Posted by: L | August 2, 2007

Mind power: ramping up

From the thinking trader, Justice Litle at Consilient Investor:

I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes

Expanding on the drawing from an earlier blog post (All About the Tails), I realized that the traditional bell curve shape isn’t quite right.

rampcurveTo demonstrate the power of the tails in terms of effort and result, it’s perhaps more useful to think of a runway (1), leading up to a complexity ramp (2), followed by natural acceleration beyond the high point of difficulty (3).

In trying to solve complex problems, or learn a complex skill set, the natural human tendency is to start at point (2), the base of the complexity ramp.

But when you begin there, odds of success are low. The task appears daunting, if not impossible; the ramp looks intimidating, staring you in the face as it does; and logistically, there’s no real way to handle the job from a standing start.

Making full use of the runway, in contrast, can provide the momentum you need to get up and over the ramp. (Length is not fully represented in the drawing; it should probably be longer.)…..

More here at “Complexity Ramps, Quail Runs and Rough Drafts.”

My Comment:

Talking about politics is often done as though everything is determined by structures and forces outside us, which move inexorably like glaciers…the best we can do is hop aside. This seems to me to be a hopelessly inadequate way of thinking.

The individual mind is a quantity we need to pay much more attention to. How it works, acts, is acted on, surpasses itself, solves problems, or sets them — thinking on those lines may get us to a better place than the usual moldy stalemate between ideologies — which for want of better thinking, we consider politics…

Techniques to improve our thinking and actualize the potential power of our minds are a powerful antidote to the idea that we are helpless in the face of structures. There is nothing obscurantist about this. Peak performance theories, among others, can tell you ways to resist the mass thinking that’s the real reason we turn to the state for everything….



  1. Poor befuddled George Leonard – still trying to a MASTER and control the world with mentalistic scribbles and unoperationalized gibberish.
    “Mind power techniques?” from two benevolent con-men Leonard and Deepak Chopra.
    This is patently silly and very new age.

  2. I like a lot of things about the new age. Not all, but lots.
    Why is this piece gibberish? I have found something similar to be perfectly true in improving skills like piano playing.

    Finding out how we can look at things a bit differently is very interesting to me. And getting out of the habit of knowing before hand always where we are going.

    Made sense to me. And I am not sure Litle is talking about the same world as you are. I can be critical of many things about Deepak Chopra — I don’t know what his marketing techniques are like — but his ideas aren’t without merit.

    Bothers a lot of people. Doesn’t bother me at all. The stuff just has to be used critically.

    So give reasons, please. Patently silly is just a term of abuse.
    If you hate everything about the so-called “new age,” this is probably not the blog for you, because I don’t, though I am critical of it.

  3. Try applying the above mind science squiggles to the “surge” in Iraq. Ramping up, in, and around – so to speak. Think of it as a runway, maybe? Try applying it to the cooking of spaghetti. That Chopra is a wizard alright.

    Does Uri Geller have some meritorious ideas too?

  4. Cooking spaghetti is one thing. Keeping your cool while cooking spaghetti is another. Did I say you need to do WITHOUT considering the external. I did not. That’s the part of the new age I don’t like – if it pretends that “out there” doesn’t exist…or isn’t resistant.

    Uri Geller I don’t have personal knowledge of. But I have experienced a number of similiar things.

    The purpose of developing mental acuity and power is not to influence the outside directly as you assume. The purpose is be as much in control of your own thinking processes as you can be and not let them be clouded by emotion, dogma and a hundred other blights. Then when we do that, we might see our problems more clearly….

    And as a matter of fact, research at the National Institute of Mental Health and Sciences in Bangalore does extend to and confirm many so-called yogic abilties. It’s a field worth exploring and has been explored for a number of decades by the KGB and CIA.. Dismissing things out of hand without research is as much a prejudice as swallowing them uncritically.

  5. Yoga I know. But, Yogic I dunno.

    I remember that there was a claim a few years ago about yogic flying from the Maharishi Univ. mentalists. No confirmation.

    What specific “yogic abilities” have been confirmed and by whom?

    Uri Geller, the spoon bender from Israel, is in the must know category for understanding the sordid history of confidence games.

  6. Yogis have been known to control the heart rate, for one thing.

    Here are some research findings on meditation and its effects on the brain:

    I have read Geller. And Puharich who studied him and his friends, Byron and Maria Janis, the concert pianist and painter, who have unbelievable accounts of psychokinesis.
    I don’t know what to make of it. A germ of truth hyped up? Completely bogus? I don’t know.
    Might be.

    Yogic is the adjectival form. TM and so on are just branded versions of well known traditional meditation techniques (I think). Yoga and deep breathing are quite well substantiated to have a number of positive effects on health and to cure or improve many conditions from asthma and eczema to depression and addictions…

    No doubt some advocates of so-called alternative practices exaggerate and hype their stuff.

    Yes. And drug companies and the
    Cancer/AIDS/Depression/you name it researchers/therapists/doctors don’t?

  7. I have read Puharich’s account of his experiments with Geller as well as James Randi’s expose. A former chancellor of Mysore U (I forget his name – I will check) was a notorious debunker like Randi and made a name exposing a number of gurus and yogis in India.

    But that said, some of this is not fraud. Or at least, hasn’t been clearly established to be a
    fraud. The CIA was interested in the matter (Geller, I mean) somewhere along the line…they must have had some reason…

    One of the difficulties of studying such things in a scientific way is that they aren’t always reproducible — not always because anyone is being intentionally fraudulent, but because the abilities in question aren’t fully (or even at all) in the control of the possessors; they’re affected by observation. Does this have some relation to what’s called the observer effect in physics? (Not sure – I’m not a physicist)…

    In any case, it’s not a question of susceptibility to the “nefarious” — it’s wondering how people can be so sure this whole area of inquiry is always and only nefarious.

    A few charlatans do not make the whole thing a fraud.

    You might be interested to know that according to one former director of a CIA psychic program — a highly trained engineer/philosopher – now an entrepreneur who builds planes in his spare time….[not a flake by any stretch of the imagination] the psychic program was highly successful and not – as publicly stated – shut down because it was a failure.

    You know, Bill Lind, the conservative military theorist and commentator, says the wars of today — 4th generation wars he calls them — are essentially fought at the mental, moral and psychic level (as in psyche) — they’re propaganda wars. I think he has something there…the question is how do we as citizens use that information?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: