Table of Contents

Part I Introduction

Preface
Chapter One. Let’s Make A Pact Chapter Two. Unlocking Thinking
Your Notes & Ideas
Part II Think Keys
Context
Think Key 1. To Disclose Or Not
Think Key 2. Deciding Whose Life To Save
Think Key 3. Social Convention
Your Notes & Ideas

Knowledge
Think Key 4. Using Knowledge
Think Key 5. When Knowledge Conflicts
Your Notes & Ideas

Memory
Think Key 6. Don’t Be So Sure
Think Key 7. Priming & Memory
Think Key 8. Memory & Advertising
Your Notes & Ideas

Assumptions
Think Key 9. Riddles
Think Key 10. Invention
Think Key 11. Assumptions As Architects
Think Key 12. Stickiness
Your Notes & Ideas

Cues
Think Key 13. Faces & Instant Messaging
Think Key 14. Reading Faces
Think Key 15. Priming, Perception, & Action
Think Key 16. Agreement On Words
Your Notes & Ideas

Attention
Think Key 17. Keeping Focused
Think Key 18. Expectation
Think Key 19. Experience
Think Key 20. Silent Distractions
Your Notes & Ideas

Curiosity
Think Key 21. Uncertainty
Think Key 22. Hedgehogs & Foxes
Think Key 23. Beyond The Obvious
Think Key 24. Reflections By Notables
Your Notes & Ideas

Explanation
Think Key 25. Creating Stories
Think Key 26. Anomalies
Think Key 27. Reasoning Forward & Backward
Think Key 28. Why Versus How
Think Key 29. Magical Thinking
Your Notes & Ideas

Being Right
Think Key 30. Right Versus Wrong
Think Key 31. Law Of The Instrument
Think Key 32. Clairvoyants & Wizards
Your Notes & Ideas

Metaphors
Think Key 33. Metaphors Shape Thought
Think Key 34. Body Metaphors
Think Key 35. Metaphors & Problem Solving
Your Notes & Ideas

Embodied Cognition: The Body In Mind
Think Key 36. Bodily Experience & Judgment
Think Key 37. Making Sense
Think Key 38. Being Sense-Able
Think Key 39. Near & Far
Your Notes & Ideas

Part III Moving Forward

Chapter Three. Commencement Time
Acknowledgments
About The Author
 
 

Preface

Today’s world is complex, and undergoing rapid and often significant change. We are swimming in information about every issue conceivable, and yet that information is often incomplete and less than reliable. Furthermore, we seem to have less and less time to reflect on information before having to act upon it. And those actions and the beliefs, attitudes, opinions, and experiences underlying them have grown more and more diverse.

More abundant information and more rapid and diverse responses to it are not a bad thing: technological complexity, change, and social diversity add richness to our lives. Increased specialization in the social and natural sciences and the humanities fuels imagination and innovation, the wellsprings of progress. But people can react negatively to complexity and to rapid social and scientific change—for example, by retreating into rigid, deeply entrenched thinking, which leads to diminished curiosity and intolerance of those who think and act differently. Still more worrisome is an unconscious, invisible reluctance to challenge our own thoughts and feelings. Thinking, it seems, is far too often employed to justify an existing position rather than to explore, improve, and perhaps change it.

And those tendencies trouble me. As I watch my grandkids mature into adulthood, I worry about their generation’s preparedness for being responsible citizens. They are quite capable of defending their thinking; I don’t worry about that. But can they look inward at their thinking, critically examine what they discover, and contemplate making changes? I can’t imagine a more important talent or capacity to have today and as we move forward in this century.

So, a couple of years ago I embarked on an effort to equip the teens in my family to be more curious about their minds and how they think. To be clear, my grandchildren are sensitive, inquisitive, reflective young adults. They have dedicated, aware parents and teachers who do the heavy lifting in nurturing their minds. I simply wanted to add a little oomph or push rooted in my experience; a little healthy meddling, as it were.

I approached my task in two ways. One involved preparing written exercises like those in this book. I got some pushback of the “we already have enough homework” sort, but this diminished as my grandchildren gave the exercises a try.

The topics turned out to be engaging, and their parents discovered it was fun to make an exercise a discussion topic at dinner. The other approach was to weave a puzzle, dilemma, or thought experiment into a conversation. For instance, if the topic was baseball I might raise the topic of unconscious thinking by asking if a ball is much closer to the pitcher or to the batter when the batter decides to swing at a pitch. (Answer: the pitcher.) Or, I might ask whether “keep your eyes on the ball” is practical advice for a batter. (Answer: not really. Swing mechanics are unconsciously set when the decision to swing is made.) Of course, I would be sure to relate the apparent digression to our conversation.

Over time, friends and colleagues became aware of my undertaking and began using the exercises with their families, friends, and colleagues. As they did, they invariably encouraged me to find a way to share them with people of all ages and from all walks of life. Unlocked is a response to this encouragement. It is an invitation to you to learn more about your own and others’ thinking. You’ll encounter many surprises. Those discoveries are a precious gift you owe to yourself and those you care about. How we think is, after all, the primary driver of the quality of our thoughts.

On balance, I am optimistic that society can learn to place more value on and give more attention to how we think. However, it is not a small task. I am reminded of a meeting my wife and I had with Mother Teresa many years ago. My wife asked Mother Teresa if she wasn’t overwhelmed by the numbers of people she was trying to help. Mother Teresa responded, “I start with the one that is before me.” Unlocked is not an effort to improve how everyone thinks. Just you. Let’s start by making a pact between us. You’ll find the pact in Chapter One.