“Consciousness”: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Questions About the Human Mind

The January 25, 2015 meeting on this topic has been postponed. Watch this space, or send me an email in February,  to get the new date.

On [Date TBD], I will moderate a humanist discussion on so called “consciousness”. Given that the content will be of broad interest, I will post a few articles for the participants and other interested readers.

For many years, for several reasons, I argued against using the term “consciousness”. “Conscious”, an adjective, is a helpful term that can trigger meaningful psychological inquiry; but the term “consciousness” all too often interferes with the pursuit of understanding the human mind. It tends to induce a reification fallacy, i.e., to assume that because we have a noun (here consciousness) it must actually refer to something particular. Contrast dog, which has referents, and energy which does not. Energy, like gravity, is a helpful problem-centered concept, i.e., a concept that is used to frame and solve problems. Dog is helpful, but it is not problem-centered. It was not developed to solve a theoretical challenge of understanding the world. Treating consciousness as stuff-like can cause problems.

Here’s a little fact that might help you cautiously approach questions using the term “consciousness”: Continue reading “Consciousness”: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Questions About the Human Mind

Luc P. Beaudoin is Now Adjunct Professor of Cognitive Science at Simon Fraser University

I’ve been associated with the Cognitive Science program at Simon Fraser University for several years. Earlier this month, I became Adjunct Professor of Cognitive Science there.

I have an active research program at SFU which is summarized on my SFU home page. Most of my foreground projects at the moment investigate the information processing mechanisms underlying sleep onset and insomnia. They are collaborations with excellent sleep research psychologists at various universities:

Continue reading Luc P. Beaudoin is Now Adjunct Professor of Cognitive Science at Simon Fraser University

“I Prefer Leanpub” Coupons Celebrating Availability of Cognitive Productivity on Amazon Store as a Kindle Book

As of today, Cognitive Productivity is available for sale on Amazon® as an ebook.

To celebrate this fact, the first 20 people who use the “I-Prefer-Leanpub” coupon URL in purchasing Cognitive Productivity from Leanpub will get this book for only $7.99, less than half the current Amazon price![*] (and half the recommended Leanpub price.) The URL coupon code is embedded in all Leanpub links in this post. Explicitly, it is:

http://leanpub.com/cognitiveproductivity/c/I-Prefer-Leanpub

Amazon, as you may have heard, has ruffled the feathers of authors and publishers. I won’t comment on that here.

However, I do encourage readers of Cognitive Productivity to purchase the book on Leanpub rather than Amazon, because:

Continue reading “I Prefer Leanpub” Coupons Celebrating Availability of Cognitive Productivity on Amazon Store as a Kindle Book

Meta-painting & Science of the Human Mind: An Epistolary Response to Lam Wong’s 21 Elements

Preface

A version of this essay will appear in the second edition of Lam Wong’s 21 Elements book. The book is based on his September 2014 exhibition, about which I have recently blogged. For reasons that will become obvious, I’ve written this document as a letter to a fictional friend.

Continue reading Meta-painting & Science of the Human Mind: An Epistolary Response to Lam Wong’s 21 Elements

Insomnia Workshops: Designed to Promote Cognitive Productivity

I don’t usually blog about my workshops and presentations. But I thought I’d mention two workshops for School District 23 ( Okanagan) that I will give in Kelowna next Friday:

  1. Reading to learn with tablets and laptops.
  2. Getting more and better sleep.

The first workshop is based on my book, Cognitive Productivity: Using Knowledge to Become Profoundly Effective, which itself is based on extensive research.

The second workshop is based on my research on sleep onset and insomnia, which is described at SFU, on mySleepButton and elsewhere.

Continue reading Insomnia Workshops: Designed to Promote Cognitive Productivity

University Teaching Requires Lovingly Opposing the Student: Claude Lamontagne’s Rationalist Reflexions

I have uploaded a timeless address given by Claude Lamontagne,  Professor of Psychology, on the occasion of him receiving the 2001 University of Ottawa Teaching Award.

I’ve uploaded this address this evening in order to share the gem, and so that I can link to it in an essay I am writing on Lam Wong’s recent 21 Elements exhibition of paintings on “Relation, Perception and Meaning”. (The essay will be in the next edition of Wong’s book, 21 Elements.) It is fitting that Lamontagne’s paper should itself be so beautifully artistic!   Professor of Psychology, on the occasion of him receiving the 2001 University of Ottawa Teaching Award.

Lamontagne’s address is “University Teaching: A critical Rationalist’s Reflexions”.

Continue reading University Teaching Requires Lovingly Opposing the Student: Claude Lamontagne’s Rationalist Reflexions

Lean Publishing for Scholars-Why You Should Consider Leanpub

If you’re a scholar thinking of writing a book, be it for a general or scholarly audience, check out my post on Leanpub’s blog, Lean Scholarly Publishing With Leanpub. All types of authors experience advantages using Leanpub, but there are also some considerations that are particularly relevant to academics.

Continue reading Lean Publishing for Scholars-Why You Should Consider Leanpub

Response to “Technology’s Productivity Paradox”, Itself a Review of Forrester®’s A Crisis of Attention: Technology, Productivity, and Flow

This is a response to a Globe & Mail article by Harvey Schachter, “Technology’s productivity paradox”, last updated Monday, Sep. 08 2014, 2:23 PM EDT. That article is itself a response to a recent Forrester® report:

A Crisis Of Attention: Technology, Productivity, And Flow
Using The Science Of Knowledge Work To Restore Flow To The Workplace
(July 14, 2014, by David K. Johnson with Josh Bernoff, Christopher Voce, Elizabeth Ryckewaert, Heather Belanger, Thayer Frechette)

To address the problems that are alluded to in the G&M article and Forrester® abstract, one needs to adequately specify the requirements of cognitive productivity. This is where most solutions fail.

Continue reading Response to “Technology’s Productivity Paradox”, Itself a Review of Forrester®’s A Crisis of Attention: Technology, Productivity, and Flow

A Proactive Review of Nicholas Carr’s Defeatist Book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

This is a copy of my review of Nicholas Carr’s book _The shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains (Kindle Edi.). I posted the original this morning on GoodReads.com

Nicholas Carr’s book The shallows is an entertaining book that raises flags about the impact that technology is having on our reading habits. He essentially claims that we (more specifically, our brains) are becoming superficial processors of information because of technology. In carefully reading the book, I found that he supported his thesis through insinuation and rhetoric rather than from premises to the clear conclusion you’d expect from the subtitle of his book.

There are plenty of good things to say about this book. However, I will focus on its significant problems so that we can address them.

Continue reading A Proactive Review of Nicholas Carr’s Defeatist Book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

Review of Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book — 42 years later

This is a review of Mortimer Adler’s book, How to Read a Book, which I posted this morning on GoodReads.com

I have delved into Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book several times since the 1980’s. The book addresses major problems all readers face. Even if one doesn’t adopt the strategies it proposes, it’s useful to think about these problems.

Continue reading Review of Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book — 42 years later