January 10, 2018

Understanding Science

Why we’re not wired to think scientifically (and what can be done about it)

What is it about being human that conflicts with being scientific?

Read Time 8 minutes

Author’s note: This post was originally published in May, 2014. It has been updated to reflect my current thinking on the topic. Perhaps the best addition, by popular demand, is Rik’s coffee recipe (click the 1st inline footnote).

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In 2012, I was having dinner with a good friend, Rik Ganju, who is one of the smartest people I know. And one of the most talented, too—a brilliant engineer, a savant-like jazz musician, a comedic writer, and he makes the best coffee I’ve ever had.1Here is the coffee recipe, courtesy Rik. I make this often and the typical response is, “Why are you not making this for a living?” Look for Vietnamese cinnamon, also known as Saigon cinnamon; you need two big dashes, if that. You need real vanilla (be careful to avoid the cheap versions with added sugar). Best is dissolved in ethanol; if that doesn’t work for you get the dried stick and scrape the pods. Then find a spice store and get chicory root (I’m a bit lazy and get mine on Amazon). You’ll want to replace coffee beans with ~10% chicory on a dry weight basis. If you’re on a budget, cut your coffee with Trader Joe’s organic Bolivian. But do use at least 50% of your favorite coffee by dry weight: 50-40-10 (50% your favorite, 40% TJ Bolivian, 10% other ingredients [chicory root, cinnamon, vanilla, amaretto for an evening coffee]) would be a good mix to start. Let it sit in a French press for 6 minutes then drink straight or with cream, but very little–max is 1 tablespoon of cream. The Rik original was done with “Ether” from Philz as the base. I was whining to him about my frustration with what I perceived to be a lack of scientific literacy among people from whom I “expected more.” Why was it, I asked, that a reporter at a top-flight newspaper couldn’t understand the limitations of a study he was reporting on? Are they trying to deliberately mislead people, or do they really think this study which showed an association between such-and-such, somehow implies X?

Rik just looked at me, kind of smiled, and asked the question in another way. “Peter, give me one good reason why scientific process, rigorous logic, and rational thought should be innate to our species?” I didn’t have an answer. So as I proceeded to eat my curry, Rik expanded on this idea. He offered two theses. One, the human brain is oriented to pleasure ahead of logic and reason; two, the human brain is oriented to imitation ahead of logic and reason. What follows is my attempt to reiterate the ideas we discussed that night, focusing on the second of Rik’s postulates—namely, that our brains are oriented to imitate rather than to reason from first principles or think scientifically.

One point before jumping in: This post is not meant to be disparaging to those who don’t think scientifically. Rather, it’s meant to offer a plausible explanation. If for no other reason, it’s a way for me to capture an important lesson I need to remember in my own journey of life. I’m positive some will find a way to be offended by this, which is rarely my intention in writing, but nevertheless I think there is something to learn in telling this story.

The evolution of thinking

Two billion years ago, we were just cells acquiring a nucleus. A good first step, I suppose. Two million years ago, we left the trees for caves. Two hundred thousand years ago we became modern man. No one can say exactly when language arrived, because its arrival left no artifacts, but the best available science suggests it showed up about 50,000 years ago.

I wanted to plot the major milestones, below, on a graph. But even using a log scale, it’s almost unreadable. The information is easier to see in this table:

Formal logic arrived with Aristotle 2,500 years ago; the scientific method was pioneered by Francis Bacon 400 years ago. Shortly following the codification of the scientific method—which defined exactly what “good” science meant—the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge was formed. So, not only did we know what “good” science was, but we had an organization that expanded the application, including peer review, and existed to continually ask the question, “Is this good science?”

While the Old Testament makes references to the earliest clinical trial—observing what happened to those who did or did not partake of the “King’s meat”—the process was codified further by 1025 AD in The Canon of Medicine, and formalized in the 18th century by James Lind, the Scottish physician who discovered, using randomization between groups, the curative properties of oranges and lemons—vitamin C, actually—in treating sailors with scurvy. Hence the expression, “Limey.”

The concept of statistical significance is barely 100 years old, thanks to Ronald Fisher, the British statistician who popularized the use of the p-value and proposed the limits of chance versus significance.

The art of imitation

Consider that for 2 million years we have been evolving—making decisions, surviving, and interacting—but for only the last 2,500 years (0.125% of that time) have we had “access” to formal logic, and for only 400 years (0.02% of that time) have we had “access” to scientific reason and understanding of scientific methodologies.

Whatever a person was doing before modern science—however clever it may have been—it wasn’t actually science. And along the same vein, how many people were practicing logical thinking before logic itself was invented? Perhaps some were doing so prior to Aristotle, but certainly it was rare compared to the time following its codification.

Options for problem-solving are limited to the tools available. The arrival of logic was a major tool. So, too, was the arrival of the scientific method, clinical trials, and statistical analyses. Yet for the first 99.98% of our existence on this planet as humans—literally—we had to rely on other options—other tools, if you will — for solving problems and making decisions.

So what were they?

We can make educated guesses. If it’s 3,000 BC and your tribemate Ugg never gets sick, all you can do to try to not get sick is hang out where he hangs out, wear similar colors, drink from the same well—replicate his every move. You are not going to figure out anything from first principles because that isn’t an option, any more than traveling by jet across the Pacific Ocean was an option. Nothing is an option until it has been invented.

So we’ve had millions of years to evolve and refine the practice of:

Step 1: Identify a positive trait (e.g., access to food, access to mates),

Step 2: Mimic the behaviors of those possessing the trait(s),

Step 3: Repeat.

Yet, we’ve only had a minute fraction of that time to learn how to apply formal logic and scientific reason to our decision making and problem solving. In other words, evolution has hardwired us to be followers, copycats if you will, so we must go very far out of our way to unlearn those inborn (and highly refined) instincts to think logically and scientifically.

Recently, neuroscientists (thanks to the advent of functional MRI, or fMRI) have been asking questions about the impact of independent thinking (something I think we would all agree is “healthy”) on brain activity. I think this body of research is still in its infancy, but the results are suggestive, if not somewhat provocative.

To quote the authors of this work, “if social conformity resulted from conscious decision-making, this would be associated with functional changes in prefrontal cortex, whereas if social conformity was more perceptually based, then activity changes would be seen in occipital and parietal regions.” Their study suggested that non-conformity produced an associated “pain of independence.” In the study-subjects the amygdala became most active in times of non-conformity, suggesting that non-conformity—doing exactly what we didn’t evolve to do—produced emotional distress.

From an evolutionary perspective, of course, this makes sense. I don’t know enough neuroscience to agree with their suggestion that this phenomenon should be titled the “pain of independence,” but the “emotional discomfort” from being different—i.e., not following or conforming—seems to be evolutionarily embedded in our brains.

Good solid thinking is really hard to do as you no doubt realize. How much easier is it to economize on all this and just “copy & paste” what seemingly successful people are doing? Furthermore, we may be wired to experience emotional distress when we don’t copy our neighbor! And while there may have been only 2 or 3 Ugg’s in our tribe 5,000 years ago, as our societies evolved, so too did the number of potential Ugg’s (those worth mimicking). This would be great (more potential good examples to mirror), if we were naturally good at thinking logically and scientifically, but we’ve already established that’s not the case. Amplifying this problem even further, the explosion of mass media has made it virtually, if not entirely, impossible to identify those truly worth mimicking versus those who are charlatans, or simply lucky. Maybe it’s not so surprising the one group of people we’d all hope could think critically—politicians—seems to be as useless at it as the rest of us.

So we have two problems:

  1. We are not genetically equipped to think logically or scientifically; such thinking is a very recent tool of our species that must be learned and, with great effort, “overwritten.” Furthermore, it’s likely that we are programmed to identify and replicate the behavior of others, rather than think independently, and independent thought may actually cause emotional distress.
  2. The signal (truly valuable behaviors worth mimicking)-to-noise (all unworthy behaviors) ratio is so low—virtually zero—today that the folks who have not been able to “overwrite” their genetic tendency for problem-solving are doomed to confusion and likely poor decision making.

As I alluded to at the outset of this post, I find myself getting frustrated, often, at the lack of scientific literacy and independent, critical thought in the media and in the public arena more broadly. But, is this any different than being upset that Monarch butterflies are black and orange rather than yellow and red? Marcus Aurelius reminds us that you must not be surprised by buffoonery from buffoons, “You might as well resent a fig tree for secreting juice.”

While I’m not at all suggesting people unable to think scientifically or logically are buffoons, I am suggesting that expecting this kind of thinking as the default behavior from people is tantamount to expecting rhinoceroses not to charge or dogs not to bark—sure it can be taught with great patience and pain, but it won’t be easy in short time.

Furthermore, I am not suggesting that anyone who disagrees with my views or my interpretations of data frustrates me. I have countless interactions with folks whom I respect greatly but who interpret data differently from me. This is not the point I am making, and these are not the experiences that frustrate me. Healthy debate is a wonderful contributor to scientific advancement. Blogging probably isn’t. My point is that critical thought, logical analysis, and an understanding of the scientific method are completely foreign to us, and if we want to possess these skills, it requires deliberate action and time.

What can we do about it?

I’ve suggested that we aren’t wired to be good critical thinkers, and that this poses problems when it comes to our modern lives. The just-follow-your-peers-or-the-media-or-whatever-seems-to-work approach simply isn’t good enough anymore.

But is there a way to overcome this?

I don’t have a “global” (i.e., how to fix the world) solution for this problem, but the “local” (i.e., individual) solution is quite simple provided one feature is in place: a desire to learn. I consider myself scientifically literate. Sure, I may never become one-tenth a Richard Feynman, but I “get it” when it comes to understanding the scientific method, logic, and reason. Why? I certainly wasn’t born this way. Nor did medical school do a particularly great job of teaching it. I was, however, very lucky to be mentored by a brilliant scientist, Steve Rosenberg, both in medical school and during my post-doctoral fellowship. Whatever I have learned about thinking scientifically I learned from him initially, and eventually from many other influential thinkers. And I’m still learning, obviously. In other words, I was mentored in this way of thinking just as every other person I know who thinks this way was also mentored. One of my favorite questions when I’m talking with (good) scientists is to ask them who mentored them in their evolution of critical thinking.

Relevant aside: Take a few minutes to watch Feynman at his finest in this video—the entire video is remarkable, especially the point about “proof,”—but the first minute is priceless and a spot on explanation of how experimental science should work.

You may ask, is learning to think critically any different than learning to play an instrument? Learning a new language? Learning to be mindful? Learning a physical skill like tennis? I don’t think so. Sure, some folks may be predisposed to be better than others, even with equal training, but virtually anyone can get “good enough” at a skill if they want to put the effort in. The reason I can’t play golf is because I don’t want to, not because I lack some ability to learn it.

If you’re reading this, and you’re saying to yourself that you want to increase your mastery of critical thinking, I promise you this much—you can do it if you’re willing to do the following:

  1. Start reading (see starter list, below).
  2. Whenever confronted with a piece of media claiming to report on a scientific finding, read both the actual study and the media, in that order. See if you can spot the mistakes in reporting.
  3. Find other like-minded folks to discuss scientific studies. I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes at the idea of a “journal club,” but it doesn’t need to be that formal at all (though years of formal weekly journal clubs did teach me a lot). You just need a good group of peers who share your appetite for sharpening their critical thinking skills. In fact, we have a regularly occurring journal club on this site (starting in January, 2018).

I look forward to seeing the comments on this post, as I suspect many of you will have excellent suggestions for reading materials for those of us who want to get better in our critical thinking and reasoning. I’ll start the list with a few of my favorites, in no particular order:

  1. Anything by Richard Feynman (In college and med school, I would not date a girl unless she agreed to read “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman”)
  2. The Transformed Cell, by Steve Rosenberg
  3. Anything by Karl Popper
  4. Anything by Frederic Bastiat
  5. Bad Science, by Gary Taubes
  6. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas Kuhn
  7. Risk, Chance, and Causation, by Michael Bracken
  8. Mistakes Were Made (but not by me), by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson
  9. Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
  10. The Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses,” by T.C. Chamberlin

I’m looking forward to other recommendations.

Disclaimer: This blog is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing or other professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor/patient relationship is formed. The use of information on this blog or materials linked from this blog is at the user's own risk. The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard, or delay in obtaining, medical advice for any medical condition they may have, and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions.

285 Comments

  1. Steps I’ve taken since reading this post:

    1) Downloaded ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’. I’m on Chapter 6. Awesome. Sharing my enthusiasm about it with friends who are generally scientific thinkers but need to bolster their evangelism.
    2) When a friend ranted about how misinformation spreads so quickly on the internet I pasted your reading list in the comments. He loved that. Again this action was “preaching to the choir”. But maybe it’ll be a better choir now.
    3) Very proud of this one: I read the underline study from a health-related headline that two friends had shared on Facebook. That made me realize that both were likely endorsing the headline because it confirmed their preconceived notions about fasting. If you can believe it, one sells fasting related nutritional products! Neat trick. I found a nice way to encourage them to read the underlying study.

    The study itself looked like good science to me (I need to work on this) but if a person wanted to act on it there was very important information in the procedures that would be important to consider. It was in mice! And the fasting period was >48 hours to intentionally induce ketosis. Follow up questions I have now (not for you – just to prove that taking the step of reading the study is so key when reading health news) – could ketosis without a fast get the similar results? Would intermittent fasting get similar results? How does it transfer to humans?

    Again. Thanks, Peter.

  2. Hello Dr Attia,
    I find you to be an interesting person, a major part of it is because you’re also a cyclist and endurance addict, and a weightlifter (in the context of an endurance athlete). I myself is also a cyclist. I have a few comments/questions:

    1. If i’m already thin, 5’7″ 120 lbs currently (I have dipped into the 115-116 in the past but I would get tired after a hard workout), and all my yearly health stats check out good (all of them), then would a ketogenic diet do me any good or harm? I think currently my diet composition of carbs/fats/proteins is about 40/40/20 (I’m guesstimating). The carbs I eat are mostly from rice, veggies, and fruits. I don’t eat processed simple sugar food. I also try to time my carb consumption so that I eat most of it right after a hard workout, when the glycogen stores are low. Would a keto diet make me any better in performace? I have noticed that my top end power and the ability to do repeated short bursts of zone 5 (anaerobic) suffer a bit when I severely limit my carbs and replace it with fats. My recovery time also seem to be slower with the higher carb restriction too. I wonder if a naturally skiny person like myself would be a poor candicate for a keto diet and still be able to perform well on the bike?

    2. What are the potential pitfalls for consuming a huge amount of fats? I would think if a system is overloaded with something, be it fats, proteins, or sugars,.. this will tax the system, and somewhere down the chain, something must give. Or does fat inflict no harm on our metabolism system? My fear is that 30-40 years from now, science will also say eating too much fats will be bad, just like it is showing what sugar had done. But the lag time is 30-40 years. A side concern of fats is that perhaps not all fats are equal, specifically fats from pasteur-raised versus fats from caged animals. For example, the fats from wild animals have a higher omega3/omega6 ratio than the fats from caged animals. And then there is the issue of caged animals with hormones and antibiotic, and possible processed using too much chemicals/disinfecting agents. I’m concerned that the side-effects of eating products from caged animals won’t be known in an epidemiological scale until 30-40 years later. I’m curious about your thoughts on the sources of fats. Myself, I prefer fats from plants such as coconut fats, olive oil, avocado fats, over animal fats.

    3. Lastly, humans have existed long before the introduction of logics, and then scientific method. We as a species survived quite well without those tools. Perhaps the reason we are not hardwired to not think scientifically is because whatever thinking process our ancestors had, it enabled them to pass on progenies to this day. Interestingly, some of the brightest mind in quantum physics and neuroscience today are turning to Buddhism to reflect the similarities between Buddhist thinking and science, and yet, Buddhism is not something one would associate with logics nor scientific.

    • Interesting point, Chauzie. But I would not assume that Buddhism is somehow the opposite of critical thinking. To say we survived without critical thinking is like saying we survived without electricity or antibiotics or pasteurization. Sure we did, but it was a hell of a lot rougher than it is today.
      So critical thinking is a very important part of our evolution. In fact, without it, we’d still be in caves. Could we “survive?” Sure? Would we be talking about bikes and glycogen? Unlikely.

  3. I am a late career scientist–a biologist. I have lived with and around PhD scientists most of my life. I can tell you that even people who have been trained in and practice the scientific method and critical thinking skills apply these only to their work. The moment they need to make a non-professional assessment or judgement they revert to their primal patterns of thinking. And worse, as we all become increasingly busy, our time stolen by the overly competitive workplace, our sleep stolen by increasing quantity of personal responsibility, our leisure time diminished by the need for do-it-yourself tasking as we prepare for the retirement we have not saved for, and as our brain fog mounts due to the glucose roller coaster that inevitably accompanies the officially prescribed high-carb diet, we succumb to the easier, more natural, patterns of reasoning to which we have evolved.

  4. Hi Peter,
    I found the following video funny and enlightening:
    “Science For Smart People” by Tom Naughton

    I suppose you know about that speech, but may be a few of your readers don’t.

  5. Dear Peter,
    how do you think scientifically when there is no good data? Let me make an example, which affects myself. Would you treat someone with an elevated TSH (~4 mU/l) if he has no symptoms?

    – There is data which shows that high TSH is associated with metabolic syndrom.
    (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20447068)

    -There is data that high-normal TSH is associated with associated with a higher CV-mortality and Endothelial dysfunction (decreased flow-mediated dilation).
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19010795

    – But, there is no prospective randomized data (!!!) on the questin of whether or not you should treat non-clinical hypothyroidism.

    Now, high TSH might cause a higher CV-mortality. Or a high TSH might be assoc. with a high CV-mortality without causality. What do you think about the TSH issue? Thanks alot!

    PS: Wearing shirts with the size ‘S’ is assoc. with a low CV-mortality, but in turn buying slim shirts won’t make me healthier.

  6. Adding another book to the suggested reading list: Naked Statistics, by Charles Wheelan. Bascially statistics for the layperson. I came across it while browsing at Barnes and Noble for some of the other books on your list. I’m in the middle of reading it, and enjoying it very much. It’s informative and also manages to be funny. Although I have a bit of a grasp of basic statistics, and a good math brain, somehow I earned a bachelor’s of science degree (30 years ago) without ever having to take a statistics course. Now they’re teaching statistics in better high schools.

  7. Hello Dr. Attia,

    I have just been made aware of the importance of alkalinity and our blood PH being in balance. My question would be, not much about scientific method but more of deductive reasoning, wouldnt following a ketogenic diet also throw your ph into highly acidic levels and thus be detrimental for your health?

    thanks,

    Jennifer

  8. I think there are some people who are more ‘wired’ to think scientifically than others. We are in the minority, but we exist. We are those who, even as children, and despite our surroundings, still naturally question things, don’t believe what we hear without investigation, explore the hows and whys of things, and who, most importantly, from an early age, eschew the religious and superstitious and traditional-thinking bombardment that starts from birth. Some people are able later to overcome negative nurture with training through education. But the majority of people are wired to be (and remain) sheep and to accept things that ‘feel’ best even if they don’t add up.

    • I think you can break it down by neophobes, and neophiles.

      Neophobes are the “imitators” – they are imprinted at an early age, and simply aren’t willing to consider any other options besides the ones they were indoctrinated into. This can be a militant left-wing guy against guns, or a right-wing bigot against gay marriage, but the key to understanding them is that they simply fear change.

      Neophiles, on the other hand, are open to being wrong about their ideas – a critical feature for scientific thinking. Wherever they might start, however they may have been indoctrinated, they’re willing to imagine being wrong.

      Now, a stable, progressing society probably needs a certain ratio of neophobes to neophiles…after all, it’s the neophile who will head to the river with the crocodile and get eaten, just to see it for themselves, and the neophobe who will listen to the wisdom of the elders and carry on in the face of adversity with staunch faith in their convictions. Similarly, it’s the neophile who will discover the new technology that jumps efficiency forward, while the neophobe stagnates in place.

  9. Thank you Dr Attia,

    I will go back and look for it. My concern came after i had been following a ketogenic way of eating for about 7 mos and tested my PH after a Tony Robbins seminar and was at 5.75. 3 weeks after going off, doing a cleanse and started to eat mainly alkaline foods and no meat flesh or caffeine, I am at 7.25 and feel pretty good.

    I will search through your blog for the thread, nonetheless

    Best

  10. Wukang,
    they were from urine tests with PH strips done at the same our in the evening for 5 consecutive days. After I did the juice detox cleanse and only ate salmon, fish, no dairy products or animal flesh,veggies and fruits for 2 weeks, I went to 7-7.25 and it has pretty much stayed in that level.

    Best,

    Jennifer

    • Thanks Jennifer.

      So it is measured 2-3 hours after the dinner I suppose. I’am constantly getting to 7 as well during that period.

      My morning fasting values are not good, 5.5 to 6 regardless of what I eat.

      kang

  11. You are welcome Kang, if I may ask, what are your ketosis levels? and I will take my ph upon waking to see the variation. What I am having a hard time with is maintaining balance in my PH levels and ketosis above 1 ;((

    Best,

    Jennifer

    • Jennifer,

      My keto levels are below 1 most of the times. When it gets too high (like 1.5 to 2), I have heart palpitation.

      I found it very hard to increase the morning PH, let me know your morning levels.

      kang

  12. We are generally taught what to think; not how to think.

    Personally I’ve found the work of the philosopher Ayn Rand to be helpful in developing a rational method of thinking.

  13. I find it very ironic that people who are overweight are considered lazy for being so when their is such and overwhelming metabolic force pushing them in that direction and yet the very people who make that assertion refuse to even attempt the task of acquiring the ability to reason. Becoming more intelligent, increasing ones ability to question everything to resolve problems to constantly seek a greater truth really is a choice, sure its not effortless but it really is just a choice and I argue that the pain of going against the norm is pale in comparison to the pain of restraining ones self from a second helping of carbs.

    As for learning reason, anyone who has a massive amount of time and just needs the direction, the great books series curated by Mortimer J. Adler will get you almost everything you need particularly if you have a person or two willing to read along with you and have “what did Aristotle mean by that and how would that apply today” discussions. I had the very good fortune of having several logic mentors in my schooling but none was more helpful than my own nagging questioning of every piece of ‘conventional wisdom’

  14. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, especially in regard to stratifying risk rationally. I’ve been to the ER serveral times recently for chest pain only to be told after multiple tests (3 week holter, stress test, heart echo, numerous troponin and cholesterol tests) that they are entirely convinced it is some kind of combination of muscle pain from hunching at a computer a and anxiety. That being said, I’ve done just enough reading about the tests to know they’re not 100%, but not enough reading to really understand what that means for me. The result being that I am extremely anxious about any sort of physical activity to the point of panic attacks and for the last two weeks I’ve been confining myself to my apartment.

    Apart from getting a therapist – which I’m working on doing (just lost my minimum-wage job so I have very little money – can you shed any light on how I can reshape my thinking in regards to percentages of risk? I need to figure out how to look at this data and perceive it so that I feel safe taking a walk or doing some pushups.

    I also have a general question about reversing risk factors. I’ve been Class II-III obese for most of my life (Probably 7 until now at 28), is it possible for me to get to a point of athleticism where my essentially I can undo the risk percentage increase caused by my childhood and teenage obesity, or am I like a smoker quitting at 30 where the damage is done and the lives lost have already been taken from me?

  15. Had your dinner with Rik occurred earlier in time, this could’ve been your first entry on the website. As is often the case, well written.

  16. Having just stumbled across your TEDMed talk on insulin resistance and obesity and from there your website, I’m not contributing to this discussion per se but rather saying “thank you.”

    As a beginning nursing student (mid-life career change), your comments about compassion toward patients truly hit home and will be on my mind as I work with patients in the future.

    As the mom of a six year old homeschooler, this particular article will (when the time is right) contribute greatly to his development of critical/scientific thinking skills. And it will add to my own skills now.

    Looking forward to exploring more on your blog but just wanted to take a moment now to let you know you are still creating ripples in the pond. Take care.

  17. Peter,
    You might be interested in Rene Girard and his work. Specifically, his philosophical idea on Mimetic Desire. Long story short…he argues that we obtain our desires from witnessing the desires/objects of others. We know a certain pair of shoe exists only when we see them worn on someone else. Hence, our desire is derived essentially someones else.

  18. Thanks for your informative blog! This one touches on a subject I have been interested in for a few years, spurred by a similar situation you described at the beginning of your piece. Some would argue that logical/clear/critical thinking is how the human brain normally functions. It is only when the process of learning, stemming from natual curiosity, is interrupted in some fasihion that throws peoples thinking off, later in life.

    I know I am a late comer to this blog, and maybe someone else has brought the following ideas to your attention. If your interested in the above possibility, I would recommend a series of interviews concerning the trivium. http://www.triviumeducation.com/interviews/start-here-gene-odening-interview-part-1-the-trivium-method-049-video/

    Thank you again!

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