Your Personal Empowerment

Winsights No. 11 (June 1997)

1. Regarding first-hand observation and solidly skeptical testing

Our main purpose is to spark people at all levels into looking at matters afresh and into checking things out for themselves, first-hand, putting various issues to test instead of simply going along with what everyone believes.

That concern includes not “mere ordinary citizens” but specifically scientists and professionals as well, of all kinds. Science may be the best thing we have going on this planet, but we have to remember that “science” is first and foremost a human social group behavioral phenomenon first (including all that ethological bother of in-group and out-group behavior and territoriality!!!), and what it is supposed to be, only a very long second. In a field where you (or the institution which pays your salary) survive by grants; you’d best make sure that your research results come out like that grant source expects! Tell it like it actually happens and you’re out in the cold – you scientists among my readers are under far more pressure to conform to conventional view, and to slide past present and past oversights and gaffes, than is our “mere ordinary citizen.”

(–And if you are a grant source – especially with public money: you necessarily have to screen out all the wild ideas and wild people from whom, historically, nearly all our true breakthroughs came. You don’t want a golden-fleece award to come looking for you! –And since resources and people in each field are drawn to where the money is, and virtually every field is now financed largely by public money: virtually every field has been sterilized of its potential for major, rapid breakthroughs. –Breakthroughs which would be happening onrush if the field were first the true science it is supposed to be, and other things second.)

Look with your own eyes, see things first hand for yourself, and you are in for surprises. Don’t just drift with the cultural tide like so many dead fish.

Be skeptical. That is important. That is the impulse which, when we act upon it, moves us to find truth, and which has moved the more readily empirical sciences ahead of other human pursuits. When we deal with new techniques for various effects, as we do often in this column, we don’t and can’t depend upon belief to make things happen for us. Using belief to make things happen, makes for very sloppy techniques at best. The techniques (among other phenomena) we address here work for very nearly 100% of anyone trying them. Flip the light switch and, whatever our state of belief, the lights come on (nearly) 100% of the time. But for this to work —

–But for this skepticism to work at all for us, requires that magic word, “act” – the folded-arms, closed-face-&-mind kind of skepticism does us no good at all. Folded-arms automatic dysbelief is no more productive than is automatic naive belief.

Easily 90% of everything I’ve been taught has proven to be contradicted by what I can plainly see for myself. Which makes me wonder about what you’ve been taught. –Which makes me wonder about what you are teaching. –Which makes me wonder about what I’m teaching! Frankly, what I can see for myself, as imperfect even as that medium is, I trust a lot more these days than I do what I’ve been taught.

“Everyone knows” that you are stuck with the intelligence you were born with – meaning the lack thereof. More refined levels of argument have so much percentage of your intelligence due to genes and so much percent to environment. Think that dynamic situation through. What percent of the outcome of play at second base is due to the thrown baseball? Clearly, even slight variations in how you combine the effects of baseball, fielder, runner, second baseman, crowd reaction etc., will make huge differences in outcome all over the ballpark! With that one statement I just destroyed maybe six of the last eight major books on the subject of human intelligence. –And as for one slight variation–

–As for one slight variation, environmental in this instance the dynamic interplay of factors producing a given level of intelligence down the line: techniques we publish here in Winsights, techniques for receptive visual thinking as one of many means to work the various parts of the brain more closely together, in independently conducted state university studies have demonstrated a substantial increase in I.Q. points for each 25 hours of easy, pleasant, entertaining practice!

That ease and degree of intelligence gain just doesn’t fit “what everyone knows,” so chances are you never heard of the study until now (inquire to: Department of Chemistry & Physics, Southwest State University, Marshall, MN 56258).

Nor does it fit “what people know” that in almost any field, topic or skill, including especially the content of the sciences, that by any of a wide range of methods, one may readily gain years of proficiency in only hours or a day or so! (Read how to do so in the book Beyond Teaching And Learning.) Part 8 and Part 9 in this Winsights series will give you at least some of that.

–Nor did it fit my expectations when, in 1979, a classroom of EMRs (Educable Mentally Retarded persons), conducted in Windsor, Ontario by St. Clair Community College, using one of our procedures (the “Beachhead” procedure in Techniques of Original, Inspired Scientific Discovery, Technical Invention, and Innovation, were able to come up with original – and workable! inventions. 27 were in the class; 17 were able to give attention to the task; every one of those 17 mild retardates was able to come up with an original workable invention! Retarded people just don’t do such things. To be an inventor, one is supposed to be six different kinds of genius…..???

2. Empowerment

The point being that what everyone knows, especially what everyone knows about everyone’s limitations, can stand some modification. YOU are brighter than you think. So is the person next to you. Very little of your intelligence is online with where you are conscious from. Given the way we raise children in this culture and treat one-another, it’s a miracle that any of your intelligence got reinforced into consciousness instead of having to go underground. Few if any of us actually intended the vast array of suppression and shut-down effects with which we’ve laced each other’s existence, but maybe a brief history lesson is in order at this point.

Until a few hundred years ago, it required the more-or-less willing services of many, many human beasts-of-burden to be able to support a few people in more appropriately human conditions. A few of those few, in turn, would deal with the larger needs and issues of the culture while the rest wasted their bounty and opportunity a la Thorstein Veblen. Only those cultures survived long which found ways to make most of their people content to be beasts of burden, hewers of wood and haulers of water. The stabler cultures evolved a zillion features and practices to assure that outcome. Other cultures without that stabilizing feature disintegrated or became absorbed by those which featured it.

Then came steam power and the industrial revolution. We no longer needed hewers of wood and haulers of water, thank you! we needed instead interchangeable cogs in the machine, with technicians and middle-level managers to maintain it.

Everything transformed – or so we thought. Where previously we had fought over who got to rule, now we fought over how that rule was conducted. We went through ideologies, world wars, all kinds of paroxysms reflecting the changing nature of society’s need vis-a-vis what it means to be human. –But: we changed almost nothing. That vast webwork of practices, a few conscious or deliberate but the vast majority unconscious and reflexive, which had been used to make most people content to be hewers of wood or haulers of water, now were used to make most people content to be technicians and middle-level managers.

Bang! –Here came the information revolution. Now we no longer need middle-level managers, and soon will no longer need most of the technicians either. All that struggle and redefinition to do over again!…… Now we have to learn to use one-another as full human beings, here in the information age. Nothing less will do. We can cut to the quick and start treating with one-another – and with ourselves! as full-fledged human beings, or we’ve got a lot more wars and ideologies and struggles to go through.

Before I say this next thing, let me give you my definition of one term we’ve bandied about, a definition which could lend some meaning to all of this. The term, which everyone has used to mean something unintelligibly different from each other’s usages, is: “Democracy.” “Democracy” I define as “people having a meaningful say in the decisions which affect them.”

With that definition, unlike the others, one can look at a given situation and specify exactly how much “democracy” is actually present.

Why is this an issue for us in this context?

Every aspect of your life is being constrained, assaulted, reshaped, without your having an input into the decisions of the decision-makers who are thus affecting your life. More to the point, it has become convenient to the various establishments conducting our society, that most of you find the world too confusing, bewildering, and uncomfortable to think about very deeply or to look closely at. It’s the working belief of most who are in those establishments that most of you aren’t worth consulting with anyway, that there’s little if anything of value which any of you “laymen” (from their perspective) could contribute to the outcomes. It’s easier for them if you don’t get in their hair. They prefer that you settle for the evening TV news, some beer, and maybe a joke or so at the office.

–Not that any or many of “them” are conscious of this attitude. Most have verbal-based attitudes and beliefs which run in a very different vein. But “they” are embedded – as are we – in a massive, nearly invisible soft web of reflexes and practices shaped for us all in those bygone centuries when most people of a society had to be made content to be mere hewers of wood and haulers of water.

I respectfully submit: if some major national or world problem is affecting you, your children, your well-being, much of what you’ve struggled so on behalf of: that you own that problem as surely as does the president or agency head or legislative leader or the company boss. You have every right to input on that issue, whether we call that “democracy” or “only fair!” The second part of what Winsights is about, week by week, is the fact that contrary to what everyone knows, you are fully capable of learning about, dealing with, finding effective answer to, just about any major problem or issue! You are more than a match for almost any situation, if you pay enough attention to your own first-hand perceptions and free up a few notches from what everyone knows. You can find effective answers where our pitifully helpless chronic experts cannot.

From time to time in Winsights, we provide a working tool or so such as in installment # 5, “Over-the-Wall Problem-Solving” or in our various other published techniques on effective/creative problem solving, on the prime intelligence-building procedure Image Streaming and on other enhancers. But the main thing is: that you begin paying more attention to your own first-hand actual perceptions, as contrasted to what everyone knows and what you “know.” Go see for yourself; test things out for yourself. Test what?

For starters—

Everyone knows you can’t meaningfully increase intelligence. For free, learn and practice the procedure, as a test, which has thus far demonstrated substantial gain in I.Q. points + other more significant kinds of gain for 25 hours’ easy, entertaining practice.

Everyone knows people can’t learn a new skill or even a profession in a day; it takes years of hard, concentrated work and sacrifice. Many test by getting a little of that effect going with Winsights part 8 and part 9, then see where to go from there if you like that kind of results….

Everyone knows hardly anyone can invent or innovate, or make meaningful scientific discoveries…. Everyone knows that world poverty can’t be solved, or lasting peace, or the problem of nuclear wastes (see installment # 10), or the destruction of the rain forests, or global warming, or recurrent recessions and sluggishness from time to time in the economy……

Friend, YOU can readily discover effective solution to each of these grave issues, just as you can also surmount the toughest issues in your own immediate life. Friend, we’re looking right now at apparently effective answers to each of these more general or global matters! –Rather than promoting our wonderful answer to this or that, though, what we are about and what Winsights is about—-

It doesn’t matter, certainly it doesn’t matter to us, whose solution fixed the problem, only that it gets solved effectively. My belief is that as you become empowered to deal more effectively with what’s in your own life and around you, and others become likewise empowered by these tools and with this see-with-your-own-eyes perspective, more of those greater problems will get solved.

As you heighten your capabilities and make your own life better and more rewarding, that helps improve the life of us all. –And you have every right to do so, no matter how inconvenient that might sometimes be to existing arrangements.