#054 DFQ

On reading these lessons about PTV, trainees often ask: “But, aren’t these very SOT lessons presented as The Truth?”

I usually answer something like: “No. These lessons are not presented as The Truth. They are presented as ‘a more likely’ truth and that’s not the same thing.”

The different views offered in these lessons may not be the ones pushed by many of the the mainstream authorities but they are researched and presented in good faith. The facts stated can easily be checked out with your own research and I encourage you to do so.  Google makes it much easier for you to do this.

Mistakes and Faults
Where SOT trainees have found faults or where mistakes have been brought to our attention they have been rectified and there are, no doubt, many more flaws in these imperfect lessons.

Provocation and Tactlessness
Although these lessons may be presented somewhat tactlessly they have value in the provocation they give to those who are willing to explore them. Since we are exploring the subjects of ‘truth’ and ‘thinking’ we cannot avoid exploring the history of religion and science. Discussing religion without deference sometimes seems tactless and is too much for some people but is refreshing for others. The individual thinker must make up his/her own mind on this.

Not ‘The Truth’
SOT lessons are certainly not The Truth to be believed in. That would be exactly the opposite of the purpose for these lessons. Their value lies in the thinking you do about them and the effort you take to form your own opinions. Always remember, if you don’t do your own thinking, someone else will do it for you.


Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods. – Albert Einstein, thinker and scientist.

Anytime someone says something with great confidence, check to see whether or not it’s true!
– Noam Chomsky, cognitive scientist and activist

Wide and independent reading–self-education is what matters.
– Patrick White, Australian novelist, 1973 Nobel Prize for Literature.


Now let’s continue our exploration of Plato’s Truth Virus or meme. If Plato was the hacker who invented the truth virus, Aristotle was the first to package it into a powerful cognitive operating system or thinking software package.

Aristotle started off as a student in Plato’s academy and remained there for twenty years until Plato, his mentor, died. By the time Plato died Aristotle was thoroughly infected with his mentor’s truth virus and did much to establish ‘the search for certainty’ as the basis of all intellectual endeavours.

Aristotle became a passionate and obsessive truth freak. Plato only went as far as saying that truth was what lay at the long end of a thinker’s search, an ultimate destination. Not enough for Ari … No sir! Aristotle said “I want truth! I want it here! I want it now!”

Aristotle went on to insist that the ordinary fuzzy jumble of our daily reality was just not tidy enough. So, to bring order to the world he imposed a kind of truth template over everything.

Mail sorting and Labelling
Aristotle’s medium was language. He assumed that the certainty of words could give certainty to the ineffable flow of experience. The untidy chaos of reality offended Aristotle’s ordered, PTV-infected mind so he decided to break everything up into pigeonholes and categories – kind of like mail sorting and labelling.

This goes here, that goes there, stick this label on this and that label on that! Let’s just tidy everything up. Yessir. A place for everything and everything in it’s place was Aristotle’s motto.

In his classifying fervour Aristotle made up pigeonholes and sorted our daily reality into them. He tried to invent slots for everything. For example, he set about sorting ‘government’ into categories like: ‘constitutional’, ‘tyrannical’, ‘monarchy’, ‘aristocracy’, ‘oligarchy’, ‘democracy’.

He then got busy breaking everything up into subjects like: politics, ethics, rhetoric (speech-making), metaphysics, physics, biology, meteorology. Finally, he invented his very own thinking software called logic.

Aristotle’s Silly Syllogism
Aristotle’s thinking software was already infected with the Plato Truth Virus from day one. For logic, Aristotle invented his silly syllogism. I say it’s silly because it lacks wisdom and sense.

The syllogism starts with the so-called ‘truth’ as its premise. Then one simply matches up items that come along and out pops your conclusion. Simple really … and very silly.

For example:
TRUTH: All swans are white.
ITEM: This is a swan.
LOGICAL EXTENSION: Therefore it is white.

TRUTH: Salespeople tell lies.
ITEM: Amy is a salesperson.
LOGICAL CONCLUSION: Therefore Amy is lying.

TRUTH: Our church is the right church.
ITEM: You are not a member.
LOGICAL CONCLUSION: Therefore you are wrong.

TRUTH: The earth is flat.
ITEM: Therefore it has an edge.
LOGICAL CONCLUSION: Therefore you will fall off the edge if you go too far from shore.

TRUTH: The President is the law.
ITEM: The President did something.
LOGICAL CONCLUSION: Therefore it is legal
(Aristotle’s Logic software caused Nixon to believe this was so).

TRUTH: A boss’s opinion is best.
ITEM: You are not a boss.
LOGICAL CONCLUSION: So when we want your opinion we’ll give it to you.

No Contradictions, Please!
For Aristotle, just thinking wasn’t good enough. No, you have to think logically.
Logic is obsessed with hunting down contradictions. In logic, a thing cannot be
in box A and box NOT A at the same time. No, it must be sorted and classified
into the ‘correct’ box.

Although real life is full of contradictions and paradoxes (is the glass half full or half empty?) this was just not good enough for our man Aristotle. Things must be cut up into pieces like a jig-saw and then sorted into their ‘true’ categories.

Judging: Right and WrongBlack Hat Thinking
Life, according to Aristotle, is a matter of sorting things out into ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Judgement is the key activity. This is right. That’s wrong. I’m right. You’re wrong. This is black. That is white. This is American. That’s un-American. This is good. That is bad. This is the right answer. That is the wrong answer.

Greyness? Fuzziness? Uncertainty? Open-endedness? Contradiction? Paradox? Well, we cannot have that sort of thing around here. You’ve got to sort things out! Clean up your act! Get things right! In Aristotle’s Lyceum, everything was covered by rules, rules, rules. The living arrangements, the study courses, the timetables were all dominated by rules and regulations.

Ancient Brain Software
Aristotle craved order. He loved the order that his classifications brought to his ideas and thoughts. He assumed that the same order that he found he could impose on words and language could also be imposed on the real world. Many have made the same mistake.

Aristotle’s cognitive operating system, logic, has dominated Western education for far too long. How come we still think this way 2500 years after old Ari joined Socrates and Plato on Mount Olympus? How come this ancient software has survived so long? Who kept it alive? Who spread it around? Who programmed it into your brain? We will discuss this in the next lessons.

Let’s Be Fair
Having said all this, let’s now be fair. Of course, Aristotle made a great contribution that was needed at the time. My point is how the use of logic has been subsequently distorted by people, institutions and societies.

What I am doing in the lessons is a few things:
– being deliberately provocative
– balancing some of the obsession with ‘logic’ by attacking its ‘mystique’
– referring to the less precise ‘common usage’ of logic not the ‘academic precision’ of logic as Aristotle himself set it out.

Often when the average person says ‘salesmen tell lies’ they behave as though they really said
‘ALL salesmen tell lies’ etc.

Beyond Critical Thinking
It was the School of Thinking which introduced the idea of ‘teaching thinking as a skill’ into the schools in the US and Australia and helped develop the model for teaching thinking in other countries around the world.

By 1983, SOT thinking lessons had already reached over 50 million people worldwide and this was long before the internet. This all began with SOT’s Learn-to-Think Project which I started with Edward de Bono in 1980 in New York.

Edward and I co-authored a book, The Learn-To-Think Coursebook and Instructors Manual (Second Edition. 1982. Capra New. Santa Barbara), in which he wrote the following:

What would I expect from a member of the School of Thinking?
I would expect a trained person to posess a great deal of wisdom and common sense. This arises from an ability to see any situation in a broad perspective. Wisdom is quite different from the sort of cleverness that is taught in school. Cleverness may be alright for dealing with puzzles but wisdom is required for dealing with life.

We tried to encourage teachers to teach their students to go beyond critical thinking to lateral thinking. In SOT training, the only thing you are asked to criticise is your own thinking.

DFQ #054:
Thought experiment:

Have a look around. Try to notice Aristotle’s PTV-infected logic software in operation. You should try to notice it in your own mental information-processing and also in that of others. Look for it in this training. Look for evidence of the virus in today’s newspaper and on TV. Also, try to notice it in institutions and in common situations you come across in the next 24 hours. It is so pervasive that you may have difficulty noticing the very subtle manifestations.

Give an example of PTV-infection that you may have noticed in your own thinking:

390 thoughts on “#054 DFQ

  1. Missing the past… NO LIVING IN THE PRESENT… Be worried daily for the future… So NO LIFE… GOING ON the false PTV + Aristotle rules…

  2. Interesting! I think a lot of operators of small business think that their truth is the right way. They would get more from their staff it there was more communication.

  3. I was trained as a manager by an arrogant hardlined sometimes insulting manager.
    I am a good manager.
    Therfore I must train my managers the same way.

    This was me for a while – I have since grown up, but I sometimes feel bits of this thinking creeping back.

  4. Millennials or Gen Y employees like to express their independence by doing things differently.
    Workers who don’t follow instructions are bad employees.
    Therefore, Millennials are bad employees who must be closely managed.

  5. Tv abounds with infected advertising if I am not thirty one years old with a full head of jet black hair married to an angle looking blonde with 2.3 perfect children,the latest BMW parked in the drive of my double story detached mansion then I am doing something seriously wrong and am about to be told what and how for a very nominal cost can put things right

  6. good-bad: these are the most popular categories that I am thinking of in my daily life. It was bound with my parents’ attitude towards me when I was a child.They were teaching what is good and what is bad, black or white, however, I changed my mind of thinking when grew up. To my opinion nothing should be absolute truth as there are numerous kind of people, characters, experiences, goals. Nobody wakes up with same beliefs as mine, not even with same dreams they go to bed.

  7. An example of PTV-infection that I have noticed in my own thinking this week would be: “Managers are all liers”

  8. I believe that one of the biggest dangers that stems from PTV-infected thinking is that sometimes it works. Salesmen do turn out to be liars, managers to turnout to be manipulators, etc. This reinforces the the flawed logic and stops us from looking from broad perspective.

    My example is of an airline in India which is reputed to have the worst service. Recently I had to fly this airline and found that a lot of the reputation was well deserved. However, I also found that the senior stewardesses had a wonderful personal approach to hospitality. My PTV-infected mind had a very tough time accepting this anomalous behavior.

  9. I noticed that every “right/PTV position” that I have taken on an issue arises from my logical reasoning, which always has to start with some assumptions about the contexts and boundary conditions [the thinking Box] from which I systematically and logically arrive at my “Right position” on an issue. Those who agree with me, will usually start their logical reasoning from the same constraining box of assumptions.

    This is the PTV that I have to be aware of so that I am not carried away by it and so fails to appreciate that there are also other possible “right positions” depending on the basis that I have used for my logical reasoning. There can be other logical “right positions” if the reasoning were to start from a different set of starting assumptions (different thinking Box].

    The LESSON that I have learned is to avoid taking a dogmatic position on any issue, and to keep an “Open Mind” and “to try and see/listen to others so as to understand the perspectives form which they arrive at their “PTV/Truth positions”.

  10. Arrived to the workout club and while changing my dress for swim, I sneezed a rather loud one. The guy nearby made a statement about the spring allergy season.

    Half hour later while swimming, I noticed a swim instructor, a client of mine and I decided to share an idea with him: I suggested to use an iPad for recording and instant feedback on his pupil’s swim each time he need to drive a point home. He was convinced that he is already doing all there is to be done by shouting and consistently repeating himself verbally. There was no penetration of his mindset took place, at that time as I was reading his face and dismissing attitude about the suggestion to use instant visual feedback. “I am already doing that”

    Do you have an iPad, I asked? No, I do not know how to use one.

  11. Stereotypes – all guys, 28 years old, interested in 16 year old girls are pedophiles – this is not just a stereotype everywhere, but in fact found in my very own grey matter… scary …. how do you resolve/disolve???

    All most guys want, is to get in your pants – PTV also stemming from experience – this time found in the grey matter of my daughter.

    Classifications of being “good”, is measured on academic/sports performance when in school.

  12. Two examples of PTV-infection I’ve noticed in my own thinking while reading the news this morning:

    – Politicians are corrupt
    – Lawyers are unreliable
    – People are selfish

  13. I’ve not been a fan of “the truth” for decades, so it’s tough to think that way.

    I don’t listen to the media, other people’s opinions are their own, I’m not offended by other people’s thoughts (same or different than mine) – I’m very open minded to all ways of life (even if I don’t choice them for myself).

  14. Always striving to be right, rather than stopping my jaws from working and engaging brain to use new SOT software.

    Looking within almost everything in me is infected with PVT logic.
    Being a creature of habit I find most were formed unconsciously, and these chains of habits were so light at first, I don’t notice them until now they have become so heavy they’re almost impossible to break. Some wise person said; “First we form our habits and then our habits form us”.
    What I’m finding is that SOT has me questioning my beliefs a lot more so can’t wait for CVS2BVS to become a habit.

  15. When visiting a pub recently I noticed there were alot of men there and an AFL football game had just ended. I jumped to the conclusion that practically every man there had been watching the football and that they were a certain type of person because of this. On reflection I can see that I was jumping to quick conclusions that I felt was accurate ; ‘the truth’, though I had no evidence for my conclusions.

  16. In schools there is right / wrong and acceptable / unacceptable. By understanding why a student did something, that action might not become right or acceptable, but the response from the teacher may be very different.

  17. At this point I can’t see PTV infection in my mind. But an example from my past – I used to believe that a persons knwoledge and intelligence can be inferred from the school/college they graduated from. Now I know this is a bias.

  18. Thoughts about politicians – very PTV infected. Thinking about school system, car drivers from certain regions (PTV thought: there must be a connection to the driving school in that region), etc.
    i think, many topics concerning PTV are connected with anger, hate – a lot of “negative” emotions.
    These negative thoughts often aim against yourself (me in that case) – i know, what i am doing wrong…

    Besides: i am a very optimistic person 😉 Sometimes i wonder, how depressive people feel – i call it the black/red (hat) loop

  19. I sometimes think that my children’s school education does not include enough creative activities. I am also critical of some groups of people and what i perceive as their ‘values’. However as I get older i am better able to see things more broadly.

  20. I related to the “salesman” example. I’ve met so many lying salesmen that I generally do treat them ALL as though they are lying.

    The difficulty I see is that it’s hard not the generalise and I wonder if the ability to generalise has been one of the factors that has allowed us as a species to move from cave-dwellers to where we are now?

    The good news is that whenever we notice a generalisation in ourselves it can indicate very fertile ground to easily move from a CVS to a BVS.

  21. Saw a news report this morning on CNN about a radical Hindu group trashing people who tried to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

    TRUTH: Be open minded. There is more than one way to live.

    ITEM: Radical Hindu group uses violent against people who want to express their love differently.

    LOGICAL CONCLUSION: The “whole” India is close-minded and somewhat uncivilized for attacking people.

    The ‘logical conclusion’ was the first thought in my mind until the news anchor pointed out that many young people in India have relaxed attitude about celebrating Valentine’s day.

    Furthermore, if I define uncivilized as using physical violent on people with different values, then where I live isn’t civilize at all. Here, there are still people who commit hate crime.

  22. I am try to escap PTV,about right an laft which i come to see a society using the laft hand to eat and recive items from a respect personal,which in my community is wrung to use laft hand to eat or recive anything with it.

  23. Give an example of PTV-infection that you may have noticed in your own thinking:

    My own PTV-infection is that knowledge and information is everything, and my intelligence and thinking will improve as a consequence of getting more knowledge or have certain information.
    It is good to know a lot of things and quote bright people, however is more important to think by myself and have my own and personal thoughts.

  24. I do not have a tendency to experience PTV infected thinking. My thoughts are fairly balanced. Even when I get angry, I quickly can calm down and see the different sides of the spectrum.

  25. My bank made a mistake with their algorithm and said that a monthly train ticket charge I make was suspicious activity.

    I had a PTV attack. I was right and they were wrong–no fuzziness. My logic was right on

    I made this charge every month for the last 8 years.
    I tried to make the charge again
    It must be valid.

  26. I realize that I have the tendency to insist on the ‘rightness’ of my own judgement at times and would not want to compromise my stand even in the face of heated opposers. And I do it with a perceived sense of fairness.

    I realize to that I can make myself “the glorious victim” and defend my position, exonerate myself from any wrongdoing as I claim to be the one is truthful over the matter.

  27. Give an example of PTV-infection that you may have noticed in your own thinking:

    An example of PTV infection that I have realised recently is with regard to my daughters schooling achievements. I have always held the view that schooling is about passing or failing exams. Right – Wrong, if you pass you are right if you fail you are wrong, no grey areas no room for an alternative viewpoint – BVS. However having recently watched a TED video on this topic I was enlightened by the viewpoint that to receive an F grade is not actually a failure but just indicates that the student has not attained the correct level of understanding YET! This is a much improved viewpoint as receiving a grade of “NOT YET” provides a signal to the student that the required grades can still be achieved and be taken as positive encouragement to keep engaged in learning. Going forward this is my BVS of the situation, in effect their are no absolute truths!

  28. Just found a full page newspaper ad for “Negative Population Growth”– promoting the resolution of debt, decaying infrastructure, unemployment, etc etc through stopping population growth. This is a PTV for me. Rather than look for creative/lateral answers– just stop the population.

    Since I have enjoyed/promoted the employment of lateral thinking in my won life for the last 30 years I haven’t found a PTV and for which, I am most grateful.

  29. I struggle to accept view points and opinions from people who outwardly live a Christian lifestyle. They preach living Christian values but are often n quick to judge, hold grudges, don’t forgive, I shouldn’t claim that they tell lies. This I see as my ability to move to a BVS and live my life by morals, I have been able to move away from ther CVS and exist on my BVS. It’s strange how clouded someone’s judgement can become. My children attend a Christian school and I see some of these issues arising in the staff who lead the school.

  30. What I’ve noticed is that in any area I have studied fairly extensively and also have some considerable experience (whether it be organic gardening, practicing and teaching the Vedic literature, etc.) when a suggestion comes up that goes against the way I have processed and practiced these things, my immediate reaction is to defend my position without giving sufficient open minded consideration to that suggestion.

  31. TRUTH: Salespeople tell lies.
    ITEM: Amy is a salesperson.
    LOGICAL CONCLUSION: Therefore Amy is lying

    we all place individuals into social groups. If I know that one person belong to a specific group and I dont like that group, therefore I dont like that person

  32. Give an example of PTV-infection that you may have noticed in your own thinking:

    I have noticed lately that I assess people very quickly and stick to that assumption. While I may be right on my first meeting or experience, I see that it minimises my experiences with them as I tend to close the door that they could provide valuable input. This is trait I need to change and ensure I continually engaging with people and not prejudge. I think most of this judging comes from the stress of having to make quick decisions while others don’t have the same pressures and therefore are happy to not be direct or understand the urgency of whats needed.

    We all have value to add and everyone needs to have the right to have a say and be heard. My CVS2BVS is to complete the above.

  33. Some people in my country, they follow another political party ( mcp) just because it’s president is a Reverend, therefore he cannot be corrupt and can develop the nation.

  34. PTV right and wrong does exist everywhere, but not because it was invented by Plato and passed down his students. Being right was come about since the invention of law. Being right is not always a matter of thinking deeply on a subject, some decisions have few inputs and making the right choice is not complected. Unfortunately people choice to put the same thought into choosing underwear as they do into others beliefs. I vary rarely believe my idea is the truth but I do think I am right until I prove myself wrong or someone else does. I find this thinking enables me to move fast and iterate decisions until I get close enough to the right answer for the required decision.

    My thinking is built on wanting to be right and wanting to know the absolute truth, but being absolutely correct is not something that can occur often, millions of input is required to be understood across time, space, the memeplex and the cognos to build something absolutely correct. Understanding what is right enough is where wisdom comes in, this can be fairly easily defined for most encounters as inputs to test what what is right enough has only a few inputs.

    I believe this thinking is good enough to be right enough, but I don’t think absolute truth is something that can be quantified, so cannot exist in my reality.

  35. When ever I think of logic I get memories of Spock from Star Trek giving his logical view on a particular situation they might need to get out of, usually Captain Kirk will then give his point of view from a humanity side, while looking back at it now the props are pretty corny but I find the story lines can still have relevance today along with Kirks star date log summary at the end of the show. I read in the paper yesterday children as young as 8 are being taught how to perform violent acts by IS which I find very disturbing.

  36. I have a perfect example in our management team. These guys have just come in and are all less than 12 months old. They come in talking big saying they will change the world, but when I bring up a potential issue that will be run into along the way it all gets thrown away because ultimately the issues I raise would make them have to re think their plan, instead of re thinking the plan they prefer to ignore and use the I am right and your wrong. At the end of the day I will be the one standing there saying I did try to tell you this. I am all for improvement but these improvement idea’s can not be clouded by their infection of PTV. I like to think of it as the Galileo and earth is round example. Me being Galileo.

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