Study supports FIML practice

This study—Neural Correlates of People’s Hypercorrection of Their False Beliefs—supports the contention that FIML practice can produce deep, wide-ranging, and enduring changes within the brain/mind of practitioners.

The basic finding of the study is:

Despite the intuition that strongly held beliefs are particularly difficult to change, the data on error correction indicate that general information errors that people commit with a high degree of belief are especially easy to correct. (Emphasis added.)

According to the study, this happens due to:

…enhanced attention and encoding that results from a metacognitive mismatch between the person’s confidence in their responses and the true answer.

This is exactly what happens when a FIML query shows the questioner that his/her assumptions about what their partner’s thoughts or intentions were were wrong.

Initially, FIML partners may experience some embarrassment or disbelief at being wrong. But since FIML queries are generally based on negative impressions, after some practice being shown to be wrong will typically produce feelings of relief and even delight.

A FIML query will generally arise out of a state of “enhanced attention” and usually further increase it by being spoken about. Incidentally, this is probably the most difficult aspect of FIML practice—controlling the emotions that accompany enhanced attention, especially when that attention concerns our own emotional reactions.

With continued practice of FIML, however, even strongly held erroneous interpersonal beliefs will be fairly easily corrected whenever they are discovered during a FIML discussion. Correcting core false beliefs (mistaken interpretations) has a wide-ranging, beneficial effect on all aspects of a person’s life.

Since the hypercorrection effect discussed in the linked study only occurs during moments of enhanced attention, the FIML technique of focusing quickly on good data agreed upon by both partners can be seen as a way of inducing states of enhanced attention that will lead to deep changes in both partners. This technique (using good data) also turns the discussion from one about feelings to one about “information,” which the study finds makes errors “especially easy to correct.”

Furthermore, since FIML practice tends to deal with very small incidents, the enhanced attention FIML induces works like a laser that quickly and painlessly excises erroneous thoughts and feelings while they are still small and have not been allowed to grow into full-blown emotional reactions.

first posted OCTOBER 31, 2015

A deep philosophical flaw of the West is the root cause of our downfall

The West has failed to analyze and understand metalevels of interpersonal communication. Our philosophies employ metalevel concepts and vocabularies but have never delved into or properly understood metalevels of interpersonal communication.

This failure to properly understand metalevels of interpersonal communication has very large downstream effects. It has retarded our religious understanding and psychologies, our group formation, our understanding of other groups, and our ability to form profound interpersonal relationships.

The basis of this claim is that when interpersonal language is deeply restricted—as ours is by this massive hole in Western philosophy—all other forms of language use are negatively affected. When metalevels of interpersonal communication are limited, so is almost everything else.

I believe our philosophers never went there for the same reason no one elsewhere has either—analysis of interpersonal metacognitive language and thought goes against a primitive human instinct to not question others too closely, especially in real-time and about usage and meaning.

The few areas of Western endeavor that have not been hobbled in this way are science, technology, and to some extent economics and politics. This is because these areas by definition must deal with metalevel concepts and thus are very capable of understanding and manipulating them, but only in their own self-described contexts. They are successful because they are practically engaged with the real-world.

In contrast, Western religions, psychologies, group formations, and intergroup communication are so severely hobbled by limited metacognitive understanding, they are all but forced to use rigid definitions of what their metacognitive levels are. Thus Western psychologies are theoretical, religions are dogmatic, group formations are formal at best or ideologically tribal, indicating the need to enforce metacognitive language and concepts rather than analyze or discuss them.

Wittgenstein came close to understanding the problem but did not provide a solution or seem to see that there is one. I hope readers of this site understand that FIML is both the solution to this problem and the best way to personally experience and come to grips with how very serious it is.

How we perceive and what to do about it

Human perception is massively based on human memory, expectations, and schemas already formed and present in the brain.

A recent study on visual perception came to this conclusion:

Altogether, these results show that many neurons in the medial temporal lobe signal the subjects’ perceptual decisions rather than the visual features of the stimulus. (Source)

This study is about visual perception and it focuses on neurons in the medial temporal lobe of the brain, but it’s conclusions have been discovered in many other studies—that is, we very often perceive what we already know or expect to perceive visually, aurally, verbally, semiotically.

Humans are capable of seeing new things and forming new conclusions and perceptions, but our default brain state is that most of the time we react to what we already think we know, consciously or unconsciously.

And how could it be otherwise? We could not function if we had to reassemble every pixel in a photo or our visual field every time we looked at anything. Same for sounds, sentences, concepts, and semiotics in general. If we are unable to quickly generalize and categorize something as something we already know about, we will find ourselves utterly lost in a maze of astounding complexity every second of our lives.

We cannot live without that default state, but when we use it during interpersonal communication we frequently run the risk of applying an erroneous “perceptual decision” about what someone is saying or about how we think they have heard us.

If you make erroneous perceptual decisions at a normal pace, which can be several times per hour, you will almost certainly begin to build up bigger and bigger wrong perceptions of the person you are doing it to. If that person is a spouse or close friend, you will have problems.

How do we usually deal with or work around problems of that type?

  1. We ignore them.
  2. We spend time away from the person.
  3. We get mad openly or seethe quietly.
  4. We resort to the simple generalities of basic friendship—shared activities, safe topics, declarations of loyalty or friendship.
  5. We believe or hope that mistakes will average out and not matter much.

In order:

1) If we ignore problems that arise from erroneous “perceptual decisions,” we are merely pushing them aside where they will continue to fester. Some people are truly able to completely ignore or forget, but do you really want to do that to your memory? And what replaces what you have forgotten? Isn’t it just another false “perceptual decision?”

2) This works to dilute feeling and perception, but not to improve or upgrade it. In most cases, this is a losing strategy with close friends.

3) Getting mad is better than most responses if you have the tools to fix the problem. Seething silently is a horrible way to go, though unfortunately a very common one. The worst of all is “not getting mad but getting even.” People who do this with friends are universally idiots.

4) Sad way to go but probably the most common halfway-decent thing people do. This describes most friendships and marriages. They become  sort of lifeless card games that go on and on because no one knows what else to do. And the longer they go on, the less likely there will be change.

5) I think this is an unrealistic belief because false perceptions can go off at many different angles. They don’t cancel out. At best, this belief may produce an outcome similar to item four above.

There is a way to handle these problems and that way is FIML. With practice, FIML partners will find that they have no festering false perceptions about each other and that they have not been forced to compromise the integrity and complexity of their relationship by resorting to any of the above strategies.

If you read about morality in books and essays, it is all usually very philosophical. What is it? What are the foundations of it? How does fairness contribute? Is it emotional? Cognitive? Non-cognitive? Etc.

But how do you do it? Not how do you do it in the big sense of politics or global warming or philosophy, but how do you do it with just one other person? Can you do that? Have you ever done that? Can you conduct a complex and moral relationship with even one other person?

I don’t mean just sex, though that’s in there. I mean everything. Can you get very, very clear about all of the complexities of your relationship with just one other person? How can you be psychologically healthy if you cannot? I think most people are stuck, at best, on level four above. The reason is not that they want that but that they do not see another way.

You absolutely have to do something like FIML. If you don’t, false perceptions will accumulate and lead to one of the five things mentioned above.

first posted SEPTEMBER 28, 2014

Bill To Legalize Psychedelic Mushrooms Advances In California Senate

A bill to decriminalize hallucinogenic mushrooms cleared the California Senate May 24, reaching the halfway point in the state’s effort to legalize the drug, despite increasing opposition by law enforcement and many citizens.

“We shouldn’t be criminalizing people for personal use of these non-addictive substances,” Wiener said in a May 24 statement.

If passed, the bill would allow the cultivation, transfer, and transportation of fungi or other plant-based materials that can be used as ingredients for the drugs, according to the bill text.

Psilocybin is found in a variety of mushrooms and can be produced synthetically. The bill would only allow plant-based psychedelic drugs for use by people 21 years old and older.


Department of Education Investigates Schools for Not Sexualizing Kids

Coordinated lawsuits are targeting schools and parents across the country

Biden launched his 2024 presidential campaign with an ad attacking Republicans for keeping a book featuring a 10-year-old performing sex acts out of schools.

“’Lawn Boy‘, one of the books shown in the Biden ad, includes lines like, “I was ten years old, but it’s true. I put Doug Goble’s d___ in my mouth.”

According to Biden, whose administration had previously colluded to investigate parents rallying against sexualizing schoolchildren with graphic materials like these as domestic terrorists, anyone opposed to having ‘Lawn Boy’ in schools is a “MAGA extremist”. While that assault on parents was stifled, under Biden, the Department of Education is launching a new attack.


Canada’s euthanasia free-for-all gets wilder: A quarter of people now back lethal injections for the POOR and homeless — critic slams ‘shameful’ attitude in world’s most permissive program

Canada is under fire once again as host of the world’s most permissive assisted suicide program, where millions of people now say the homeless and poor should be eligible for state-sanctioned deaths.

survey released this month found that more than a quarter of Canadians say being impoverished or unhoused is a good enough reason for a doctor to inject somebody with a deadly cocktail of drugs.

Even larger numbers of respondents said assisted suicide — or Medical Aid in Dying (MAID), as it is known — should be available to those with disabilities, mental illnesses or who cannot receive medical treatment.


What is the Buddhist position on suicide?

Continue reading “Canada’s euthanasia free-for-all gets wilder: A quarter of people now back lethal injections for the POOR and homeless — critic slams ‘shameful’ attitude in world’s most permissive program”

Psycholinguistics defined

Definition one: Psycholinguistics is the discipline that investigates and describes the psychological processes that make it possible for humans to master and use language.

Definition two: Psycholinguistics is the discipline that investigates and describes the psychological processes controlled by language.

I generally use the word in the sense of definition two. FIML focuses on words and phrases and how we react to them and understand them. When we learn how to analyze real-time, real-world communication we learn to speak in a way that deeply resonates with our psychologies. Then everything improves. ABN

What people fear most about AI proves Buddhism

What people fear most about AI is: 1) it will lie to us and 2) it will tell us the truth.

The most basic teaching of all Buddhas is: Don’t do bad. Do good always. Purify your mind.

This is worth thinking about deeply because AI has revealed a profound philosophical consilience with Buddhism and Buddhist practice.

If more of us were Buddhists more of us would be prepared for the next stage of AI and human morality/ethics. ABN

Fractals in the humanities

“A fractal is a natural phenomenon or a mathematical set that exhibits a repeating pattern that displays at every scale.” (Wikipedia)

Most of us know what math fractals look like and understand that shorelines and trees exhibit fractal patterns that display at different scales.

I think we can also see fractal patterns or sets in the humanities.

For example, the five skandha explanation in Buddhism to be fully understood must be conceived of as a fractal pattern that repeats at different scales. The normal explanation of the five skandhas is as follows:

The five skandhas are form, sensation, perception, activity, consciousness. A form can arise in the mind or outside of the mind. This form gives rise to a sensation, which gives rise to perception, followed by activity (mental or physical), and lastly consciousness. In the Buddha’s explanation, the five skandhas occur one after the other, very rapidly. They are not a continuous stream but rather a series of discrete or discernible moments. A form arises or appears, then there is a sensation, then perception, then activity, then consciousness. (Ibid.)

This explanation describes the most basic fractal pattern or the smallest one. “…the five skandhas occur one after the other, very rapidly.”

A simple example of this rapid movement of the five skandhas might be the experience of having something suddenly touch your neck. Your first awareness of this is the form. Your next awareness is the sensation; at this point you react with aversion, attraction, or neutrality. If you are outside, you might react with aversion as you perceive (third skandha) the touch to probably be an insect. Following that, there is often rapid physical activity (fourth skandha) as you involuntarily reach to brush it away. After that has been done, you will determine what actually happened, you will become conscious (fifth skandha) of what happened.

If it was an insect you might shudder or feel relieved. If it was a leaf on a tree branch you might feel a bit foolish. Your consciousness of the event comes after the first four skandhas have arisen or occurred.

A larger fractal version of the above might be the feeling (form, or first skandha) that you are ignorant about something. This form gives rise to an aversive sensation (second skandha), which leads you to perceive (third skandha) that you ignorance is probably something you should correct. This leads to mental activity (fourth skandha) which may require months of your time. At last, when you are satisfied that you are no longer ignorant on that subject, you will experience a new state of consciousness (fifth skandha).

In the above example, your ongoing feeling of ignorance as you study the subject might also be described as the fifth skandha, consciousness. Understanding that the five skandha explanation is a fractal pattern to be used to help you understand yourself will allow you to apply it where it can do the most good. As with so many things in the humanities, you will do better if you see the pattern and use it to aid understanding without letting yourself get trapped in a quasi-logical net that hinders understanding.

FIML practice can be seen as a fractal pattern as well. The smallest, or most basic level, is the basic FIML query which interrupts normal communicative processing to insert rational thought and more accurate information. The FIML query interrupts the mind as soon as the second skandha, sensation, arises. Whenever partners question a sensation, they will immediately change all of the five skandhas associated with it. Rather than follow a semi-conscious sensation down the same associative path as usual, partners gain an entry point to their deep psychology and an awareness of how their communications are affected by it.

A larger fractal pattern of FIML, might be hearing about it (form); feeling interested in it (sensation); perceiving what it is; learning the system (activity); and lastly gaining a new consciousness about how language can be made to work much better than without FIML.

FIML is a tool that helps partners leverage communicative details to gain great insight into how their minds work. Since FIML is not (yet) the rule for how people speak to each other, a non-FIML fractal pattern can be seen in society at large: since most people do not have a way to access the highly important details that FIML can access, they do not expect anyone else to access them. Thus, by default they accept horribly sloppy reasoning and lies from politicians and others who make important statements in public.

The fractal pattern of non-FIML communication in society at large is all but defined by lies, secrets, and hidden motives. At a smaller fractal level, so are the personal lives of most people. The world goes on. It is my guess that brain scans and better computers and computer programs will one day make it easier for people to see that having the ability to perceive and manipulate communicative details greatly enhances communication. And that communication so enhanced greatly enhances our understanding of ourselves and others. And that this sort of understanding will help us see that we do not have to live in a society that is all but characterized by lies, sloppy reasoning, and partisan nonsense.

In the humanities, fractal patterns can be seen at many levels. By changing the details of very significant communicative patterns between ourselves and our partners, we will change both ourselves and our perceptions of others, and this will gradually lead to better concepts of what society is and how it can function. ABN

‘We are at an impasse. I love you. I am committed to you’ — the Crowders

The exchange between Steven Crowder and his wife, Hilary, is not unusual. Rules, commitments, roles, I love you. I don’t love you.

The exchange is an example of a common form of communication that is normal throughout the world. It is based on a deep failure to understand how interpersonal language does not work. And how it can and should work.

It does not work through vows, declarations of loyalty or love, roles, or ‘respect’.

Interpersonal communication between couples only works when they have a consciously shared method that allows them to understand themselves in real-world, real-time situations.

If the Crowders had been doing FIML, which is precisely the method they need, none of this would have happened.

Consider how simple-minded their conversation is. How stupid it is. Two full-grown, intelligent, successful adults who at some point must have cared for each other talk themselves into box like a couple of babies.

Their voices creak with anger as they battle for peace and contentment while destroying any chance of getting it with every word they say. Neither is to blame because neither one knows any other way to speak.

FIML is described in the links above. It is easy to do if you start before you get to where the Crowders are.

The hardest part about FIML is observing and controlling the first split-second of the formation of any significant impression or interpretation of your partner. FIML can only be learned when partners are at peace with each other. Then, small impressions with only small importance can be explored. This lays the foundation for deeper impressions later on.

For Buddhists, FIML requires observing and controlling your reactions during the first skandhas, before consciousness has fully developed. The fourth skandha of mental activity should be engaged in doing a FIML query rather than consolidating what is probably a mistaken impression of your partner. ABN

There is deep meaning underlying this cartoon. The metacognition of intense identities and ecstatic politics, psycholinguistically, resides in the mind at the same place as religion. All religions are metacognitive categories or top-level rules for the cognitive categories that lie below them—values, intentions, behaviors, etc. Religious anything does not have to be rooted in something from the deep past though most of the traditions we have from the deep past have much to offer. Religion is a way to understand the world and align yourself with it. An important basis of religion is morality. A religion with weak, contradictory, or even absurd, morality must be abandoned or improved. Buddhism is a good religion because it has a strong moral foundation, an excellent philosophy, an accurate description of the human condition, and it is dynamic and open to new information. Putting religious weight on transient identities or political causes is a bad idea because it replaces your best metacognitive categories with lower thoughts. ABN

As a woman who once truly believed I was born in the wrong body and should have been male, you need to understand you can’t reason with crazy

I was actually crazy.

It's not individual trans people you should be arguing with – it's the institutions pandering to their insanity.

I literally convinced myself that I had a male brain in and female body.

I hand on my heart believed my dysphoria came from too much testosterone in the womb.

You cannot reason with people that lost. Not until they wake up themselves.

I was delusional.

Originally tweeted by Watson (@ImWatson91) on April 27, 2023.

Recognizing your own delusions is the beginning of true freedom. ABN

Young Americans turn to religion in post-covid era

The story of religious trends in America has been one of increasing disaffiliation among younger generations. But a new study reveals an unexpected resurgence of faith among youngsters in a post-Covid era. 

Some young adults had an awakening during Covid as the entire world crumbled around them. They were in search of a higher power to get through the government-forced lockdowns and controlled demolition of the economy, as well as watching loved ones and friends contract Covid-19 that some federal government agencies believe leaked from a Chinese lab.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, a new study commissioned by Springtide Research Institute found about one-third of 18-to-25-year-olds believe in a higher power, up from one-quarter in 2021. The findings were based on polling data from December. 


The essence of religion is insight. The rest is mainly vocabulary. ABN

Psychedelic-induced mystical experiences: An interdisciplinary discussion and critique

Contemporary research on serotonergic psychedelic compounds has been rife with references to so-called ‘mystical’ subjective effects. Several psychometric assessments have been used to assess such effects, and clinical studies have found quantitative associations between ‘mystical experiences’ and positive mental health outcomes. The nascent study of psychedelic-induced mystical experiences, however, has only minimally intersected with relevant contemporary scholarship from disciplines within the social sciences and humanities, such as religious studies and anthropology. Viewed from the perspective of these disciplines—which feature rich historical and cultural literatures on mysticism, religion, and related topics—‘mysticism’ as used in psychedelic research is fraught with limitations and intrinsic biases that are seldom acknowledged. Most notably, existing operationalizations of mystical experiences in psychedelic science fail to historicize the concept and therefore fail to acknowledge its perennialist and specifically Christian bias. Here, we trace the historical genesis of the mystical in psychedelic research in order to illuminate such biases, and also offer suggestions toward more nuanced and culturally-sensitive operationalizations of this phenomenon. In addition, we argue for the value of, and outline, complementary ‘non-mystical’ approaches to understanding putative mystical-type phenomena that may help facilitate empirical investigation and create linkages to existing neuro-psychological constructs. It is our hope that the present paper helps build interdisciplinary bridges that motivate fruitful paths toward stronger theoretical and empirical approaches in the study of psychedelic-induced mystical experiences.


I have not yet read this paper but am posting it anyway because psychedelics are interesting in and of themselves and also in relation to Buddhist history and religious practice worldwide. From what I know about psychedelics, they can be very helpful to some people used the right way at the right time. I honestly do not want to encourage the use of any drugs, including many prescribed drugs and OTC ‘pain-killers’ (some are brain killers, imo), but also believe that there is abundant evidence that psychedelics have affected most religious traditions beneficially, including Buddhism. From a Buddhist point of view I wonder Are We Misunderstanding the Fifth Precept? For the record, I do not use any drugs at all except caffeine and a very occasional micro-dose of homegrown organic tobacco under the tongue for maybe 30 seconds. ABN