Sapiology is the science of intelligence, the study of reason. What can be more important than getting the most accurate picture of reality and making intelligent decisions? What is life other than the result of decisions made? LIMBICLOGIC® is an important component for understanding sapiology. It explains the unconscious limbic influence on perception and opinion-forming.
1. What is Sapiology? Back to overview
The word sapiology comes from the Latin word “sapio” which means understanding, smart or wise. You know it as part of the name of our species “Homo Sapiens”. It is the study of reason, it is no less than the science of intelligence. Unfortunately, not much has been published on this subject so far. This is astonishing, as we consider it to be the most important science ever. What can be more important than gaining more a precise picture of reality and a better understanding of interrelationships?
Understanding that you can predict developments.
That the effect of intended actions can be predicted as precisely as possible in advance and its influence on a desired goal can be controlled with foresight. It is nothing less than the basis for successful and goal-oriented action. This applies to the private sector as well as to professional, research, business or political decision-making.
We at LIMBICLOGIC® would like to try to approach the topic of logic-based knowledge gain and intelligent decisions. What is the difference between LIMBICLOGIC® and sapiology? LIMBICLOGIC® is a concept of thinking and feeling developed by Alex Anderson which is based on a multipart, scientifically based model of the human brain. LIMBICLOGIC® helps to gain insights and explains how to make the best of your mind. This in terms of success and motivation as well as satisfaction and happiness.
Sapiology, on the other hand, is a science. Nobody owns a science. You participate in a science and provide explanatory theories and models to explain observations. Better theories regularly replace worse, less true theories. Through this continuous knowledge gain we have cars, computers, smartphones or the ability to fly to the moon.
2. What is reason? Back to overview
The study of reason sounds good, but isn’t reason too difficult to grasp and too subjective to make a science out of it at all? What’s common sense anyway? So, we need a definition. Is it possible to define reason? After all, every politician, for example, considers himself and his ideas reasonable. But the resulting proposals for dealing with problems and challenges of our time seem to be as diverse as the number of politicians themselves. Each individual, however, considers his or her own views to be reasonable. Who would say they were unreasonable about their own views or suggestions for action?
Here is the Wikipedia definition of the term reason:
“Reason is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, establishing and verifying facts, applying logic, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, mathematics, and art and is normally considered to be a distinguishing ability possessed by humans. Reason, or an aspect of it, is sometimes referred to as rationality.“
It is easy to agree to this definition, but how can we see reason at all? Reason seems to be in the eye of the beholder. If, despite the generally accepted facts, that there are still so many different views and opinions, this is only a logical conclusion. When forming opinions, factors must be involved which have an effect not on the outside but in the inside (of the opinion holder himself) and influence his cognitive decision-making processes. We will come to these factors that influence reason later.
However, we would like to point out here already that reason and reaching opinions is far less difficult than many people believe. Fortunately, freedom of expression in many countries makes it possible to largely accept any opinion. However, this should still be justifiable. We will later learn that, under certain circumstances, unreasonableness is actually demonstrable. With the publication of this text, it should also become increasingly difficult to take on any kind of position on a matter. This applies especially if there is a broad agreement regarding the knowledge of all facts involved and their significance for a result to be achieved.
3. An example of reason Back to overview
To further approach the concept of reason and intelligence, it is helpful to deal with areas where reason is obviously to be found to a high degree. This applies to science and in particular to the natural sciences. In medicine, astronomy or physics we see a continuous gain in knowledge. Scientists from a wide variety of backgrounds and nations work together effectively and are pleased about new insights achieved together. The international work on the Large Hadron Collider in Cern is a good example of this. All this happens with amazing unity and without much dispute. Why do we find effective cooperation, constructiveness and unity in science, while in everyday life and politics we have as many different opinions as fifty people and represent them not only aggressively verbally, but often also with physical violence occasionally seen in parliaments?
Are non-scientists not capable of reason? We think there are a number of reasons for this difference. One of the essential prerequisites of reason is logic and the ability to apply it sufficiently in various cognitive processes. We call the extent of this ability intelligence. Now scientists often occupy a special position with regard to their intelligence, but is this the only decisive factor for the differences described above? We do not think this is the only factor. Science is an exception when it comes to forming opinions and gaining knowledge. Sciences are basically truth-validated. Every scientist is ultimately relatively selflessly interested in the truth.
In some sciences such as medicine or pharmacy, this truth content is also very easy to verify. Either a therapy or an active substance is effective or not. Of course it also happens that scientists are proudly identified with their theory or argue about different theories. We would like to recall the pamphlet of 1931, where 100 authors allied themselves against Einstein’s theory of relativity. Einstein answered othis attack on his theory: “100 authors? If it were true, a single author would have been enough”. Einstein’s quote is pretty accurate. Such disagreements cannot stop science in the end, since sooner or later, models and theories, which can explain facts even better, will inevitably replace the old models of thought.
So with intelligence and selfless love of truth we already discovered two clues among scientists, which apparently promote reason. But science can give us more clues. In all sciences we are dealing with very abstract content, where most people have a hard time finding access to it at all. This is even more true today than at the beginning of science. Higgs bosons or gravitational waves have little to do with people or their daily living conditions. In fact, such fundamental scientific discoveries are irrelevant to most people and they hardly take note of them.
Why is this important? This is crucial because it allows us to exclude two powerful influencing factors on the gain of knowledge and the formation of opinions. This is firstly the personal individual interests of people and the limbic influence. Most physicists might not be very interested in whether there is a Higgs boson or not. It doesn’t change anything in your life when your name isn’t Peter Higgs. But when it comes to how much money an authority (state) takes away from you (taxes), what he then does with it, and how he justified this for people, is of course a completely different meaning.
4. The limbic influence Back to overview
If you do not know the concept of LIMBICLOGIC®, you may not know the word limbic. Limbic refers to an evolutionary part of the human brain that is about 160 million years old and is responsible for emotions, sexuality and social behavior. Predecessors of this part of the brain are even older. It can be found in all mammals. Mammals living in groups, such as other primates or dogs, have particularly strong similarities with the limbic system of humans. The limbic system provides us with an extensive and sophisticated setup of instincts, behavior and situational emotions from birth. These serve ,without exception, to preserve the species, i.e. to survive and reproduce. It should be noted that socially living animals also have innate social instincts that ensure that an individual has the group affiliation necessary for survival.
Blausen.com staff (2014).
These social instincts or social emotions include the ability to feel guilt, pride, shame, jealousy, group affiliation, hierarchies, one’s own relative rank, but also facial expressions, body language, hostility and aggression. They are the basis of our coexistence, our social behaviour and also the reason why people can build strong emotional relationships with other socially living species such as dogs. Any of the sensations described above can be observed by dog owners on their pet. Social instincts are just as important for animals living in groups as evolutionary adaptations of the body shape. Most socially living animals cannot survive on their own. Exclusion from a tribe or herd would mean the certain death of the individual. Social instincts should prevent this and also make it possible to achieve the highest possible ranking within the group. It is wrong to think that in humans these instincts would not be active. These instincts are equally active in humans. However, they are presented to us humans, not as a thought or a conscious information, but as an unconscious not so easily accessible feeling, inclination, aggression or lust.
Think about how unconsciously and involuntarily you react when you see a person for the first time. Perhaps a potential partner. All this happens in a fraction of a second. Conscious thoughts, their cognitive assessing information processing of their forebrain, are not involved in this. The unconscious, fast and strong influence of the limbic system on the individual is important so that the individual cannot simply cognitively decide against it. So it cannot ignore them as if species-specific, appropriate social behaviour is simply an option. These so-called limbic influences have a huge influence on our opinion-forming. Have you ever seen a dedicated football fan’s reactions when a member of his team is getting fouled? Or if a member of his team commits a foul himself. Would you attest neutrality to this football fan? Since scientists deal with things, structures, contexts and laws and not with people, they are largely spared from such limbic influences of their ancient part of the brain. The influence mentioned above is called tribal (tribal). The feeling of “belonging to a group” leads to an identification with it. This behavior used to be vital for the individual. Now it makes it more difficult for us humans to form neutral opinions. Stockholm Syndrome and the Milgram experiment are well-known examples of the survival of these instincts. Natural scientists, on the other hand, find it easier to remain neutral, unidentified and united.
5. Diversity of opinions Back to overview
When talking about reason and opinion-forming, it makes sense to drop a few sentences about diversity of opinion. Many see diversity of opinion as an enrichment or even as a basis for forming opinions or a democratic debate. It is often overlooked that different views often have quite trivial reasons. Often people do not have the same information at their disposal. Or they do not have the ability or the will to logically process the often complex interrelationships. The full application of reason reduces the range of opinions. Not through an opinion dictatorship, but by enabling people, on the basis of available information, to come to valid and reliable insights on their own. Diversity of opinion is not good in itself, by the way. In fact, differences can even result in physical violence or wars due to differences of opinion.
In todays age, differences of opinion regarding the true God are already sufficient for deadly terrorist attacks. The history of humanity is a history of violence based on conflicting interests and opinions. No, diversity of opinion is indeed a big problem that has the power to divide the world, people, or even a family.
It is good, however, if one has the possibility to reach an opinion completely freely and does not have to fear negative consequences because of the statement of his opinion. Unfortunately, that cannot be taken for granted these days either. Furthermore, a variety of opinions also makes it possible to check one’s own convictions and to gain deeper insights by taking up other points of view. This applies at least theoretically. Practically, due to limbic, more precisely tribal circuits of the brain, divergent opinions often generate defense, resistance, rejection and aggression. Unfortunately, the ability to correct one’s opinion even in the presence of other opinions and even when the facts have changed is not very pronounced in humans. More about the reasons later. Also more about forming opinions in groups (collective cognition) elsewhere. A conflict of interest always leads to a difference of opinion, but not every difference of opinion is also a conflict of interest.
6. What is an opinion? Back to overview
Let’s take a look at what an opinion even is. A causal and logically based formation of opinions is the basis of reason and intelligent action. When it comes to opinions, there is actually something more to consider than one initially believes.
The first parameter is called position. This is what is commonly referred to as opinion. It’s the point of view on a subject.
The next parameter we call Confidence. It is the measure of subjective conviction that the above-mentioned own position is true. This distinguishes a conviction from a belief, a suspicion or a presumption.
The third parameter is Personal Opinion Relevance. This parameter expresses the extent to which the various positions have any positive or negative influence on the life of the opinion holder.
The fourth parameter to be mentioned is the average of opinions. It represents the average position of a group of people. It should be noted that this is not strictly mathematically formed. Rather extreme positions are less weighted by the group or even completely excluded.
The fifth parameter is disagreement. This is the measure of the difference to a different opinion or to the opinion average.
All parameters play a role in the formation of opinions and thus also in the formation of reason. This applies in particular to collective, cognitive systems. A high level of conviction often blinds the opinion holder to arguments. It also has a greater influence on the opinions of others. Even more so if they are less convinced of their opinion. A high relevance of opinion provides for a selfish distortion, for a bias. Typically, people with extreme positions, i.e. a high deviation of opinion, also have a high opinion conviction, while people with little conviction like to orientate themselves on the existing opinion average. The average of opinions play a role in democratic processes, group decision-making and collective cognition.
It is important to know the above mechanisms for forming opinions of people. It is recognizable that as powerful as these are, unfortunately, they do not contain any real gain in knowledge. Rather, tribal and limbic effects are at work, which many thousands of years ago should have ensured that the individual fits into a group, in this case, into a predominant opinion landscape. These effects must be known and taken into account in order to get the clearest possible picture of reality and make intelligent decisions.
7. Fundamentals of reason Back to overview
The basis of reason is logic. If you conclude from (B > C, A > B) that A > C, you are basically capable of reason. But in everyday life or in politics, the circumstances are often a little more complex. We would now like to show what distorts reason and ultimately makes it so difficult for people. For computers, reason is simple. They’re as sensible as they’re programmed. If the algorithm has been programmed appropriately and sufficiently complex for the task, the computer will always react correctly and in a fraction of a second.
Computers like IBM Watson are already able to answer general knowledge questions (game show “Jeopardy”) better than humans. It’s harder for people to achieve reason. People on the way to reason are distracted and manipulated by a lot of things. Many psychological results, cognitive illusions, paradoxes and syndromes, give much more insight that reason is often the exception in our actions. Furthermore, people often underestimate the degree of overall complexity that can occur even with simple questions.
Here is an example of reason or its (apparent) absence. You’re driving a car. There are cars in front of you and cars behind you. You keep a reasonable distance, do not drive too close but, on the other hand, do not allow the distance to the driver in front to increase. Even in this simple situation, there are unconsciously more preconditions, cognitive processes, conclusions and decisions involved than you think. Among other things, that driving too close could cause a rear-end collision that you would have to pay for. Or that you would lose time or be overtaken if you were too far away. Getting overtaken represents a reduction in value emotionally. Overtaking yourself is a risk, which is hardly worthwhile in relation, since you would only make up for a few positions.
Taking into account the above aspects, this may be interpreted as a reasonable driving style. But what if you have to take a seriously injured person to hospital? Is it then perhaps worth overtaking? Or if your car is damaged and you fear that the car will fall apart if you drive faster than 30 km/h. So as long as the initial situation, premises and motives of the people involved are unknown, it is difficult to judge the intelligence, the reason of an action. We call these often hidden, yet relevant factors, which also often influence each other, inherent complexity. Without complete knowledge and consideration of the hidden complexity it is neither possible to achieve real reason nor to judge the degree of reasonabilty of a behaviour.
8. Harmful influences to reason Back to overview
The human brain is capable of reason, but unfortunately, it is anything but optimized for it. In fact, the rational part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, whose size differs significantly from the brain of other primates or even other mammals, is relatively small in relation to the total brain volume at about 12%. If you look at a typically human cognitive achievement like language, then it’s not as great in information technology as you might think. For example, even with a large vocabulary of 32,768 words (32,768 = 215 corresponds to 15 bits) and a speech speed of 140 words per minute, the information density of speech is only 35 bits/s. We suspect you would be a little disappointed if an Internet provider offered you a connection with this bandwidth. After all, it would be less than the 4 millionth part of a modern broadband connection with 150 Mbps.
Below are some reason and logic impairing cognitive illusions and psychological phenomena typical for humans. These are not consistent with logic and therefore suitable to learn more about the amazingly irrational functioning of our brain. Through a deeper understanding of these damaging effects, however, it is possible to come to reason and intelligent decisions taking these into account.
- Assumption of causality / Agency Detection
- Bayesian logic
- Ellsberg paradox (risk-behavior)
- Decoupled Cognition (Imaginary Cognition)
- Imaginary persons (wishful thinking)
- Intuitive reasoning
- Casual determination
- Cognitive illusions
- Complexity paralysis (fear of making the wrong decisions)
- Cults (control)
- Mental time travel (visualization of the past/future)
- Milgram Experiment (Submission of Authority)
- Minimal contradictory ideas (religion)
- Precautionary thinking (security) / Precautionary reasoning
- Religion (control)
- Game theory
- Stockholm-Syndrome (group identification)
- Superstition (control)
- Ignorance (denial of reality)
- Visual/Optical illusions
9. Rational thinking Back to overview
As we have already experienced above, logic is an essential building block of reason. What are the other building blocks of reason? Is there a rational thinking process? Below is a proposal from LIMBICLOGIC®. It is a simplified, chronological model for making sensible decisions. The model below takes into account both the demands of the Wikipedia definition on theoretical reason as well as on practical and action-oriented reason. It also takes into account possible moral (ethics) and economic (efficiency) implications.
The model goes a little further. It takes into account evolutionary-psychological (limbic) distortions of perception such as identification and tribal phenomena. Due to the novelty of these findings, it has not yet been possible to take them into account. In the following model, factors are generally meant to be influencing variables on a system. By changing the value of a factor, the system changes. For example, the level of taxes is a factor that influences the buying power of citizens, and thus their consumption and, in turn, the economy. At the beginning there is always an unbiased, emotionally free assessment of the initial situation:
- Which facts and factors are involved in the initial situation?
- Are people or groups of people involved in the situation?
- Am I identified with these people or groups of people? Why? How strong?
- Do I regard a group as foreign or even hostile?
- Do foreseeable developments increase or decrease my status, rank or reputation or that of my group?
- Where is there a risk of misjudgements regarding the above?
- What situation would I ideally like to find myself in? Why these? Why not an alternative? Clearly define this goal.
- How is this goal to be achieved? Complete compilation of all influences and factors suitable or avoided for achieving the goal. (Qualitative view).
- Clarity about the extent of the changes depending on the change in value (change in amount) of factors on the overall result. (quantitative view)
- Clarity about the moral implications of changing factors. What do the interventions mean for all concerned?
- Clarity about economic implications of changing factors. Are there more resource-saving (time, money, people) ways to reach the goal?
- Selection and start of the change in value of the factors taking into account the above points.
- Analysis of the incipient changes. If changes are made in the desired direction, continue the change in the amount of the factors or otherwise restart the process from step 3.
This 8-point model may seem simple to you. It’s not. In fact, points 1.1 to 1.5 require honesty, reflection and impartiality rarely found. Steps 3 to 7 are processes that often require lengthy, comprehensive and complex research. This analysis is also often skipped or abbreviated. Unfortunately, we often see the following cognitive-emotional model, for example, in the decision-making, communication and persuasion processes of people and groups.
- One person has an opinion. This is neither questioned nor reflected by its owner. The owner is identified, defends them aggressively and does not deviate from them. Contrary to his opinion, he is not very accessible. Owners of other opinions often perceive this person as hostile.
- The opinion of the owner is strengthened when he is a member of a group. Because of the limbic group identification, this limits the freedom of opinion of the individual and makes a critical analysis of one’s own attitude more difficult. Within the group, one’s own opinion is reflected. You feel strengthened in your opinion.
- At best, one is willing to negotiate with people about changes in the amount of factors. However, this happens reluctantly and out of tactics or retention of power and rarely out of conviction. This kind of arithmetic averaging of convictions applies to all participants. Everyone has the feeling of losing and making concessions. Often the resulting compromises are ineffective or even worse than the respective starting positions.
- The opinion holders use arguments to support their attitudes. These often seem plausible. On closer inspection, however, it becomes apparent that these are often not very valid and cannot assert themselves against opposing arguments. Often the relevance of an argument (in which cases, how often it plays a role at all) is not considered at all. However, a precise analysis, a weighing of all arguments (weighting), also on a quantitative level, is avoided by all parties involved. They shy away from the complexity involved.
- The use of words without informative added value, which are nevertheless suitable to influence the emotional brain, the basic attitude of humans, takes the place of the contentwise argument. The words “avalanche of refugees” and “cultural enrichment”, for example, mean that everyone knows who is involved. But the image one associates with refugees when listening is negative at times and positive at other times. Due to the functioning of the human brain, even the unique hearing of these words contributes to the formation of opinions. This fact is used to a large extent.
- Another technique for strengthening one’s own position is the discrediting of dissenters. Here too, unfortunately, often not on the content or argumentative level. It is often attempted to portray other than morally inferior, bad, malignant people who do not represent the interests of a group or the population. This discrediting is extremely effective, since the limbic need for appreciation is great. Once one is identified with the discredited group, this loss of value feels like an attack by oneself.
- In addition, one tries to stage oneself as a morally superior person and thus to stand out from others. For example, by showing how to stand up for the interests of others.
- Finally, it must be mentioned that through the moral degradation of others, a group A can get into a dilemma when suddenly the degraded B, have a similar or even the same opinion as group A. Now group A is forced to make a recognizable difference to the self discredited group B as soon as possible. Strangely enough, this means that people or groups of people can take up certain positions of opinion for the sole purpose of clearly distinguishing themselves from others.
Does this model look familiar? It should be. It is a model that is often used by politicians and parties. It differs fundamentally from the rational model of LIMBICLOGIC®. Remarkable is the lack of content-related discussion and qualitative and quantitative weighing up of all the arguments involved. The justification of opinions seems to take precedence over a factual and unbiased justification, as with scientists.
To make matters worse, this justification makes use of emotional, psychological and manipulative mechanisms. Appropriate emotions are generated in the listener with language. The problem is that emotions cannot guide us so easily, so quickly and so strongly they are also producible. Emotions come from a 160 million year old part of the brain whose task is to secure our rank in a group and our survival and reproduction. They cannot possibly serve as orientation in the complex world of the 21st century. This is one of the core statements of LIMBICLOGIC®. At the end of the day it’s very hard to make sense with previous common models. The processes that actually generate sound, such as the analysis of factors involved, are omitted, while at the same time primal, tribal effects have an additional effect that clouds the view of reality. What can be maximally achieved with the above process is a consensus, a compromise of the parties involved. Despite its unity, however, it does not have to be intelligent at all.
10. Important cognitive techniques Back to overview
Here in short form some information-processing techniques, which are indispensable for the formation of reason. Unfortunately, the correct use of these cognitive techniques depends on the IQ value and is therefore not available to all people to the same extent.
- Abstraction (Recognizing the big picture. neglect details that are not necessary for understanding)
- Deductive logic (from general to individual case)
- Causality (What is the cause of what?)
- Correlation (check for connection. type of connection?)
- Inductive logic (deducing from the individual case to the general)
- Transitivity (degree of transferability of findings to other, similar facts)
11. Reason in groups Back to overview
Do more people make better decisions? Do we find more sense if more people are involved in decisions? If you look at the state apparatus, parties and ultimately their decisions, you are tempted to answer “no” to this question. This seems to be even more the case when one considers the effort required for the decision. So when you make a claim to efficiency. But as we have already seen in point 9. rational thinking is a special case of political decision-making systems with a competitive party structure. There are studies that show that, on average, advisory groups make better decisions than individuals. This seems logical, since more people are involved with their individual knowledge.
A consultative group weighs less heavily on the extreme opinions present in the collective. This generally leads to an average consensus in which the extreme positions are weighted less than moderate positions. In group reasoning, the opinion of individuals, due to their effect on other insecure members, naturally also plays a role. A well-known example of group decisions is the U.S. jury principle, where 12 people have to agree on a single verdict on a case.
The above does not allow the conclusion that the number of participants automatically increases the level of reasoning. Nor must we overlook the fact that reason has nothing to do with consensus. Many people can agree and they can all be wrong. In fact, in groups with emotional ties there is even a need to agree. Our conclusion is therefore that it is not the number of people that makes sense, but primarily the complete knowledge of all relevant facts, their interrelationships and the logical and foresighted assessment of these. This can certainly be done by one person.
However, there is a reason why cooperation and exchange can increase reason. Every person forms personal limbic (emotional) learning patterns in the course of his or her life through individual experiences. These are capable of distorting one’s own perception and are therefore a hindrance to reason. When several people work together, facts, logic and results force each other to focus on the work, while individual emotional latent patterns and limbic distortions tend to cancel each other out or fade into the background.
12. Recap Back to overview
This concludes our introduction to the fascinating and still quite young science of reason, sapiology. We wanted to show that reason and intelligent decisions are in generally achievable for many people. Especially in manageable contexts with few, but clearly recognizable factors, e.g. in the private sector, intelligent and efficient behaviours can be found often. It must be said, however, that these areas are also those where a great deal of experience, optimization and standards of conduct already exist.
But it also became clear that high reason is not always achieved in reality. In new and complex tasks, where people cannot fall back on their wealth of experience, they fail more frequently and more far-reaching than they believe, despite their existing understanding of logic. As we have been able to explain, the reasons for these are…
- the failure to recognize the hidden, inherent complexity of even seemingly simple tasks
- the ignorance of all the factors involved and their mutual influence
- the inability or unwillingness to take into account the influence (calculation) of all factors involved
- Limbic social distortions such as identification, tribalism, group membership, etc. Spot them very early on and effectively suppress them
- The associated influence on the formation of judgement and motivation of the mind.
In short, complexity and old evolutionary-emotional circuits in the human brain often reliably prevent the development of reason.
For this introduction, we have deliberately omitted details such as the effectiveness of the damaging influences you find in 8. Harmful influences to reason. It would have gone beyond the scope of this introduction. Many of the expressions there, however, can be googled under their names. Furthermore, we have only touched on how to quickly arrive at the most accurate picture of reality and the most intelligent decisions and actions possible in everyday life. We think this is important because what is life other than a consequence of our decisions. We have also left out how to optimize decision-making in groups and companies. These contents are all part of the LIMBICLOGIC® training.
Are you a scientist working in cognitive sciences, psychology or intelligence? We look forward to a constructive dialogue with you.
Posted by Alex Anderson 2018 ©