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  1. #11
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    @jamain:

    Thanks for your positive comments on my post.

    Quote Originally Posted by jamain View Post
    I unfortunately often fall into a pattern of excessive analyzation and this sometimes causes me to go in circles, especially on topics that I consider of great importance. (analysis paralysis) I think my tendency to do this is why I often find myself watching with great interest those who go so vociferously at each other, all convinced of their own rightness. Although sometime I am just a bit envious that they can achieve that level of confidence, even if I happen to disagree with their conclusion.
    Only 24 posts in 4 years of membership at TypoC? It does sound like you do indeed get into bouts of "analysis paralysis" before posting.

    I have a couple thoughts on the idea of "analysis paralysis," but first let me back up and speak broadly about the subject of the thread in general.

    Going back to my previous post: The enemy here (the thing we should try to avoid when coming to quick conclusions on issues) is superficial thinking or confirmation bias.

    As I discussed in my previous post, superficiality/confirmation bias occurs when we analyze things based on shortcuts, limited info, and lots of assumptions in order to come up with quick conclusions that "feel" right but may actually be riddled with errors of one type or another.

    As for "analysis paralysis," I suppose that it could be considered another type of superficial thinking or confirmation bias. That is, the thinker applies lots of thought and time into analyzing a topic in order to achieve greater rigor (because the topic is important), but the thinker is unfortunately still stuck in a rut masticating the same old shortcuts, limited info, and assumptions. In other words, stress is causing him to think more slowly and carefully, but he's not really using that extra time to broaden his perspective. He's just masticating the same old material and not really achieving any greater measure of creativity or broader perspective.

    Robert Greene wrote an interesting book called "Mastery." In one section he talks about "breadth of focus" versus "narrowness of focus" when one is analyzing an important topic. He says that our natural tendency is to narrow our focus when working or under stress: "When we are consumed with a particular project, our attention tends to become quite narrow as we focus so deeply. We grow tense. In this state, our mind responds by trying to reduce the amount of stimuli we have to deal with. We literally close ourselves off from the world in order to concentrate on what is necessary." [...] "This can have the unintended consequence of making it harder for us to see other possibilities, to be more open and creative with our ideas." [p. 184]

    To me, that sounds similar to "analysis paralysis." It's a form of thinking that requires a lot of work but still tends to remain superficial because it's one-dimensional; it doesn't expand out to see other possibilities.

    The opposite would be "breadth of focus": That is, deliberately widen one's focus to take in more possibilities and inputs. To do this, Greene suggests two things:
    --Widen your search by taking in info from related fields or from theories that run counter to yours.
    --"Maintain an openness and looseness of spirit. In moments of great tension and searching, you allow yourself moments of release. You take walks, engage in activities outside your work (Einstein played the violin), or think about something else, no matter how trivial." (p. 185)

    Hence, in my original post I said, "We have the capacity for both empathy and rationality; but it takes work and time to really apply them to any given issue to the extent required for true objectivity."

    Notice the bolding of the word "and" this time. One way to achieve broader focus is to switch back and forth between two perspectives. With politics and social issues, I like to switch back and forth between empathy/compassion and rationality. That is:
    --Empathy/compassion in the sense of "reading into" the lives of other people and seeing things from their perspective.
    --Rationality in the sense of "thinking into" an abstract problem and finding a point of greatest intellectual equity and balance between contrasting concepts.

    By switching back and forth between empathy/compassion and rationality, I hope to avoid superficial thinking (confirmation bias, narrowness of focus) and achieve a broader perspective on things. It takes work, but it keeps my focus broader.

    Of course, there are other ways to achieve broadness of focus; it doesn't necessarily have to be about balancing empathy/compassion vs. rationality. Greene suggests lots of ways of breaking out of the rut of narrowness of focus:
    --learn related fields to make new associations between different ideas
    --look at problems from all possible angles
    --seeing more and more aspects of reality
    --originality
    --take a piece of work and improvise on it
    --stop imitating the work of other people and express your own ideas
    --several ideas dovetail in your mind
    --the capability "of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason"
    --make your mind active & exploratory
    --and so on.

    But when it comes to political/social issues, I personally like playing off rationality against empathy/compassion to get a new perspective on things.

    I'll stop here. That's probably more than you wanted to know. And maybe you're thinking of something else entirely when you said "analysis paralysis." But I figured I would take a swing at the issue. I recently read Greene's "Mastery," and Greene has a lot to say about the nature of creativity and focus in the problem-solving process.

    Interesting thread. Thanks!
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  2. #12
    Junior Member jamain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YUI View Post
    @jamain:

    Thanks for your positive comments on my post.
    It was deserved you put some thought into it and made constructive points.

    Only 24 posts in 4 years of membership at TypoC? It does sound like you do indeed get into bouts of "analysis paralysis" before posting.
    I spend the bulk of my time on Personality Cafe. I have about 3800 post on PerC, but I decided to make a more concerted effort to participate on TypoC.
    I have a couple thoughts on the idea of "analysis paralysis," but first let me back up and speak broadly about the subject of the thread in general.

    Going back to my previous post: The enemy here (the thing we should try to avoid when coming to quick conclusions on issues) is superficial thinking or confirmation bias.
    I actually wish I could come to quicker conclusions most of the time, or even come to a conclusion at all. One of my greatest enemies is self doubt. I always feel like there is something more I should look at, maybe I missed something my first time through, maybe bias caused me to come to this conclusion, I like this conclusion I should probably reject it because bias probably lead me to filter out what didn't fit, and on and on it goes ad nauseam. I can't even figure out for sure my personalty type because I never trust the results and always feel like biases may have come into play. It's aggravating and a bit like trying to find ones footing on quicksand. Sometimes I just have to give myself a mental kick and force myself to make a decision one way or the other.

    As I discussed in my previous post, superficiality/confirmation bias occurs when we analyze things based on shortcuts, limited info, and lots of assumptions in order to come up with quick conclusions that "feel" right but may actually be riddled with errors of one type or another.

    As for "analysis paralysis," I suppose that it could be considered another type of superficial thinking or confirmation bias. That is, the thinker applies lots of thought and time into analyzing a topic in order to achieve greater rigor (because the topic is important), but the thinker is unfortunately still stuck in a rut masticating the same old shortcuts, limited info, and assumptions. In other words, stress is causing him to think more slowly and carefully, but he's not really using that extra time to broaden his perspective. He's just masticating the same old material and not really achieving any greater measure of creativity or broader perspective.
    Makes sense if you keep analyzing the same material you're going to keep getting the same outcome that you don't trust. I have been guilty of that at times, it's like I think I may have missed something the other 20 times and maybe if I look at it one more time I'll be able to make sense of it. I should mention that I have contemplated that OCD is a factor for me.

    Robert Greene wrote an interesting book called "Mastery." In one section he talks about "breadth of focus" versus "narrowness of focus" when one is analyzing an important topic. He says that our natural tendency is to narrow our focus when working or under stress: "When we are consumed with a particular project, our attention tends to become quite narrow as we focus so deeply. We grow tense. In this state, our mind responds by trying to reduce the amount of stimuli we have to deal with. We literally close ourselves off from the world in order to concentrate on what is necessary." [...] "This can have the unintended consequence of making it harder for us to see other possibilities, to be more open and creative with our ideas." [p. 184]

    To me, that sounds similar to "analysis paralysis." It's a form of thinking that requires a lot of work but still tends to remain superficial because it's one-dimensional; it doesn't expand out to see other possibilities.

    The opposite would be "breadth of focus": That is, deliberately widen one's focus to take in more possibilities and inputs. To do this, Greene suggests two things:
    --Widen your search by taking in info from related fields or from theories that run counter to yours.
    --"Maintain an openness and looseness of spirit. In moments of great tension and searching, you allow yourself moments of release. You take walks, engage in activities outside your work (Einstein played the violin), or think about something else, no matter how trivial." (p. 185)

    Hence, in my original post I said, "We have the capacity for both empathy and rationality; but it takes work and time to really apply them to any given issue to the extent required for true objectivity."

    Notice the bolding of the word "and" this time. One way to achieve broader focus is to switch back and forth between two perspectives. With politics and social issues, I like to switch back and forth between empathy/compassion and rationality. That is:
    --Empathy/compassion in the sense of "reading into" the lives of other people and seeing things from their perspective.
    --Rationality in the sense of "thinking into" an abstract problem and finding a point of greatest intellectual equity and balance between contrasting concepts.

    By switching back and forth between empathy/compassion and rationality, I hope to avoid superficial thinking (confirmation bias, narrowness of focus) and achieve a broader perspective on things. It takes work, but it keeps my focus broader.

    Of course, there are other ways to achieve broadness of focus; it doesn't necessarily have to be about balancing empathy/compassion vs. rationality. Greene suggests lots of ways of breaking out of the rut of narrowness of focus:
    --learn related fields to make new associations between different ideas
    --look at problems from all possible angles
    --seeing more and more aspects of reality
    --originality
    --take a piece of work and improvise on it
    --stop imitating the work of other people and express your own ideas
    --several ideas dovetail in your mind
    --the capability "of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason"
    --make your mind active & exploratory
    --and so on.

    But when it comes to political/social issues, I personally like playing off rationality against empathy/compassion to get a new perspective on things.

    I'll stop here. That's probably more than you wanted to know. And maybe you're thinking of something else entirely when you said "analysis paralysis." But I figured I would take a swing at the issue. I recently read Greene's "Mastery," and Greene has a lot to say about the nature of creativity and focus in the problem-solving process.
    That's interesting and it gives me something else to think about. What the author suggest makes a lot of sense.

    Interesting thread. Thanks!
    Well thank you, I actually needed to hear that. One of the comments below yours initially made me question starting a thread on TypoC. Then I thought good grief girl, it's one comment you're tougher than that. Thanks for the information about the book, I put in a request from my library for it. Maybe I'm doing what he said and not realizing it.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamain View Post
    Well thank you, I actually needed to hear that. One of the comments below yours initially made me question starting a thread on TypoC. Then I thought good grief girl, it's one comment you're tougher than that. Thanks for the information about the book, I put in a request from my library for it. Maybe I'm doing what he said and not realizing it.
    Great! Glad I could help. All the best!
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  4. #14
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    @jamain:

    I was in a hurry last night, so I didn't give much of a final response. So I just want to come back to what we were talking about and hit two quick points. First:

    Quote Originally Posted by jamain View Post
    One of the comments below yours initially made me question starting a thread on TypoC. Then I thought good grief girl, it's one comment you're tougher than that.
    Yeah, I'm not really sure what was going on there. Some guy was worried about precision in the use of philosophical terms. I think the appropriate response is "Okay, thanks for pointing that out" and then move on.

    The second issue that I want to address with this post:

    In my earlier I was talking about "breadth of focus." In that post I said:

    Quote Originally Posted by YUI View Post
    One way to achieve broader focus is to switch back and forth between two perspectives.
    I talked about something similar in another thread, so this is a cross-post. But below is a link for a TED talk (20 minutes) by well-known social scientist Johnathan Haidt on the psychological differences between liberals and conservatives and what it means for society. He argues for taking a "dual-perspective" viewpoint on social and political issues.

    Link: YouTube

    At minute 15:00 in the video Haidt says, "Once you see that liberals and conservatives both have something to contribute, that they form a balance on change versus stability, then I think the way is open to step outside the moral matrix." He compares this viewpoint to yin and yang, that is, the embrace of opposites. Then at 17:36 he says it may only be possible to attain this "dual-perspective" viewpoint for a minute or two. But he says that if you're able to do it, then for that minute or two you'll get rid of a lot of the biases that distort perception and achieve something close to true objectivity. That addresses the questions you raised at the very start of the thread.

    So that's something that I try to shoot for when discussing political and social issues. I ask myself: "Have I honestly tried to see things from the other guy's perspective, even if just for a couple minutes?" The answer is pretty obvious. And I find that I get much greater clarity on an issue if I can answer in the affirmative.

    It's a good video to watch. Also, there's a related video (14 minutes) on a similar subject by the same guy. It's on the dangers of surrounding yourself with like-minded people and living in a bubble where you only hear what you want to hear. That kind of addresses the dangers of superficiality and confirmation bias, and how they distort our reasoning.

    Link: YouTube

    All the best!
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  5. #15
    Junior Member jamain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YUI View Post
    @jamain:

    I was in a hurry last night, so I didn't give much of a final response. So I just want to come back to what we were talking about and hit two quick points. First:



    Yeah, I'm not really sure what was going on there. Some guy was worried about precision in the use of philosophical terms. I think the appropriate response is "Okay, thanks for pointing that out" and then move on.

    The second issue that I want to address with this post:

    In my earlier I was talking about "breadth of focus." In that post I said:



    I talked about something similar in another thread, so this is a cross-post. But below is a link for a TED talk (20 minutes) by well-known social scientist Johnathan Haidt on the psychological differences between liberals and conservatives and what it means for society. He argues for taking a "dual-perspective" viewpoint on social and political issues.

    Link: YouTube

    At minute 15:00 in the video Haidt says, "Once you see that liberals and conservatives both have something to contribute, that they form a balance on change versus stability, then I think the way is open to step outside the moral matrix." He compares this viewpoint to yin and yang, that is, the embrace of opposites. Then at 17:36 he says it may only be possible to attain this "dual-perspective" viewpoint for a minute or two. But he says that if you're able to do it, then for that minute or two you'll get rid of a lot of the biases that distort perception and achieve something close to true objectivity. That addresses the questions you raised at the very start of the thread.

    So that's something that I try to shoot for when discussing political and social issues. I ask myself: "Have I honestly tried to see things from the other guy's perspective, even if just for a couple minutes?" The answer is pretty obvious. And I find that I get much greater clarity on an issue if I can answer in the affirmative.

    It's a good video to watch. Also, there's a related video (14 minutes) on a similar subject by the same guy. It's on the dangers of surrounding yourself with like-minded people and living in a bubble where you only hear what you want to hear. That kind of addresses the dangers of superficiality and confirmation bias, and how they distort our reasoning.

    Link: YouTube

    All the best!
    Hope to have time to watch the video this evening. Your comments reminded me of a member on PerC who speaks regularly of chaos and order and how the two pull against each other. He feels they both have a role to play in striving towards that which is more ideal. In the U.S. he refers to the Democrats as chaos and the Republican as order. He criticizes both, but will then go on to say they are both necessary for balance.
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  6. #16
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    The bias is the key aspect. Everyone is inclined to some notion of a metaphysics that could explain our scientific unknowns, and when we try to bring sense to these ideas we can experiment and sometimes discover new knowledge. If metaphysics is the intuitive conjecture of unsensible physics then it is the job of physics to establish a framework of sense around these ideas. When people choose to believe that metaphysical conjectures are grounding reality they become prone to biases in how they make sense of reality. So I think it's both key to grasp the framework and maintain a healthy agnosticism on epistemologically incalculable matters.
    "We spend our lives fighting to get people very slightly more stupid than ourselves to accept truths that the great men have always known. They have known for thousands of years that to lock a sick person into solitary confinement makes him worse. They have known for thousands of years that a poor man who is frightened of his landlord and of the police is a slave. They have known it. We know it. But do the British people know it?"
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  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamain View Post
    • Why do you think so few seem to be aware of how their biases can/may distort their perceptions? Causing them to view the one who does not see things the "right way" (same as them) as ignorant, gullible, evil/reprehensible, etc.
    I would argue that most people are subconsciously aware that their perceptions are not entirely accurate, hence they take mental shortcuts and choose an emotional bias to fill in the blanks. You can't truly be sure of most abstract concepts i.e. the sun is millions of miles away, time is not constant, green is a word - not a color without a complex cultural framework of language, biases meshed with individual understanding and subjective experience. The pitfall of taking perceptions at face value is similar to the recent concept of truthiness: evidence that logical (and especially platonic) thought is an exercise in deduction, not necessarily the organic way that the human mind works. That's to say that someone's conviction is often indicative of holes in their reasoning, while unsurety may be its opposite

    Quote Originally Posted by jamain View Post
    • Do you believe anyone can truly be totally unbiased and objective? (approach with a completely open mind, stepping away from preconceived ideas and notions about what is fair, just, right, wrong, etc.) If yes, I hope you'll share.
    No, that's just storybook fiction. People can choose to restrain their biases, discriminating thoughts, fears to make a concerted effort to practice good judgement, but I doubt it could ever be a perpetual state of mind.
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  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamain View Post
    • Why do you think so few seem to be aware of how their biases can/may distort their perceptions? Causing them to view the one who does not see things the "right way" (same as them) as ignorant, gullible, evil/reprehensible, etc.
    Because people usually have no intention to be intellectually honest in the first place. They often try to promote explanations that favor their position, omitting all the other facts that show differently.

    Quote Originally Posted by jamain View Post
    • Do you believe anyone can truly be totally unbiased and objective? (approach with a completely open mind, stepping away from preconceived ideas and notions about what is fair, just, right, wrong, etc.) If yes, I hope you'll share.
    Yes. In order to be absolutely unbiased, you can try to figure out your biases, what triggers and intensifies them and take it into account.

    One could theoretically be right or wrong in their deductions because reality is objective.
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