The Mind is Flat and other insights into how we think
The Mind is Flat (book) by Nick Chater
Rare find as the quotes live up to the content and have to say READ IT. If you are thinking like me about ethics and AI - this is essential reading.
A radical reinterpretation of how your mind works - and why it could change your life’
'An astonishing achievement. Nick Chater has blown my mind'
'A total assault on all lingering psychiatric and psychoanalytic notions of mental depths ... Light the touchpaper and stand well back'
We all like to think we have a hidden inner life. Most of us assume that our beliefs and desires arise from the murky depths of our minds, and, if only we could work out how to access this mysterious world, we could truly understand ourselves. For more than a century, psychologists and psychiatrists have struggled to discover what lies below our mental surface.
In The Mind Is Flat, pre-eminent behavioural scientist Nick Chater reveals that this entire enterprise is utterly misguided. Drawing on startling new research in neuroscience, behavioural psychology and perception, he shows that we have no hidden depths to plumb, and unconscious thought is a myth. Instead, we generate our ideas, motives and thoughts in the moment. This revelation explains many of the quirks of human behaviour - for example why our supposedly firm political beliefs, personal preferences and even our romantic attractions are routinely proven to be inconsistent and changeable.
As the reader discovers, through mind-bending visual examples and counterintuitive experiments, we are all characters of our own creation, constantly improvising our behaviour based on our past experiences. And, as Chater shows us, recognising this can be liberating.
Video - if you cannot read the book
His course is here https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/the-mind-is-flat
My take/ observations/ questions
Was not sure until he hit on the exact way I think about having to create breaks to create breakthroughs and ahaha moments - and what this means and how the brains works on this theory. At that point I become a convert. Love the ideas of revelations are not what you think and that having only one thought at a time is normal :) No background processing - thank you.
To make sense of anything we need experience and to learn from experience. If sense (whatever that is ) has sufficient alignment to a past experience, it aligns and makes sense. If sense cannot be found, you have to restart, which means take a break.
If the wrong experience starts early - does that mean that (normalised) sense is lost as you have to aligns to what makes sense to you
The book doesn't look at the difference or impact of male and female brains or different brain structures. Aka The Emotional life of your Brain Like to also explore what our chemistry does and how it affects sense making/ thinking. Worth thinking in context with The Strange Order of Things and The Inflamed Mind - Feelings are chemistry not the mind. There is a need to also read Hannah Frys book = Hello World and algorithmic bias, will post on this one later
A proposition is that a neuron learns one step of a task and the brain connects the tasks ( makes sense) - hence combining neurons allows you to perform different tasks step by step
Not sure as yet where the feedback loop is and how iteration of experience improves making sense or the reinforcement cycle. Like the idea of the brain beat ( like a heartbeat) a processing cycle.
Love pages 176 on consciousness in perception and how we can solve problems where a large number of constraints must be satisfied simultaneously.
Page 185 - “we consciously experience the sensory information, broadly construed (including images generated by our own minds; sensations from inside out bodies, such as pain, feelings of exhaustion or hunger; and crucially from inner speech). But there is nothing more.”
Page 194 “Memory is the byproduct of understanding: what we cannot interrupt, we cannot remember”
Too much to pull out - a must read.