Salience

I get the impression, reading about his method, that what he’s doing with all the “awareness” and “fine focus” activities is pre-loading information into his unconscious mind so that, at the critical moment, he can respond automatically.

It is not possible to “decide” what to do about a ball coming at you at 90mph. What you can do is make sure your mind is pump-primed with all the available context cues, with the highest signal to noise possible, and then act.

~ Matt Webb from, https://interconnected.org/home/2022/07/01/focus

I’ll admit that I wound up following Webb’s links about Cricket (the game, not Jiminy.) It’s worth the click just for that. All the while as I was reading Webb’s article, I was thinking this feels like an intentional application of our brain’s power of salience detection; “hacking our salience power” I would say. Our brains only work by ignoring everything—except for a small rounding error’s worth—that our senses detect. Sometimes, a thing or two appear to be salient, and they rise to level of our conscious awareness. Noticing when that happens, and sharing what you’ve noticed, is one way to ask great questions.

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Novelty

I get the feeling that a lot of us are afraid of repeating ourselves – as if doing so demonstrates a lack of originality or a “less than” memory.

~ Jon Yuen from, https://www.yuenjon.com/articles/2020/6/5/reminders

Clearly (based on all these blog posts) I’m not afraid of repeating myself, and it feels in each moment as if I’m repeating myself. I see the same patterns in what interests me, and I think the same trains of thoughts. When I zoom farther out however, I see long, slow trends. The problem for me with repetition is that I find the salience of things tapers away towards zero. I’m [knowingly] within a few feet of a snake so rarely that my brain effortlessly applies maximum attention; but the number on the scale, not so much. What works for me is when the repetition is uncertain. I know I’ll read one of my quotes tomorrow, but it’ll be a random one—and I’ll remember it instantly as soon as I start reading it. Repetition repetition on to something else then… surprise! …more repetition!

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whup

For millennia, we have considered language — the magic-box of words — the hallmark of our species. Only in the last blink of evolutionary time have we begun to override our self-referential nature and consider the possibility that other types of channels might carry the magical energy of creatures telling each other what it is like to be alive, in the here and now of a shared reality.

~ Maria Popova from, https://www.themarginalian.org/2022/01/22/cetacean-communication/

It never ceases to amaze me how my brain—I’d write “our brains” but I can only hope yours works at least slightly like mine does—finds salience in the chaos of everyday life. I found Popova’s short piece a couple of weeks ago, and more recently saw a special about humpback whales; the whales that save humanity in a Star Trek movie, if you recall.

In the documentary, one scientist is trying to understand exactly how Humpbacks use sound as language. She’s literally hoping her research enables the beginning of a conversation, (between humans and whales.) And she found this sound, she calls a “whup.” It seems that each humpback’s “whup” is unique the way our voices are said to be unique. So she composed a “whup”… and supposed it was how they say, “hey what’s up”. Seriously, it even sounds like a mumbled, “wassup.” Her question was, if whales say “whup” to announce themselves, what happens if I say “whup”?

Turns out, they say “whup” in response.

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