I was asked to assemble a service for Beacon Unitarian. I accepted and decided to meet several constraints, some of which are mentioned below.
As I said in my last post, I am trying to relate (a) acceptance and commitment therapy/training to (b) H-CogAff (a theory of affect). This is to better understand mental phenomena and to develop new solutions that promote well-being and cognitive productivity (including “meta-effectiveness”, the skills and propensity to use knowledge to become more effective.)
So, I decided to create a service entitled Emotion as Perturbance: A Draft of ACT in Three Acts to informally present the perturbance theory of emotion in combination with acceptance and commitment therapy/training and the work of Jacques Brel. That allowed me to pursue several CogZest projects in one Zest of Brel production.
Continue reading Emotion as Perturbance, Draft of ACT in Three Acts (Performed)
It is tempting to say that having control over own’s emotions, or more generally one’s affect, is necessary for cognitive productivity and overall well-being. But “control” is too strong a word. For the mechanisms that generate “affect”—moods, emotions, feelings, urges, wishes, wants and so on–are not under direct voluntary control. You can effectively instruct your finger to scratch your nose. In contrast, (normally) you can’t simply will yourself to stop feeling pain, hunger, sadness or fear. It’s worth noting that the instruction to scratch your nose is not directly effected because human behaviour and perception are always very indirect, mediated by several neural layers and several virtual layers, as a bit of neuropsychology or computational modeling quickly reveal. (Going forward, you will notice that many authors overlook this critical fact when they talk about “direct perception” of the world or their minds. They’re wrong. In fact, people can be mistaken about the contents of their own consciousness!)
Continue reading You Can’t Fully Control Your Own Mind: Affect at Work
Much has been said in the last decade about the fact that information technology has made it difficult for people to focus on their work. Nicolas Carr in his best selling book, The Shallows has gone so far as to claim that our brains are being (adversely) rewired by technology. In Cognitive Productivity I argued against Carr’s pessimistic, neuro-babbling characterization of our problems.
Continue reading Distraction, Information Technology and Emotion as Perturbance
Spritz, new reading technology, is about to hit the Android market. It’s been called “speed-reading” technology; however, it’s sufficiently different from other approaches that this categorization can be misleading.
Can this app help with CogZest’s mission, which is to boost cognitive productivity with cognitive science and technology? Continue reading Spritz Text Streaming, “Speed Reading” and Cognitive Productivity
Well, CogZest is short of staff but not of projects. But there’s a French expression “Petit train va loin” (slow and steady wins the race).
While I’ve written mainly about benefiting from non-fiction, I don’t intend to neglect art.
Continue reading Art (Broadly Speaking)
My friend, Ralph Greer—a beautiful person; a resplendent mind; a scholar, in the archaic sense of the term; and a perfect gentleman—passed away Friday, March 7 2014, half-way through his hundredth year. Ralph was a man I admired, whose company I enjoyed and from whom I sought to learn.
This is not a formal obituary. I will instead offer some personal reflections on his mind, his personhood, and our friendship. I hope that some of you who did not know Ralph might appreciate this portrait of graceful aging, written by someone who has a research interest in the matter. Continue reading Ralph Greer: Reminiscences about a Gentleman and Reflections on Cognitive Aging
Cognitive Productivity is now marked as 100% complete on Leanpub (as of Thursday, March 6, 2014). This being a Leanpub book, however, I will avail myself of the opportunity to correct errata as they are discovered and to make minor improvements. I also intend to add supporting materials to the book’s Leanpub web page.
Since the last email I sent to readers of this book in early January, I have Continue reading Cognitive Productivity Book Marked Complete on Leanpub
In 1734, Voltaire wrote
Qu’il y a des carrés d’infini, des cubes d’infini, et des infinis d’infinis, dont le pénultième n’est rien par rapport au dernier? Tout cela, qui paraît d’abord l’excès de la déraison, est en effet, l’effort de la finesse et de l’étendue de l’esprit humain, et la méthode de trouver des vérités qui étaient jusqu’alors inconnues.
What a beautiful thought expressed by a mind in reverence of Newton and his invention of differential calculus!
That there should be squares of infinity, cubes of infinity, and infinities of infinities, of which the penultimate is nothing in relation to the last? All of that, which at first seems like an excess of reason gone mad, is in fact, the effort of the perspicuity and extent of the human mind, and the method of finding truths that were until then unknown.
What is equally stunning is just how many forms of representations humanity has invented.
Continue reading Voltaire and the Importance of Concepts and Symbolisms to Understand the Human Mind
In a television program recorded in the 1960’s, Jacques Brel, describing himself as an ordinary guy, spoke about his method for hatching songs. He revealed that he worked as we know he lived, standing up!* Le Grand Jacques even showed us the desk at which he wrote his songs—giving us a glimpse of his small apartment.
Actually, Brel said most of the work for his songs happens away from his desk. The idea of a song “walks around in one’s head for 4, 5 or 6 months”. That’s “incubation” in cognitive psychology lingo. “When, one day, it is very ripe, like a fruit one picks it. And then one writes it.” All very matter of fact.
Continue reading Jacques Brel Wrote as He Lived
David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done (GTD®), provides many useful productivity tips. I use several of them myself. However, it’s not specifically tailored for cognitive productivity.
The last principle of Steven R. Covey’s excellent book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, is to “Sharpen the Saw®”. This is a matter of preserving and improving ourselves, including the mental dimension through reading great literature. Covey’s book doesn’t delve very deeply into learning, however. It was written before the web, when cognitive science was much younger.
Continue reading Ten Tips for “Getting Things Learned” with Anki, Skim and Cognitive Productivity