Scientific Thinking LO21951

AM de Lange (
Mon, 21 Jun 1999 17:38:21 +0200

Replying to LO21921 --

Dear Organlearners,

Glen < > writes:

>In my lifetime I have posed a similar question to myself, it seems
>like thousands of times, "why can't they see this". It has been
>one question that has triggered much frustration in me and I have
>worked many times to understand it.

Dear Glen,

Although you have made a comment with respect to the value of wholeness in
thinking, I think that your sigh is universal -- it includes all topics in
thinking. Millions of serious teachers and lecturers all over the world
during all ages had similar sighs: "Why cannot they see the value in this

I have thirty years of teaching in science behind my back. After thirty
years I am sure that the mastering of various scientific topics have
different degrees of difficulty. Some things are easy to learn for most
people while others are very difficult. The more difficult a topic
becomes, the more difficult is to form a value to that topic.

I have also become sure that the difficulty with which a person master a
certain topic is with with few exceptions related to some facets of
creativity underdeveloped in that person. Consequently, especially the
past ten years, I first help the learner to first improve on those
underdeveloped facets of creativity before helping them with the topic at
question. In the majority of cases the subsequent help in the topic itself
becomes completely unnecessary.

I have gradually came under the impression that "scientific thinking" and
"creativity" have a much deeper relationship than one would guess. This
impression is strengthened by the fact that the majority of the examples
offered in the literature of creativity comes from the world of science. I
will go more into this realtionship in my reply to Winfried.

>What we see, be it recognizing the aspects of "Wholeness as
>a gem", or how each gender might communicate differently, is
>based on our cognitive strategies. How we have learned to think
>and express that thinking process. That this thought stream of
>"Scientific thinking" is itself a cognitive strategy and hence
>As is the differences in gender related communication patterns.
>The key word there is patterns, habits, or strategies, which ever
>word best represents in the readers mind something has been
>learned either consciously and/or unconsciously and expressed
>in behavior without the awareness of it being just a model and
>not reality.

When I read your reply first, I gave a sigh when reaching the phrase "is
based on our cognitive strategies." I am very attracted to cognitive
studies, but I have become wary of cognivists who offers cognivist
theories as the fumfamental explantion for learning and understanding. My
reason is that I am now now prettu sure that cognistion is an emergent
phenomenon. As such it does have an influence on learning and
understanding, but in the sense of a "back action" on the lower orders
form which it has emerged. Thus it is just as important to take these
lower orders into consideration for explanative purposes than merely
cognition itself.

But when I came to the phrase "which ever word best represents ....
unconsciously and expressed in behavior without the awareness of it being
just a model and not reality" I was happy again.

>This is one of the reasons why repetition of television
>commercials happen. They want to "over expose" the audience
>to the message. The marketers scientific reasoning being that;
>through repetition a mental model is formed. Associations are
>formed at an out of awareness level and begin to create this
>unconscious process of forming a model. There are several
>areas of research that can validate these findings.

Yes, it works like that for the majority of ignorant (uninformed +
non-understanding) people. And because it is true, this "mind engineering"
makes me mad because it often deliberately suppress the creativity of the
custormer. When I visit a shopping centre or a commerce show, all this
"mind engineering" gives me a migraine second to none.

>What prevents us to detect wholeness as a gem is simple then
>to understand. There are other models at work, unconsciously, that
>have this representative heuristic value. People see separatist
>models more then they see wholistic models. Individuals exposed
>repeatedly to separatist models begin to think more along those
>lines. This is their world until shown otherwise.

Yes, this "understanding needed to detect wholeness" is for me the
the grand case of the "dog biting its own tail" -- the vicious circle
Bertrand Russel. We need wholeness to understand and we need
understanding to detect wholeness. I mean "grand case" because
actually the "dog is trying to bite some of its seven tails". Here the
dog == understanding
seven tails == seven essentialities of creativity

For the majoirty people the
"some tails" == zero tails
In other words, they are not even aware that they ar chasing a tail.

For a minority of people the
"some tails" == one tail.
These are the people who get hooked up to one and only one
essentiality. They usually are only tacitly aware of the other six so
that they often fix the ignorance of other people to those six
unmentioned essentialities.

As the number of "some tails" increases to the limiting value
"soame tails" == seven tails
the number of people of chasing those tails become progressively less.

I am not sure in what sense you are using the word "heuristic". So let
me explain my idea of the concept. Heuristics concern the search for
things not discovered before. As such heuristics are concerned with a
subset of all our experiences (experential or first level of
knowledge), namely the acquiring of original experiences. For me
heuristics has very much to do with the back action of tacit knowledge
(second emergent level) on experential knowledge. We have to follow
our intuition to gain in original experiences.

As such heuristics has, for me, very much to do with the scientific
method. Consider stage 1, namely observation. The key to observation
is to observe things which were not detected before -- in other words,
original observing. Consider stage 2, namely speculation. The key to
speculation is to go most wild with the imgagination -- in other
words, original dreaming. Consider stage 3, namely falsification. The
key to falsification is hunt every possible false specualtion posing
as the truth -- in other words, orginal criticising..

The trouble with the scientific method in science is that only that
person (or nowadays often a team) who completed first all three stages
for any scientific discovery, gets credit for it. In other words,
science is concerned with the heuristic path (original discoveries)
FOR HUMANKIND AS A WHOLE. It means that science has collectivised the
scientific method. However, each individual of humankind has to learn
the scientific method -- in other words, how to complete all three
stages in every orginal discovery as a person. This is what formal
education in scinece ought to do, but so little of it happens. Why?

Science (in its broadest sense) is the product of one most profound
learning organisations ever set up by humankind, namely the
"scientific community". However, since so few scientists realise (even
tacitly) that the "scientific community" is a LO, the majority of
scientists fail to assist in the development of this scientific
community. Their failure is best observed when they are or should have
been involved as teachers and lectures or assisting these educators.
The LO discipline Team learning has little, if any meaning and value
to them.

>We make sense in our world by what we pay attention to. What
>we focus on. Therefore, if one model is far more available than
>another it only makes common sense that people will
>unconsciously process that more, or work effortfully to reject the
>old model and search for a more productive alternative.

Unfortunately, this is happening with scientific thinking. The
relative number of people believing that it is an outdated model is
rising sharply. They rather think of technology as the more productive
model. Scientific thinking is no mental model. It is the backbone of
the LO discipline Systems Thinking. Take scientific thinking out of
systems thinking and the latter becomes science fiction. Technology is
the fruit of scientific thinking which makes the original discovery of
one person (or nowadays often a team) available in a wider context to
as many people as possible.

>Connecting this now to the Scientific thinking aspects. The basis
>of the Scientific Method is about creating a better model of reality.
>It is about testing, observation, hypothesis construction, and
>nvalidating "false" models. The sceintific method is just the
>cognitive strategy of the representative heuristic. It is a
>thoughtful, effortful, and an ongoing process. As compared to the
>representative heuristic which is unconscious, effortless, mindless,
>and robotic.

Glen, your description of "representative heuristic" is too negative
for me, although I like the sharp way in which you contrast it to the
scientific method. The reason whay it is too negative is that
"representative heuristic" is the key to emergences in science, i.e
succesfully employing the scientific method. I have tried to show how
it figures in each stage of the scientific method. Without it the
scientific community will be making only one new sausage after the
other -- another thing which makes me mad.

The reason why I like your sharp distinction, is that all emergences
(including scinetific discoveries) are asymmetric-transitive and never
symmetric-reflexsive. (It seems to be so long ago that I have written
on this extraordinary property of emergences.) Scientific discoveries
lead to an increase in the formal (or third) level of knowledge.
However, this level cannot exist without the experential (first) and
tacit (second) levels of knowledge to sustain it.

>Just some thoughts on the matter,

Thank you very much for such valuable thoughts. It helps us fellow
learners to paint the picture richer.

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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