intelligence increase (retracing associations)

Lyle Burkhead (
Mon, 16 Dec 1996 01:51:28 -0500 (EST)

Experiment #1. Retracing the Chain of Association

The first step is to follow a thread on the list backward, and see
where it came from. For example, this afternoon there were posts
about Prozac. That came from a discussion of psychedelics,
which came from a discussion of test scores, which came from a
discussion of what kind of causality is presupposed by memetic
engineering. (The answer, incidentally, is top-down causality.)

Try this with aother thread. Trace it back a few steps -- as many steps
as you can. You will find that threads shift from one topic to another,
sometimes in a logical way, sometimes in an off-the-wall way.

Now, your thoughts are like that too. Try sitting quietly, or lying in bed
before you go to sleep, and retrace your thoughts. Think about things
for awhile --- daydream -- and then stop at a certain point, and ask
yourself: where did this thought come from? Remember the last thing
you were thinking about before. Note the train of association that led
from one thought to the next. Go back and forth a few times between
thought 0 (the starting point, Prozac in the above example) and thought
minus 1 (the previous thought, psychedelics in the above example).

Then, if you can, remember the previous thought, thought minus 2.
Again, note what kind of transition led to the following thought.
Go back and forth a few times, from thought minus 2 to minus 1,
and then to 0; and then back to -1, and then back to -2.

With practice you can trace thoughts back many levels. It's like a
video game -- going back 15 thoughts is like reaching the 15th screen.
It can be done, but not easily.