Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Anti-Digital Mind: Half-Brain Thinking

Regardless of which brain theories you agree upon, the “half brainer” is just not fit enough for the nonlinear world of digitalization.

According to the theory of left-brain or right-brain dominance, each side of the brain controls different types of thinking. Additionally, people are said to prefer one type of thinking over the other. For example, a person who is "left-brained" is often said to be more logical, analytical, and objective, while a person who is "right-brained" is said to be more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective. In psychology, the theory is based on what is known as the lateralization of brain function. So does one side of the brain really control specific functions? Are people either left-brained or right-brained? (About.com) With the down of digital era, can such “half-brainers” adapt to the hyperconnectivity and overcomplexity of digital normal?

Left-Right brain distinction only helps one understand the extremes. We probably are always in between in order to understand the things and the world both objectively and intuitively. Like the saying’s going, we cannot remove our bias due to our nature. The only way to tackle bias is 'to know that one is biased.' One should use reduction when observing something that already exists to which you would like to ascribe "system" status. Scientists do this. For instance, the "solar system," or the "digestive system." This is left-brain. This is analysis. Conversely, when trying to synthesize a solution to alleviate a problematic situation, there is no existing "system" to reduce (assuming the context has been defined). Therefore, when synthesizing that which did not exist, 'right brain' should first explore all the interconnections, people are employing mostly right-brained - integrative - behaviors. Both Left- and Right-Brained skills are required for systems engineering, as well as for just about any field of engineering and many other professionals as well.

Focus on the part and the whole at the same time. One is not without the other. It is up to us to bring both into play by focusing on something in particular and being attentive to our surroundings at the same time. Hence, it is not a question of 'either-or', it is a question of using 'both at the same time.’ There is a lesson here for systems thinking too. The person's tendency to go for simplistic 'either/or' explanations is related to one's need to limit uncertainty and somehow 'make the world safe' for thy-selves.  it becomes more clear that many of our problems are self-inflicted through a set of decisions driven by a cognitive process often out of conscious control. There are times when reductionism works fine, there are more times when holistic thinking works best, and there are more often times in digital age when it is imperative to use both. So the effective digital thinking is not in terms of the left-right brain, but engaging the whole brain. After all, systems thinking is a meta-discipline, which allows you to step across boundaries and thinking holistically.

Seeing patterns vs. seeing a part in isolation. People's brains function differently and have different tendencies, and that also applies to seeing patterns versus seeing a part in isolation. Before there is any training or nurturing, some tendencies are already there. Furthermore, some cultures appear to have more people who look at the whole rather than the parts. The question is, would this be due to cultural influences, education, or brain functionality/ tendencies that are common to the people born in that cultural setting? Systems thinking can be taught to a degree, but for some people, those seeing systems coming very naturally, just as for some, it is natural to be a visual person. The hyper-connectivity of digital nature is all about dots connection with pattern thinking and whole brain understanding.

It has also to do with focus and proactive response. When you focus on the whole, probably other neural patterns are created than when you focus on the parts. When you proactive looking at the whole, your brain becomes "accustomed" to focusing on the whole. When you practice looking at the parts, your brain becomes "accustomed" to focusing on the parts. In terms of systems and parts, one person's ability to have a system's perspective and another to have a part's perspective. Thus, it would be a result of which patterns each has which generates the greater strength and thus "wins" the processing game (metaphorically speaking). Training and exposure can shift those weights, and thus change which way of thinking would be first called upon.

The willingness and emotional investment to pursue a sense-making process which allows for one's prejudice to be potentially ridiculed. We approach this analysis by considering how the phenomenology of the body can be broken down into a phenomenology of body parts. This approach allows us to investigate the “embodied self” by reviewing how recent experimental data address three intimately related questions about body mereology: (1) what is the relation between the body parts and the body as a whole? (2) how are the various sources of information from different body parts combined to form a coherent body representation? (3) what is the relation between the body and the self? Our level of interest in self-reflection and ability to engage in 'languaging' is related to this. We 'know' a lot of 'things', we also 'know' that the multitude of these 'things' is not necessarily 'just true,' they might be potentially true, potentially partially true, potentially possibly true. We also 'have knowledge' about 'things' where we do not necessarily 'know' about what is 'true' but instead of 'what is not true', and the same story of 'untrue' would be possible to be told as what was referred to above with 'true'...Our tendency to get attached to these poor choices, an outcome that is the result of another set of biased cognitive processes leading to more problems, when uncertainty, ambiguity, and complexity are all today’s digital normality. Getting a grip on this "flaw" in what was for eons considered a well-designed system may be the main accomplishment of the next century.

Regardless of which brain theories you agree upon, the “half brainer” is just not fit enough for the nonlinear world of digitalization. The important thing is to be a proactive thinker and keep your curiosity: Some of us 'see' DOES? Others 'see' IS. Those who see DOES frequently learn to see the IS behind the DOES. Those who see the IS rarely wonder what "it" DOES. A “whole brain” mind can master at systems thinking which invokes holistic visualization, then perhaps all these multiple intelligence must be invoked - in some degree, to overcome the unprecedented challenges facing in humankind.


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