Brain pool:
Many years ago I had a friend whom I have mostly forgotten, but as I remember he was smart, tough and honest.  We were chatting about something or other and found we had a disagreement on a point of fact.  I could not persuade him so we dropped the matter.  Later he looked me up; he was in high dudgeon.  He said, “You were right.”

“Of course I was right.”

“But I won the argument.”

“You argued very well.”

He was about to respond when he apparently saw the irony of forcing me to agree about something or other.  We dropped the matter.  I doubt it still troubles him, but it troubles me.

You can be right and not be able to get somebody to listen at least to the point of accepting that there is another opinion. 

In this I am not alone.  It turns out (Asher Koriat When Are Two Heads Better than One? SCIENCE vol. 336 no. 6079 April 20, 2012 page 360) that people arrive at different answers when they are alone than when they are in a group.  A group will be less creative than the individuals of the group would be were they working alone. 

That’s fine with me.  I spend a lot of time thinking alone.  Often I will make an effort to find somebody to bounce my ideas off of.  Usually it means buying them a meal.  But most of the time either a thought will strike me instantly when the relevant evidence appears or at the other extreme it may be weeks while the idea slowly emerges through the ooze of my mind.

People interacting have the advantage of more points of view.  And by and large the one surer of his or her opinion will sway the others.  Since there is a correlation between confidence and being right, the result is an advantage for the committee approach.

Well and good.  I must continue to try to network.  But the bad side of it is than when most of the members of the group are wrong, then they tend to sway the others and the groups final opinion is wrong.

Oh that’s bad.  That’s very bad.  At least it is bad if the truth is the unexpected.  It will be shouted down by the cliché.

There is another way in which the widely accepted, assumed and false has the advantage.  They say (Will B. Gervais and Ara Norenzanyan Analytic Thinking Promotes Religious Disbelief SCIENCE vol. no. 6080 April 27, 2012 page 493) that the mind functions in two modes.  I would say that is a total understatement.  I would list:
Split second reaction.
Synchronicity with other minds.
Pleasantly haunting daydreaming.
Routine stereotyped transactions like typing.
Routine stereotyped transactions done with care like other people’s typing.
Considered opinion.
Considered opinion with close analysis.
Anger mode.
Fear mode.
Love mode.
Sex mode.
Grossed out mode.
Laughing mode.
Grieving mode.
Rejoicing mode.
Bored mode.
Drilled action.
Memorized recital.
Meditation mode.  (I have heard of it but have no idea what it’s about.)
Conscious preoccupation over weeks.
Unconscious deep reflection over months. 
I could go on.

Anyway, they say two modes, so let’s hang with that.

The first mode they call heuristic. That means rule of thumb.  Going with prior experience; taking the obvious opinion as requiring the least effort.  On the other hand, they have an analytical mode.  In problem solving, that one is more likely to produce the right answer.  For instance there used to be a little game.  There would be three … I think it was doors.  Behind only one would be a prize.  The contestant would choose a door at random.  The host would then open one of the other two doors and reveal that there was no prize behind it.  The contestant would then have the option of changing his or her guess.  There is a winning strategy, which I shall not burden you with.  The point is that it is not the obvious one.  Most people used a losing strategy. 

On such occasions, analyze like crazy.

The paper had as its point a relationship between an analytic frame of mind and religious faith.  It was not clear to me whether they made a clear distinction between ones religion and ones God so I did not get much out of their conclusion. 

But I got a great deal out of their approach.  They claimed to have ways to encourage people to enter an analytical frame of mind.  Methods included showing them a picture of Rodin’s statue “The Thinker.”  For a long time during Neolithic days female figures such as the one currently shown on the “home page” of this site were the only representational art and the only use for ceramics over an enormous area.  There is one exception.  Occasionally there was a male figure in the “Thinker” pose.  

Neolithic figurines
Downloaded May 4. 2012.

The figure on the left should put you in an analytic frame of mind.  The figure on the right, I suppose should put you in an amorous frame of mind.  Usually such female figures have no face.

All right.  I can do that.

Next you can be put into an analytical frame of mind by considering the words: analyze, reason, ponder, think and rational.  It may seem silly, but they say it works.  Might be worth a try.

Finally you can encourage an analytic approach simply by writing in italics, because it’s hard to read.  I generally skip italics for that very reason.  I also tend to stop reading when I hit trendy words like BCE for BC, sea star for starfish, tsunami for tidal wave, Hanson disease for Hanson’s disease.  So maybe I should include distasteful words in an annoying font.  Forget it.  I hate italics

Actually I find Gothic type the hardest of all for extended reading, but they seem to think it’s easy.

All right then.  I find my basic idea gets routinely dismissed by the majority in their heuristic mental set.  Maybe I should try something like they describe.

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