N = NOTICE
The Scientific Method prefers thinking based on feedback. In this method the reason you think is so that you can NOTICE the feedback created by your thinking and action. This feedback then becomes the stimulus for further thinking.
Thinking … Feedback … Thinking … Feedback … Thinking … Feedback, and so on.
The basis of all science is observation and measurement–noticing things. A clever brainuser is a clever noticer and a clever noticer is objective. The skill of noticing is the skill of objectivity. Detachment is also important in noticing things.
With detachment you can have a broader, clearer view of the situation.
For example, when pouring a glass of champagne you notice feedback. You notice when the champagne level is nearing the top of the flute and so you begin to stop pouring the wine. If you didn’t notice this then you might continue pouring and it will spill and run out of control.
In fact, noticing things is the basis of controlling things. This champagne situation is an example of a ‘feedback system’. Noticing and measuring feedback in systems, in order to control those systems, is what cybernetics is all about. Noticing the feedback created by your thinking, in order to control it is what this book is all about.
During WWII, Dr. Norbert Weiner (Professor of Mathematics at MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology) invented cybernetics, as a body of mathematics to help anti-aircraft technology.
The main problem with an airplane as a target was that it moved and kept moving. Cybernetics worked by noticing the ‘degree of miss’ between an ack-ack shell and the airplane target, and feeding back that information to the weapon so that an immediate adjustment could be made and then firing another shell.
This loop would be quickly repeated many times, allowing the weapon to ‘educate-itself’ and close in on its target.
This gave the weapon its characteristic ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack firing sequence … fire feedback fire feedback fire feedback fire feedback fire feedback fire feedback etcetera etcetera … until it closed in on its target.
This kind of technology, as with many other advances, has been largely developed by the scientists working with the military. Missiles work the same way, wiggling to their target by using heat sensors to locate the target’s engine and noticing the feedback in order to make a rudder or rocket adjustment. Noticing the feedback is the central activity that allows the missile to reach its goal.
Later, the Patriot missiles used in Iraq showed how this technology had been developed to such an extraordinary degree by the USA’s Star Wars project.
The Patriot’s ability to catch Scud missiles in the air was roughly equivalent to you driving along at 100kph and plucking a single blade of grass, previously painted red, as you go by. Today the military use drones of all shapes and sizes, alone or in swarms, to do reconnaissance, monitor covert activities and carry weapons.
This kind of advanced Star Wars cybernetic technology is also being considered to shield our planet from meteors, which are an increasing worry to scientists. Meteors remain just as serious a threat to life on the planet today as they were to our Jurassic ancestors.
Cybernetics is all about servo-mechanisms, goal-seeking behavior, feedback loops, positive and negative feedback systems, self-stabilizing systems, homeostasis and the control of systems, and how they might apply to biological or mechanical systems.
THINKING … FEEDBACK … THINKING … FEEDBACK …
THINKING … FEEDBACK … THINKING … FEEDBACK …
THINKING … FEEDBACK … THINKING … FEEDBACK …
George Gallup founded the Gallup Poll at Princeton, New Jersey, which became the world’s first system to objectively and scientifically measure – that is, to notice – public and customer opinion. He was also the inventor of market research and the ultimate saviour of the customer.
The very existence of the Gallup Poll has changed forever the future of the human race.
The Gallup Poll makes it increasingly difficult for individuals to claim ‘I-am-right’, to claim they alone ‘know what’s best’ for the public, now that accurate scientific measurement of the public/customer/elector viewpoint is possible. As inventor of market research and the Gallup Poll, Dr George Gallup has so empowered the public viewpoint that I believe his invention may be the greatest invention for the support of democracy ever discovered by any scientist. Gallup research has covered the fields of: Health; Religion; Politics; Journalism; Advertising; Entertainment; Business; Education and Human Thinking. It can be said that no other person in history has ever had the opportunity to notice and record the views of so many humans on so many aspects of their existence, and in so many parts of their world!
A lesser known side of Dr Gallup was his interest in humans, and the factors which influence their opinions, attitudes, thinking and aspirations. He once told me, ‘teaching people to think for themselves was the most important thing in the world to do’.
He was a great supporter of the School of Thinking and one of the wisest and kindest gentlemen I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.
Born in Jefferson, Iowa, in 1900, he attended the University of Iowa and spent ten years as a teacher there and at Drake, Northwestern, and Columbia Universities.
He had a strong interest in education and what could be done to improve it. He had more than ten honorary Doctorate Degrees from colleges and universities around the world. George died at his Switzerland home in 1984.
As my deeply respected mentor, Dr Gallup helped with the design of my universal brain software by impressing upon me the need to measure or notice the CVS (Current View of the Situation) as a basis for moving to the BVS (Better View of the Situation). We will explore this further in coming chapters.
Dr Gallup’s work, along with that of Weiner and others, stands as one of the first great examples of the practical application of the new field of cognitive science.
It can cost around $US20,000 to have a Gallup Poll conducted on just one question. If you could have a Gallup Poll conducted, what one question would you ask? Why would you ask this question?
The main point about noticing is this: try to notice those things that you have NOT YET noticed.
It’s easy to notice the information that supports our CVS, our Current View of the Situation. It’s difficult to notice the information that falls outside our CVS and so that’s exactly why and where we must make a contrived attempt to notice things.
Suppose you’re looking north. Once you become aware of the fact, once you notice it, then you can deliberately choose to look south.
Looking in the opposite direction is one place to notice things. Try looking in those directions in which you are not yet looking.
Where are you looking now? Where else could you be looking now?
Mistakes are a useful thing to notice.
Mistake-phobiacs are so afraid of mistakes that they can’t bear to notice them.
They can’t see that a mistake is an opportunity to make an appropriate adjustment. They can’t cope with mistakes.
Mistake-phobiacs are always ‘right’.
Francois Jacob, winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine wrote:
‘Nothing is more dangerous than the certainty that one is right. Nothing is potentially so destructive as the obsession with a truth one considers absolute. All crimes in history have been the result of fanaticism of one type or another. All massacres have been carried out in the name of virtue, of true religion, of legitimate nationalism, of proper policy, of right ideology: in short, in the name of the fight against somebody else’s truth.” – The Logic of Life, Penguin, 1989.
It’s important to be able to notice mistikes in order to be able to explore them, or to use them, or to correct them and move on. (OK, move on.) To do this effectively, one needs to be objective rather than reactionary, to be creative rather than judgmental.
Try noticing mistakes that you have not yet noticed. Correct them, if that’s what is needed, and move on.
Future consequences can be the most difficult things to notice especially in advance, which is one of the best times to notice them. This is a bit of a paradox. How can we notice a consequence that has not yet happened? How can we notice the future? How can we notice those unforeseen consequences?
Actually we do it every time we ride a skateboard, apply make-up, play a game or use a chain saw.
By noticing potential consequences we can avoid them in advance, if we wish. The biggest problem to overcome here is short-termism. Our narrow focus on too short time frames. The most difficult consequences to notice in advance are the long-term ones. If I do such-and-such what will happen in ten years? In twenty years? In a hundred years?
As the many possible futures hurtle towards us at an ever-increasing rate, we will have to get better and better at noticing long-term consequences, so that we can choose the futures we want to be in.
We are currently destroying the world’s forests at the rate of an acre per second. In the foreseeable future, most of the earth’s oxygen producing forests will be gone if we don’t notice the long-term consequences and make some big changes.
We have already destroyed more than three-quarters of Australia’s tropical rain forests and about two-thirds of the rest of our forests. We have a hole in our protective ozone layer already the size of Mount Everest.
Canadian scientist, David Suzuki, Professor of Genetics at the University of British Columbia, says,
‘We are the last generation who will have any say on the future of our planet, because after our lifetime it will all be gone’.
If we are to make the necessary adjustments to our current behavior, to ensure a safe future, we will have to get much better at noticing the future consequences of our current behaviour. Try noticing future consequences that you have not yet noticed.
Why Notice Things? What would happen if you didn’t notice things?
Usually when we don’t notice something we make a mistake. When we don’t notice the mistake, we make another mistake. And so on. However when we do notice the mistake, then we can adapt or adjust in some way and then proceed.
You have two ears and one mouth so use them in that proportion – so the saying goes.
And yes, ears are certainly good for input, for noticing. Eyes come in handy too. The tongue and the nose work well together. And, an assortment of fingers and toes play their part. We do have around five input senses, we are told, and these are all useful for noticing. Our experience, patterns built up over the years, can help us to notice things and, of course, they can also hinder us in noticing things.
This is the SDNT Scientific Method for x10 thinking.
Your DFQ #018:
What do I need to NOTICE?
What ELSE do I need to notice?
NOTICE something interesting about an important situation and post your results.