Dichotomy Transcendence and the Mensa Mind
Twin Pillars of Human Thought
Those of us who took a college philosophy course first learned about the duality of human thought when philosophers characterized the work of Aristotle and Plato as “The Twin Pillars of Western Civilization.” The concepts of Aristotelian and Platonic thought supported all institutions and accomplishments of the human race, even before history began. Long before Aristotle and Plato began thinking and writing, these two thought paradigms began to lift primitive man out of chaos.
Here are some examples of how these linear and nonlinear intellectual systems have been labeled over the centuries:
In recent times the plethora of technological blessings provided by applied science has encouraged modern humanity to emphasize the linear support for civilization, at the expense of non-linear balance, resulting in a dangerous cognitive tilt within our modern culture. By their very nature, pillars must be co-equal in order to maintain stable support.
Strengthening the Non-Linear Pillar
The purpose of this article is to reestablish the co-equal influence of linear and non-linear consciousness, so that they are not falsely held against one another in antithesis, and beyond that, to advocate for a synthesis of these two primary modes of thinking as the principal, intellectual paradigm for information validation and decision making.
Many professionals, business executives, and other leaders use a “Spock-like” (Star Trek) rational analysis as their only decision making tool. Recently several scientific studies have been done comparing the results of empirical analysis, to the results of those persons who also use non-linear (i.e. “gut instinct”) methods as the basis for decision making.
Although the scientific studies done at Columbia University on these predictions concerned a vast range of events, the results were consistent across every trial. People who were more likely to also consult their non-linear consciousness were also more likely to predict the outcomes accurately.
What? Is there is a way to decide that out performs empirical, rational thought? You’ve got to be kidding!
Here is one sentence from these studies that should direct Spock-like thinkers’ attention toward an additional decision making tool. The scientific studies reveal that those persons who also use non-linear consciousness “made stock market predictions which were 25 percent more accurate than those who aspired to Spock-like cognition.”
Please read the full article:
Multiple scientific studies have demonstrated that non-linear thinking is a huge asset which is often ignored by linear thinkers, to their own detriment.
Additional research has been done which affirms the efficacy of non-linear answers to motivate enhanced human cognition, for instance, Maslow’s work on Eupsychian Management. Also, one of the “B-values” described by Maslow as WHOLENESS includes traits such as the tendencies toward one-ness, interconnectedness, and dichotomy transcendence.
As further illustration of the problems caused by the scarcity of non-linear thinking within our culture, simply note in children as they are growing into adulthood, how much of their non-linear creativity has already been trained out of them. By the time a person graduates from high school they are fortunate to have retained even a small amount of their significantly advantageous, innate creativity. Our entire educational system is skewed toward teaching a linear imbalance. The goal of higher education was once to encourage full spectrum knowledge. These days, college is more vocationally directed.
Our first goal is to establish non-linear cognition as co-equal with linear cognition. An important tool for doing so is exposure to random stimulus. Built into our experience of random stimulus is the innate ability for human beings to discern patterns where there seem to be none.
The Power of Random Patterns
As simple as it seems, random stimulus is the key to inspired, non-linear thinking. Human consciousness naturally self-organizes into patterns, principles, and revelatory truth. When people experience such random stimulus, individual, usable perceptions are created in the areas called pareidolia, apophenia, and hierophany, as defined below. Random stimulus results in creative thinking in each of these three areas; however, the most definable and pragmatic creativity is the result of the confluence of all three of these cognitive activities.
PAREIDOLIA: The pattern that is, is not, and yet is…
The technical, psychological term for this phenomenon, the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern, is Pareidolia.
Seeing the shape of animals or people in the stars or clouds is a universal trait of the human mind, with cross-cultural validation. There are many other examples of the human mind’s proclivity toward seeing patterns where there are none. All humans are capable of connecting dots in the midst of randomness, and observing recognizable patterns.
These non-linear cognitions helped ancient societies organize chaos and make their world intelligible, according to the research of Patricio Bustamante, Archaeoastronomist, and W. Fay Yao, an IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society Resource and Information Specialist, as described in these two articles at: http://www.rupestreweb.info/china.html
Random stimulus has such a powerful effect on human consciousness that civilization itself evolved via this very process. Randomness allows mankind to see unique patterns in the sky. Those images became transformed into knowledge that informed ancient humans in areas such as when to plant and harvest crops, thus aiding the establishment of agriculture. Consequently humankind was able to transition from migratory, hunter/gatherer groups to stationary communities and cultures.
Anthropology traces the beginning of civilization to the establishment of agriculture. Observing the random patterns in the heavens gave birth to the pre-science of astrology, which evolved into the modern science of astronomy. Another vital component provided by the randomness of the heavens is the establishment of religion as part of human culture. There are a plethora of other examples, such as those mentioned in Bustamante’s research, above.
APOPHENIA: The principle that is, is not, and just might be…
The psychological, technical term for this phenomenon: the perception of connectedness among unrelated phenomena or data, is apophenia.
If the human mind is capable of creating patterns out of nothingness, it should be spectacularly successful at organizing usable patterns out of fact, data, science, observations, and a lifetime of collective memory. In this case your entire database is stored in the most complex computer ever devised; your own mind. Imagine having a tool that would search and organize your massive personal data, so that you can become consciously aware of potential principles embedded within your own creative genius. You have the power to discover profound principles and usefully apply them to your life. All of this information is imprinted on millions of your brain’s neuron pathways.
Your brain contains 100 billion neurons, and 10,000 times that many connections. Each human brain is more complex than the knowable universe. Our usual method for solving a problem or answering a question is to consciously attempt searching through this huge database. The conscious mind is a poor tool for sorting and organizing a database of this size. However, we already know that random stimulus facilitates the search and self-organization of information stored in human consciousness. Non-linear methods facilitate this process.
The effectiveness of the random tool known as apophenia is dependent upon IQ and education. Obviously an agile intellect and abundant data will allow your random search engine to harvest more useful information from your bio-computer.
Artists often lead the way in teaching mankind how to be creative. Many people are aware that the surrealist artist Salvador Dali sponsored scientific seminars which attracted astrophysicists and sub-atomic physicists. A television talk show host once introduced Dali as an artist. Dali took offense and said “I am a genius. Just one of the things I do with my genius is art.”
Dali’s IQ and years of experience in creating art made him a perfect candidate to use apophenia as a way to enhance the connectedness of his mind. As an example, Dali would cut the bottoms off of plastic film canisters, and glue the cylinders onto reading glasses. He would then catch lightning bugs, remove the tops of the film canisters, insert the lightning bugs, replace the caps, put on the glasses, and intermingle his creative mind with the random visual stimulus of lightning bugs flashing on and off, very close to his eyes. He reported that the creativity of his art product benefitted significantly. This is an example of apophenia being used to enhance the quality of life for human beings. Would Dali’s art have been ordinary without the help of lightening bugs?
Now, please keep in mind that the patterns emerge within the creativity of the individual. The patterns are not somehow contained in the stimulus, and then discerned by the individual. The stimulus merely serves as a catalyst for the individual’s creative process. Primitive attempts to harness this power throughout history have made the fundamental mistake of attributing magical powers to the random stimuli. It is the random stimulus which activates a super search engine for all of the data stored within your brain.
Apophenia has the advantage of producing outcomes which are subject to the scientific method, the advice of others, and further fact-checking in the usual way we evaluate the results of our thinking.
HIEROPHANY: Ultimate truth that is, always was, and always will be…
The psychological, technical term for this phenomenon, (from the Greek: ἱερός;sacred/holy, and the verb phainein,φαίνειν; to reveal/to bring to light) is Hieropathy: Manifestation of the sacred – or knowledge through revelation, such as the apprehension of a completely new understanding of God, man, or the universe. I am of the opinion that only people with very high levels of intellect grasp the revelations of hieropathy.
Oddly, many scientists deny that knowledge can come through revelation. We say “oddly,” because just as many scientists also report scientific breakthroughs as a result of revelation. Let me illustrate. Nobel Prize winning physicist, Max Planck’s famous statement, “Insight must precede application” is a perfect example of the conflicting paradigms of theoretical vs applied science. Max Planck was strolling one day, and came across an arched bridge over a small brook. As he reached the apex of the bridge, a monumental thought overwhelmed him. He suddenly grasped the intricate principles of quantum mechanics. To this day, that location is still called “Quantum Bridge.” This is a perfect example of “insight,” a non-linear idea, which later needs to be translated into linear, applied science. In contrast to modern society, which emphasizes linear thinking, Mr. Planck holds forth the premise that non-linear thinking should precede linear application.
Einstein’s thought experiments could hardly be called linear thinking. Kekulé’s ouroboros dream, revealing the shape of the Benzene ring, was not linear science. Elias Howe’s invention of the sewing machine was the result of a dream which revealed “The thread needs to go in the sharp end of the needle.” A silver dollar and a cigar to anyone who can name the biological discovery which resulted from dreaming about climbing a spiral staircase. Non-linear thinking frequently informs linear, scientific conclusions.
(To any linear-tending Mensans: No, you do not literally get a silver dollar nor a cigar.) J
Here is a quote from a leading scientist which will probably cause those who rely primarily upon linear thinking, to have a brain burp.
“A fundamental conclusion of the new physics also acknowledges that the observer creates the reality. As observers, we are personally involved with the creation of our own reality. Physicists are being forced to admit that the universe is a “mental” construction. Pioneering physicist Sir James Jeans wrote: “The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter; we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter. Get over it, and accept the inarguable conclusion. The universe is immaterial, mental and spiritual.” – R.C. Henry, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University.
“The Standard Model” of physics that we studied back when we were in college has not been relevant for more than 30 years, even though it is still the most widely accepted of physics theories. The Standard Model is to modern physics what writing with pen and quill is to computer word processing.
Interesting that researchers explain human decision-making with physics theory in the link below. “You’re not irrational, you’re just quantum probabilistic.” Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-09-youre-irrational-quantum-probabilistic-human.html#jCp
But this phenomenon of hierophany goes beyond science. Spiritual rapture is another example. For a good discussion on this subject, see William James’ classic work, “The Varieties of Religious Experience.” A good definition of hierophany would be “a mind-boggling thought, as a consequence of inspired revelations, from a source independent of human intellect.” Some might say that hierophany is a gift from God or Shekinah, (Biblical Hebrew: שכינה) which means ‘G_d caused to indwell.’
Random stimulus can cause neuron pathways to connect that would not ordinarily be connected. Fully “grokking” (understanding profoundly through intuition or empathy) results in:
1) seeing useful patterns where none exist, pareidolia
2) observing data self-organizing into principles, apophenia
3) gaining knowledge through revelation, hierophany
Balancing Tools for Individual and Collective Thought
This article had described monumental problems and challenging thought paradigms. Fortunately, human nature itself has provided a significant solution to the problem of reestablishing the co-equal importance of linear vs non-linear cognition, and suggests a method for resolving this dichotomy.
You can regain your natural, youthful creativity, which is too often conditioned out of us early on, by employing some of the many, readily available exercises.
I am fully aware that there are individuals who have an overly active, non-linear consciousness. Maybe someday I will write an article encouraging those poor souls of the value of also learning to think in a straight line. But for now, the main problem I see in our culture is an over-abundance of linear thinking, so here are some hints on methods for enhancing the non-linear content of your consciousness:
The essence of the techniques for enhancing your non-linear consciousness is to tell your mind what you are looking for, provide random stimulus, and the creative treasures within your own data bank will be revealed to you.
Random stimulus can provide you with a search engine which will help you access your enormous databank. Any solution or answer you find in your own database is your unique answer. The random stimulus merely facilitates your discovery.
Using random stimulus will do the same thing for your cognitive creativity that Dali’s lightening bugs did for his art.
Synthesis as Conclusion – Transcending the Dichotomy
“Adamant voices insist on thesis. Equally adamant voices insist on antithesis. My heartfelt plea is for synthesis.”
Over my lifetime, one of the most valuable tools for healing a conflict, whether between myself and others, or even in my own thinking, remains the ability to discover a larger truth that reconciles both thought paradigms and relationships. One can hardly claim that holding fast to a dichotomy is a representation of wholeness. We need to transcend the harmful dichotomy, which is the conflict between linear vs non-linear cognition.
The reader would be correct in assuming that I am on a crusade to establish a new, intellectual paradigm which transcends both linear and non-linear assumptions. Most of the intellectual discord in our society consists of adamantly conflicting thesis, versus equally adamant, antithetical rancor. I am proposing that, since there is scientific validation for the use of both linear and non-linear cognition to arrive at more effective conclusions, it would behoove us to consciously introduce synthesis as our preferable intellectual style.
This thesis vs antithesis dichotomy of the human race has significantly resulted in conflict in personal relationships, in all of the sciences, in politics, international disputes, and sometimes even in war. As much as the twin pillars of human thought have bestowed blessing upon us over the centuries, the inherent duality in that paradigm has also presented us with many an unwelcome curse. We need to transcend the harmful dichotomy which is the conflict between linear vs non-linear cognition.
To illustrate this apparent conflict even in marriages, take a look at a comment from John Steinbeck, who said that ‘he divorced his first two wives because they could not understand that when he was staring out the window, he WAS working.’
A larger illustration of this troublesome dichotomy is observed when noting that the physical sciences are accelerating at a much more rapid rate than the social sciences. The social sciences are the building blocks of our species. If you don’t believe that, just ask Dr. Sheldon Cooper! J We urgently need to replace the ‘thesis vs antithesis’ modality with a scientific, intellectual paradigm which insists on synthesis, in order to achieve more enlightened results. I recently saw a tee shirt bearing a slogan which grasped the practical exposé of our usual thinking: “I agree with you. We are both wrong.”
Sam Sewell is a life member of Mensa. He is the Gifted Youth Coordinator for his local Mensa Chapter. He is the Director of a nation-wide, internet based psychotherapy practice. His articles are frequently published in political, religious, and behavioral science periodicals. He is a Navy veteran and his hobbies are aviation and classic cars – and he owns a best in show award winning muscle car.