Luminary Perspective

March 23, 2006

Relational Knowledge

When you learn a new skill, it is similar to getting to know a human being. There is an entire set of knowledge that you acquire about the subject area, and things that you must experience to fully grasp. Like human relationships, more time spent means a closer bond with the subject. Also similarly, there are ways to make friends and ways to approach a subject that are more effective than others.

You need to find common interests and common goals to make friends. It is likewise good to find some existing area of personal interest that a subject incorporates or expands, and to take a close look at the various goals you have which it has potential to help you achieve.

Knowledge is your friend. It can also help you make friends, just like having friends can help you make more friends. It gives you something to talk about, and it gives you power and abilitites that impress people favourably. All these are advantages of friendship as well.

Thus when I think of knowledge in terms of a relational database in my mind, it is more than a mechanism. It is more like a relationship.


Music and Intelligence

Is it true that musical ability and (measurable) intelligence are linked? I believe this is correct. Music involves combinations of both similarity-based association and rhythmic association. From these two come the ability to reason more quickly and filter out distractions, which (in human minds) causes the phenomenon we know as intelligence.

A tune without rhythm, or rhythm without a tune, is not music at all. That is to say, you can produce very subtle rhythms or tunes, but if it is absent or completely undetectable, it is impossible to recognise as music.

Musical ability has a lot to do with distinguishing nice sounding notes from bad sounding notes. To do this, a catalogue of nice sounds must be kept in long-term memory for easy access and precise comparison. This is completely unconscious for most musicians, but so is mathematical ability for most mathematicians.

Another distinguishing feature with musicians is the ability to determine tempo easily. This is something that is also completely unconscious, or must be practiced until it becomes so. It has to do with counting time intervals precisely and being able to determine at a given moment exactly how many intervals have passed. The mathematician faces a similar challenge in balancing equations, because he has mastered the art of translating symbols to past, present, and future terms.

Thus I think musicians train in quite similar skills, and possibly identical neurological structures, to those used by master mathematicians, as well as any other endeavour of the mind. There is always a use for “tempo” and “pitch” in learning a new skill. Intelligent people who are not good at music are likely capable of becoming so if they are willing to adapt, and it also makes sense to think that those not gifted with high intelligence will find their mental capacity to expand with musical practice.

Rational or Irrational?

Filed under: Accelerated Learning, Efficiency, Motivation, Spiritual Growth — Luke @ 11:22 am

There are words which in technical terminology have a definite meaning, but in the everyday universe of human lives, are highly subjective. For example, if you make a decision based on a gut instinct, is it rational?

We usually think of a rational decision to be based on logic. A gut instinct is not consciously based on logic, so it is not consciously rational by that definition. However, when you look closer you generally find that a gut instinct is actually based on information acquired from a variety of sources, added together in a logical way. That makes it rational by that definition.

Furthermore, if a person has a good ability to make instinctive judgments and those serve them well over the course of a lifetime, they might come to depend on them. That is a rational choice, because it makes logical sense to do things using a tried and true method.

Ultimately, everything is rational. However there are scales of increasing complexity that come into play, and there are parts of the mental processes that shuttle around extremely high information densities. It’s unsurprising that we don’t always percieve our thoughts as being rational. But every instinct that is programmed into us has a good logical purpose once you understand it.

March 22, 2006

Mini-Mapping: Mind Maps for Dummies

Filed under: Accelerated Learning, Efficiency, Writing & Education — Luke @ 8:44 am

You’ve probably noticed the mind maps at the end of each post. I started out with more graphical ones that involved use of backslashes and underlines to simulate the effect of drawing on paper. I have since quit doing that, only using colons to seperate details from each other, and indentation to distinguish between them and key-points.

This makes the little mini-maps extremely easy to create. All I need to do is make a vertical word that corresponds to the topic somehow, then add key points and details on the right-hand side of it. They do not have to be linked acrossticly, just related to the subject.

I try to put at least two details per key point. If I can’t think of at least two details, that tells me that it is not much of a point. A given topic usually has at least two or three key points, as well.

M mind maps
I  connect between topic, points, details : format may vary 
N ascii text
I  no slanted text : underlines awkward : vertical topic on left
M advantages
A  easy : quick : help organize thoughts : small, to the point

March 21, 2006

Thoughts on Rhythm

The more I think about it, the more it seems like rhythm is the ultimate key to hacking our wetware. The flow of ideas and thoughts inside us is based to a large degree on timed functions. All you have to do is synchronize them properly and they can accomplish anything that is possible for a mind to accomplish.

Rhythm reduces the amount of energy that it takes for the mind to accomplish a particular task. A non-repeating beat is never as easy to process as a repeating one. However that is not to say perfect rhythm is the only thing that is useful in life. Often it helps to break a flawed pattern. However, this only works if there are sufficient resources available to correct it.

Thus, it is good to start with with a rhythm until sufficient resources exist to handle a break, then locate a flaw and temporarily break the rhythm over it. This is a really basic principle.

R mental
H  composed of timed functions : rhythm synchronizes
Y social
T  people expect rhythmic behaviour : schedules, ideas synchronize
H flaws in a pattern
M  may be ignored for a time : must be confronted at the right time
I repeating patterns
C  build energy : permit growth : not always perfect

Fluency-Based Learning

Filed under: Accelerated Learning, Efficiency, Writing & Education — Luke @ 8:27 am

There has been some fascinating research done in fluency-based learning. This is a training technique where higher-speed, rhythmic answering of questions is favored over short-term accuracy. With my current understanding of neurochemistry and accelerated learning, this makes a lot of sense.

Rhythm releases energy-carrying chemicals into the nerves, muscles, and brain cells involved, and helps thoughts to occur synchronously with each other so they can connect logically. It also links them together in the memory, boosting long-term retention. The faster you practice something, the more energy is supplied when you try it the next time. Having this extra energy available creates an added boost to performance and memory for the skill, even if it wasn’t done with pure accuracy the first time.

In my experiments with the Dvorak typing tutor, I have found that by getting into a rhythm and not breaking it, I get more learning done than by going for strict accuracy. Not to say accuracy isn’t worth striving for, but it is a different function from fluency, which is having the right answer come to you immediately.

Howard Stephen Berg’s famous speed reading course starts out by instructing you to train yourself by reading through the book without even trying for comprehension, rubbing your hand across the pages in various rhythmic patterns. This is to condition your mind to expect mental activity at that rate, and supply a steady flow of energy to the high-speed reading rate that you are shooting for. It also helps train your eyes not to get fixated for too long on a given part of the text, but to rhythmicly move over the whole page.

Writing is another area where I believe the concept of fluency-based learning has helped me. I write more quickly than I would naturally be inclined to, and don’t worry about mistakes until after I’ve made them. I actually make fewer of them this way, and it increases my writing speed more in the long run as well.

F high-speed testing
L  prepares the mind : supplies more energy : better retention
U speed-reading
E  high rhythmic rate conditions mind : more energy made available
N speed-writing
C  write things faster and rhythmicly : quality can be worked on seperately

Computer Game: Learn Dvorak

I just came across a neat computer game. It involves pressing keys really fast. If you hit the right key, you go up a level, but if you hit the wrong key you lose a level. Sound fun?

It’s name is dvorak7min, and came shipped standard with the full Debian linux distribution. I have had it around for 6 months, but unfortunately didn’t bother to try it until this morning. (Shame on me!) All I needed was to switch to dvorak mode using xkbdconfig, and I was good to go. It is awesome, with instant feedback for every right or wrong key-press and an optional display that shows which key you need to press next. If having it blink at you doesn’t work, enable “Nastiness on” and it will start making you think twice.

Maybe a Dvorak typing tutor doesn’t sound too exciting to you. Compared to modern-day games, perhaps it isn’t that engaging. It doesn’t force you to be entertained by the way they do. You could get bored with it quickly if you had too much other entertainment avalable. But for someone like me who has been away from anything more advanced than minesweeper for about 3 months, it’s fun and addicting, much as is vimtutor.

The big advantage is I am learning a useful skill today, whereas I could be busy boosting my reaction time at pumping fake lead into fake corpses. The fact is, I want to be good with the dvorak keyboard — it’s only because I haven’t practiced that I’m not. I have heard many good things about it’s benefits in terms of ergonomics and efficiency. Not only that, but for the unaddicted mind, a tutorial like this has the same stress-relieving potential of any commercial game out there.

D like a game
V  dvorak7min : run xkbdconfig to switch : instant feedback 
O learning a useful skill
R  dvorak can speed up typing : enhances qwerty speed
A why not?
K  regular games more forceful : addiction to them tough to break

March 20, 2006

Stuff about Esperanto

Filed under: Accelerated Learning, Technical, Writing & Education — Luke @ 12:31 pm

One of my favorite languages is esperanto. I like it because it is as easy for me to learn as it is for anyone else in the world. That’s not quite true of english, which is not as easy for everyone else to learn as me.

In esperanto, there is a set of root words. These can be made feminine, negated, or conjugated in various ways by adding the proper suffixes. They can also be made nouns, plural nouns, objects, subjects, adjectives, past tense verbs, present tense verbs, and future tense verbs. In every case, these are added in a consistent manner so you can apply the same rule in every situation.

Some roots are vir, akv, frat, est, am. Viro is a man, virino is a woman. Akvo is water, and akva is wet. Frato is brother, fratino is sister. Malfrato is a non-sibling, and malakva is dry. Estas is to be in the present, estos is to be in the futire, and estis is to be in the past. “Mi amos min fratino” means I will love my sister. “Li estas min frato” means “he is my brother/sibling.” “Ili estas fratoj” means “they are siblings.”

All in all, it is an easy language to pick up, compared to most others. (Admittedly, so are most other constructed languages.) It is also a good introduction to the learning of foreign languages, teaching people to think in terms of the parts of speech and the variety of ways they can be represented.

ES Advantages
PE  easy to learn : same from any background : intro to linguistics
RA Basics
NT  set of roots : repeatable rules : consistent pronunciation

Relavent Links:
Esperanto in English

Churning out “The Stuff”

I have just not been getting as much done as easily lately. Some days writing 5 medium-sized posts is easy, others it’s hard. Today, I just want to stop and do nothing. But I know if I do that it will cost me in terms of will-power and discipline in the long run.

Today I have written two. They weren’t bad, but could have been better. To all my loyal readers, I thank you for your patience. I will try again to get my writing style down to improve. It won’t be easy, but that isn’t the point. The point is it will be harder to do what I want in life if I quit.

In a way, it’s a good sign that I’m getting discouraged and frustrated. It means I am challenging myself. If I had stuck with an easy rate, I wouldn’t be growing. The longer I stick with this rate, the more growth I will achieve, and the more likely that I will get to a point where this is “too easy”, even on a daily basis. Perhaps then I can double up and make it really hard on myself. 😉

W Hitting the wall
O  5 posts is overwhelming today : yet not impossible
R Skills take time
K  challenging rate is hard : unchallenging rate won't bring growth

March 19, 2006

Learning Versus Doing

Filed under: Accelerated Learning, Motivation — Luke @ 12:43 pm

I have spent years studying about accelerated learning techniques, was not able to apply it much until recently. It just seemed like no matter how hard I tried to learn, it didn’t make a difference.

The trouble was, I was not putting them into practice. They required being put into practice and used repeatedly until they started kicking in. Instead of using the techniques repeatedly until the skills kicked in, I used them briefly while I was studying them specifically, then moving on to the next topic of interest.

My strategy of focusing completely on that which I am currently learning the most about, is not a bad thing in the right context. It lets me get a lot done faster. Unfortunately it has caused me to forget to practice certain things that need daily application to fully attain. Only by trying these things daily for a long enough period of time can they be ingrained to a great enough extent to make a person into a speed-learner.

The solution is to form a daily practice routine, and to then commit to learning them. Although the skills don’t come overnight for most people, they are worth attaining, even if it takes months or years.

LE Skills
AR  : need practice : not acquired overnight : more than information
NI Temporary Focusing
NG  : maximizes assimilation of information : not skills
DO Strategy
IN  : use valuable skills daily : schedule time for other focusing
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