Monthly Archives: June 2011

Continuing Praise for David Brooks at ARF, and Holosentience

I’ve long been bemused by the fact that some people really love my book FREEING CREATIVE EFFECTIVENESS, while others seem to stare at it uncomprehendingly, not knowing what category to put it in.

I myself have struggled to put the book in a category since there were no other books in that category. Or, at least, not since the Vedanta Sutra around 200 BC, and not until David Brooks’ THE SOCIAL ANIMAL, which I am now reading. I was drawn in by the uncanny similarities I discerned between our books during the most valuable Keynote I’ve ever heard at a conference — David’s Keynote at the recent Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) Audience Measurement Symposium (AMS) 6.0, the world’s largest annual audience measurement conference.

Now there are two modern books in the category. The category is about looking inside to learn the right adjustments to become a truer you — the you that was born, sans a lifetime of fear-driven conditioning.

David draws his sources from the latest psychology research especially the brain frontier and its integration with classical psychological pattern observations. When I did my first brain experiments within the advertising field and U.S. military in the early 80s, I saw that the mapping of inner/outer experiences to parts of the brain in specific states was going to explode soon. And it has.

Back in the day I had the honor of working with Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, former Harvard Psychobiology professors who had been at Harvard with Leary and Alpert. Richie has gone on to lead a large portion of the cutting edge brain research and is highly respected by every brain scientist I’ve met. Dan is best known for his best-selling EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE series.

Why don’t I put Dan’s books in the category of looking inside to learn the right adjustments to become a truer you? It’s because I have a larger division in my mind between books that show theory (“descriptive”) versus books that are specifically meant to be used as a manual of techniques (“prescriptive”). I made my manual fun by a sort of neopoetic style and parsing that I find also singles out ideas. David made his book fun by making it a love story. But I feel David’s motivations are similar to mine — a chance to improve everyone’s lives. All they need is equipoise — the ability to objectively look inside and make little acts of will in daring to follow one’s dreams with love and humility.

The two books agree in that. David’s is more descriptive, mine more prescriptive — and still somewhat unique in its emphasis on practical application of very specific techniques that have been proven to work by my own experience, and by a few thousand readers who wrote in to attest to positive results from reading my book.

David cites the actual experiments that are the basis for the way he makes his characters act. Although there is some experimental and fact-based grounding to my book, it exists within a seamless synthesis of brain research with psychoanalysis, 6000 years of inner observation findings and prescriptions summarized in pithy “sutras”, and all the other books I read in the 70s — but mostly from observing my own inner experience for my entire life.

As early as I can remember, I was fascinated more with what went on in my mind and soul than what went on outside. Long before I knew the words, I was often in a state of contemplation, concentration, or meditating. Ideas sprang into my mind that I found myself writing. I was keeping track of my own observations because from what I heard adults saying, it was apparent they would not know what I was talking about.

In my teens I found psychology, esoteric psychology/philosophy, and in my 20s, yoga. I started by trying to put together for myself a science by which I could intelligently predict my own behavior and understand its dynamics, causes and effects.

Soon after college, my career in media research — because it involved computers (in the 60s) — gave me the ability to see the mind through the lens of what computers do. Media research further allowed me to ground my ideas in the stable patterns and slow changes in population behaviors, brain function, attitude shift, cognitive science, and behavioral econometrics, and introduced me to the idea of optimization, which I instantly decided to apply internally.

Out of all of these fuzzy sources comes the theory of Holosentience. It’s amusing that after I thought I had coined this term, I Googled it and found a reference to the light-based doctor in the Star Trek megaseries. He called himself a holosentience, I recall that now. Well, I’m not going to change the name of the theory.

Here is the essence of my theory of Holosentience:

  1. We have a true self that is stitched into the fabric of the Universe. Whatever the Universe is, that’s the same as what the true self is. Our true self is who we are when we were born. It is the root and substrate of our existence, our being, who we are, our true identity, our essence — it is the most real thing about us in the sense of quantum physics reality. We experience it as an observer — it is an observer. It is consciousness, which we define as “that which experiences”.
  2. From pre-birth we begin to program our brain. Every conscious experience creates proteins in the brain — nerve tissue encoded with meanings derived from those experiences. Association areas take form, clusters of related experiences. Programs are written — true software — that inhabit the brain and begin to share control of motor functions with the true self. You do things you seem to not be able to stop yourself from doing. The classical name for this phenomenon is Ego. It is trying to protect you, trying to be helpful like Bill Gates’ Paperclip-being, is still doing things you now have long since forgotten you told it to do, and is in all ways doing what a robot does, acting on its programming. I call this part the software layer or Robot.
  3. Some of this programming needs to be removed, and you have to use what David calls equipoise — objective introspection and small acts of will — to gradually remove it. It does not leave easily. A lot of my book is about how to track down those behaviors and expose them to yourself for what they are. Because there are different centers in this software stemming back to different traumas and extraordinary experiences, in my book I use the term “Senators” to point out that we actually have different selves — although these are not our true self but rather copies of other people who made impressions on our software. David again echoes the idea of not one but many different selves, though he does not point out that they are all within a Robot layer apart from the true self.

There are three broad states of the foregoing Theory of Holosentience, which are not covered in THE SOCIAL ANIMAL:

  1. Emergency Oversimplification Procedure (EOP) — where we are now due to Acceleritis. Acceleritis is not new to today’s obvious-frenetic culture, it actually started 6000 years ago with seeable language. The individual is not processing out the counterproductive programs — that whole part of life is put on hold. There is little if any equipoise. People are not open to objectively considering their own flaws, they are too scared to admit they have any flaws. There is low effectiveness to decision making, action is mistimed, there is little grace and even less inspiration. The world as we see it aggregately — wars, Havenotism, selfish ignoble behavior all around. Creativity is being channeled negatively. In the presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and a deteriorating environment and what appear to be permanent systemic challenges emerging in the economic system, it is quite possibly critical to the human race to get out of EOP asap. I feel that David and I are hoping to make a difference there.
  2. Observer State. There is a detachment of the true self from the software or Robot layer such that there is an arc gap, where the true self is able to objectively see what the software layer is doing. David calls this equipoise. The last great psychologist to urge us to introspect was William James. He was on the right track. Much of the inner work done in the East and in esoteric Western enclaves relates to simple (hah!) deconditioning of the counterproductive programs in the software layer. Decision making in the Observer State is much more effective because of objectivity and truthfulness. Self-protective defensiveness yields to greater clarity. Pragmatism becomes natural and automatic.
  3. Flow State. Instead of detachment of the true self from the software layer, they are a perfectly integrated team. Typically during well-practiced, deeply-known activities, from one’s highest work to sex, from spiritual experience to athletics, the Flow State comes to us as a gift. David calls this Moments of Transcendence and Self Forgetfulness. I understand the Self Forgetfulness part in that there is no subject-object division in Flow State, it is all just doing itself and is of one piece. David uses the word “lost” — “an athlete lost in sport, a believer lost in God’s love, lost in love for one another… the conscious mind disappears.” I would say instead that the chattering mind — part of the software layer — subsides, but that all minds are present (“Holosentience”) during Flow State, they are simply not dwelling on their selfdom in the usual EOP subliminally anxious way. Perhaps David is hewing to his theme of rational versus unconscious — where he is advocating a shift to include the unconscious in a more balanced way, including emotions and values. There are obviously ten places where David and I agree for every one where we might differ. In fact I doubt that we would differ once we mapped our maps together.

For a fun and mind-opening read get THE SOCIAL ANIMAL.

If you like it, try FREEING CREATIVE EFFECTIVENESS next. (After all, it comes with a money-back guarantee. 😀 ) It is also mind-opening and spends more time on the “how to” of it — though as John Ziegler said, “[the book] seems to do it TO you. IT works. YOU don’t.”

Best to all,

Bill

 

Cognitive Toolkit Meets Psychotechnology

David Brooks has done what I wanted to do — tried to do for many years but couldn’t make it happen, at least not in such a big way. My hat’s off to him!

In his book The Social Animal — and in the popular reaction to the book — David has called the world’s attention to the levers that we all have inside. Things that make us better — strategies — little acts of will within our own minds. Levers we don’t leverage to their full advantage. I have called them “psychotechnologies” since 1976. David calls them “one’s Cognitive Toolkit”.

If you have read my earlier post about Acceleritis, you know I postulate that our culture has been accelerating since the advent of written language some 6000 years ago, and that the number of question-producing stimuli falling upon the average one of us each day has in that short period increased exponentially, given our 200,000 years in existence as homo sapiens.

If it were not for Acceleritis, most of us would quickly catch on to what David calls “equipoise” — the learnable trait of looking inside objectively so as to see how to improve oneself. In the infopressure stream hitting each and every one of us each second each day (with a few oases here and there), the development of this trait remains stunted. This is to my view a pandemic — a world-wide mental degenerative disease.

Because David has grabbed the mic and the world is listening, I see this as an opportunity to compare my psychotechnology theories to those set forth in The Social Animal. This can make for quite a few of these postings until one of you says talk about something else already.  😀

I’m serious. I really believe it’s important for all of us to learn the traits David wants us to learn — and a few he hasn’t gotten around to yet.

All of the easily-listable things wrong with the world reduce to human behavior, which reduces to what makes us tick inside.

What has been needed for 6000 years is a practical toolkit for overcoming the distractive power of Acceleritis and instead focusing inward — without losing one’s job etc. In fact, making even more money and succeeding in far more important ways as well, because of having seen inside more clearly than one sees in the average daily state of consciousness called “normal” on Earth in the current era.

What we call normal I call EOP: Emergency Oversimplification Procedure. We are not in the moment, savoring the moment, we are trying to get past it and on to the next thing on our list or one of the distractions that arise constantly to draw us away from our list. We are in a robotic state.

What I consider to be the really normal state a human being could be in all the time is the Zone aka Flow State — what David calls “Moments of Transcendence”. We would be there were it not for Acceleritis. That’s my theory anyway.

We can get there with the toolkit. David’s got some of it, I’ve got some of the same and quite a few different tools, others throughout time have had pieces of it. Let’s use it all. The more diverse the toolkit, the more balanced and accessible to all.

Science can help us discover the toolkit and validate it — but that is a very slow process. We might blow ourselves up — literally — if we wait for every tool that works to be validated by science before we use it. We should use it because it works. That is the apropos rule for dealing with runaway culture. Use what works — what is a win for all concerned.

David was in Flow for much of his Keynote at the ARF. But he didn’t mention the state. He gets it about the tools, but did not present an integrated theory — I’m guessing he would modestly say that the scientists from whom he draws his ideas are the ones to look for if we want theory — practical tools is where a writer might feel compelled to stop.

In my case, since I see myself as a scientist (in my approach to research), I have no hesitation to offer whole-cloth theories. My theory of Holosentience encapsulates the tools David presented — and those presented in my book FREEING CREATIVE EFFECTIVENESS — within an explanation of how and why we move between states of consciousness — EOP, the Observer State (David’s “Equipoise”), and the Flow State.

By Holosentience I mean that in Flow State we are inhabiting our entire sentience at once — we are totally aware, open to information from unconscious (subconscious) sources — we are in a “Moment of Transcendence”. In the Observer State we have detached from conditioned mental/emotional circuitry that functions autonomically. In EOP we are dominated by the latter robotic circuitry. When distracted by Acceleritis, EOP is the probable result.

That robotic circuitry has been known classically as the ego. It is a subsentience that takes over, and as Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson say, “Hijacks the mind”.

When you are “in” your subsentience you think that’s all there is. You are the whole you that you always are. That’s what you assume. But there is another more noble and elevated part of you that you are oblivious to.

Neuroscience linkages to the three brain states hypothesized by my theory are presented in a previous posting, The Three States of Waking Consciousness, with guidance from Dr. Richard Silberstein, CEO of Neuro-Insight.

In some but maybe not all upcoming postings I’ll continue to bounce my ideas off those of David Brooks. It will be illuminating fun for all, I hope, including me. And maybe David is reading and getting some kicks too.

Best to all,

Bill

 

David Brooks the Star of ARF AMS 6.0

I really enjoyed the Advertising Research Foundation’s Audience Measurement Symposium 6.0, the largest audience measurement conference in the world. I always do — and this time, with my own papers co-presented there, and David Brooks’ keynote, it was better than ever.

Best-selling author and well-known columnist for The New York Times, David eloquently summarized some of the key learning from his new book The Social Animal.

Because David is talking about psychotechnology, which is the work we have done for years at the Human Effectiveness Institute, I was thrilled that such an important public figure and best-selling author is now calling attention to this crucial area.

David of course does not use our terminology. He talks about reviewing our cognitive processes, thinking about how we think, and making improvements in those processes. He is tapping into the latest brain science and popularizing the learning so that it is accessible and valuable to the entire culture not just to brain scientists. This is a very worthy activity. He joins us in this, with the kind of immediate impact we hoped someone would have someday. That day is here.

First he talked about the unconscious/subconscious part of our minds. He pointed out that only 40 bits of the 12,000,000 bits of info entering our brains each second reach conscious attention — the rest goes into the unconscious mind.

He went on to say that emotion — rather than being a flaw as it has been characterized tacitly by this rational culture* — is not in fact a flaw. Emotion is the foundation of reason, because it determines what we value and then reason is a means we use to go after what we value.

Here we differ slightly — emotion and intuition together actually are the foundation for our perception of what is valuable to us. As Jung pointed out, emotion and intuition are actually two different functions — two of the four functions of consciousness (intellect/reason, feelings/emotion**, intuition and perception).

The Human Effectiveness Institute (THEI) considers intuition to be an important part of our minds that has been relatively ignored by the scientific community. THEI also aims to improve people’s performance and their lives by focusing on what works in a pragmatic manner. We have observed that when one gives mental management advice, it is very easy for people to take it the wrong way and then more harm is done than good. The exact wording is mission critical. I am guessing that David knows all this and could not pack it all into one short speech.

If you tell people that emotion is the foundation they are likely to take it that they should simply follow their feelings. People leaving the ARF conference for example could have this as one of their takeaways from David’s talk. However, following one’s feelings as the Rubicon without some balancing rules as regards what to do about reason, intuition and perceptions often has disastrous consequences. In fact when emotion is negative and there is no cognitive tool for processing out the negativity before action, it always leads to disaster of small or large kinds. We welcome the opportunity to explore this further with David. Meanwhile, I am enjoying his book.

In the next posting we will continue to report on David Brooks’ incredibly valuable contributions to our culture, and will continue to point out how we feel his ideas could be sharpened to be even more positively effective.

Best to all,

Bill

 

*We would add that this bias began in Greece in the Golden Age, circa 400 BC.

**In recent psychology parlance, emotion is actually the physical manifestation of feelings (heart rate, breathing rate, adrenalin concentration in the bloodstream, etc.) so when discussing consciousness/mind, the more appropriate term is feelings rather than emotion — but this is just semantics.

 

Sarge

Oh, hi sonny, come in — good to see you — come here and sit down by the bed.

Sure I remember you.

What’s in a name? I remember you.

Heh-heh.

What’s that you say sonny? School project? Interviewing old people? Yeah I lived through it, I can tell you about it, I guess — my memory comes and goes…

Before the change, times were hard. The economy just wouldn’t get better. Some people had money and they were tight with it. Everyone else had two or three jobs, or no job at all.

When the war started, I was happy to join up to have a roof over my head. I had served before but this time it was weird — guns that shot around corners, weapons that could get into your mind. We had ‘em and they had ‘em.

I know it sounds funny, but when we won that war, things started to get better. We came so close to blowing it all that everyone seemed to wake up and realize that this here’s our lifeboat — the planet… er, Earth… see, I’m not so good at names.

Then there was that new change in television — and computers and cellphones and tablets and all. Same old shows, but the commercials started to change — more about companies really committed to doing good in the world. And a bunch of new channels where people could socialize, tell their ideas to help America and the world, talk about it, vote on it. Kind of like the old game shows in a way — well, you know. We all play the Democracy game now.

At first, it was just entertainment, but then polls came out ranking certain politicians highly because they were using the ideas from the new Democracy game shows. Then things really started to change.

Pretty soon every politician’s staff was studying the public’s ideas, and racing to be the first to turn the best ones into reality.

Our minds started working in a different way after the war. No wonder, since we had started teaching mind management in the schools — all because of the mind weapons in the war, so people would grow up with more resistance to them. But on top of that there was an emotional lilt to life — we’re all part of one team, was the spirit — we’re all in this together, connected to one another by common needs.

Barter temporarily became very common within the recovering communities, until the economy started to come back. But what a boom it has been! Me, a lowly sergeant, making good money teaching the history of the war to college students — until it was time for me to retire. The psychology of investors has always been what drove the market up or down — and with the new can-do attitude going around the world, global depression is a distant memory.

Then the image of the good old USA started to make a big comeback on the world stage. I think it started when our corporations reached down to younger grades to start looking for and cultivating future employees. They made this out to be philanthropy, and looked not just for the obviously gifted students, but for the ones who didn’t fit in yet had special talents. But in reality their philanthropy more than paid for itself by putting together high performing teams and optimizing the whole company according to mind management principles.

After that practice took hold in American companies, people in other countries again envied the USA, and soon they were all emulating the successful new ideas bubbling up from the people of America.

Oh come in honey — nice to see you — here sit by me on the bed and give me a kiss.

Sure I remember you.

Well, no, I can’t remember your name.

But I know you’re the one I love.

————————————————————-

Best to all,

Bill