Mental models and the 7Es LO29498

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 11/13/02

Replying to LO29472 --

Dear Organlearners,

Leo Minnigh <> writes:

>Is a Mental Model not something like "an unconscious
>assumption"? Something one has not reflected.
>For me the geocentric universe, or the flat earth of
>pre-medeival times are good examples of MM's. At
>present, the heliocentric, or spherical earth are MM's.
>A MM will be a MM, as long as it is not thought over,
>or questioned.
>MM's are close to prejudices, one of the most severe
>barriers of creative thinking. I consider prejudices as
>thoughts which are reduced to good/bad, or black/white.
> MM's encompass a much broader scene.

Greetings dear Leo,

Thank you for your creative input. You have opened up the dialogue to
otherness ("quality-variety"), one of the 7Es.

I think we have to distinguish clearly between a prejudice (PR), a Mental
Model (MM) and a paradigm (PA).

I agree with you that a PR involves LEM (Law of Excluded Middle). It is
either this or that and no other possibility. And as you wrote, it is a
severe barrier to creativity. The reason is that it undermines or even
exclude fruitfulness ("connect-beget"). For example, it is either summer
or winter. So, what has become of spring and autumn which connect these

A MM may involve one or more PRs, but it entails more than these PRs. A MM
may not even have one PR, but rather depend on a wrong label
(categorisation). For example, when I say that in my youth i had the MM as
many of my folk had that English is my enemy, the error here was thinking
of a langauge as an enemy. Only humans can act as enemies. Since we use a
langauge to communicate on every walk of life, this error stretched over
all walks of life.

The crazy thing is that i read books in both Afrikaans and English. But as
soon as i had to study text books for formal education, they had to be in
Afrikaans. A text book in English was simply destroying the higher
functions of Afrikaans, typicial of its enemy like nature. I was saved
from this MM when, during vacation after my first year at university, a
fellow hostel student asked which text books we had been using. He just
completed a BSc degree and was the best student at his university. I
answered him that i do not know since they were written in English. He
replied that i will never become a scientist if i keep on avoiding English
text books. The next weekend i brought my English text books to the hostel
and started to read them. It was much fun rather that the ordeal which i

Here is another MM which involves a scientific model. The
relationship between the volume V, the pressure P and the absolute
temperature T of a gas can be described by the equation
PxV = RxT
where R is a constant. Data fit perfectly into this equation except at
very high pressures or very low temperatures. It is called the ideal
gas model. As soon as someone use this equation to predict outcomes
at very high pressures or very low temperatures, this scientific model
has become a mental model for that person. Real gases do not
behave like the ideal gas.

A paradigm PA is different to a prejudice PR or a Mental Model MM. A
paradigm is unique way of looking at life without having any evidence that
another viewpoint is possible too. Gradually anomalies begin to build up
of which nobody is aware that they were caused by having this singular
viewpoint. Then somebody points to a new viewpoint in which most of these
anomalies get resolved. The change from a geocentric to a helisentric
viewpoint through the work of Copernicus is an example of such a paradigm

Are there other species like prejudices, metal models and paradigms too? I
think so. What about some dogmas whether they are religious, political,
economical or scientific? I think it is better to call these dogmas as
doctrines since the word dogma comes from the Greek word "dogma"=opinion !
A doctrine is an authoritative teaching of some fixed tenets and their
logical outcomes.

A typical doctrine of science is that empirical data have to be
reproducable so that other can repeat the phenomenon or experiment when in
doubt. This doctrine does not take the Law of Requisite Complexity (LRC)
into account. The conditions for the phenomenon to produce results may be
so complex or at extreme values that it is not possible to reproduce these
conditions again.

For example, we have enough archeological evidence that modern humankind
Homo sapiens emerged from archaic humanlike Homo erectus. Many deny this
emergence because it cannot be repeated again.

Leo, can you think of any other species?

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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