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Mind-benders—The de Bono Brothers

The more well-known of the brothers is Edward de Bono, " ... regarded by many to be the leading authority in the world in the field of creative thinking and the direct teaching of thinking as a skill," his home page says.

The less well known younger brother is Peter de Bono who is in charge of Cavendish Information Products Ltd and Cavendish Training which distribute de Bono products and provides de Bono training courses.

What Do They Do?

Well, for one thing, they make a lot of money.

"The fee for the two day CoRT Programme course will be GBP 300.00 ($492.96). The fee for the one day Six Thinking Hats Course will be GBP 200.00 ($328.64). The fee for the three day 'de Bono Thinking' course will be GBP 400.00 ($657.28). The fee will include lunch and refreshments on each of the days of the course and the appropriate certificate."

If you give 25 3-day courses a year and average 20 students per course, that grosses a little over $350,000 a year.

There are also online courses

"The first module costs GBP 150 ($243.93) (excluding VAT) and GBP 180 ($292.72) including VAT, the second module costs GBP 150 ($243.93) (excluding VAT) and GBP 180 ($292.72) including VAT, and the third module costs GBP 150 ($243.93) (excluding VAT) and GBP 180 ($292.72) including VAT- this avoids complications of discounts etc. Payment may be made by credit card - VISA or Mastercard, by cheque (UK only) or by International Money Order (by arrangement)."

There are also Edward de Bono's books (62 in all) as well as CDs and Videos.

Wild Claims

In my introduction to the Mind-bending series, itself a series of short articles about some Mind-bending concepts, I described the entire field of self-improvement, personal development, and leadership training as, "thaumaturgy for success, wealth, happiness."

"Thaumaturgy means 'the working of miracles or magic feats,' and the huge multi-million dollar business of, personal development, promises truly 'magical' results. In 'courses' ranging from a half-day to a week, these magicians promise to turn mediocre individuals into innovative powerhouses, totally confused individuals into dynamic organizers, and complete failures into phenomenal successes." There is no better example of this thaumaturgy than the de Bono business.

Here is what is promised to those who take the CoRT Programme course:

"DATT trained employees will outperform others - they will learn 'How To':

  • be a strong and confident decision maker
  • quickly and accurately weigh risks against rewards
  • consistently "make the right call"
  • reach optimum solutions more quickly than before
  • uncover the hidden opportunities in 'problems'
  • use 'what if' thinking to avoid costly mistakes
  • look beyond the boundaries of self-limiting perspectives
  • remove obstacles with simple solutions
  • be a visionary
  • thoroughly judge a situation
  • assess all angles of the big picture before making a decision"
  • leap tall buildings in a single bound (I added this one.)

All of that from a three-day course!

None of the following fantastic claims are ever documented, they are just asserted by de Bono himself.

For example, "Research has shown that The CoRT Thinking Programme improves performance in every other subject by between thirty and one hundred percent."

Another Fantastic Claim: "That is why teaching thinking for just five hours to unemployed youngsters on the Government New Deal programme increased the employment rate five hundred per cent."

And Another: "In fact human emotions and human behaviour can be greatly changed through the direct teaching of thinking: not logical thinking but perceptual thinking. In one mine, fights between the tribes working there were reduced from 210 a month to just four through the direct teaching of my thinking methods to totally illiterate miners."

Thourough-going Collectivist

Edward de Bono is very interested in education, which for de Bono means government-supplied education.

Here is one of his ideas about education:

"In education we are concerned with literacy and numeracy. That leaves out the most important aspect of all, which I call 'operacy'. The skills of action are every bit as important as the skills of knowing. We neglect them completely and turn out students who have little to contribute to society."

Who the "we" is, "in education we are concerned," he never says. In fact, this collective use of "we" is ubiquitously in everything he writes. Though he never says how he knows things like, "skills of action," are not taught, he just asserts it. Even if this were a true omission in education, his reason for decrying it is because without it students, "have little to contribute to society."

The source of all "values" and "purpose" in all of de Bono's work is society. He makes up a lot of words to obscure his real purpose, or perhaps because he does not understand it himself. He does not call it "social engineering" but that is exactly what it is:

"Most of the world's major problems (poverty, crime, conflict, pollution etc) will not be solved by yet more analysis and yet more information. We need to design ways forward - leaving the cause in place. Unfortunately, the traditions of education and the thinking culture of society make no provision for "design" - we see it as applying only to buildings, furniture and Christmas cards."

So what does de Bono want to apply "design" to? Why society, and world problems, of course.

One more example to show it is "society" that is the ultimate end or purpose in the de Bono view:

"For people with high IQs are not necessarily good thinkers; in fact they are often poor thinkers. Less than ten per cent of what is taught in schools is of the slightest use to society in general or to the students involved. It is taught because it is there - and it is there because it has been there before. In effect, education is mostly expensive baby-sitting. It sets its own exams and criteria of success and is happy to satisfy these. That these are of very little relevance to society seems to matter not at all." [Emphasis mine.]

Finally, there is in the de Bono method a repudiation of true knowledge, both of facts and principles, as in this example:

"In OECD countries, an average of 24 percent of the time in school is spent on mathematics. Of the mathematics taught, probably less than five per cent is of use in life to most students."

I doubt very much if 24 percent of school time is spent on mathematics anywhere in the world today. Perhaps he meant that amount of time is spent on environmentalism and socialization. In other places, not only the significance of mathematics, but history, geography, and literature are questioned. This is a huge and serious mistake.

All thinking, no matter what it is about, requires knowledge, real knowledge of the facts and principles that describe the nature of the real world. Knowledge is the means by which all thinking is carried out, and knowledge is all there is to think about. One very simple example is de Bono's emphasis on "creative thinking." If one does not know what has already been created, is not aware of the current state of science, technology, economic processes and methods, even literature, they are not going to be able to do much creating, and will most likely spend all their time reinventing the wheel.

All knowledge is useful, if it is real knowledge. It does not matter if one does not, "use that knowledge," they will nevertheless gain insights directly and by analogy that will broaden the scope of all their thinking. What is more creative than the creative writer. What knowledge is not grist for the writer's mill. The repudiation of knowledge is a grave evil.

Bizarre Theory Of Brain Function

Edward de Bono seldom mentions consciousness (though he uses the term "perception" a lot, though incorrectly), and seldom, if ever, mentions the human mind. For de Bono the "brain" is the mind. In fact, he bases his whole thesis on his own fantastic explanation for how the brain works, which is totally irrelevant to thinking.

Here are the basic assertions, which he calls "principles," he makes about the brain:

  • The brain is a self-organising information system. (1)
  • Information organizes itself in the brain forming patterns. (2)
  • The brain is an asymmetric patterning system. (2)
  • The brain forms asymmetric patterns. (3)
  • All patterning systems are asymmetric. (4)
How de Bono knows any of these things is never addressed, they are simply asserted. He not only fails to explain how he knows them, he does not even explain what he means by them. What does he mean by, "information." What does he mean by "a pattern?" How does information organize itself. Even if it's the brain that is organizing it, it is not "self-organized."

Before I explain what is wrong with all these assertions, here are examples of where he says these things.

(1) Any consideration of the brain as a self-organising information system shows both the logical necessity for creativity and also the techniques we need to generate new ideas (provocation, random entry etc). That is the basis of lateral thinking. We now know there is a mathematical necessity for lateral thinking. Any self-organising system stabilises as a local optimum. We need to upset the local optimum in order to move towards the global optimum.

(2) There are at least two mathematical reasons why new ideas are essential. As information organises itself in the brain patterns are formed. These are added to by new information. The process is solidified by language. All this makes it difficult to put information together in a new way. That is why processes like lateral thinking are essential in an asymmetric paterning system.

(3) 'lateral thinking' - which is also directly related to the way the brain forms asymmetric patterns."

[NOTE: Apparently de Bono thinks the brain secrets thoughts the way a mammary gland secrets milk. Really! Consider this wildly impossible claim:

"I once designed a computer model of a brain with just five neurons. This was capable of more than 50 billion thoughts."

(He obviously knows nothing about data processing or "information theory." 36 bits will give you approximately 64 billion combinations, but all 64 billion combinations would not even be data, much less "information," and definitely not "thoughts." If each neuron was capable of switching 8 bits--256 possible states, together, 5 such neurons might produce the number of different states de Bono imagines, but the real problem is, the state of a neuron, even five of them, is not a "thought".)]

(4) "Those of you who have been aware of my work will know that there are three principles:

  1. "Self-organising information systems like the human brain are pattern making systems.
  2. "All patterning systems are asymmetric.
  3. "What is obvious in hindsight may be invisible in foresight."

If none of de Bono's assertions are looked at too closely they apparently seem plausible to many people. In fact, however, they will not bear even a casual examination.

There are what are called, "self-orgnaizing systems," and there is a relatively new field dealing with such systems. The one, "self-orgnaizing system," that does not exist is a, "self-organising information system." There might be a system that organizes information (in computers an example is a data base), but they do not organize themselves, and information itself, doesn't do anything, much less organize itself.

Here is what a self-organizing system is. The brain is not one. A self-organizing system does not take external input:

"The essence of self-organization is that system structure often appears without explicit pressure or involvement from outside the system. In other words, the constraints on form (i.e. organization) of interest to us are internal to the system, resulting from the interactions among the components and usually independent of the physical nature of those components."

Unless de Bono is promoting some form of solipsism, the "information" the brain processes is information from outside the brain, which means it cannot be a self-organizing system.

Absence Of Mind

There is no discussion of the nature of the human mind in de Bono, because de Bono is obviously a physicalist who regards the mind and consciousness as attributes that "emerge" from the behavior of the brain. This is certainly the most popular view today. I do not intend to debate that point here, however, but to show that even within that mistaken view of mind and consciousness, de Bono's assertions about thought are incorrect.

According to de Bono, "Our traditions of thinking are based on the logic of language and not on the way the brain works."

This is not the only place de Bono repudiates language, though what he thinks, "thinking is," without language he does not say. It will be noticed that language is the tool which de Bono uses to put over all his ideas. If language is not the means of thinking, he should have used something else to write his books.

Whatever he supposes thinking is, however, it does not matter how the brain works, even if he knew that. How the brain works, and how we think are two distinct and different things. Thinking may use the brain, but the brain does not do the thinking.

Though I am certain the brain does not work like a computer, we can use the analogy of a computer to understand how the brain functions and how we think are totally independent of each other.

In our analogy, we can compare thinking to a computer program. A computer program is based on what the program is required to do, not on how the computer that will run it functions. Different computers, functioning quite differently, can run the same programs. Just as a computer cannot do, "word processing," but a program can use a computer to do word processing, the brain cannot do, "thinking," but human consciousness can use the brain to think. It does not matter how the brain works, so long as it can be used by volitional consciousness to think, learn, and choose. The brain cannot do any of these things, only consciousness can do them.

The concept, "consciousness," is conspicuously absent in de Bono's writing. The closest he comes to recognizing consciousness is his misuse of the word, "perception," which ought to mean consciousness, but in de Bono means something quite different (addressed below). Though he claims to be "the leading authority in the world in the field of creative thinking," he has no idea what thinking actually is. "Neural networks in the brain," do not produce thoughts anymore than hardware logic gates in a computer produce words or images.

Asymmetric Patterns

There are three assertions about patterns and asymmetry: 1. "the brain is an asymmetric patterning system," 2. "the brain forms asymmetric patterns," and 3. "all patterning systems are asymmetric."

How de Bono knows these things is not even suggested, or even what they are supposed to mean. He never says what the patterns are patterns of. Perhaps we are to assume, since he claims the brain is an information processing system, it is information that is patterned. But what is a pattern of information? For that matter, what does de Bono mean by information?

Let's looks at the claims. "All patterning systems are asymmetric." This claim is just not true. There are many patterning systems, both natural and man-made that are symmetrical in both their operation and the patterns they produce. One example from nature is the patterning system in butterflies and fish, which is symmetrical, and is actually called the "symmetry system." The formation of crystals is another.

Though it is asserted, "the brain forms asymmetric patterns," what those patterns are patterns of is not even hinted at, he simply asserts, "the brain is an asymmetric patterning system," but does not explain if that means its function is asymmetric, or only that the product of its function is asymmetric.

"As information organises itself in the brain patterns are formed. These are added to by new information. The process is solidified by language. All this makes it difficult to put information together in a new way," he writes.

Why or how patterns that have been formed would make it difficult to put information together in a, "new way," is not explained. It sounds very much as though de Bono thinks of information as some kind of building blocks that one can assemble in any way one likes but once assembled in one fashion it is difficult to reassemble into another. On what basis does he assume this? No answer. Are there any principles of a correct assembly of the blocks? Is just any assembly the correct one or is there a rational basis for a correct assembly? Of course, de Bono never says. He never uses the word "rational."

Rational means by use of reason, but de Bono does not teach that reason is the right method of organizing information. He is a strict determinist. What available information we choose to take in and organize is determined by how we have been "programed by culture, experience and upbringing."

The intention of de Bono is not to teach people how to reason correctly and effectively, his intention is to reprogram people's minds to work the way he thinks they should; his intention is to bend peoples minds to his collectivist society-oriented views.

Enemy Of Truth And Reason

If we give de Bono the benefit of the doubt, he may just not understand the nature of truth and reason. I'm going to assume he doesn't, because to assume he does would make him guilty of an intentional and vile attack on the nature of the human mind and intellect.

In his brief explanation of the meaning of "lateral thinking," and "parallel thinking," both of which are variations of what is called, "non-linear thinking," de Bono completely distorts the nature of correct thinking.

He says, "Lateral Thinking is for changing concepts and perceptions." I will describe his confused and confusing use of the word, "perception," in the next section. As for the word, "concept," de Bono never explains what he means by it. Since a concept identifies a fact of reality, if one's concepts are correct, changing them could only lead to a dangerous loss of comprehension of reality.

I suspect de Bono has no idea what a concept is, it is certain he has no idea what reason is:

"With logic you start out with certain ingredients just as in playing chess you start out with given pieces. But what are those pieces? In most real life situations the pieces are not given, we just assume they are there. We assume certain perceptions, certain concepts and certain boundaries. Lateral thinking is concerned not with playing with the existing pieces but with seeking to change those very pieces. Lateral thinking is concerned with the perception part of thinking. This is where we organise the external world into the pieces we can then 'process'."

This is a complete distortion of the nature of thinking. Thinking is not logic. Correct thinking will be logical, because logic is just the formalization of the principles of correct reasoning or thinking, but people do not think by following the rules of logic, the rules of logic are the principles by which one may check their thinking to ensure they are not making mistakes.

His analogy of "pieces" being what "logic" starts with is very deceptive. "In most real life situations the pieces are not given, we just assume they are there," he writes. "We assume certain perceptions, certain concepts and certain boundaries." This is a flat out lie. In all real life situations all the pieces are given, they are all the facts of the present real situation, that is, the facts of reality of the present context. They are never "just assumed." One must never just "change the pieces," which can only mean, "distort the facts."

He states again, "The brain as a self-organising information system forms asymmetric patterns," which nonsense I've already addressed. Then he writes:

"In any self-organising system there is a need to escape from a local optimum (?) in order to move towards a more global optimum (?). The techniques of lateral thinking, such as provocation, are designed to help that change."

"This is another technical definition. It is important because it also defines the mathematical need for creativity." [Emphasis mine.] This is just rhetorical hokum and bunk! The expression, "mathematical need," has no meaning.

He then describes his so-called "parallel thinking:"

"Parallel thinking is best understood in contrast to traditional argument or adversarial thinking.

"With the traditional argument or adversarial thinking each side takes a different position and then seeks to attack the other side. Each side seeks to prove that the other side is wrong. This is the type of thinking established by the Greek Gang of Three (Socrates, Plato and Aristotle) two thousand four hundred years ago.

"Adversarial thinking completely lacks a constructive, creative or design element. It was intended only to discover the 'truth' not to build anything." [Emphasis mine.]

The purpose of correct thinking, which logic formalizes the principles of, is to ensure that one's own reasoning does not lead to mistakes—to ensure one's own knowledge and understanding is true and non-contradictory. It has nothing to do with winning arguments. To call "traditional" thinking "argument or adversarial" is both a straw-man (a fictional description which was never true) and false dichotomy (the only alternatives are argument and "adversarial thinking" or de Bono's "parallel thinking.")

When Newton was working out the principles of the Calculus he was using traditional Aristotelian thinking—who was his adversary? Who was he arguing with? As for creation, what good is physics? When Edward Jenner was working out the principles of vaccination he was using traditional reasoning—how is that adversarial or argumentative? Of course it was only a discovery of a truth, and did not create or build anything, except the whole field of immunology.

When John Dewey worked out his philosophy of pragmatism and socialist views of education he used the very kinds of non-objective, "just change your concepts to what you like" thinking proposed by de Bono. When B. F. Skinner worked out his theory of behaviorism he used the kind of non-traditional thinking that agrees with de Bono's view that human thought as "programed by culture, experience and upbringing." And of course everyone knows what these two geniuses "created."

So exactly what does "parallel thinking" do?

"With 'parallel thinking' both sides (or all parties) are thinking in parallel in the same direction. There is co-operative and co-ordinated thinking. The direction itself can be changed in order to give a full scan of the situation. But at every moment each thinker is thinking in parallel with all the other thinkers. There does not have to be agreement. Statements or thoughts which are indeed contradictory are not argued out but laid down in parallel. In the final stage the way forward is 'designed' from the parallel thought that have been laid out."

There is everything wrong with this. Here are six of them:

  1. Thinking does not involve sides.

    All thinking is only done by individuals. It is de Bono who confuses thinking with "adversaries." Good correct thinking may be done by any individual, and that thinking does not require anyone else's agreement or approval.

  2. This is "group-think."

    What is being put over here is called, "group think"—a method suitable to gangs and mobs, not correct thinking.

  3. "There does not need to be agreement," but argument is not allowed.

    If someone presents a view that contradicts another view—that is argument. What is really intended here is suppression of real objective disagreement.

  4. Contradictions are allowed.

    Where two views contradict each other, either one or both of them are wrong. Allowing contradictions necessarily means the acceptance or allowance of wrong ideas.

    [Note: The contradiction that a system cannot be both "programmed by culture, experience and upbringing" and "self-organized" is never noticed by de Bono. It's OK though, because contradictions are allowed in de Bono's system.]

  5. A rhetorical smuggling in of two bad concepts: compromise and consensus.

    Where two statements contradict, if one of them is correct, but both are allowed to stand, the good (true) statement loses to the bad (false) statement. The result is like a mixture of food and poison, and the poison always wins. Food has nothing to gain from being mixed with poison. I've addressed consensus elsewhere.

  6. Supposed to be creative thinking, but is the opposite.

    Creation is an entirely individual affair. No collection of individuals creates anything.

The author/philosopher Ayn Rand eloquently described the nature of the truly creative individual. You can be sure the two things they never use are "lateral thinking," or "parallel thinking."

"From the beginning of history, two antagonists have stood face to face, two opposite types of men: the Active and the Passive. The Active Man is the producer, the creator, the originator, the individualist. His basic need is independence—in order to think and work." [For the New Intellectual, "The Fountainhead, The Soul Of An Individualist."]

"Men have been taught that it is a virtue to agree with others. But the creator is the man who disagrees. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to swim with the current. But the creator is the man who goes against the current. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to stand together. But the creator is the man who stands alone." [Ayn Rand, For The New Intellectual - The Fountainhead, "The Soul Of An Individualist"]

Though it is only a book review, this article, "Is Lateral Thinking Necessary for Creativity?," is an excellent critique of the idea of "lateral thinking" de Bono has been pushing for 40 years. As it turns out, the ideas may not even his, as the debate between Michael Hewitt-Gleeson and de Bono suggests. (I don't understand why they do not use just use "parallel thinking" to solve their disagreement.)

The truth is despised by de Bono:

"We have emphasised truth and not possibility and yet progress can only arise from possibility. ...

"We have emphasised 'truth' which is a very dangerous joke - especially the belief that there is only one truth."

I'll come back to the false conflict between truth and possibility. To call truth a, "dangerous joke," is one of the most evil things de Bono has ever written. Well, Mr. de Bono, there is only one truth, because there is only one reality, and truth is whatever identifies and describes it. The joke is on those who think they can live successfully in this world in defiance of the truth.

There is a lot of what I call "slight of mind" rhetoric in de Bono. It's a common method of putting over a falsehood by means of plausible sounding language.

Here's an example:

"We have always been obsessed by 'truth'. You can have truth about the past but only possibility about the future." If this means anything, de Bono has to be referring to the fact we can know what happened in the past, but cannot know what will happen in the future, but truth pertains to much more than historic facts. He ignores principles, though he describes some of his own ideas as such. Does he think his own ideas cannot be known to be true in the future?

If taken literally, this is the absurd position de Bono's statement must imply: 2 plus 2 has equaled 4 in the past, but it's possible it will equal 14.5 in the future. The force of gravity decreased by the square of the distance in the past, but it's possible it will increase by the square of the distance in the future. Cyanide was poisonous in the past, but its possible it will make a lovely Kool Aid drink in the future.

What can possibly be the intention of someone who despises the very nature of truth?

"Children grow up with the idea of right and wrong, true and false, things you can do and things you cannot do. There is no opportunity for them to develop the concept of 'possible'. Maybe their young brains could not hold such a concept. Education re-inforces the basic true/false dichotomy. This is a huge handicap to a thinker. 'Possible' is a much more important part of thinking than we have ever acknowledged. This goes beyond hypothesis which is just one form of the possible."

The kind of damage done to someone's mind by convincing them that "possibility" excludes or stands apart from right and wrong, true and false, what can and cannot be done is inestimable. What is possible is determined by reality itself, and whatever is correctly known about reality is "truth," and what is thought incorrectly about reality is "false." Until one knows the truth, nothing is possible to them.

For de Bono, truth is a social concept.

"But we are over obsessed with 'truth'. This is because early thinkers needed to show that they were superior to others. They also needed to prove others to be wrong."

This kind of statement is only possible to a thorough-going collectivist or anti-individualist. Truth has nothing to do with convincing others. A desire to demonstrate one's supposed superiority is the opposite of seeking truth. Truth is not a social concept. Truth is the quality of all statements which correctly identify or describe facts of reality. It is the absolute necessity of all correct reasoning and choice in every individual's life, and one who knows the truth knows it, and never needs to convince anyone else of that truth or that they know it.

Perception

I have already addressed the gross and common misuse of the word, "perception." Here I want to address de Bono's uniquely confusing and deceptive us of that word.

First, he blames mistakes in thinking on perception.

"We have emphasised logic and not perception and yet ninety per cent of the errors of thinking are errors of perception."

Then he introduces his "made-up" concept, "perceptual thinking."

"Perceptual thinking is extremely important. Research by David Perkins confirms what I have been saying for years. His research showed that ninety-percent of errors in thinking were errors of perception. Yet we have made no effort in education to teach perception. We have believed that teaching logic was enough and this would ensure good perception. This is totally false. Goedel's theorem shows that from within a system you can never logically prove the starting points. The starting points are arbitrary perceptions and values. The CoRT programme which has been in use since 1972 in some schools is now spreading rapidly around the world because it teaches perception directly by providing perceptual tools.

It is unlikely you would know who David Perkins, a senior professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education is. At the time de Bono made his claim about David Perkins research showing, "that ninety-percent of errors in thinking were errors of perception," Dr. Perkins was still at MIT where he earned his doctorate in mathematics and AI (artificial intelligence).

David Perkins is the only source de Bono ever gives for this wild assertion about errors in perception. As far as I know, Dr. Perkins never did any research on perception itself, and I am convinced no research is possible that would lead to the conclusion de Bono claims. If Dr. Perkins ever did such research, I could find no published papers on that research, and de Bono never references any.

[NOTE: I have written Dr. Perkins to ask him if he can verify de Bono's claim, and he very kindly responded.

As I suspected David Perkins never actually said that. As he politely put it, "Edward quite understandably likes to put things in simple terms. The spirit is right, but it's a little more complicated than this. ... The problem, in other words, was not so much logical error as simplistic envisioning of situations and events. I suppose one could call this "errors in perception." Well, yeah, you "could call it anything," but de Bono specifically claims that's what Dr. Perkins called it...and he didn't. Dr. Perkins politely calls that a "simplification;" I call it a lie. ]

The real problem is, de Bono never identifies what he means by perception. The essential meaning of perception is our immediate awareness of the world by means of what are mistakenly called, "the senses," that is, our direct consciousness of the world we see, hear, feel, smell, taste, as well as the direct experience of our internal states. Perception, in that sense, is involuntary and continuous. We will see whatever is there to see in the direction we are looking, and we will hear whatever sounds are present, and feel whatever we are touching. Except for the fact we can look in another direction, or shut our eyes, turn on a radio, or turn it off, or change what we are touching, we have no choice about what we perceive or how we perceive it.

It is essential to understand percepts are not thoughts. What we are perceiving at any moment is determined entirely by whatever as at that moment available to be perceived. The moment we turn our head, or a new piece of music starts on the radio, what we are seeing or hearing immediately reflects those changes. Perception does nothing else but perceive (be conscious of) what is.

If de Bono means perception in this essential sense, there can be no mistakes in perception. If there is an apple on the table where I am looking I'll see an apple. I cannot be mistaken about it. I cannot mistakenly see a peach, for example. I might be mistaken in my thinking about what I perceive. I might think it's a peach, when it's actually an apple, but that is not a perceptual mistake.

It is obvious de Bono means something else by perception. Since it is not possible for there to be mistakes in perception, but there can be mistakes in what we think about what we perceive, it must be thoughts that de Bono means by perception. There is, of course, another loose vague meaning of perception that refers to how people evaluate or feel about things, understand things, or interpret things. If it is this meaning of perception de Bono intends, his assertion that ninety percent of errors in thinking are errors in the way people evaluate, "feel" about, understand or interpret things is absurd. Except for feelings, which are non-cognitive, everything else is thinking and all he saying is that ninety percent of errors in thinking are caused by errors in thinking. If that's what he means, the estimate needs to be revised upward to one hundred percent.

Neither definition of perception, however, can be what is meant by "perceptual thinking." It cannot be the first meaning that is intended, because perception in that sense is entirely involuntary. It cannot be the second meaning that is intended either, because perception in that sense already means thinking, and would make perceptual thinking mean "thinking thinking." My guess is what de Bono really intends is some method of changing how people evaluate, "feel" about, understand or interpret things, though his obscure language does not make that clear if that is what he intends.

[NOTE: In one place, de Bono does say what he means by perception is, "the way you choose to look at things in different ways," which of course is thinking, not perception. He also says in that place, "... there was a need for the term 'lateral thinking' - which is also directly related to the way the brain forms asymmetric patterns." He is either implying thinking is determined by brain patterns, denying volition, or his reference to brain patterns is irrelevant.]

Creative Thinking

Teaching thinking as a skill and promoting creative thinking are de Bono's claimed area of expertise. He regularly repudiates logic, truth, and language, but knows the danger of out-right rejection of objective reason (which he refers to as traditional thinking) so claims he does not oppose Aristotelian thinking, but just wants to add his own versions of thinking.

There are no different kinds of thinking; there is only correct thinking, or incorrect thinking. Outside of the rhetoric and deceptive pseudo-conepts his kind thinking is supposedly based on, what de Bono provides are a series of gimmicks and tricks, none of them truly original and mostly common sense that might help a few people think more creatively or, "imaginatively," but will for most people be a waste of time and effort that can only frustrate and disappoint them.


Misc. Notes
1. "This method [parallel thinking] is now rapidly being taken up by corporations such as Du Pont, IBM, NASA, Prudential, Texas Instruments, NTT, Statoil, Shell etc."

2. "Over the years my instruction in creativity has been sought by many organisations including: IBM, Microsoft, Prudential (USA), Shell, Exxon, Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola, Bank of America, Citibank, British Airways etc."

3. These scams all feed each other:

"People like a defined sense of identity. Who am I? What is my psychic shape etc? So there is interest in the signs of the Zodiac, Myers-Briggs classifications, learning styles, multiple intelligences etc. These have many advantages. You may know that if you are not good at one thing, you might be good along a different dimension. You may feel you know how to deal with other members of your team."

—(05/17/11)