Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Patterns, Patterns Everywhere

One thought from this video jumped out at me:

We are modern people in a high tech world, but our brains function on software developed in the time of people who depended on hunting - and seeing patterns in our environment - to survive.

It's relatively short, but punchy. I suggest that you turn on Closed Captioning; the speaker's strong Scottish accent makes it a challenge to understand him otherwise.

Sometimes, in our eagerness to embrace change, we forget that the old hardware and software are the limiting factors. You want to take up a new sport, but your aging body does not make the adjustment to the muscular demands as well as it used to. That limitation is mostly hardware, but also reflects the difficulty of re-programming those practiced responses to the changes.

Your responses to old ways of playing or working keep you from being as effective as younger, more plastic humans. Many female gymnasts weren't able to make the adjustment from the more more graceful, slower movements of the early days of the sport, to the more energetic, forceful movements common in modern gymnastics. It was partly their previous conditioning (software), but also their more elongated, slender body type (hardware). 

Expertise comprises a delicate balance between application of algorithms, routines, and other programmed responses, along with ability to see new patterns, and apply possible solutions in a rapid testing mode. 

It's a balance that is being studied as part of AI research, but that also has applications to human conditions, such as Alzheimer's.

Younger organisms are better at handling novel situations. Older organisms are superior at applying solutions that have been encountered before.

Plasticity vs. Stability. They are BOTH needed. But, in today's culture, it's a matter of "out with the old", in with whatever we TELL you is the 'right' way of thinking and acting.

The urge in younger people to destroy the culture and knowledge of more established societies is one that has been remarkably consistent since the 1960s. Such a mindset is one that would toss off any connection to the past.

Funny, but that desire to shrug off the past coexists with a fascination with old things - clothing, styles, handcrafted objects, and older, slower ways of creating. Whether or not they realize it, the past has much to teach those anxious to stomp it out.

What was that old song? Signs, signs, everywhere a sign.

People always leave clues along the way. Pay attention to the patterns, and learn the meaning. It's the secret of survival.

Myself, I have (reluctantly) learned to listen to my intuitions. I believe that such 'feelings' are really something else - and quite different from 'woo-woo' magical manifestations.

What your 'gut feeling' is:

You notice something. Often, it's beneath the level of conscious thought. But the older, more primitive part of the brain is sending you a signal.

Often, we ignore those signals. They can't be explained in a logical way, as the process involved did not involve the logical thinking part of the brain.

Nonetheless, I've learned - PAY ATTENTION!

One example that taught me that lesson was when my husband and I were leaving a dinner with a guy who was recruiting him to run a restaurant. The man had planned it with the idea of franchising the system.

As an engineer with a strong restaurant and food service background, my husband was both flattered and excited about the prospect of getting in on the ground floor.

Still, after we left, in the car driving home, I told him, "Don't take the job."

Naturally, he marshalled all the logical reasons for taking it, and asked me, "Why are you against this?"

I was initially stumped. I couldn't come up with an argument in favor of my position.

Finally, after a while reflecting on the evening, I answered, "Because his wife doesn't respect him." To me, that was a clue that beneath the dynamic facade, the entrepreneur might have some serious issues, that his family could see, while the outside world remained unaware of their existence.

Which, as it turned out, he did - he was a raging alcoholic, with complete inability to keep his hands off the day to day operations. He would contradict his staff, make decisions precipitously, and spend money freely. The restaurant failed within 6 months, and we had to pack up again and re-establish ourselves in a new city.

From that experience, I learned to trust those voices inside my head. I recently cashed out some investments, preferring to forego maximum profit for cash in the hand. No special reason, just a nagging feeling that sooner was better than later.

Trust the voices. Listen to the signals. Look for the patterns.

1 comment:

  1. There is much insight here. M. Scott Peck called the signals you cite "the wealth of the unconscious." Oftentimes our underlayers, unarticulate though they may be, know better than our oh-so-refined conscious minds. It's well to heed them.