Styles of Thought

The human brain did not evolve with any particular end in mind. But we have been lucky to find at this late date in our evolution that our brains are capable of several types of thinking. Using these different approaches to thought gives us a far wider range of possibilities for dealing with a most uncertain future. The examples below are provided by Dr. Edward De Bono, a pioneer in modern thinking styles.


Creativity is about bringing something new into the world, seemingly out of the blue. The more startling and unexpected the new thing, the more creative the work required to bring it about.

The human brain is not designed to be creative. It is designed to set up routine patterns and to use and follow these patterns… We may need to use routine patterns 98 per cent of the time and only be creative 2 per cent of the time. __ Think Before It’s Too Late

We live in a world that depends upon a constant stream of innovation and creativity. But children in schools from kindergarten to university are being taught to be passive recipients of politically correct wisdom. Independent thought is discouraged if it does not toe the line of top-down conformist dogma. If future generations cannot think creatively, what sad dreary world does the future hold in store?


Design involves taking components which already exist in reality or imagination, and arranging them in a way to generate new possibilities.

Design means putting together the things that we have in order to deliver the values we want. Design is all about the real world. How do you design your career? How do you design your life? … __ Think


If we are not paying attention, our brains are not receiving the high quality raw material they need to produce logical thought and judgments of the highest quality.

… 90 per cent of the errors in thinking are errors of perception. Logic plays only a small part. And no matter how excellent the logic may be, if the perception is faulty the answer will be wrong. __ Think


Logic, analysis, and judgment are necessary parts of almost all modes of thinking. But ordinary deductive logic can only work with what already exists, in order to make a judgment or decision.

Even this mundane type of thinking is relatively rare among humans. Most of our “thinking” is automatic and instinctive.

… conscious control is exerted only at critical junctures, when a definite choice or a plan has to be made. In between, unconscious routines are continuously triggered and executed, so that consciousness can float free of all those details and proceed to plan and make sense of the grand scheme of things. __ Gerald Edelman and Giulio Tononi: A Universe of Consciousness

This suggests that logic plays a very small part of the inner life of most human brains, and that consequently creativity plays a much smaller, infinitesimal part of the whole.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking [judgment thinking] is merely the use of certain limited forms of logic to judge and destroy “silly thinking.” This is not what you are told by your college professors of critical thinking, but it is the simple fact of the matter. And because your professors shape the forms of logic used in their style of “judgment thinking” — and dictate how these forms of logic should be used — the entire exercise becomes limiting (and warped) in the extreme.


Art is often confused with creativity. Sometimes creativity is a part of the work of certain artists, but the two things are not the same.

… many artists are not creative per se; They are powerful stylists who have a valuable style of perception and expression. Many artists even become trapped in a certain style because it is what the world has come to expect of them. __ Think

Obsession with “Truth”

An obsession with the truth can hardly be criticised as wrong. But this obsession can prevent the development of the mentally important role of speculation and possibility. ___ Think

In a world full of errant fantasy, it is important to use every tool and effort to get at underlying truths. But in a world where new ideas and disruptive innovations are needed, more creative styles of thinking can get entire societies and civilisations out of very deep and seemingly hopeless ruts.

Conscious Logic, Subconscious Creativity?

We sometimes believe that the conscious mind is only good for logical thinking and judgments/decisions. And since truly creative ideas seem to spring up out of nowhere, we can easily conclude that creativity emerges only from the subconscious.

But most of what comes out of the subconscious is useless gibberish. It takes most of the energy of our brains just to filter the garbage before it spills into our conscious lives. So how can we make it more likely for our subconscious minds to form creative thoughts that are useful to us in the here and now?

For some people, the process seems to occur naturally — whether in the field of physics, or in mathematics, in music, in art, or in technology. But each of these “creative persons” has devised a conscious inducer for subconscious creativity. It is this “bridge” connecting the conscious with the subconscious minds that allows the flow of creativity of an Einstein, a Mozart, a da Vinci, or a Tesla.

Dr. Edward de Bono has devised a number of approaches to creative thinking, the most famous one being Lateral Thinking. Lateral Thinking utilises a number of conscious provocations to stimulate the development of subconscious patterns of creativity.

The Collective Brain

We are being urged by modern societies to enter a brave new world of the “collective brain.” It began even before the printing press, with religious modes of thought far back into antiquity. But with the coming of newspapers, television, mass education, and the internet, the collective brain is truly coming into its own.

It may seem to many that “two heads are better than one,” and that millions of heads must logically be better than one or a few heads. But where can you find a million heads that could have devised Einstein’s theory of special relativity? Where are the million heads that could write Mozart’s Requiem? What million heads could produce Michelangelo’s David?

There are many important creations that require inputs from multiple brains. But throughout history so many of the most crucial discoveries and most beautiful creations could have only come from the prepared minds of special individuals who had a long history of having learned to think in special ways. And the cumulative experiences of such persons up to the point of creation combined to generate something unique and special to the world, which has been used and cherished by multiple societies ever since.

It is tragic that most schools from kindergarten through university approach teaching as a type of mind-shaping into a conformist ideology that has been dictated to them from government institutions and powerful foundations. Most children who graduate from such schools will not have been strong enough to resist this process of indoctrination into politically correct consensus. As a result of this brainwashing into conformist “thought,” society is becoming woefully short of the creative thinkers (and broadly logical thinkers) it so desperately needs.

When all children are taught to conform, who will lead?

Perhaps we should make provisions for the coming consequences of this long-standing, misguided approach to schooling. Yes, we should hope for the best. But also prepare for the worst.

Remember: It is never too late for a Dangerous Childhood © .

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