Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Playing Tapes In My Head

Awhile ago somebody told me that I put a great deal of energy into playing tapes in my head, creating scenarios and seeing how they work out. I had to think about that. Not about whether I do it, whether I should take that as a negative aspect of my thought process. I do it.

I have a pretty analytical personality, I take things apart and put them together, I like big complicated puzzles like building fast cars, I have a need to know how I will react to situations and what outcomes I can get along with, and I very much need to know where my thinking leads. I do not believe that what I feel necessarily reflects reality nor leads to good results.

So, I play tapes. I start with a situation and run it forward in time, then I go back and throw in a modification and run it again, and repeat... I plug in what real information I have and what easily extrapolated information I have and run it. I do this with the full knowledge that humans are not predictable except generally and in fairly large groupings and with the complete understanding that I can easily be full of "stuff." I do have a pretty broad range of personal experience, a good backgrounding in history, and an observant personality so I do a fair job with the predictive tapes. I don't claim some kind of clairvoyance, I get things generally right often enough to have some trust in my tapes. The more they range out from myself and my personal experience the more grains of salt I take them with.

I drag race, this involves a powerful car, high rates of acceleration, and high speeds - there is some risk involved. Primarily the risks involve parts failures or track conditions, these unpredictable variables can cause catastrophic outcomes if they're not dealt with correctly and immediately. Since that is the case and they cannot practiced it is important to know what they mean and what the remedies are and that coolness of behavior can be counted on. I am comfortable with my pastime because I know from practical experience how I react to unexpected dangerous situations and I know what the remedies are and I know what the safety rules are. I have run the tapes and I can get along with the outcomes.

When it comes to political issues or policy issues I try to do the same sort of thing. My success seems to vary pretty much along expected lines, the less information I have the more poorly I do, the less I have to intuit the more success. People are always a matter of extrapolation and a certain amount of intuiting, more information makes extrapolation more accurate and makes the intuitive leap smaller. Intuitive thinking is an odd thing, there seems to be a space between facts that can be bridged pretty accurately and I have no certainty how that happens. I've read enough theories on the matter and the closest to an idea I have is that there is actual information or an unconscious synthesis of information in existence that isn't recognized at the point of the leap. Regardless of the whys, the ability to intuit and to evaluate emotional content of issues and behaviors makes running these tapes unlike running a computer simulation, incomplete data does not result in garbage.

I'm not trying to make outrageous claims or inflate the value of my thinking, I'm trying to explain how I get to where I get with my writings here.

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