Brain Software
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:

First you Start. This is like switching the necktop from OFF to ON

  • Then you Do ... something ... anything

  • Then you Notice the feedback from your actions, carefully and objectively

  • Then you Think. What happened? What were the consequences? What did I like about them? What didn't I like about them?

  • Then repeat 1 - 5.

    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):

    START ... DO ... NOTICE ... THINK -
    START ... DO ... NOTICE ... THINK -
    START ... DO ... NOTICE ... THINK -
    START ... DO ... NOTICE ... THINK -
    START ... DO ... NOTICE ... THINK -
    START ... DO ... NOTICE ... THINK -
    START ... DO ... NOTICE ... THINK -
    START ... DO ... NOTICE ... THINK -
    START ... DO ... NOTICE ... THINK -
    START ... DO ... NOTICE ... THINK

    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.

    • Design your own Thought Experiment.

    • Explain your Thought Experiment to an associate and at least three of the imagined outcomes.


    Brain Freebie! - Chapter 16 -
    CVSTOBVS - Cognetics Operating Systemâ„¢


    CVS * BVS

    "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
    CVS * 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:

    • Moses was clever enough to make up the story to give his laws more authority

    • Perhaps Moses just dreamt it

    • Moses might have been hallucinating from inhaling smoke from a nearby burning bush

    • Moses may have been overtired, sleep deprivation could do it

    • Exhaustion or malnutrition could influence his judgement

    • Old Moses may have even have been suffering from Alzheimer's or one of a range of mental illnesses.

    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)

    • About my religion, I believe ...
    • About my religion, I believe ...
    • About my religion, I believe ...

    • About my job, I believe ...
    • About my job, I believe ...
    • About my job, I believe ...

    • About my future, I believe ...
    • About my future, I believe ...
    • About my future, I believe ...

    • About my beliefs, I believe ...

    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.


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