Monthly Archives: May 2011

14 Things Everyone Needs From Government

In The May 16, 2011 issue of The New Yorker (an especially fine issue even by that iconic publication’s standards), a Pakistani storekeeper doing business in the neighborhood where Osama had been hiding, says he doesn’t care about that particular struggle, or any other fight going on in the world. He doesn’t want weapons, he says, he wants “light, water, health and education”.

Most people everywhere would echo those words. A huge percentage of the history of the world being written every day, and a huge percent of the money spent each year, is tied up in competitions and power struggles going on over our heads. The people with power are shaping the lives we must live, and we appear to have zero control over that reality.

We live in a democracy, we like to think the world’s best, and certainly the world’s first in modern times (thinking of Athens in the Golden Age as USA-like in a very few respects). We vote – those who still feel it makes a difference or that we would be cowards not to try to make a positive difference. But that’s just it: more than half of us have given up voting, mostly because we are sure that there is nothing we can do that makes any difference whatsoever.

Robert A. Heinlein once mentioned a scale plotting the strength of an individual’s will (and so the probability of that individual’s survival) where the lowest point is named apathy. Giving up, believing that one has zero control, is the very definition of apathy.

Each of us has the potential to move the world. I have seen a little bit of this first hand, in a small microcosm of the Earth called the advertising business. I set out to change it and have already made some markups on it.

Moving an industry takes vast effort every day and is worth it. I recommend it to everyone. Just figure out what would make it better and cautiously make tentative suggestions for a few decades and see what happens.

If one person can change an industry, then with a little bit of gung ho cooperation among a bunch of people, it should be possible to change the world.

And now we’ve got the Internet. When I first started thinking about what were called “online services” in the late 60s, the word “democracy” just kept popping up in my head all the time. I saw webcams becoming a part of a new type of social television – something which I am sure will happen at some point in the sequencing of media revolutions still to come.

I hoped to be one of those bringing together positive thinking, socially aware advertisers as sponsors with similarly aware networks to create a new screen programming, totally interactive and melding Town Hall with Delphi techniques, to actually influence the thinking of politicians, and to provide a platform for bringing forth inventions and ideas from the entire citizenry to public attention at large.

I reasoned to myself that even just based on the people and ideas I knew were available, the programming would be entertaining and super informative and would garner a huge rating. People like Norman Cousins, Eric Sevareid, Walter Cronkite and Jimmy Carter, to name just a few, gave positive feedback to some of these ideas, and kept me charged to continue another step in the journey. And then another. I continue to this day, and hope you will join me in the co-creation of democracy social screen programming.

Taking a step back, there is another matter, another toolset we will need along the way. Taking some share of screen audience each day to play a game of running the world, and actually having impact, that’s one thing. But will it go far enough? What are the root causes of the ills we’re trying to cure?

They come back to the need for evolution of the minds of the people at the top. Those who are having the biggest effect on history. They are still getting into wars like the petty kings and dukes of yesteryear. They have not mentally, emotionally, and spiritually evolved far enough to rise above the emotions within that cause them to get us into wars.

So whatever kind of Television/Internet (I have been calling it “screen” to cover all screen media – yes, even cinema) we create, no matter how many great ideas we bring to light, the people who control our lives will only move inches and not miles per year as a result, unless we can get into their heads and make the necessary adjustments. And before we can say this justifiably, we have to get into our own heads and make sure of our own motivations.

If we act out of pride and self-aggrandizement, we are right there with them. Only by taking the long view and the big view – that we are grateful to the Universe for having us, and we want to give back in that spirit by taking care of as much of the world as we can nurture – only by being ourselves nobly motivated can we help make the shift at the top.

This is what I call psychotechnology. It is the subject of my books and videos, which are designed to get the reader/viewer to objectively look inside and consider certain adjustments to get into a higher, more effective state of consciousness.

With psychotechnology and new media we can change the world for the better. It will not be easy nor quick. But it would be cowardly and apathetic to shy away from the task. Let’s do it together.

Impressed by the words of the Pakistani shopkeeper, I made a straw man list of 14 things we should expect from our government. I started where he started and added the rest by stream of consciousness. What you see below is how it came out, not in any systematic order yet.

Of course safety (protection) is on the list, and people who know me know of my great respect for our military. I am not against defense when I write about the need to wind down on wars. I have given many workshops to the military over the years and have met great-hearted and super intelligent people there. People who glom onto psychotechnology without a moment’s hesitation.

I didn’t put protection on the top of the list because, if we do our job right, within a century the world will be run by highly evolved human beings and the need for protection will gradually move down the list. So it came out near the bottom because I was thinking of the future ideal state – the one our children’s children’s children will inherit. Alas it cannot be removed from the top of the list yet – a sad statement about the leadership of the world in general.

That is not a blanket statement about all of the world’s leaders. I think we have some of the smartest – yet they need to look inside to better resolve their emotions into more Solomon-like action reflecting true wisdom.

The following list, being a pro forma, contains items some of which really fall into the bucket of another item on the list – “A Good Economy” would give us many of the others. But for the people who have not, it is worth spelling out even if duplicative.

The list in itself is something we can refine over the next hundred years. Meanwhile let’s get to work on building the screen superhighway through which democracy will flow healing ideas into the minds of those at the control switches.

 

14 THINGS EVERYONE NEEDS FROM GOVERNMENT

  1. We need Light
  2. Water (clean, please, including oceans)
  3. Health
  4. Education
  5. Clean Air
  6. A Good Economy
  7. Jobs
  8. Fair Pay
  9. Fair Costs of Living
  10. Safety (protection)
  11. Facilitation of Individual Development (I would put this one on top)
  12. Freedom
  13. Democracy (sharing of control)
  14. Equality

Best to all,

Bill

 

EOP on a Social Level

“In a superbusy world, EOP (Emergency Oversimplification Procedure) Man jumps at the chance to believe, and says to himself he has no time to think for himself. Religions, political systems, sports leagues, the old left-right wing oversimplification, skin color biases, all of these things become time saving conveniences to EOP Woman and Man. Don’t have to think, thanks!”     —From my next book*

At some age, pretty early in life, each of us thinks of all the big questions for the first time. Who am I, why are we here, etc. That, on top of all the other unanswered questions produced by our interactions with others, drives us all to the same emotional state of permanently giving up on getting answers. This is the very moment EOP begins.

Some of us never did give up on getting answers and so slip in and out of EOP but spend more than the average amount of time out of that state. EOP still gets us because our minds were not trained to deal with the rapid and complex input streams. But we periodically catch up and come out of it.

Avoiding deep thought and simply getting through life is EOP.

This creates an ideal petri dish in which to grow the ideas that are offered to us as mass movements. Instead of each of us having access to tools that allow us to bring out our inherent individual talents and give these developed talents to the world, our time is too constricted for that because we are doing something often tangential to our true talents in order to pay the dues we owe society in the form of money. Instead of our own perceptions we are provided a menu of mass perceptions to choose from, and because everyone subconsciously gets it that we are all in some kind of fog (EOP), there are not too many choices.

Pre-packaged belief systems on the menu: Capitalism, Communism, specific religions, immersion in some form of ongoing mind-consuming gladiatorial spectacle (spectator sports) requiring memorization of names and scores and other factoids in order to sustain a feeling of belonging and being accepted, choices on mass issues such as race – all of this is a kind of mantra that distracts the mind and keeps it busy processing the accepted mass topics and positions on things, often particular to where you happen to live.

The individual life of the mind is something we are faintly aware of hearing and feeling going on somewhere in the background but we don’t have time to pay much attention to our own thoughts except when we are alone, which is rare. If most of us break out of EOP at all, it is sometimes, when we are alone.

Socially, the effects of EOP are dramatic. We ignore the empathy-endowing effects of the mirror neurons in our brain and coldly close our hearts to other people except under exceptional circumstances. We see life as a dog-eat-dog bar brawl in which we have to look out for number one. Money pressures are the riverbanks that shape the flow of our actions and reify the perception of life as a free-for-all fight for survival.

Neofeudalism becomes the underlying state of society, in which the Haves control the situation, and not-having is perceived by all as being perfectly civilized. Democracy is the right idea when fully carried out, which it never has been. Today democracy is a noble intention but not yet a realized reality. The Internet creates greater potential for true democracy – we shall see how many years go by before such a thing happens.

Whatever tools we use to re-adjust society it will probably take hundreds of years to fully eliminate Havenotism everywhere on Earth, and establish a hutopia (a humanly possible utopia) where individuals are cultivated for their unique mix of talents, which can be shared with others on as large a scale as naturally develops in each case. Again it sounds like some form of Videoized Internet will be involved – perhaps totally artificial reality as visualized in the early works of William Gibson (who coined the term “cyberspace”).

Some will ask whether we can ever really get there from here. Naturally it is easy to think of the Haves as being selfish and not wanting hutopia. In fact you the reader are probably a Have, as I am. We are not bad guys. So maybe there are fewer bad guys than is normally assumed in EOP. Maybe practically all of us are just caught up in this Acceleritis pandemic, and not actively against hutopia. How about hutopia without anyone giving up a reasonable level of wretched excess?

In hutopia even the Haves will be having a better time. There is a very high ROI on hutopia. And it is a payoff for everyone, without exception.

The pursuit of happiness. Having that in our country’s Declaration of Independence and bonded into the Constitution was a first in history. No country before us legitimatized the natural right to happiness, or even the idea of natural rights. The great contemporary songwriter and my great friend Stan Satlin brought this to my attention and said that in Judaism is the same idea, mitzvah, focused on giving others happiness and so sharing in that happiness oneself (and thereby giving back to the Creator).

I often think that the one other natural right I would have suggested had I been there would be the right to have one’s innate talents cultivated. This is where I see the greatest tragedy in Havenotism. So many talents wasted. We all benefit from having the greatest development of talents on Earth. We will all wind up getting better service that way.  😀

If we all magically were to wake up tomorrow and work together toward it without asking for money (but accepting what’s on the chow line and how soft/hard/how you like it the bed is), the Earth’s resources divided by the number of people probably makes hutopia easily possible even with today’s toolware. And the technology is also in (and driving) the state of Acceleritis so it won’t be long before the technomultiplier effect gives us even more economic leverage to achieve hutopia with.

But put that dream aside for now. Let’s talk about what we can do in our lifetimes.

I submit that the priority is EOP. We have to get out of it.

How do we do that?

First of all we will need a psychotechnology. A set of practices which allow an individual to spend less and less time in EOP. More time in the Observer State and Flow State.

This is by no means optimized as a technology today. What we have are the beginnings of toolware. Thousands of people have attested to the fact that these tools work.***

As a society we have to continue to develop and refine psychotechnology, and we must see to it that it is installed in all of our schools.

I don’t mean my stuff necessarily. Let’s as a society engender a process by which these plowshares get beaten into gleaming instruments of biofeedback contentware, kind of a Rosetta Stone language feedback courseware expanded into all conceivable media from books and blogs to artificial realities and brainscans.

Let’s make it a priority to clear our minds of EOP. By all means let’s have real scientists verify what I have been saying. I have in fact been getting positive feedback from neuroscientists for some time, so I know that while unscientific, my hypotheses are somewhere in the vicinity of the truth, lying as behind a veil just out of perception range by the mass of humanity.

It should be possible to measure the brain signatures of EOP, Observer State, and Flow State, and thereby better understand their existence and ways to move from one to the other. Since the early 80s I have been peripherally involved with experiments of this type and know that symmetry of EEG levels (delta, alpha, beta) between left and right brain is one part of the brain signature of the Observer State (and probably of Flow State). From recent work at Yale we know there is a reduction of random information flow across the corpus callosum – as if a reduction in mental chatter – in the Flow State (The Zone, as Yale Master Marvin Chun puts it).

Precisely knowing the totality of the brain substrates of these states will move us from hypotheses to a real theory of brain states, and a true psychotechnology that can elevate the effectiveness of the human race. It’s my hope that the Human Effectiveness Institute can at least begin this process, and we will get as far as we can.

Best to all,

Bill

* I’m writing my next book now in parallel with this blog. The book is entirely fresh material, never seen before. (Except in occasional quotes such as the one above.) EOP (Emergency Oversimplfication Procedure), the condition that sets in when there is too much information – desperate shortcutting such as rationalized guesswork.

**Mind Magic, Freeing Creative Effectiveness (both books different versions of the same content)

*** Out of ~35,000 copies sold on lifetime moneyback guarantee, 11 came back, and over 2000 endorsement letters/emails were received generally citing life changes in desired directions and saying more people should read this book.

Plenty of Time for the Human Race to Wake Up

Assuming that our theory is correct, the human race is currently in the grips of an Emergency Oversimplification procedure (EOP). This is a worldwide disease of the mind that we don’t know that we all have.

It started no more than about 6000 years ago when written language revolutionized our lives, kicking off inventions, weapons, and ultimately in the last half millennium mass media. There is now a rush of information into the human brain on a daily continuous basis.

Not only do the media pour in this complex and question-producing information, this info-density is also the product of citification, another result of written language. We now mostly live in each other’s faces while the brainwash drumbeat of media creates a ceaseless background context.

Havenotism (the belief that it is normal and appropriate for some individuals to have not) developed because certain individuals within the human race became more accomplished faster at the use of written language, inventions and weapons. Weapons and media are simply part of the inventing capability emergent from written language. Before written language, there was the use of inscribed and sculpted images to aid in the types of thought conducive to inventing things. But without written language, more complex inventions such as machines and machined weapons were very difficult to construct.

Written language not only captures and VISUALLY* freezes thoughts (which are therefore retrievable), it also trains the mind to think analytically about parts and wholes in a way that is visualizable. Imagery can become more complex when the mind is trained to use eyes and mind together in the process of written language. Inventions come about because of complex imagery and written language. Complex imagery cannot develop without the symbolic thinking and logic skills engendered by written language. Written language therefore stands as the most important invention of the human race.

It also brought on a temporary flood tide of ideas, which has hypnotized and intoxicated us all into this rapture we call EOP.

I say temporary because I am thinking of the time scale. Dinosaurs ruled the Earth for 150 million years. We have had written language for 6000 years, about 0.004% of the time humans will rule the Earth assuming we are as durable as dinosaurs. So as I said in the title of this posting, we have plenty of time as a race to get past EOP.

Best to all,

Bill

*Homo sapiens are a sub-branch of the family of primates, and the perception dominance of primates is visual – whereas for felines and canines it is olfactory (smell) and for dolphins it is auditory (hearing). Written language would never have been such an empowering and seminal invention for us if we were not visually dominant.

 

The Three States of Waking Consciousness

Western science has it that there is a single state of human consciousness. In his landmark book The Meditative Mind, my wonderful friend Daniel Goleman presents the ancient Eastern wisdom of the Visuddhimagga and other sacred texts, showing ten waking states above an access state which itself is superior to the everyday state on the path of concentration, and nine such waking states above access state and everyday state on the path of insight. This suggests that there are around a dozen waking states.

Obviously in the East they allowed self-observation to be considered a path to objective knowledge, a technique little used in the West. This is why psychotechnologies – ways of controlling our mental states by acts of will and concentration – were developed first in the East.

If there were only one state of waking consciousness, this means that Osama when he was reportedly high on heroin and about to be shot was in the same state of waking consciousness as Einstein was in when he had the insight of Relativity and the relationships between matter and energy, space and time. How plausible is that?

Even if we want to be snobbish know-it-all Westerners, unscientifically closed-minded and not even interested in experimenting with Eastern mental maps, is it not pretty easy to allow that there could be more than one state of waking consciousness?

As in the paths of concentration and insight in the example above, it is possible to conceive of a number of different maps of states of waking consciousness, all being true from their own viewpoint. There could be a map showing what you go through when you focus on your concentration in itself, and discover higher and higher degrees of your ability to concentrate. There could be a different map for what you experience when you practice ways of achieving deeper and deeper insights into what exists in your purview.

Here at The Human Effectiveness Institute (THEI), because we are singularly focused on the goal of increasing human effectiveness, we divide waking consciousness into three states. We recognize that there are other valid ways of distinguishing states of consciousness, and that there are undoubtedly sub-states within the three states that we use as a basis for our psychotechnology. However, for utilitarian reasons, we simplify to these three states:

  1. Emergency Oversimplification Procedure (EOP). The “functional” state of the human race today. You are acting like a robot. Somebody who knows you well can predict accurately what you will do in a certain situation. He or she could get rich making bets on your next actions, were there anyone to take those bets. You always say the same things, keyed to the situation. You have the same feelings and go through the same mental loops when the same types of things happen to you. You are focused on quickly classifying incoming situations into types so you know what to do.
  2. The Observer State. You can see that you have been acting like a programmed machine. You can see that it’s hard to stop the robot part of you from controlling your actions even though you are wide awake to the situation.
  3. The Flow State. Aka The Zone. Often for short periods, some of us are able to spontaneously do exactly the right thing down to miniscule subtleties, and it all happens automatically while you watch your self do this, from your ringside seat.

We hypothesize that there are underlying measurable brain states corresponding to these three experiential (perceived from the inside) states. It’s possible that one drives the other but we need to be careful in coming to conclusions about which drives which.

In EOP, we hypothesize that there might be high functional connectivity (or functional coupling) between neural networks in Brodmann Area 10 (sense of self; aka BA10) and the limbic system and other brain areas involved in the ancient fight-flight reaction syndrome.

In the Observer State, we hypothesize that there is high functional coupling between BA10 and the prefrontal lobes.

In the Flow State, we hypothesize high functional coupling across a number of brain regions, signifying natural harmony, possibly appearing in brainscan as symmetrical and balanced, possibly crystalline pattern of moving energies. Users of low cost EEG devices such as Mind Mirror since the early 80s have seen this yantra/mandala--like pattern in EEGs of advanced meditators. The Mind Mirror device is conducive to showing these artistic brain patterns during subject Flow State because the display shows left and right brain from “above”.

Computer science professor and prolific science fiction writer Rudy Rucker uses the pre-existing term “autopoiesis” (self-creation) to mean the degree of control an individual has over his or her self. (Rudy’s characteristically quantum mechanics infused twist on the term makes for a paragraph interesting to read.) Using Rudy’s meaning, the three states of waking consciousness as we have defined them, constitute stages along a continuum of self-creation/self-control. In EOP, regardless of what one thinks, one is not in control of one’s actions, which are being driven mechanically by people who push your buttons and by what appear to be stray events. These events may or may not being dragged (by inter-personal signaling among mirror neurons) into your purview, attracted by your fears; it certainly seems that way. Your fears keep attracting the feared situation.

In the Observer State, there are degrees of control. At the earliest stage of learning how to be when in the Observer State, one can see what one’s robot is doing but cannot stop the robot from doing it. Later on there is a higher degree of control.

In the Flow State, one has such a high degree of control that it has become autonomic such that the individual’s will has no inertial drag as it processes through to motor control.

We define “psychotechnology” (the word had earlier meanings in the 1930s) as anything that helps people get from EOP into either or both of the two higher effectiveness states of waking consciousness.

I have been creating such psychotechnology for my own personal use all my life, and began packaging it for others in the 1970s. In 1976 I founded the Human Effectiveness Institute (THEI) and others who saw the effectiveness increases from the early psychotechnology gathered around THEI to help disseminate it. We are working toward an even more effective package with the next book and its accompanying DVD video.

We hope you will experiment with these psychotechnologies on yourself.

Looking forward to that. All the best,

Bill

 

Psychotechnology for the 21st Century

This post will overview the Institute and our work. As a media researcher I’ve analyzed large databases, done surveys, measured brainwaves, tracked eye movements, absorbed a vast amount of information, and thought for the past 40 years about the way media affect the mind.

I started using computers in the 60s and was on the Internet in 1980 when it was called Arpanet. My exposure to computers during this period as they ascended to a major role in our culture got me to think about how the mind and the computer work in similar ways.

In my childhood my showbiz parents put me on stage from age 4 onward. The pressure of being on stage gave me the experience of “flow state” – almost an out of body experience, watching myself perform as if from the outside. These experiences made me intensely curious about what was going on in my head not only at these times, but all the time.

I have always been a meditator and contemplator, having discovered the techniques myself, under pressure to perform at above what I thought was my ability. What do these words mean to me? Contemplation is immersive observation, and can be focused on any subject. Meditation is when the focus of contemplation is one’s own self. You observe your self without identifying with the feelings and thoughts that arise, observing them as if from afar.

All of these currents in my life coalesced into a set of theories that are the basis for my nonprofit work, which is the Institute.

THEI as I call it for short has the Mission of disseminating useful psychotechnology – tools for internal information processing optimization – similar in a way to the media optimization tools I’ve helped invent for the marketing industry. Tools for sublimating negative emotion into learning and into action items. Leaving only positive emotion.

The Vision is that one day, maybe pretty far in the future, the whole human race will be using such psychotechnology on a continuous basis. Because this will avert war at the individual level and cause a shift from competitiveness to cooperation and mutual nurturing. May it come as soon as possible.

The history of the human race is uplifted over and over again by the introduction of bits of such psychotechnology, which in the past has manifested as yoga, Zen, religion, mysticism, philosophy, science, psychology, morality/ethics, aesthetics, and many other good things.

THEI’s psychotechnology is in the realm of science and specifically relates to translating ancient and self-discovered practices into the language of information processing so that it may be considered objectively by all parts of the population including people normally biased against such possibilities.

My book FREEING CREATIVE EFFECTIVENESS is an experiment to see if this personal psychotechnology (it has been proven to work in my own life, or I wouldn’t pass it on) could actually be transferred to anyone else. About 2000 letters, cards, and emails indicate that the original  version worked at least for some people. Including a range of well-known folks from Norman Cousins to John Lennon, Ram Dass and Daniel Goleman. Also some bank officials, corporate executives, Army Generals, Colonels, Navy Captains, et al, people in jail, teenagers, seniors, without any known group excluded.

Why do we need psychotechnology? It helps reduce stress, improve health, increase emotional intelligence, maximize performance, make you able to enjoy moment to moment Life even during downturns. It is speed learning. The element that it controls is attention – where you place it, where you don’t, and how to withhold the autonomic response that gets you stuck in every feeling and thought you have before you can apply quality control.

Some free samples of THEI psychotechnology are being offered in these blog postings and on our site. We hope you get something valuable out of THEI psychotechnology and give us feedback to help us make it better.

All the best,

Bill