practical joke who never expected the ideas to catch on!

Moses was actually in contact with an extra-terrestrial, who was so saddened by the state of affairs on Earth that he bestowed on Moses 10 principles for his people to live by.

There was actually an imposter who presented the laws. When Moses' workers confronted him regarding the laws, he denied that he had anything to do with them. They then concluded that Moses must have been possessed by God and was not consciously aware of his actions. Thus, the laws were accepted as God's word.

Moses might have met someone who gave him the tablets in a prearranged meeting.

Moses was afraid he would be killed if the people did not want to obey his laws so he said they were god's laws.

He was really old and suffering from sclerosis.

Ever read 'Origins of Consciousness in the breakdown of the Bicameral Mind' by Julian Jaynes? His theory was that three thousand years ago people literally hallucinated 'gods' which told them what to do. They did not think like we do, but merely followed the voices. Moses probably heard the voice of 'god' literally. By the way, this may explain why the brain works in a patterning system. If Jaynes was right, It was designed to simply follow orders. Consciousness is a weird thing that happened when man learned to write and speak in metaphor.


To further explore this subject, there are 37 FREE Interactive E-mail Lessons available from the author of this book... The purpose of this training is to help you to become a skilled thinker through daily practise...

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