Mental models and the 7Es LO29492

From: leo minnigh (
Date: 11/12/02

Replying to LO29474 --

Dear Terje,

Firstly, I must confess that I missed the start of this thread; Somehow, I
received for a while no contributions from this list. Thus I may repeat
other parts of the dialogue. (but for sure, my words will differ ;-)

You wrote the following:

> I think this is why the idea of trying to fix peoples "MMs" just doesn't
> work in practice. It is the environment that needs to change if there is
> going to be much hope of changing the behavior. The MMs are just infered
> from the behavior in question, and do not explain it. One may call them
> infered symptoms and thus not worth the time looking for them.
> I think the example of the flat earth beliefs in ME europe are also most
> usefully described in terms of the environment. When the priests
> protested, it wasn't because of a mental model, it was because they felt
> threatened.

I think that you will agree that I do not like a discussion on
definitions. Through dialogue and things not said, one could also build a
picture. And there are some interesting ideas in your contribution; they
differ somewhat from my ideas.

What I understood from your words is that if a tacit and hidden mental
organisation is formed and based on signs, signals and information
(outside the person in question), it is something else than a MM. My
reaction to this observation could be: "Is there any tacit, or other
knowledge inside a person which is not (partly) built on information?" I
doubt. We (humankind) live not in an isolated universe, we are part of it.
And this means that numerous links exist between a person with his/her
surroundings. These links are already present from the very moment of
birth (and even during the prenatal period). Think of the gear wheels in a
clockwork. Imagine that you are one of these gears. You will see the world
around you turning and rotating. You see also that your neighbour gear
turns in the same direction as the surroundings, but faster. All kinds of
things pass by with different speeds. This is MM 1.

Dear Terje, this is the view most people had in the Middle Ages (including
the priests) of the geocentric universe. No fears are involved. Nobody had
thought about another possibility. It was 'just' the general MM of that
time. The same with the flat earth. Ofcourse that unconsciousness was
based on signs of the environment. There was no reason to doubt or to
think, because at that time every observation fitted within that model.

The difference between Cristobal Colon and the Vikings and all other
humans who reached the Americas earlier than him is not the discovery of
America, but the fact the Cristobal (after convincing and breaking the MM
of Isabel of Aragon) has questioned the flatness of the earth and was
tempting to look for a proof. He thought that he reached India in 1492. In
fact, it was no proof at all that the earth was not flat; the earth was
only somewhat larger than originally thought.

It was in 1522 when the expedition of Fernao de Magalhaes (heself was
killed in the Philipines in 1521) returned after two and a half year
sailing in roughly the same direction, that the earth became spherical in
most minds. And again, no reason to doubt or think of a spherical earth.
However, also that journey of Magelhaes was no proof, it is a large circle
he made. And that circle could still be in a flat earth as illustrated in
the flag of the UN (with the North Pole in the centre). Hardly nobody has
realised that only at the end of the nineteen sixties when the first
satellites with a polar orbit were launched that finally it was proofed
that the earth is a sphere. But because that was nothing new (we all
'knew' that the earth was a sphere), and fitted in our MM, this MM still
stands. However it is a MM, because hardly nobody from the sixteenth
century onward ever has questioned this picture. Just an example of this
MM: most people know that the sum of the angels of a triangel is 180
degrees. Very few have thought that this is false on a spherical earth.
But still we learn over and over again this 180 degrees story.

The same with our clockwork. Possibly you (as a gear) became conscious of
your MM 1 and start questioning it. And thus it is not any more a MM. You
realise that you are sitting in a merry-go-round: you are the one who
rotates. If you drive your car, there is no question what moves. But could
it be that the earth is underneath you moving?

Thus, the fact that environment plays an important role in the
unconsciousness of our MM's is for me undoubtful (another MM???)

Best wishes during the digging in your tacit knowledge and MM's.

Leo Minnigh


leo minnigh <>

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