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I Am Right - You Are Wrong
(Edward de Bono)

This book is about the way we think, the way our traditional philosophy has conditioned us to adopt argument, logic and always view things as black and white, right or wrong, good or bad with no scope for ?in between?. In this book de Bono demystifies the functioning of the brain, not through scientific jargon but simple analogies which give us the insight into how the brain works and what actions we can take to modify our thinking habits if we are to overcome the challenges faced by the world.

De Bono says ?humor is by far the most significant behavior of the human mind? because it is based on different logic. In contrast to our judgment based logic, humor depends on pattern, flow, expectation and context. Anybody who experienced an out of context joke can vouch for that.

There are two types of logic ? Rock Logic and Water Logic ? a rock is hard, permanent and unchanging, a rock ?is?. Where as water is different ? it flows ?to?, according to the gradient (context), it takes the form of the vessel in which it is placed (circumstance). Water logic is applicable in active, self organizing patterning system, rain falling on virgin landscape; the rain water forms itself into streams, rivulets, rivers, changing the landscape. That is the interaction between rain and landscape. Such active systems are called ? self organizing systems because they do not depend on outside organizers but organize themselves.

Our traditional excuses like ?Basic human nature has remained selfish, greedy and aggressive, world has become too complex, progress is distorted? are stated to explain the world situation. But de bono says all these are due to our thinking habits ? we try to reason logic to change perception, prejudice and beliefs. Our traditional thinking habit of logic reason, truth, language, identity, categories etc have resulted in man being able to get to the moon but not able to predict the next days weather accurately. But by changing over to studying the self organizing patterning system of the brain, we can understand the correct picture.

Historically, our perception has been conditioned by language ? a criminal is a criminal is a criminal ? whether he has committed the crime out of sheer circumstance (dying of hunger), as an easy way of making money, or as a lifetime strategy. Out justice is the same for all 3 categories of criminals (esp. the western world). In turn, the ability to perceive is guided by the self organizing patterning system of the brain, which is a very simple system that is capable of behaving in a highly complex way. The basic model of de bono has been simulated on computer and does behave largely on predicted lines. Neuro computers and neural net machines are a reality. This model has resulted in generation of productive techniques such as lateral thinking and Po ? provocative operation. By the analogy of octopuses reacting to stimulus, the characteristics of the self organizing systems are given as ? unitary attention, pattern recognition, reconstruction, integration of different inputs, creation and repetition of sequence and circular patterns. Some of the activities in a broad (self organizing) system are pattern making, trigger, asymmetry, learning backwards, knife-edge discrimination, context, attention etc., are all clearly indicative of total activity ? in which all the elements are interacting with each other.

De bono says ? language is a communicating system not a thinking system. Language can at best serve as a description medium as it cannot describe what is still ?non existent: Hence de bono created the word Lateral Thinking ? the type of thinking required to cut across patterns in a self organizing patterning system. This word never existed and any one dependent solely on language (existing words) would be totally lost for a single word to describe such thinking. Language also sometimes makes us confuse ?fluency? with ?substance?. Something said clumsily seems incoorrect, but somebody fluent in expression need not always be correct, either. The other disparity is thinking ability vs. intelligence. All intelligent people need not necessarily be thinkers. Intelligence has come to mean conformist behavior, learn your lessons, pass the exams, and work only as much as necessary etc., Creativity tends to be left to the rebels who do not play this game. But when we understand the game of creativity (with lateral thinking) conformists can actually become much more creative than the rebels. Therefore we must break away from the tradition that intelligence is sufficient.

The new renaissance logic of relooking at the current perceptions is applied to diverse areas of life such as problem solving, analysis, description, either / or principle of dichotomy ? where no in-betweens are defined or tolerated, argument and clash (all our systems ? political, legal and scientific are based on this).

In the end, the author takes the reader through the many possible, practical ways of putting this theory to work in man?s endeavors.

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- Handbook For The Positive Revolution

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