Welcome back to creative life. This is the power of habits with art, markman now, art is actually running a little bit behind schedule. He was just here a second ago. We're going to get started with some of the content, but that way, thanks for giving me the chance. Yeah, that indulging me a little bit in this, but but really, I think the thing to bear in mind about this is really I took this up, like, thirteen years ago, I was already an adult, you know, I'd already gotten well past the age that most people ever get anywhere near a musical instrument, and and, you know, my goal, remember, my goal was just in ten years, I wouldn't be terrible, and I think I've proven that I'm at least reached the point where I'm not terrible, and what that means is that anyone can do believe me, if I could do it, anyone could do it because, like I said, day one, when I started playing the sax, my my son's response was, uh, yeah, sounded like you were moving chairs in the kitchen, so you know, eso you c...
ould do it so and it's, true for its true for the sax, is true for anything, right? I mean, that's, the beauty of this is um you know, I'm not gonna be the best sax player in the world and whatever it is that you guys try to do, you know you don't necessarily have to set the goal of being absolutely the best in the world you just set the goal of being better than almost anybody, you know and uh and and that's the sort of thing you can do by by doing what it is that we've talked about now we want to think about how we reuse knowledge because if we're going to do things in a more effective way, one of the things that we need to do is to be able to take all of that great knowledge that we've been learning all the stuff that we've learned when we've self explained and turn it into things that we use when we're doing something. And so we're going to start off by talking about how we ordinarily reuse our knowledge and then we're going to transition to how it is that we use knowledge in the very special circumstances in which we're trying to draw knowledge from one area of our expertise and use it in a new situation where it wasn't obvious that it was going to be important and relevant and in order to do this in order to do this uh I need to ask you a deep and profound question uh and here it is what is that that's a dog how many of you got that that's a dog you're looking like uh got that's so now I wanna ask you a couple questions how many of you expected me to put up a picture of a dog? I mean, I guess you you might assume after playing this accident, anything is possible. How many be expected a picture of a dog? Nobody. How many of you know this particular dog? How many of you are aware that this is kobe the dog? Which it is? This is kobe, my dog. Um uh you didn't know you don't know this particular dog even if you knew this was kobe your dog, you may never have seen kobe in this particular position, right? So, um I want you to reflect for a moment you may not realize what an amazing thing you just did cause you're just thinking this was easy. This is what you showed this to me and I and I and I immediately recognized it. But think about this, right? Ok, you didn't expect to see a picture of a dog you've never seen this particular dog. Okay? And yet this picture flashed up on the screen and within less than a second right couple hundred milliseconds bang! You knew it was a dog when I pat yourselves on the back for a moment that is an amazing ability now you're not really gonna pat yourselves on bacca's, you didn't actually have much to do with it in the sense that what this is a reflection of is the way that your brain is organized. Brains are organized to give you the knowledge that the that it thinks you need when you think she thinks you need it, that's, what your brain is designed to do, and so s so we do this without effort, but we have to appreciate how this works, because every once in a while we're going to get stuck for knowledge. What we're going to see in a few minutes is that sometimes when we're solving problems, we actually get stuck, and then we need to understand how it is that we're getting information out of our memories so that we can get ourselves unstuck, okay, and that's going to be a crucial thing, okay? So ultimately, in order to do something, even a simple is recognizing what this is, we have to be able to re use our knowledge, we have to be able to take our past experience and then figure out how to use that past experience to do something new, because we don't recognize this is a dog because of some evolutionary characteristic, it wasn't like evolution programmed us in to know that that's a dog instead it's our experience seeing dogs in our environment that helped us to recognize this is a dog when we saw it in this situation right so we're constantly building up knowledge and then finding ways to pull it out of memory so how can we how are we able to see similarities between some situation out there in the world and something going on in our heads well in order to really understand that better let's take let's play a little game okay and understand our abilities teo to see things is similar for a moment so here's what I want you to do everybody can do this grab a sheet of paper a blank sheet of paper pen pencil and now we're gonna play a game for the next several seconds I want youto list the commonalities that you can think of okay commonalities you can think of between ready ah hotel in a motel you ready go people are listing commonalities right now that's what I want them to do hope they're getting some are you getting so I've got some yeah I couldn't don't don't tell us you were in my head all right that's good okay so you did hotel in a motel hope you got a few there now I want you to try something different for us um now let's take some time and write down the commonalities you can think of ready now between a shopping mall and a traffic light interesting well sad that that got the biggest laugh of the day but all right good okay, so we did some we said we did some similarities now we're gonna play a similar game on lee now we're gonna do it with differences so I want to start with differences I want you to write down all the differences you can you ready between a car and a motorcycle we got cars and motorcycles and this is when everyone can do it home nobody had to download anything. Yeah because every once in a while there's an added bonus just in the live version of what we're doing and finally ready the differences you can between a magazine and a kitten we're getting some answers from the chat room tossing as they start to come in so good and you might be looking at this you might be thinking yourself why why are we doing this but this is actually a demonstration of the ability to use research that's not new so I this actually so this is actually the is one of the things I'm showing you that actually comes out of my own research so one of my very first scientific papers came out in nineteen ninety three we actually did this we actually looked at the bill people's ability to list similarities and differences between things you might think why who could possibly care about this mean beyond me but here's why it matters it turns out that there's a very interesting pattern here that that is a little bit unexpected because if you think about your ability to see things as being similar and what it is that makes things psychologically similar to each other or different you actually might assume that when there's a pair of things that are really similar to each other that they have a lot in common and very little that's different between them and the things that are very different have very few commonalities in an awful lot of differences that intuitively that makes a lot of sense in fact that's not the way that that that your system is designed that's not the way the psychological system really works so commonalities mohr less work the way you'd expect them to right so things that are very similar to each other have mawr commonalities in things that are very different so for example if you're listening commonalities for a hotel in a motel that we get any commonalities for hotels and motels what have you got bad rooms rooms argument yeah stay for a stay overnight things like that so there's all sorts of things that they have in common um then we had a shopping mall in a traffic light which largely elicited laughter um so then that's a pair that makes you laugh um what what did they have some things in common but probably harder to come up with them right both they have metal round you're really stretching right? Yeah, there's lights uh, you know, I might stop it each of them, you know, but it's hard it doesn't feel is easy, right? Hotel motels like bang that's obvious, you know, shopping mall traffic light not so it's. Not so easy. Now, the interesting thing to me is what happens with differences. So when you get to differences, um, you know, for card a motorcycle, how did you do with car and a motorcycle? It's actually pretty easy, right? What kinds of differences did you get? Two wheels for two to four doors, windows is ordinance si jin the weight how having a good there, right with cars are generally hasn't? Yeah, yeah, easier. It's easier to maneuver a motorcycle, julian traffic than cars. Yeah, all kinds of things now notice that a lot of the differences that you come up with when you're listening, the differences between a car and a motorcycle, our differences where what you found is a point of commonality between them and then and then a difference that relates to that commonality. So, um, they both have wheels, but they different the number of wheels that have engines with a different the size of the engines. They both are maneuverable, but they different how maneuverable they are, um all these things where there's a point of commonality that leads to the perception of difference and so then when you get something that's really different like a magazine and a kitten what's your initial reaction to that right your initial reactions like what? Um they're just different right that's the first the first thing you wanted to you know, like uh just they're just different and then if you force me, I'll go okay? You know your pedicure on but you don't pet a magazine and you read a magazine you don't really really kid, you know, and it was almost reluctant to do that right? The reason for that is because these concepts are what what is called non aligned nable meaning you can't find any correspondence and as a result there's no, there are no differences that emerge out of what these things have in common instead it's more like almost anything I know about magazines isn't gonna be true of kittens almost everything I know about kittens isn't gonna be true of magazines, so why bother now ask yourself why is it that the system is set up this way? Why is it that when we get things that are very dissimilar we actually get nothing psychologically there isn't we don't get commonalities but we don't get differences either, but when things were very similar we get both commonalities and differences well, the reason is because actually from a stand the standpoint of what's relevant for us there's very little relevant in either commonalities or differences when things were very dissimilar I mean, obviously you know, the obviously when things aren't that you are different from each other they don't have a lot of commonalities but most of the differences don't matter either could you imagine how miserable your psychological life would be if you if you saw this clicker and this mug next to each other and we're overwhelmed with all the ways that they different from each other and then overwhelmed with all the ways that these things different from the table that they were on? I mean, life would be miserable right? Because you'd be focused on all of this information that's probably strictly speaking irrelevant so by focusing you on what things have in common and the differences that relate to what they have in common it's like you have a mental traffic cop that just moves you along from dissimilar things saying folks there's nothing to see here and that's a that's a really wonderful way for the system to operate. So that's that's really you know what happens when you're seeing things to be similar now here's the interesting thing what that means is that when you are reusing your knowledge there is information out there in the world and you're calling to mind something similar to that and you are than making a comparison between what's out there in the world and what's in your head, and you are focusing on what, on the ways that the things out there in the world and what's in your head are similar and on the differences that are related to that. But if there's something really unique going on out there in the world, you will often not pay attention to it and not recognize it, because it doesn't match up to what it is that you've already learned about. So we have a tendency actually, to ignore really unique things that are happening in the environment. We miss those things in favor of focusing on things that are predictable, based on our past experience. Magicians used this all the time, right? Magicians set up what seemed to be very familiar situations, and then they do something that is not predictable, not obvious from our product previous experience, and so it tends to misdirect us in ways that we don't see what they've done, and then we attribute that to it was magic, right? But we what they're doing is playing on our expectations for what's gonna happen in events, so our expectations play an enormous role in how it is that we re use the knowledge that we have, we tend to focus on what things have in common. And the difference is that relate to what things have in common, and so when you are learning something new, you have to recognize that any experience that you have is going to be influenced by your past experience and the way that it's being influenced by your past experience is that your experience is sort of setting the parameters it's setting the range of your expectations and anything that really violates those expectations is something that you end up having a hard time remembering later, and one of the ways that you can see this is in your later memory for situations. So we talked at the very beginning of the very first session about this role of three, and one of the things that I said was, I said, well, you're going to remember three things about any situation that you were in, and then I said, I'm using the word things because the size of those things that you remember is going to depend on how much expertise you have. Well, why is that? Why is it that you can learn maur? If you're already an expert, then you can learn if you don't have much expertise. It turns out this is the reason why, if I don't have any expertise at all, so how many of you had no expertise at all in that in that four stroke engine okay yeah like me I the first time I did this I didn't know anything at all do you know you guys know a little bit more about force working you're an engineer you build me a four star you were an engineer so if you have seen you have no expertise at all about four stroke engines you look at this and each individual thing is new you have no knowledge that really it matches up to that and so you think piston yeah besides being a basketball player from detroit it's probably an engine part crankshaft yeah that's probably an engine part to um valve well there's a third engine part I'm done uh I don't even know how these I haven't even figured out how these things relate to each other and so you get those three pieces of information and then if you kind of figure those out maybe you could go back and get a little bit more but it's very effortful and it's being done at that very piecemeal level if you have more expertise then for you you might say oh well the four stroke engine is similar to all these other kinds of engines in the following ways but it differs in these other ways and so you have this whole structure you bring and so and so for you a thing is not just a particular part of the engine it might be a whole system within the engine right it might be it might be whole parts of it and because you may already know about another another type of engine and you're just making a comparison between the four stroke engine and another kind of engine right so so what you're doing is bringing much bigger knowledge units to bear because you already have all of this other stuff you know and you're able to compare the new situation to what it is you know already all right, so that's that's really what we're doing right? The reason that expertise is so powerful is because after I know a whole bunch of things I can bring that entire that's all that is a thing for me I could bring that whole thing out and say what matches up to that what is my new situation have in common with this thing? What is my does this new situation? How does it differ from what this has in common and maybe I can remember an additional part or two that didn't relate to what I saw at all but but for me most of what I'm seeing is now ally nable with that it matches up with that whereas when I don't know anything everything is non aligned nable with my past knowledge I mean think about what happened several years ago I went to aa summers I taught it a summer school in bulgaria it's my first time in bulgaria was really fascinating but but but I had a little travel snafu getting to bulgaria so I was supposed to fly from austin to cincinnati ohio tio tio zura teo sofia bulgaria that was my that was my itinerary and I kid you not this is what it is actually fascinating them now is that now that I'm remembering the plane pulled out from the gate and there was a problem with the fuel gauge but rather than ground the plane they just needed to know there was fuel in the tank and so literally they pulled the plane off to summit weird area the tarmac and stuck a broom handle in the gas tank to make sure there was fuel in the tank and then let the plane go to cincinnati um now because there was an hour's delay in finding a broom handle I guess um I missed my connection from cincinnati deserve and the good people uh in cincinnati said you have two choices you can spend the night in cincinnati and then fly deserve the next day or you can run across the airport get a flight to philadelphia that will allow you to catch a different flight deserve you're still going to miss your connection to bulgaria but you can spend the night in missouri and I thought to myself cincinnati sir any sir so I ran across the airport got into a plane bound for philadelphia, caught another plane for zurich and then got my you know, I got off the plane in zurich gotta bag went to aa desk where they gave me a voucher for a night's hotel stay ah, and some money for meals and they directed me outside and said, wait there to catch a shuttle, and I suddenly found myself standing outside of the airport in switzerland, realizing I was in a country I didn't expect to be in where I don't speak the language and it felt really weird everything felt nonaligned herbal to me, right? It was I was I was in an annex, an experience I completely didn't expect. Now every once in a while, when you solve a problem, you have that experience is well where you get stuck and you are in a country he didn't expect to be in where you don't speak the language when that happens, what has happened to you is that you are in a way world of non aligned ability, what's happened is nothing that is coming to your memory is helping you to structure what's going on in this problem you're trying to solve now eventually for me, of course this problem passed in the sense that at first I was like, I'm I'm in switzerland, this is crazy, I don't know any german what am I going to do? And then? And then I calmed down a little bit. I said, wait a second, I'm still standing in front of an airport, I'm still waiting for a van, you know, calm down till that I brought other knowledge to bear I said, really? This isn't that much different from my experiences, and eventually I kind of got through the whole experience and always fun, and that, in a nutshell, is going to be the strategy we're going to take for solving difficult problems because how many of you had to have had this circumstance of I'm trying to solve a problem, and I realize I'm completely stuck. Okay, so what do you normally do and that's in that situation? Dig again? Hope look for a commonality with problems I might have had in the past. Yeah, look, for probably, you know, a lot of times, actually, when you get stuck you so your first and your first reaction might be panic a little bit like, uh, I don't know what to do now. So I want you. I want you to think for a moment what does it mean? What does it mean to get stuck when you solve a problem, what does that what does that actually mean? I think what you're trying isn't working what your trying isn't working so you know I'm trying to think of what else can I tell you what else can I try right and here's the interesting thing it turns out there's on ly one other thing you can do in that situation that's the fascinating thing so when you get stuck solving a problem actually it means something very specific when you get stuck solving a problem not only is that that nothing you're trying is working it means you are not being reminded of anything that will help you to solve the problem okay so um if I were to use a word that was completely unfamiliar to everyone right and I use that word I would say that word and you would all look at me funny because you would say I have I have no idea what that word means right what is it when it when you say I have no idea what that word means what you mean is nothing comes to mind when I use that word but if I said to you um I want here I want you to I want you all to think of a birthday party you attended how did you do you like I did fine and if I asked you how did you do it? You would also look at me funny you'd say what do you mean how did I do it you said think of a birthday party I thought of a birthday party, it's, not under your control, your memory, your ability to retrieve things from memory once you hear the cue, right? When I say that I'm queuing your memory, I'm saying, I'm giving you something that's digging into your memory to pull something out. You have no control over the process as soon as you hear the cue as soon as I say a word it's going to pull stuff out of your memory whether you want to or not if I said, look, try as hard as you can not to think of a birthday party you can't, right? That was like the white elephant example we used the other day. If I say, please don't think of white elephants, you can't help it, it's, not under your control. What this means is that whenever you get stuck solving a problem, you haven't asked your memory the right question, because as soon as you ask your memory, the right question it's going to give you an answer, it may still not be the answer that will help you to solve the problem, but it will give you something to be thinking about it will go beyond the experience of standing in a country you didn't expect to be in where you don't speak the language so when you get stuck, you just have that lost feeling of. I don't belong here, and I don't know where to go. As soon as you start getting things out of memory. Now, at least you're no longer in a country he didn't expect to be, and you might be in the wrong country. It might be like hoping to fly to philadelphia and ending up in new york, where this is really familiar. I just shouldn't be here, right? That's, different, but but I think that that a lot of times when we get stuck that's, not what the feed, the feeling that we have the feeling is, I don't know what to do. And in those situations where you don't know what to do, it means you're not asking your memory the right question.