At this very moment, you are actually moving your eyes over a white page dotted with black marks. Your mind recognizes and transforms the marks into patterns which we call words and sentences. Our minds created the patterns when we first learned to talk and read. Now we no longer see the words as patterns of black marks and lose ourselves in what we are reading.
The patterns are so hard wired in our brains that we no longer can imagine the black marks being anything else but letters, words, and sentences. Look at above title and try not to see the words and letters, but only black shapes on white paper; that is, try to see the original input that you had when you were a two-year-old. You’ll find that it’s impossible because of the word patterns stored in your brain.
The dominant factor in the way our minds work is the buildup of patterns that enable us to simplify the assimilation of complex data. We look at 7 x 7 and 49 appears automatically without conscious thought. We have no memory of how we calculated the answer.
In another example that demonstrates the effectiveness of thinking patterns, add one letter at the beginning of the following letters to make a word…..(any). What is the word? Now add one letter before the next set of letters to make a word..…(eny).
Most think of the word “many” quickly for the first set. However, some people have difficulty thinking of the word deny for the second set. The sound of the first word creates a temporary mini-pattern. As a result, you search your memory for other words with similar sounds when you are trying to think of the second word. But the problem can’t be solved unless you break this pattern and shift your thinking. And this is only one word.
Can you understand the following sentence:
“This sentence no verb.”
You can easily understand it despite the missing verb “has.” Again your sentence pattern recognizes what’s missing and automatically fills in the blank. Habitual pattern recognition provides us with instant interpretations and enables us to react quickly to our environment.
Below are two sentences:
• Round squares steal honestly.
• Honestly steal squares round.
Both sentences use the same words. Yet we know the first one is nonsense immediately because it fits a well established word sentence pattern (adjective…noun…verb…adverb). We know immediately that squares are not round, cannot steal and it’s not possible to steal honestly. The second one is strange and makes us hesitate and think before we dismiss it. This is because the second one does not fit any word sentence pattern in our brain and we actually have to think.
Consider what happens when you read these words:
Just three words activate a thinking pattern in your brain that relates a story about a thief who is careless, gets caught and ends up in prison.
It is known today that grouping and categorization are among the most primitive psychological processes. Thought is a process of fitting new situations into existing slots and pigeonholes in the mind. Just as you cannot put a physical thing into more than one physical pigeonhole at once, so, by analogy, the processes of thought prevent you from putting a mental thought into more than one mental category at once. Consequently a structure like, thief, careless, prison will be persistently conceived as a careless thief who ends up in prison. You will note that the mind does not offer alternative explanations such as “A thief who is not careless will not go to prison,” or “A thief will learn not to be careless in prison.” The mind will not automatically consider alternatives because the mind cannot tolerate ambiguity.
Think of your mind as a block of ice which is frozen and polished so that it’s surface is perfectly flat. When information enters the mind, it self-organizes. It is like pouring warm water on the block of ice with a teaspoon. Imagine the warm water being poured on the ice and then gently tip the block of ice so that it runs off. After many repetitions of this process, the surface of the ice would be full of ruts, indentations, and grooves.
Soon you’ll observe that new water will automatically flow into the preformed grooves. This is how information self organizes as it enters the brain. After a while, it will take only a little water to active an entire channel. This is the pattern recognition and pattern completion process of the brain. Even if much of the information is out of the channel, as is the case about the careless thief, the entire pattern will be activated.
Following are three thought experiments that demonstrate how our thinking patterns can direct our thoughts. Please try and answer all three before you go to the answers which are at the end of the article.
Don’t scroll down too fast, do it slowly and follow the instructions below exactly, do the math in your head as fast as you can. It may help to say the answers aloud quietly.
THOUGHT EXPERIMENT #1 FOLLOW these instructions one at a time and as QUICKLY as you can!
Quick! Pick a number between 12 and 5.
Got it? Write it down. Complete the next two experiments before you check your answer.
THOUGHT EXPERIMENT #2: Just follow these instructions, and answer the questions one at a time and as quickly as you can! Don’t advance until you’ve done each of them. Now, scroll down, but not too fast, you might miss something………
Now repeat saying the number 6 to yourself as fast as you can for 10 seconds. Then scroll down.
QUICK!!! THINK OF A VEGETABLE!
Check your answer when you’ve finished all three.
THOUGHT EXPERIMENT #3 Once more follow these instructions, and answer the questions one at a time and as quickly as you can! Again, do this as quickly as you can but don’t advance until you’ve done each of them.
* Now, scroll down (but not too fast, you might miss something).
Think of a number from 1 to 10
Multiply that number by 9
If the number is a 2-digit number, add the digits together
Now subtract 5
Determine which letter in the alphabet corresponds to the number you ended up with (example: 1=a, 2=b, 3=c, etc.).
Think of a country that starts with that letter
Remember the last letter of the name of that country
Think of the name of an animal that starts with that letter
Remember the last letter in the name of that animal
Think of the name of a fruit that starts with that letter
Check your answer below.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….ANSWERS TO THOUGHT EXPERIMENTS:
EXPERIMENT #1….Answer is 7
EXPERIMENT #2….Answer is “carrot.”
EXPERIMENT #3….Answer “Are you thinking of a Kangaroo in Denmark eating an orange?”