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Ch. 9: The Pleasure of Your Thoughts 
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Post Ch. 9: The Pleasure of Your Thoughts
Ch. 9: The Pleasure of Your Thoughts

Please use this thread for discussing Ch. 9: The Pleasure of Your Thoughts. :hump:



Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:34 pm
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I enjoyed this chapter about the pleasure of thought. People take pleasure from certain kinds of thinking because doing do provides selective pressure to think that way, from the perspective of evolutionary biology. Since people enjoy figuring things out, they're more inclined to spend time doing so, even though the payoff for doing so is longer term.

The juxtaposition at the end of the chapter was particularly sweet.
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The feeling of knowing, the reward for both proven and unproven thoughts, is learning's best friend, and mental flexibility's worst enemy.



Tue Sep 23, 2008 10:43 pm
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In this chapter, Burton tries to get us over the hump of applying the feeling of knowing to situations in which we have to delay our final gratification. What's to keep us interested and motivated in a long project, where we seem not to be getting much from the brain's reward system? Burton tells us that if we are to persist, we need to have
some reward, because nobody can just grind away forever without feeling some inspiration. He theorizes that the feeling of knowing that operates to give us momentary rewards adapts itself to dole out to us rewards for our diligence, but it seems to be of a more subtle type. He calls it an "unwarranted feeling of knowing," I guess because you don't have the evidence yet to know you're right, but you're still getting the small hits of knowing that keep you moving forward. As you do so, you might become conditioned by these rewards to persist on your track even if contrary new evidence starts to come up. And this is why the feeling of knowing is necessary but can also be a hindrance to mental flexibility.

Burton, though, holds out the possibility that this flexibility problem is avoidable or at least can be lessened. He wonders whether our education system rewards students too much for finding the one right answer that the teacher is looking for, rather than encouraging them to find satisfaction in the process of explorative learning, not feeling so strange to be in uncertainty. On the other hand, he implies that genetic differences may have a lot to do with the degree to which we
need a strong feeling of knowing (vs. being able to live with uncertainty), so this leads to a more deterministic view.

Burton sometimes seems to assume I am smart enough to connect his dots, but this is not always the case! I wish he would be more explicit at times. I still don't get how his example of crossing the street in NYC follows from abstract thought needing a "cheerleader."
DWill



Fri Sep 26, 2008 10:32 pm
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