Tag Archives: thinking

Long-Term Thinking and Climate Change

One of the reasons the general public are slow in acting on climate change in the manner the situation’s importance demands is our reluctance to think too far beyond our immediate time horizon. However this shouldn’t stop us.

That is the suggestion of Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, who extols the virtues of long-term thinking more eloquently than I’ve heard before:

“As in politics,” he says, “the immediate trumps the important.” Our future-blindness may reflect a basic limitation of the brain. “In so far as brains evolved to cope with everyday life on the savannah, they evolved in a context where you didn’t plan 50 years ahead and you cared about your local community. Although…” A pause. A sip of tea. “Although, it’s odd—I gave a talk at Ely cathedral not long ago. The people who built the cathedral had a limited view of the world. Their world was the fens, and they thought it would end quite soon, but nevertheless built this wonderful structure which is part of our heritage 1,000 years later. And it’s shameful in a way that we, with our longer horizons and greater resources, are reluctant to think 50 years ahead.”

via The Browser

Note: The full article is behind a pay wall. The above quote and the context thereof is available.

Epiphanies Through Daydreams

Research aimed at discovering how ‘Eureka moments’ are triggered and how these moments of clarity and insight differ from typical methodical reasoning has found that not only are epiphanies more likely when we’re daydreaming, but our state of mind before we tackle a problem is also crucial.

They materialize without warning, often through an unconscious shift in mental perspective that can abruptly alter how we perceive a problem. […] In fact, our brain may be most actively engaged when our mind is wandering and we’ve actually lost track of our thoughts, a new brain-scanning study suggests. “Solving a problem with insight is fundamentally different from solving a problem analytically”.

[…] Even before we are presented with a problem, our state of mind can affect whether or not we will likely resort to insightful thinking. People in a positive mood were more likely to experience an insight.

Another finding that fascinated me was that by monitoring the brain waves of the participants, researchers could predict who would solve a problem through insight up to eight seconds before the answer actually materialised consciously.

One lesson to remember from the research: the wandering, daydreaming mind is a crucial and important mental state where our brains are unusually active.

List of Thought Processes

Thoughts – or specifically the mental processes enabling us to think – allow beings to be conscious, to make decisions, and to imagine. Thoughts are what define us as individuals.

This list of thought processes is a (big) list of thinking styles, methods of thinking (thinking skills), and types of thought. When you have some spare time, it’s worth perusing.

I’m soon to read Six Thinking Hats, and I believe this could be an invaluable resource once I have the motivation to improve my own thinking processes. This book looks like it may be interesting too.

Previous lists this week: List of Cognitive Biases, List of Logical Fallacies, List(s) of Unsolved Problems, List of Common Misconceptions