Overuse of Concrete Mind

This morning we went up to the coast to Tregastel it was 19˚C with a nice onshore breeze, whereas here it is a sticky humid 24˚C and we are due storms later. It was refreshing after yesterday.

On the way up we were discussing how researchers might have open minds and that scientists were trained to keep an open mind. She was suggesting this because I rarely jump to conclusions.  I said that scientists only keep an open mind about certain things and that they can, in my experience, be prejudiced against many other things, particularly those that do not conform to the accepted dogma.

Scientists are sensitive to and beholden to their peers. They are like fish in a shoal or buffalo in a herd; individuality and being avant-garde is a risky business.

I have encountered scientists who look down their nose at non science based degree programmes. Even amongst scientists I have met physicists who think every other science is but an inferior branch of physics.

Scientists can suffer from an overly concrete mind and can often be limited to only one way of thinking. They can be a lot more rigid than they care to admit.

I used to tutor on quite a number of UK GRAD courses which had Ph.D. students from all disciplines. I would get a group of nine students to take through a residential five day programme. I used to do a bigger session on communicating with non-specialist audiences {future employers}. The scientists were the least willing to talk in a jargon free way about their work because they thought that leaving out the jargon was dumbing down. My example of a silly thesis title was, “Measuring the temporal evolution of the third order hyperpolarizability tensor of Si(001) surfaces.” Which turned to being “Using lasers to research Silicon growth.”

When I did the “Careers in Academia” session, the scientists were appalled to find out how much harder it was to get a grant in Humanities and Arts. Many of the scientists were well below the threshold for award. The non-science students engaged with enhanced maturity and had by far the best questions.

People who use only concrete mind can be very one dimensional. I suggested to my wife that people at “science” only institutions were more prone to suffer from this than say at Oxbridge because there the scientists get to mingle with non-science colleagues in the colleges.

If one uses concrete mind to justify behaviours and provide answers in the realm of concrete mind only, the bigger picture can easily be missed. Descriptions and reasons are distilled down to a near catatonic list of bullet points, fired from a Gatling gun.

The Tibetan suggests that overuse of concrete mind can lead one into the clutches of the dark brotherhood. They use concrete mind to justify and explain unpleasantness.

In concrete mind it is ok to fire underperforming colleagues so as to enhance a research assessment exercise performance. It makes sense in that single dimension. Humanity what the hell is that? It is of no use. Even though the person will be partially destroyed that one dimension matters more than anything else. It is thoroughly justified.

It the latest Westminster farce they are going to put electronic tags on refugees arriving across the channel!  Careful or Putin will invade to de-nazify England. Why not round all the refugees up and put them in a concentration camp?

The third Reich used a lot of concrete mind to justify its horrendous behaviour. In that logic it made sense but it was dark and evil and cruel.

One dimensional solutions, to problems seen solely from that one dimension only make sense IN that one dimension. It makes sense to send refugees to Rwanda. On which planet exactly? Which genius thought that one through?

Concrete mind has set, and they are going to try to force this hairbrained scheme through, no matter what.

The concrete mind focuses like the sun through a magnifying glass used to burn ants into one single point.

Concrete mind can and does set like concrete. It will not budge.

In a post yesterday I suggested one putative context which would never be conceived of by a grouping of we know best mentalities and a circle the wagons defensive preserving orientation.

Some problems cannot be solved from within the perceptual and cognitive context which created them, to paraphrase Einstein.

Concrete mind has many non sequiturs. Not because they are non sequiturs, but because from only within that one dimension they seem odd. We have a Peugeot 207 with local French 22 number plates. It is French car with a French registration, but the steering wheel is on the right. This messes with people’s heads. I have explained a few times that she is English. The context that she was imported is not obvious. The single dimension of being French does not allow for right hand drive, add the dimension of import and all is fine.

One of the reasons that I stopped tutoring science was that the “allowed” answers to gain marks on A level papers were so rigid. They had been agreed in concrete mind and were set in stone. There was no room for improvisation. I saw what were correct and well argued answers given zero for noncompliance!!

Overuse of concrete mind neglects humanity, it can justify to itself the unpleasant, the nasty and the vehemently self-centred.

“What is in it for me?” The mantra of concrete mind to demand a slice of the cake.

Humans it seems can, at least temporarily, justify pretty much anything they want to do, by overuse of this small part of true mind.

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