Why FIML queries need to be asked quickly

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A fascinating Swedish study claims to show that:

…the sense of agency for speech has a strong inferential component, and that auditory feedback of one’s own voice acts as a pathway for semantic monitoring, potentially overriding other feedback loops.

The source of that quote can be found here: Speakers’ Acceptance of Real-Time Speech Exchange Indicates That We Use Auditory Feedback to Specify the Meaning of What We Say.

In an article about the study above—People Rely on What They Hear to Know What They’re Saying—lead author Andreas Lind says that he is aware that the conditions of their research did not allow for anything resembling real conversational dynamics and that he hopes to study “…situations that are more social and spontaneous — investigating, for example, how exchanged words might influence the way a… conversation develops.”

FIML partners will surely recognize that without the monitoring of their FIML practice many conversations would veer off into mutually discordant interpretations and that many of these veerings-off are due to nothing more than sloppy or ambiguous speech or listening.

If speakers have to listen to themselves to monitor what they are saying and still misspeak with surprising frequency, then instances of listeners mishearing must be even more frequent since listeners (normally) do not have any way to check what they are hearing or how they are interpreting it in real-time.

That is, listeners who do not do FIML. FIML practice is designed to correct mistakes of both speaking and listening in real-time. FIML queries must be asked quickly because speakers can only accurately remember what was in their mind when they spoke for a short period of time, usually just a few seconds.

The Swedish study showed that in a great many cases words that speakers had not spoken “were experienced as self-produced.” That is speakers can be fooled into thinking they said something they had not said. How much more does our intention for speaking get lost in the rickety dynamics of real conversation?

This study is small but I believe it is showing what happens when we speak (and listen). Most of the time, and even when we are being careful, we make a good many mistakes and base our interpretations of ourselves and others on those mistakes. I do not see another way to correct this very common problem except by doing FIML or something very much like it.

In future, I hope there will be brain scan technology that will be accurate enough to let us see how poorly our perceptions of what we are saying or hearing match reality and/or what others think we are saying or hearing.

It is amazing to me that human history has gone on for so many centuries with no one having offered a way to fix this problem which leads to so many disasters.

first posted APRIL 30, 2014

Using truthful statements to lie

A recent paper explored the effects of using truthful statements to deceive others.

The authors of the paper call this behavior paltering and define it as “the active use of truthful statements to convey a misleading impression.”

The paper, Artful Paltering: The Risks and Rewards of Using Truthful Statements to Mislead Others, says:

…we identify paltering as a distinct form of deception. Paltering differs from lying by omission (the passive omission of relevant information) and lying by commission (the active use of false statements). Our findings reveal that paltering is common in negotiations and that many negotiators prefer to palter than to lie by commission.

The paper tests the effects of paltering during business negotiations, but paltering can happen in many other contexts. Examples of paltering by public figures can be found in the news every day.

The concept of paltering is also interesting psychologically. I am going to speculate that individuals often palter to themselves concerning their own internalized autobiographies and reasons for doing many actions.

If we use our inner voices to palter to ourselves—that is use the best “truthful” description of our actions that also just happens to place those actions in their best light—then we are not living with full integrity even in the privacy of our own thoughts.

At the same time, we have to be careful about how we assess our own paltering. We might be right to use the best version of events because that really is the correct version.

The problem is there is no good standard for an individual alone to decide what is objectively right or wrong.

For example, if someone smokes pot in a state where it is illegal are they paltering by telling themselves the law is stupid so why follow  it?

FIML partners will want to avoid paltering at all times but especially in the midst of a FIML query. Properly done, FIML can help with internalized paltering because this sort of subject matter lends itself well to FIML discussions.

As with all moral questions, where we draw the line is not always easy. The more tools we have the better. Awareness of paltering and its effects on others is good tool to have.

First published 12/16/16

Retroactive Revision

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Retroactive revision means changing what you said. Anyone can do it but retroactive revision is especially designed for FIML partners. Partners can use it whenever they feel a statement they have made has boxed them into a corner or is making the conversation take a turn they had wanted to avoid.

For example, you say “I like XYZ cars the best.” What you actually meant is I very much like XYZ cars. Your partner starts talking as if you really mean you like them the best. This is a very simple example, but sometimes it can be difficult to keep things on track even with a simple mix-up like this.

If you feel your partner is wasting time talking about the good points of other cars to show you that XYZ may not be the best, just say you want to retroactively revise what you first said. Say: “I want to retroactively revise what I said. I want to change my initial statement to I very much like XYZ cars. I didn’t actually mean I like them the best of all cars; I was exaggerating, I guess.” Your partner will understand that you were using words loosely and that they need not take your original statement literally. They will change their tack and your conversation will become more in keeping with what you really think and feel.

Once learned, that technique will give both partners a lot of freedom. It’s relaxing to know you can easily change what you have said to be more in line with the thinking that has evolved in your mind since you made your initial statement.

As with most FIML techniques, FIML partners should do retroactive revisions the moment they feel a jangle that their partner may have misunderstood them. If it turns out your partner did not misunderstand, there is still a major benefit for both partners because the mistaken impression you had about your partner will not cause any further confusion for either of you.

first posted MARCH 29, 2012

Pre-emptying

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Pre-emptying means excluding something from consideration during a conversation. Anyone can use this term/technique, but it is especially useful for FIML partners who have come to realize that they are spending a lot of time trying to control how they are being understood. Whether they are indeed being misunderstood in subtle ways or not does not matter all that much because, as we know, if one partner even thinks they are being misunderstood, it is definitely best to do something about it.

Pre-emptying is used when one partner does not feel the need to do a full-on FIML query because they do not see anything serious happening. They are not very much concerned about any potential misunderstanding and do not feel a serious neurosis is involved. All they want to do is avoid some kinds of interpretations from occurring in their partner’s mind. They want to prevent the conversation from going in a wrong direction.

For example, you want to say something about a hot political topic but do not want to discuss that topic at length. You just want to point out that, say, so-and-so said exactly the same thing two years ago. To do that you say: I want to pre-empty my next topic of all political argumentation or further analysis. I just want to point something out and use that example to say something else. Your partner will understand that this is not the time to bring up other things about that subject. They will understand that you are going to say something with a special purpose.

Yesterday, we had a post about retroactive revision. Retroactive revision can be used in conjunction with pre-emptying to deeply rework a conversation so that it can conform more closely to your current understanding and not be held back by discarded ideas or the need to keep making small distinctions. An example of how to do this with a topic that has included material from your own life is this–just say: I want to retroactively revise what we have been saying about topic QRX and pre-empty that subject of all of the autobiographical examples I have used so far. I no longer think they apply and may be seriously misleading. So from now on, this topic does not contain any reference to the autobiographical statements I have made and statements that were made are now retroactively pre-emptied from it.

This may sound like a lot of verbiage, but it just takes a few sentences to say. The special terms will alert your partner that you are using a meta-control technique to reconfigure your conversation. With a little practice, you will both see that using this method saves a great deal of time and makes conversations much more interesting since neither of you has to waste time explaining and re-explaining the same things. The more meta-control you can gain over your conversations, the better.

On this site we have frequently emphasized the importance of catching small mistakes and identifying them as the first germs of a new neurosis or as a micro-instance of an ongoing neurosis. That is all still true, but experienced FIML partners will eventually come realize that some of their mix-ups are occurring simply because that is how language works. This meta-understanding arises from having successfully resolved enough FIML discussions that both partners can see the same sort of thing happening and neither partner feels any (or hardly any) emotional jangling regarding it.

For example, if I start to talk about a difficult relative and introduce the topic in a vague sort of way (which is very common/normal), my partner may mistake my intentions (which may be only vague in my own mind) and start talking about some aspect of that relative’s problems that will lead away from what I really wanted to say (which is coming into clearer focus for me only now). My partner’s misunderstanding of my vague conversational gambits are not neurotic. They might become neurotic if either of us fails to understand how they have arisen, but at this point in a new conversation, they are nothing more than normal potential associations on what I first said.

To forestall neurotic development and make everything much more pleasant and interesting, at this point, I need only say that I want to pre-empty the topic of anything that may lead away from what I was aiming at. In most cases, your partner will be quite willing to do that. If they see something else to say about it, there is no problem; just discuss it with them.

Pre-emptying, as with all FIML techniques, requires high levels of honesty and integrity from both partners. Partners who are in a stable relationship should not find it all that difficult to treat each other with honesty and integrity. To be clear, no FIML technique should be used to deceive or take advantage. Watch yourself carefully because the ego is biased and it is natural for all speakers and listeners to act from a self-centered position. Properly done, FIML can easily deal with those very normal aspects of being human.

Note: The term pre-emptying recalls the English word “preempt” and the Buddhist term “empty”. We are using a new term because we are doing something different from preempting or realizing the emptiness of something. At the same time, pre-emptying is sort of close to both of those concepts.

first posted MARCH 30, 2012

Some notes

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  • Retroactive revision is a tool that allows partners to clear elements of a conversation that has already occurred. Pre-emptying is a tool that allows partners to clear, or preclude, elements from entering into a conversation that is just starting.
  • The origin of many neuroses and misunderstandings is our unavoidable tendency to speak and listen from a self-centric point of view. Experienced FIML partners should find it fairly easy to clear this sort of mistake quickly and as it is happening.
  • Another major initiator of neurosis is our need to guess about the fullness of what others are saying to us. Without FIML tools, communication–even between loving partners–is too vague to promote mental clarity and emotional security.
  • I wonder sometimes if socially awkward people appear that way because they lack greed or the need for self-aggrandizement. Without greed, or strong self-interest, they don’t use other people or groups of people because they don’t particularly want anything from them. This can make them appear unfocused or awkward.
  • Wonderment is an aspect of wisdom. It opens the emotions and allows us to use all of our senses and faculties in pursuit of understanding.
  • In deep wonderment the neocortex and limbic system work together to gain deeper understanding. It is one of the finest and most productive states of mind/brain/body.
  • FIML provides partners with the tools to describe and discuss their different frames of reference while they are being accessed. It allows them to deepen their understanding of each other without becoming lost in poses, excuses, or appeals to outside authority.
  • Ideally, FIML discussions should be largely unemotional and not employ histrionic tones of voice, except occasionally to further understanding. There should be no posturing or arguing, but rather a shared attempt to fully understand what each partner had been thinking at the moment in question.
  • Our morality should sound like this: “This is the way to be and I am trying to do it, too.” Rather than: “I am moral. Be like me.”
  • A great deal of what we call temptation is fundamentally neurotic (based on mistaken interpretations).Temptation can be user-defined or defined by the larger culture.
  • Since FIML practice removes neuroses, FIML partners will find it easier to control temptations than many other people
  • .FIML practice shows partners the value of honesty, integrity, mutual helping, and mutual harmlessness. FIML partners will see for themselves the rewards of following the basic moral principles described by the Buddha in the Five Precepts.
  • first posted APRIL 2, 2012

    Excellent piece on American backroom politics and the use of language and fraud

    Judicial Watch has received a lengthy FOIA release based on Michigan state inquiries into the details of state Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon departure from his position [SEE HERE].  Within the FOIA release there are emails between Director Gordon and Governor Whitmer using guidance from pollster Frank Luntz.  In essence Luntz was helping Gretchen Whitmer construct the wording used to manipulate the Michigan citizenry into buying the COVID propaganda.

    FOIA Release Shows Frank Luntz Helped Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer Construct COVID Propaganda Messaging

    The brain as a guessing machine

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    A new approach to the study of mental disorder—called computational psychiatry—uses Bayesian inference to explain where people with problems are going wrong.

    Bayesian inference is a method of statistical reasoning used to understand the probability of a hypothesis and how to update it as conditions change.

    The idea is that people with schizophrenia, for example, are doing a bad job at inferring the reasonableness of their hypotheses. This happens because schizophrenics seem to be less likely to put enough weight on prior experience (a factor in Bayesian reasoning).

    Somewhat similarly, “sensory information takes priority [over previous experience] in people with autism.” (Bayesian reasoning implicated in some mental disorders)

    Distorted calculations — and the altered versions of the world they create — may also play a role in depression and anxiety, some researchers think. While suffering from depression, people may hold on to distorted priors — believing that good things are out of reach, for instance. And people with high anxiety can have trouble making good choices in a volatile environment (Ibid)

    The key problem with autism and anxiety is people with these conditions have trouble updating their expectations—a major component of Bayesian reasoning—and thus make many mistakes.

    These mistakes, of course, compound and further increase a sense of anxiety or alienation.

    Like several of the researches quoted in the linked article, I find this computational approach exciting.

    It speaks to me because it confirms a core hypothesis of FIML practice—that all people make many, significant inferential mistakes during virtually all acts of communication.

    In this respect, I believe all people are mentally disordered, not just the ones who are suffering the most.

    I think a Bayesian thought experiment can all but prove my point:

    What are the odds that you will correctly infer the mental state(s) of anyone you speak with? What are the odds that they will correctly infer your mental state(s)?

    In a formal setting, both of you will do well enough if the inferring is kept within whatever the formal boundaries are. But that is all you will be able to infer reasonably well.

    In the far more important realm of intimate interpersonal communication, the odds that either party is making correct inferences go down significantly.

    If we do not know someone’s mental state, we cannot know why they have communicated as they have. If our inferences about them are based on such questionable data, we are bound to make many more mistakes about them.

    first posted MAY 15, 2016

    The agony of speaking

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    My SO and I are doing some painting. Mostly it’s fun, but as we discuss colors and color combinations, it has become glaringly obvious that it can be extremely difficult to talk about what we want but easy to convey our ideas by showing an example of what we want.

    I wanted to do something in brown. Words flew all over the room but got us no closer to mutual understanding, let alone agreement. We looked at color charts on the computer but couldn’t agree on what we meant by saturation, muted, lighter, or darker.

    My SO, who is much better with color than I am, thought the meanings of those terms were obvious. “You’re overthinking this! You must know what lighter and darker mean!”

    “Not when I consider luminescence or saturation, I don’t. I really don’t.”

    Is a red-brown lighter or darker than a blue-brown? More or less saturated? I honestly was lost in the terminology and was driving my poor SO crazy.

    After several days of this, at some point I noticed my wallet lying on the table. “This is what I mean,” I said. “I want a color like this.” The wallet was a well-worn, dark, leathery brown.

    She immediately knew what I was talking about now. “What you want is a really dark brown… that’s almost a black.”

    Excited, we went back to the color chart (which has 3,500 color variations) and looked into a different classification of browns. Low and behold, the darkest one available—Tarpley Brown—is exactly what I wanted.

    So,  I had something in my mind’s eye but failed repeatedly to convey it to my SO through the use of language. She tried to figure out what I meant but kept searching for a more woody sort of brown while becoming increasingly confused by my groping attempts at description.

    From this, we can see how difficult it is to understand other people or even ourselves. Many important aspects of being human simply do not have clear examples in the world around us and are much more difficult to put into words than a color.

    first posted JULY 15, 2020

    Our psychologies are unnecessarily confined within narrow ranges of meaning and understanding

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    Human psychology is greatly affected by human language. Since humans normally use language rather crudely and almost always are confined within meanings already established in language, their psychologies are fundamentally both crude and unnecessarily confined within narrow ranges of meaning and understanding.

    This causes emotionality, discord, dependence, frustration, anger, and violence. Our normal uses of language often stimulate basic instincts that we either have to control or be controlled by.

    I usually discuss this problem as it occurs during interpersonal conversation, where it is generally most serious and where our “personalities” are generally formed. But it also exists in texting, emails, news stories, and even scientific peer reviewed papers.

    The basic underlying problem is we do not communicate well, almost no one does. Even very articulate, well-educated, intelligent people with good upbringings and admirable personalities have this problem. In fact, they often have it even worse than everyone else because their considerable skills have trapped them even worse.

    The trap is using established meaning or interpretation to override mistakes in interpersonal communication. The established meaning can be learned from others or self-generated. Either way, when it is used to override mistakes in communication (and this happens often) the person is trapped in a labyrinth of false references: the lived and learned matrix of their personality; the neuronal structures of idiosyncratic memories and behaviors that constantly misguide the sufferer through a tautological existence.

    When data is bad the output will be bad. When interpersonal data is bad, and far too much of it is, the output in speech, listening, and cogitating will be bad. When everyone is like this, the output will be horrendous. Look around you at our world as it becomes less truthful and more absurd daily. The root cause is massive amounts of uncorrected bad data at all levels of society.

    My contribution toward fixing this mess is FIML, which deals “only” with the enormous problems of close or intimate interpersonal communication.

    When two people do FIML conscientiously, all of their problems born of long histories of many mistakes can be cleared up. If you want to do this, if you want to optimize your being; find a good partner and do FIML. As of today, there is no other way. If you can see the problem, you will understand why FIML works. If you do FIML even without fully understanding it, you will still fix the problem and will eventually come to see how it’s not just your problem: all people everywhere have it and have always had it. I do not know why I am the first person to provide a solution to it.

    The problem is very obvious but it is so big and widespread, people either do not see it or believe it cannot be fixed.

    Humans are fractals of their societies

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    The microcosm of the individual human is made of the same stuff as the macrocosm of the society to which it belongs. The two are a fractal set displaying similar patterns.

    This makes sense since both individuals and their societies use the same networks of semiotics to communicate.

    In many ways, societies are less complex than individuals. In the sense that a society is an assemblage of many individuals, society is more complex. But in the sense that a society is held together by a network of communicable ideas, or semiotics, society is frequently less complex than many of the individuals living within it.

    For example, most societies have very simple “biographies” (their always slanted histories), while many individuals have nuanced biographies that encompass change, growth, and contradiction.

    A recent study of people’s attitudes towards atrocities points to this truth by showing that “…the way people’s memories are shaped by selective discussions of atrocities depends on group-membership status.” (Source)

    In-groups forget bad things they have done—or “morally disengage” from them—while clearly remembering bad things that out-groups have done. This is a major element of all group stories.

    I bet you cannot name a single society that has anything even approaching a fully nuanced view of itself on almost any matter, let alone its history. Individuals often “morally disengage” from their past acts, but it is not common for them to do so to the same extent as the societies they live in.

    It hardly matters, though, if the social story is about atrocities or trivia. I have actually witnessed fairly heated arguments over who first invented pasta, the Chinese or the Italians. And another one on who first invented dumplings, Poles, Jews, or Chinese. The origin of beer is another subject that can get people going.

    It makes sense that societies’ stories about themselves be as simple as they are false because they serve as lowest-common-denominator social bonds. Indeed, it probably even helps that these stories be knowingly false as the bond will then require an even deeper level of commitment.

    Of course, some of the energy for falsification and simplification comes from one group’s story needing to counter another group’s story. Yes, we did that to you, but you did this to us first.

    In that, societies further resemble individuals because that’s what we do as individuals, too. Only individuals who are very well disposed toward each other and who try hard ever overcome the need for false stories between them.

    FIML practice provides individuals with a means to observe the smallest fractal details of their individual stories and correct them where they are wrong. FIML partners would do well to take what they have learned as individuals and apply it to the stories told by the society in which they live. You will surely find a macrocosm of yourself in the absurdities of whichever group you “identify” with.

    Maybe people in the future will be better able to see how ridiculous our stories are and better able to deal with the complexities that lie beyond them. For now, maybe we can at least start getting a fuller, truer view of what is happening in and around us.

    I doubt we can do this on a societal level any time soon because the LCD stories will always reassert, but as individuals with a good partner I believe we can. This is probably a main reason that monastic and reclusive traditions have been practiced all over the world. Groups are ignorant, violent, stifling, and crazy. Individuals simply have a better chance at going beyond their simple patterns by acting on their own.

    The fractal of the individual is generated by society but it is prone to being trapped by it as well.

    _______________

    Edit 6/13: When good people do bad things. We all know that people in groups can behave badly. This article is about a study that uses a plausible fMRI method to measure some of the basic processes underlying immoral behavior. In my view, the situation is not much different when the group is a large culture, rather than a small number of participants in a laboratory experiment. Cultures not only permit bad behavior toward out-groups, but they also numb us to what our in-group is doing.

    first posted JUNE 10, 2014

    Cooperative narcissism and meta-communication

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    I think we can describe virtually all group cohesion as “cooperative narcissism.”

    Groups are pretty much all self-aggrandizing and almost all of them show callous disregard for other groups, unless they are connected in a narcissistic super-group.

    Sports teams are a very basic example of narcissistic groups; players and fans revel in their selfishness and contempt for competing groups. That we generally consider those emotions to be playful and healthy demonstrates my point.

    Another example might be a parent who dedicates excessive time and energy to a group outside of the family. To the extent that that parent’s participation in that group is excessive it is narcissistic. Excessive in this context would entail some degree of self-aggrandizement and callous disregard for the family. Some degree in this context is open to question but often can be decided.

    Once again in this context, the family itself might be considered a narcissistic group if it demands an excessive degree of group allegiance from the parent. What excessive means here can often be reasonably decided.

    The reason I raise the above topic is I think that most groups most of the time have so much difficulty with honest meta-communication they simply cannot allow it.

    Groups, of course, excel at the meta-communication we call conformity. Honest meta-communication that does not support conformity, though, usually causes discord. Generally it is perceived as being disruptive, aggressive, rude, “other.” We like those who are like us and dislike those who are not.

    Honest meta-communication is not only dangerous for group cohesion but also for interpersonal bonding. This is so because virtually all interpersonal bonding is a type of group bonding. We like the same things, believe the same things, so we can bond; we are friends because we already are members of the same group(s).

    When people are very close and have formed their own group that is stronger than any other group they feel they belong to, meta-communication is much less likely to produce discord.

    For example, my partner can say she doesn’t like my shirt or the way I cut my hair without bothering me at all. In fact, I am grateful if she tells me that because I trust her and can easily fix the problem. If she criticizes me for something I can’t fix, that’s another matter (and another subject for another day).

    If a new friend or colleague criticizes my shirt or hair, I probably will not take it in the same spirit as I did when the comment came from my partner. Rather than feel grateful (which I still might do), I am more likely (than with my partner) to hear my colleague’s comment as aggressive, rude, or disruptive. Rather than strengthen our bond, it can damage it.

    This is a basic reason why so many groups and so much human communication is so dissatisfying, so dukkha. As such, we simply cannot say interesting meta things to most people without risking strife.

    Some other examples of dangerous meta-communication that should be neutral but are not for people with strong beliefs or group allegiances are:

    • doubting the veracity of religion or science
    • saying anything bad or good about vaccines
    • saying anything bad or good about political parties, political philosophies, or politicians
    • saying anything bad or good about ethnicity or ethnic history, regions or regional histories or politics, symbols, flags, etc.

    Lists like this could go on for miles. And that is because most people normally organize their minds along lines like that. When you engage in meta-communication about any subject that organizes someone’s mind, they will have trouble with it. Propaganda even uses that basic reaction as part of its basic formula.

    Cooperative narcissism very often exists in intimate relations between two people. This happens because the dominant means (conformity, agreement, general semiotics) people use to communicate within groups are brought into the intimate relationship as a “natural” part of it.

    The problem with that is it is much too confining for individual minds. This point is probably obvious to many readers. But I wonder if those same readers have a means to overcome it. How many intimate partners can do clear meta-communication with each other extensively without causing discord?

    I bet it is not so many. The reason there are often problems in this area is partners restrict themselves to doing meta-communication on meso and macro subjects only.

    “I think you are this kind of person.” “I believe your personality is thus and so.” “I think you are like this because you have that background.” Etc.

    These sorts of meta-conversations can be fun and informative, but they also tend to go in circles while generating massive misunderstandings. At worst, we come to believe them—to reify “main points”—and bind each other to forms and stereotypes that are not deeply real.

    The way out of this problem is to escape through micro communication. As long as two people have a prior agreement (as in FIML practice) to honestly do micro corrections on as much of their communication as possible, they will overcome the problems of cooperative narcissism and the damage it does to human communication at all levels.

    first posted JULY 28, 2015

    Metacognition and real-time communication

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    Metacognition means “awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes,” or “cognition about cognition,” or “being able to think about how you think.”

    To me, metacognition is a premier human ability. How can it not be a good thing to be aware of how you are aware and how you think and respond to what is around you?

    In more detail:

    The term “metacognition” is most often associated with John Flavell, (1979). According to Flavell (1979, 1987), metacognition consists of both metacognitive knowledge and metacognitive experiences or regulation. Metacognitive knowledge refers to acquired knowledge about cognitive processes, knowledge that can be used to control cognitive processes. Flavell further divides metacognitive knowledge into three categories: knowledge of person variables, task variables and strategy variables. (Source)

    Most people do metacognition and are aware of doing it. We do it when we plan, make decisions, decide how to get from one place to another, how to relate to one person differently from another, and so on.

    Where we don’t do metacognition is in real-time communication in real life, where it matters most. This is not because we are not able to do it. It is because very few of us have the right technique, Flavell’s “acquired knowledge” that allows us to do it.

    If we have the right technique, we will be able to gain a great deal of knowledge about real-time cognitive process while also learning how to control them.

    FIML practice is a metacognitive practice based on, to quote the above source, “acquired knowledge about cognitive processes… that can be used to control cognitive processes.”

    In the case of FIML, the “acquired knowledge” is the FIML technique which allows us to gain conscious “control over cognitive processes” of real-time interpersonal communication.

    FIML is different from other analytical communication techniques in that FIML provides a method to gain control over very short or small units of communication in real-time. This is important as it is these very short real-time units that are most often ignored or not dealt with in most analyses of human communication.

    If you know how to catch small mistakes, they become sources of insight and humor. If you don’t know how to catch them, they often snowball into destructive misunderstandings.

    FIML is fairly easy to do if you understand the importance of correcting the minor misinterpretations that inevitably arise between people when they speak and communicate. By using the FIML metacognitive method, partners gain control over the most elusive kinds of interpersonal error which all too often lead to serious interpersonal discord.

    FIML can and does do more than catch small mistakes, but first things first. If you cannot correct small errors in real-time communication, you are not doing anything even resembling thorough metacognitive communication.

    first posted JUNE 11, 2015

    A brief outline of the FIML method

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    The most basic part of the FIML method is thinking about, talking about, and analyzing judgements as they form in the working memory or as they arise in the working memory from established memory structures already in the mind.

    The most basic FIML skill is noticing judgements as they first appear in the working memory during real-life, real world situations. Then the paragraph above.

    After a few weeks or months of doing FIML, your mind will operate differently and better than before. Your understanding of what your mind is will be much more realistic, based on real data gathered with the help of your partner.

    A major extra benefit of FIML practice is you and your partner will develop deep trust with each other; a trust deeper than vows or emotion alone because it is grounded in an ongoing process that is existentially as factual and objective as you can make it.

    This is an extra benefit that also is fundamental to FIML practice. It is “extra” because its development does not depend on anything but doing FIML regularly. The practice itself will reveal the importance of trusting each other and provide you with the means to do that very well.

    FIML is one hundred percent win-win. Everybody happy.

    first posted MARCH 9, 2021

    Semiotic valence

    725 words

    In a previous post, I introduced the concept of semiotic wells. A semiotic well is like a space-time “gravitational well” within a semiotic network. By this, I mean that part of the semiotic network has some heavy things in it—primary semiotics that pull other nodes within the network toward them.

    For example, someone with the view that they have some sort of personality will tend to associate many of their perceptions and thoughts with the features of that personality. Their belief in their personality type will tend to make them see and understand the world in those terms.

    I doubt that “having” a personality is all that much different from having a hobby. And I bet most people can move from one personality type to another about as easily as they can move from one hobby to another.

    Of course there are constraints and limitations in the development of hobbies just as there are in the development of personalities.

    We can gain profitable understanding of the mind by conceiving of it as a network of semiotic units. It is a network because the semiotic elements of the mind are all interconnected. It does not take much imagination to connect any semiotic element in your mind to any other. Apple-red-communism. Or apple-pie-American.

    By association we can connect anything in this way.

    Every semiotic element in the mind has a valence. In different contexts, the valences for any element will differ, and oftentimes they are neutral, but they are there. A semiotic well organizes valences as well as meaning, intention, belief, value.

    For some people, speech is used to socialize, to make friends, to gain and keep access to other people. The valence of major parts of their semiotic network is aimed at socializing with others. People of this type are pleasantly excited when others compliment or reciprocate their social valences.

    In contrast, for some other people, speech is used to share ideas, to analyze, to teach and to learn. The valences of their semiotic networks are primarily aimed at sharing ideas. People of this type are pleasantly excited when others reciprocate these valences.

    Many semiotic wells and semiotic valences are formed accidentally, randomly, arbitrarily. Once we take on any bit of meaning, even if only slightly, there is always a chance that it will snowball into a significant semiotic well.

    The Beatles alluded to this when they sang Had it been another day/ I might have looked the other way/ And I’d have never been aware/ But as it is I dream of her tonight.

    This doesn’t just happen with love but with many of our other interests. We form semiotic wells—sometimes very quickly—for what are often very trivial reasons or no reason at all.

    Much of what we are comes about through accident or chance. This happens because semiotics and the ways valences become attached to them are frequently very simple. Once a semiotic well begins forming it often grows, and as it does it pulls in or rearranges elements from other parts of our semiotic network.

    Once a well is formed or given to us, it can greatly determine how we perceive the world and what we value in it.

    This is why propaganda succeeds so well, and is sort of easy to do if you have a lot of money and access to important public forums. All a propagandist has to do is start your mind in one direction and then add more information and more valence. Most people see the world in terms of simple dichotomies, so all the propagandist needs to do is decide what they want and contrast it favorably against what they don’t want.

    Want war? Make the public perceive the enemy you want as an enemy, then add info while increasing valence. Columnists will write many thousands of words about the desired war, but the basic sociology of it for the general public is always very simple.

    Of course sometimes the trick fails. With Syria the basic formula—terrorists/poison gas/war—failed, probably because the public had been fooled too many times before with similar formulas (Sadam/WMD/war).

    If you can see past words and feelings to the core of the semiotic well, you will see that many things in this world are quite simple. It is no accident that people communicate largely in very simple terms.

    first posted MARCH 20, 2014

    Philosophical psychology

    words 329

    Are your thought patterns valid? Are your premises true? Is your mind sound?

    Buddhism further asks are your mental states wholesome? Are they conducive to enlightenment, wisdom, freedom from delusion?

    There are many things we can do while alone to clean up our thought processes. And there are some things we can only do with the help of another person.

    Only another person can tell us if our premises, thoughts, and conclusions (however tentative) about them are true, valid, and sound.

    Buddhism has a concept of a “spiritual friend,” a “good friend,” a noble friend,” or an “admirable friend.” All of these terms are translations of the Pali Kalyāṇa-mittatā, which is well-explained at that link. (Chinese 善知識.)

    From the link above and from many years of working with Buddhist literature and people, my sense is that a Buddhist “good friend” is someone who is to be admired and emulated. They are similar to what we mean today by mentors or “good role models.”

    I deeply respect the concept of a Buddhist good friend, but find it lacks what I consider the preeminent virtue of philosophical psychology—real-time honesty based on a teachable technique.

    Indeed, I cannot find anything anywhere in world philosophy, religion, or literature that provides a teachable technique for attaining real-time honesty with another person.

    I also do not quite understand how this could be.

    For many centuries human beings have thought about life but no one has come up with a technique like FIML?

    How can that be?

    I do not see a technique like FIML anywhere in the history of human philosophy nor anywhere in modern psychology.

    The importance of a “good friend” who does FIML with you cannot be overemphasized because it is only through such a friend that you can discover where your premises about them are right or wrong, where your thoughts about them are valid or not, and through those discoveries where your mind itself is arranged soundly or not.

    first posted MAY 30, 2017