[extropy-chat] Gifted people - a model to design a new brain training technology - conditions and consequences ?

Adrian Tymes wingcat at pacbell.net
Wed May 25 19:58:12 UTC 2005

--- Dimitri Nokovitch <dnokovitch at inview-consulting.com> wrote:
> Majority of people are astonished when they are confronted to mental
> phenomenon. 
> They think that it is not possible to reach levels of cognitive
> performance you can observe with gifted and super gifted people.
> They consider genetics factors first and super gifted people almost
> as
> mutants.
> Even teachers or trainers working daily with gifted children don't
> ask
> themselves questions. 

Oh, yeah.  Having grown up "gifted" myself, I was in fact encouraged to
think of myself as a freak/mutant.  However, I have largely found that
if I do have a genetic difference, it is more of a predisposition to
learn the techniques, not the binary can/can't ability to learn them -
*all* people (save those suffering physical brain damage) have this

So I can speak to parts of this from personal anecdotes...with, of
course, the standard disclaimer about the worth of anecdotal evidence
as opposed to controlled studies.

> Putting apart creativity, all gifted people I met have common
> particularities :
> 1.	they repeat almost the same two leitmotivs and are self
> confident,

Not sure what "leitmotiv" means (looking it up seems to say it's
something to do with musical themes - and while I do demon-thrash
certain musical tones when I need to put myself in certain moods, I'm
not aware of my doing it while actively studying some topic), but yeah,
quite a lot of "gifted" folk do seem to be self-confident.  (Sometimes
dangerously so, to the point where they forget to constantly check
their own performance for errors - what some call "humility".)

> 2.	they use several sensitive channels at the same time,
> 3.	they use two complementary ways to structure data on real time.

I never thought of it that way before, but you might be right.  I've
noticed that when people talk about "this person is a visual learner,
that person is an audio learner, et cetera", I have to classify myself
as a "multi-modal learner", as I can at least see how to learn in each
method discussed (and sometimes even use those methods).

> All these capabilities are shared by anyone but are not trained at
> home
> and at school.
> Most people are not self confident and are not trained as gifted and
> super gifted were from their childhood.

Definitely true.  My childhood environment was rich in what definitely
could be called "training" in how to think, even though it was often
also (and primarily) play or similarly other-than-formal-training, most
notably that there was never (so far as I know) any outside agency
coordinating plans between most of these for my benefit.  (My parents
might almost qualify as said agency, but I got the impression that they
were more trying to connect with me and be parents than that they were
explicitly trying to train me in how to think as their primary goal.)

> The main problem of people is to have the right mental attitude, to
> combine cognitive techniques and to structure data on real time. 

If that's what you call "mental attitude", then yes.  To me, that seems
more like:
* Learning how to do that in the first place.
* Making a habit of doing it.
...both of which can be done under a variety of attitudes.

> With an appropriate training, It's possible to reach the same level
> of
> capabilities than "gifted and super gifted people" when they extract,
> analyze and structure information. 

That's what I've been saying for a while, although I don't have much
solid data to back it up (and I usually get challenged on said lack of
data when I voice this opinion).  Do you have data to back it up?

> I designed, practised and shared such training with adults and
> children.
> Unfortunately, such technologies are not used and generalized at
> school,
> when they can become natural ways of learning.

Part of the problem may be simply that most teachers do not formally
know them.  Certainly, they were not generally taught about 40 years
ago (I have first-hand evidence from a former teacher I know who went
through teacher training back them), and even today it is questionable
whether they are generally spreading to most new teachers (to say
nothing of current teachers going in for state-required skill updates,
in those states that require such...and this is just in the US).

There are various solutions, if you have a somewhat formalized
approach.  Packaging in software and distributing, for example.  (I
wonder if ExI might be willing to pay for development of it as
interactive content on its Web site?  Outsiders might think the benefit
to ExI would be that it's seen as affiliating itself with this
demonstration of what it's going for.  The real benefit, though, would
come from a form of evangelization without evangelization: those who
try the package and adopt its methods, would likely inherently become
closer to transhumanist goals without any preaching about philosophy or
"conversion" in the religious sense.)

> During a training of several months, adults must make significant
> efforts to reach performances such about 95% of long term
> memorization.
> But their social and professional context lead them to use tools
> instead
> they brain. 

One topic discussed a while ago over on the FutureTAG list, was of
"Business Brain Boosters" which would amount to executive retreats to
practice and refine these techniques.  One problem: many of the
executives who could afford these retreats, probably already know the
techniques at some level, so it might be questionable how useful these
would be.  Another problem was simply finding someone experienced in
them to coordinate the retreats, if funding could be secured to develop
them.  They haven't (to my knowledge) actually pulled in many euros yet
(they seem to be mainly pitching ideas to the EU's R&D branches),
though you might want to talk to them if this is of interest.

> When children are taught this way, they have a so incredible advance
> that they suffer from their social environment. 

A story you can easily find confirmed by many many personal experiences
from those who have been there.  (There are those who say it is
possible to train like this and not suffer socially, but those cases
seem to boil down to "I learned to be smart but act dumb".  This would
seem to interfere with the heights of achievement one can reach - for
instance, if one is prevented from asking other people for support in
complex projects, for fear of not acting dumb.)

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