The answer? By constructing an amendable matrix. Of differing lists.
Along with the following concepts:
The concepts I don’t cover out of not having time to write more, you’re going to have to look up, but most of these are here at least used in a context.
1. I want you to think whether or not you consider yourself a follower or a leader, a conformist or a free thinker.
Okay, got that?
2. Now I want you to make a list of all the things you think of as 100% true in reality.
3. Then list all the things you know for 100% are agreed upon by all of your friends. You might notice that this is a very different list. It should be and would be the more you are a leader. As long as those truths remain rational.
4. Now list all the things you can think of that are ambiguous truths. These must be things in reality you really don’t have much of a clue about.
5. Then list all the things you think are good at. You can even make different lists so long as you identify them with an attribute that connects with reality.
6. Now list all the things you are passionately interested about.
7. Now list all the things you could care less about.
8. Then the things you are completely indifferent to.
9. The extent to which you are surprised is the round about extent to which you are aware or not.
10. Weed out contradictions or suspend them and proactively research the proper relevant information.
11. Combine and group similarities and make the proper conclusions and put them into their respective boxes: i.e. Deduction is the 100% true category. Induction is the ambiguous category.
Experiment by making shorter and longer lists. The point is to make you more aware via cross referencing elements that would never have co-occurred.
Howard Gardnener is his book Frames of Mind, points out that children begin by mere association i.e. Hammer and nail are more similar than hammer and screwdriver. Ayn Rand points out that we later (if we become rational people) move onto abstraction, removing and therefore grasping similarities and differences and then remembering them.
Your brain doesn’t integrate similarities across the board in a wide-scale fashion necessarily, it is extremely easy to default to compartmentalization. This is what the Matrix gives you: regardless of whether one element is right or wrong, the total context as a categorical board that progressively links and groups things together, is called mental integration. It is this that is most severely missing from our cultural understanding.
The question “How do you know when you’re right,” is an important one, but the real question is “How does a fairly rational person live an intelligent life in a culture that is severely and self-confessed to be anti-intellectual and is in fact highly irrational?”
That is the last concept I will give you today to chew on. Make no mistake, I have more often than not wound up correct in more situations than anyone I know, relative to my interests.
Practice Matrix List Making and I guarantee you will learn something substantial about yourself and reality. Keep these lists and even write them up in a program like Excel, Adobe Illustrator, etc. The computer makes it real easy. That is, until I come out with the cognitive learning software to do it for you 😉