That must be good news, surely – the end of fooling. However, where fooling ends is not necessarily the end of fooling.
In a 1939 radio address, President Franklin D Roosevelt uttered these words:
Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.
This is undoubtedly true in principle. A fiction does not become a fact simply through the process of being repeated. But the evidence indicates that it is not always true in practice, particularly where an individual and management of their own behaviour is concerned.
Unless we are vigilant, monitoring and managing our behaviour, the ‘lies’ we employ can and do transform into our ‘truths’. Fooling ends because we no longer consider ourselves to be fooling and that is, perhaps, the ultimate foolishness. The Doobie Brothers acknowledged this in their – What A Fool Believes – when they sang that ‘what a fool believes, he see’:
Fooling can end when we ‘see the light’. However, fooling can also end when we hide the light so deeply that we forget that this particular light exists, replacing it with the false illumination produced by our deceptive behaviour.
The approach known as bounded rationality does not mean that our rationality is applied in leaps and bounds; it means that our rationality can be constrained. Our rationality is not bound (in the sense of ‘heading for’) the right reason or understanding. Rather, it is bound (in the sense of ‘tied up’) to just a slice of the situation we find ourselves in. Within this situational slice, it is both easy and tempting to distort things to suit your needs and then consider this distortion as truth. Are lies the new honesty?
What a fool believes, he sees. If you see it often enough, what you see eventually becomes true for you. The end of fooling is determined by what you remember and what you forget. Will you remember to not believe your own lies or will you forget that your own lies are (and will always remain) lies? Do you repeatedly transform your own lies into truths?
Deception, whether you apply it to yourself or you adopt it in your behaviour towards others, washes through and throughout daily life. It is such a common occurrence that ‘tis nobler wonders whether the deception process requires regulation, perhaps through the issuing of fooling permits. With such a permit, fooling yourself or others would be permitted under certain conditions. Would you queue for a licence to fool?
Of course you wouldn’t – it’s a foolish idea. But there are serious issues involved if you view ‘permits’ in the tile of this post as a verb and not a noun.
What does fooling permit? The short answer is that fooling permits foolishness. A display of ‘fooling’ produces (negative) consequences beyond the display itself – a ‘fooling’ incident’ can degenerate into a foolish game:
Let’s use the evidence from a recent study to illustrate how ‘fooling’ can lead to foolishness. For once, ‘tis nobler doesn’t need to go beyond the report’s heading to make the point (emphasis added):
Ironic Effects of Dietary Supplementation
Illusory Invulnerability Created by Taking Dietary Supplements Licenses Health-Risk Behaviors
People who took what they thought were dietary supplements expressed an intention to do less exercise, a greater intention to pursue pleasurable activities and made poorer food choices than control subjects. The explanatory mechanism was the perceived (but illusory) invulnerability bestowed by the supplements.
Relative to the benefits of a balanced diet, there is always the chance of some ‘fooling’ to support supplements. But the most worrying aspect of this study is that this ‘fooling’ behaviour promoted foolish behaviour; it’s as though supplements can be seen as validating an unbalanced diet and an unbalanced lifestyle.
Within the borders of the ‘fooling’, (self-) deception can be unhelpful through to upsetting and destructive. However, ‘fooling’ need not stay within its borders and this is how the original (self-) deception creates more problems.
The question remains – who are you fooling? Following on from this question, ‘tis nobler can now add – are you being foolish? ‘Fooling’ does not always produce ‘foolish’ but it may be that ‘foolish’ is always preceded by fooling. It would be foolish to ignore the effects of ‘fooling’ and it would be foolish to ignore that ‘fooling’ is a cause of foolishness.
It’s not so much a foolish week at ‘tis nobler this week as a fooling week. Think of this week’s theme then as ‘tisfoolery’. The first post raises an interesting ‘chicken and egg’ question; sometimes, cause and effect does not always operate in the direction it appears to. Untangling cause from effect, effect from cause and effect as cause of a subsequent effect is a constant challenge, especially when these causal relationships are accompanied by a host of correlates that muddy the water. Correlates rarely clarify, and never cause.
And carousels only circle, but whether they circle as a cause, effect or correlate is a matter of some conjecture for your experience of them can be ‘deceptive’:
The real point for presenting this video was to illustrate the circular nature of deception and the many other elements that swirl around this process. An effect can be described but this description is usually limited to the effect, a linear process that begins with ‘this happened’ and ends with ‘this is what happened’. And the line continues.
An effect can be explained and this explanation transcends the effect, a non-linear process that begins with ‘this happened’ and ends with ‘this is what happened, this is why it happened and this is what it means’. And the behavioural ‘space’ is unpacked and re-packed.
But much of what we do falls between description and explanation for the former is too glib and the latter requires too much effort. Welcome to the land of the pretend explanation, a land overrun by justifications, rationalisations, opinions, bias, strategies and stratagems. In this land, the aim is to prevail rather than understand.
And it is here where deceit and deception can run rampant.
At some times, we deceive others and then believe our deceit to be true. At other times, we deceive ourselves in order to better deceive others. And then we deceive ourselves yet ignore the consequences of our self-deception, or we ‘pretend explain’ these consequences by compounding self-deception. There is compelling evidence that (self-) deception can be a powerful influence on our own behaviour and the ways in which we interact with others.
But it’s not really a question of causes and effects, of lines and directions. It’s a question of circles.
It’s worth remembering that there’s a lot of (self-) deception going around. Who are you fooling?
One aim of experiential learning is to make sense of the world around you. Armed with this understanding, you are better able to cope with the ‘usually usual’ and its variations. Sense comprises a number of dimensions – good/bad, valid/invalid, possible/impossible, right/wrong, expected/unexpected and many more.
It is not application of these polar extremes within a given situation that enables you to manage effectively but your ability, developed through extensive experience, to discern and act on all of the subtleties that may appear between them. Being able to appreciate the rich detail between these poles, the many shades of grey rather than just black and white, is an indicator of expertise.
Today’s post focuses on another dimension – true/untrue. There is self deception, something that ‘tis nobler has written about here and here; let’s look at social deception in this post. There are various guides to language, both verbal and body, that present indicators of deception. These indicators are similar to the ‘poles’ of sense, perhaps helpful at a general level but rarely relevant at the specific level. Deception interacts with intention to make the implausible plausible and the unreasonable reasonable. This is absolutely true – if you don’t believe ‘tis nobler, believe The Eurythmics:
Do people lie to you? Of course they do, for communication is not restricted to a neutral process of information transmission. There are no ‘one size fits all situations’ recipes – life is not that neat and predictable. There is, however, some evidence-based guidance that is summarised below; be warned, some of this guidance is drawn from the literature and some of it is concocted. How and why will you establish the difference for therein lies the real value in this message?
Those seeking to deceive:
Say as little as possible to avoid tripping up. Or do they hide their deception by speaking a lot?
Justify what they are saying while saying it. Or do they fail to provide a justification?
Pay close attention to your reactions as they speak. Or do they pay little attention to the reception of their story?
Will speak faster as the story unfolds. Or do they speak slower to make sure they remain consistent?
The statements are correct. Or are the questions correct? Perhaps some statements and some questions are true. Confronting the need to discern truth from untruth is an ongoing challenge as part of your mission to make sense of the world. It is unlikely you will encounter the logical absurdity of the Liar’s Paradox; it is much more likely that you will need to resolve issues on a relative basis.
And in a relative, probabilistic and imperfect world, the one thing you can always apply to this task is effort. Would ‘tis nobler lie to you?
What is the relationship between ‘just’ and ‘must’? It sounds initially like an imperative relationship – You JUST MUST do this, go there or see that. But there’s a deeper connection – there’s always a deeper connection.
The deeper connection is similar to the connection between fairness and fault. If you view the world as just, often a series of ‘must’ statements follow to reinforce this view. For the world to be just, the bad things that happen to people just must be their fault. When you have a choice between the world and a ‘victim’, it’s easier to blame the ‘victim’ than modify your world-view.
As a strategy, blaming others is much, much more common than it is effective. Why is it that being seen to be doing ‘something that is really nothing’ is more favoured than just getting on with the job of doing ‘something that is something’? Pretending that the problems are ‘elsewhere’ because that is where you prefer to look is never a solution.
Think of the choice that is available to all of us all of the time – we can examine and explain or we can believe and blame. The former takes a lot of effort and may not always be possible or successful but the alternative, while simple and tempting, will invariably be counterproductive. This is not an argument against beliefs; it is a suggestion to review the connection between belief and blame. Does it make sense for specific blame (it must have been your fault and you got what you deserved) to flow from a general belief (the world is a decent place)?
‘tis nobler has examined this music video. ‘tis nobler cannot explain it. Nor can ‘tis nobler believe it. However, ‘tis nobler is not about to blame The Who for their ‘failure’:
Blame is an attractive proposition for it protects your belief that bad things happen to people who deserve these things. Which path will you take – the ‘examine and explain’ journey or the ‘believe and blame’ shortcut?
You have to choose either the ‘Es’ or the ‘Bs’ as this fundamental choice determines the direction and distance of your learning. You can move forward and keep moving or you can stay where you are and just go through the motions without much progress.
There is a media inquiry in Australia at the moment. Apparently, according to newspaper reports and the testimony of newspaper executives, this inquiry is completely unnecessary as Australian newspapers are perfect. It is a vendetta orchestrated by non-newspaper people – at least that is how it is being reported in, um, some newspapers.
At the heart of this examination are balance, bias and behaviour, systemic issues that could intentionally or unintentionally present inaccurate information as news. Still, some may think that inaccuracies – deliberate or otherwise – can be remedied with a retraction, clarification and/or apology. Is it a case of no real damage done?
The evidence indicates that this apparently reasonable approach of retracting and correcting your mistakes is not the remedy many believe it to be. Retractions and corrections are the equivalent of closing the barn door after the horse has bolted – they do not ‘place the horse back in the barn’, they just close the door on the original error. When the damage is done, the damage (or parts thereof) remains ‘done’ despite efforts to undo it.
And the damage remains ‘done’ as it can resist multiple correction efforts, although stronger corrections are better but still not perfect – what is ‘done’ cannot be completely undone. This remains the case even when corrective efforts are understood and accepted and the original error was relatively innocuous. Complicating matters further and rendering corrective efforts even more impotent is being receptive to the original error through processes such as framing, priming or confirmation bias – if the error makes sense to you, you will resist attempts to overturn it.
Despite what Beyonce sings – I can have another you by tomorrow, so don’t you ever for a second get to thinking you’re irreplaceable – the damage done through misinformation errors is often irreplaceable:
How do you reconcile this resistance process – the continued influence effect of misinformation – with the effect that the retrieval of memories has on their content, which ‘tis nobler wrote about here? The key message is set out below:
Using past experiences as building blocks for present performance is not necessarily a neutral process. Injecting the past into the present can and does assist in meeting current task demands but this can and does change your memories of the past. You effect their retrieval and they are affected by this retrieval. The past is fenced off in time but the fence is not impervious to the present. Over time, facts can soften, fiction can harden and the lines between them can become less visible.
For ‘tis nobler, this underscores the importance of a systemic approach, the centrality of self management and the need to address the efficiency of interventions and not just their effectiveness. It’s a continuing challenge to ‘connect the many dots’ on an ongoing basis in the most meaningful way you can; however, this is always better than placing your faith in fixed ‘solutions’.
How will you incorporate the message that the damage done cannot be fully undone into your learning and behavioural change efforts? If redress is undressed for it fails to address the incorrect information expressed, what will you do to sort out the mess!
The past two posts have highlighted the potential pitfalls of anonymity – anonymity breeds aberration and as perceived anonymity increases, so does the level of aberration. Are increasing numbers directly and immutably linked to decreasing standards? Do groups ditch their (shared) standards rather than retain them?
When you shift from exactly like you to someone like you (who seems to be like everybody else due to the situation being confronted), are you and all of the ‘someones’ like you destined to spiral downwards? It’s reasonable to think that groups dominate the individual – after all, we talk about being ‘caught up in the moment’ or of being ‘lost in the crowd’.
Recent events have shown how (group) behaviour can deteriorate rapidly but this focus can blind us to the presence and effect of standard bearers, those that can influence groups in constructive ways.
It is possible for a (large) group to remain partly a group and partly a group of individuals. And therein might exist the key to unleash the positive potential that all groups possess, for individual differences can influence and resist what might otherwise be a mob mentality. Whether you are alone or in the midst of many others, it is worth remembering the essential message in this song by Bon Jovi:
We weren’t born to follow
Come on and get up off your knees
When life is a bitter pill to swallow
You gotta hold on to what you believe
Choice is ever present; in the middle of a crowd, you can still choose to be yourself or you can choose to ‘follow’ someone like you. ‘Like you’ refers to standards and, for a range of reasons, someone like you could be the standard bearer you need. Of course, you can ‘choose’ to follow someone that is nothing like you – groups can do that to you.
Will you bear witness to the standards you bear by being a standard bearer should the need arise? Walking together in the same direction is not following; rather, it is being led by your shared and positive standards. Walking away from these standards does involve following – following blindly. We weren’t born to follow in this way.
Who is exactly like you? While a range of criteria could be used to answer this question, let’s just use one – standards.
As individuals, we have standards. Some of these standards are personal, others are broadly normative and yet others are societal. In descending order of importance (from the personal to the societal), these standards help to define us.
As members of a small group, we have standards. Some of these standards remain personal, others reflect specific group norms. Broadly normative and societal standards also remain in place.
As members of a larger group, we have standards. Some of these standards reflect specific group norms, while broadly normative and societal standards remain in place. Did you notice the change?
In the previous post, the relationship between anonymity and aberration was explored in general terms – with anonymity comes aberration. But, as groups get larger, our personal standards recede further and further into the distance. Does this indicate that there are degrees of anonymity? Is it possible for the personal to disappear completely within the impersonal group? The evidence supports the notion of disappearance.
Anonymity breeds aberration and the more anonymous you believe you are, the more aberrant your behaviour becomes. In large groups, you can scan the sea of faces trying to find someone like you:
And realise, perhaps ashamedly, that they are all like you and you are like all of them. Situations overwhelm standards and inhibitions disappear as your personal standards depart. Due to the situation and the behaviour of others, you become someone like you and not someone exactly like you.
What does it take to be exactly like you across situations and within groups? Only you can answer that question. It is essential to realise, though, that self management doesn’t cease simply because you’re with others!
When I compare myself to a group, I always win. When you compare yourself to a group, you win. When each member of the group compares themselves to the rest, the individual usually comes out in front. On average, we are all above-average. However, it may be that this effect doesn’t reflect the bias of the rater; rather, it reflects a bias towards individuals at the expense of the group. So, it’s not that I think I am better, it’s that I think groups are worse.
There is evidence that, if I think you are similar to me and you are behaving poorly, I am more likely to behave poorly.
And yet we like to think that we retain our individuality within groups – we remain a face within a sea of faces rather than faceless and anonymous. Does being ‘lost in a crowd’ sometimes equate to losing ourselves? The evidence indicates the answer to this question is a clear ‘Yes’ for, as part of a group, our individual identities blur or vanish:
With the anonymity afforded to individuals by a group, they say and do things that are an aberration. Conversely, behavioural control can often be imposed externally through invigilation – if we think or know we are both known and being watched, we behave differently and we behave better. Of course, external control is neither sustainable nor desirable for the same sorts of reasons that external motivation also eventually falters. By definition, the responsibility for self management cannot be delegated to outsiders.
In the largest of crowds, the darkest of nights and the most chaotic of situations, you are never completely anonymous. There is always one person who knows exactly who you are with, where you are and what you are doing. Do you know who this person is?
It is impossible for you to ‘lose yourself in the crowd’ for you are never faceless to yourself, just to others. It is thus impossible to use ‘being lost in the crowd’ as an excuse for your behaviour. Under supervision or beyond supervision are artificial distinctions in learning and behavioural change – should the presence or absence of supervision determine how you behave?
Be yourself when you are by yourself. Be yourself when you are with others.
Birds of a feather flock together, for they say like attracts like, whether they like it or not. If you combine sufficient and sufficiently robust ‘likes’ together, a pattern is produced. But what does ‘of a feather’ actually mean in practice?
More importantly, when any two or more things flock together, does this mean they are ‘of a feather’?
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that subjective assessments determine the presence or absence of beauty. What about patterns – are they also in the eye of the beholder? Are one person’s patterns another person’s coincidences?
The development, refinement and ongoing validation of patterns underpin skilled performance. The generation of such patterns could be considered the primary objective of experiential learning. As you now know, patterns afford greater effectiveness and much greater efficiency of performance.
You take a big chunk out of the required effort to do something because you’ve put in the required effort to establish chunks!
Nevertheless, each and every pattern is affected by transient outliers; such novelties could the unusual forms of the usual or usual forms of the unusual. In contrast, patterns are usual forms of the usual, which usually apply most (but not all) of the time. Sorting out the unusual ‘usual’ (unexpected variations), the usual ‘unusual’ (unexpected novelties) and the usual ‘usual’ (expected routines) is the essence of validation – what do these things mean and how do they link together? This is another area in which distortions can appear.
Validation is a product of continuing experience. ‘Flocking together’ does not, by itself, make a valid pattern, even if you initially assign meaning to these apparent links. Coincidental connections occur all the time and mean little or nothing. Experience will diminish and delete these connections but only if you stop clinging to them, defying the evidence of experiences to protect personal superstitions. And ‘when you believe in things that you don’t understand ….. superstition ain’t the way’:
The distinctions between cause, correlate and coincidence can be difficult to learn for experience and personal meaning are common to all three dimensions. Patterns can contain real and illusory elements – making sense of the former and seeing sense on the latter is all part of your learning journey. Will you be skilful or superstitious?
It’s not fair. It’s not right. It’s not valid. It’s definitely not balanced and, while it is not an act, it influences many of our actions. Whichever way you look at it, where ‘it’ is the ways you think about yourself and others, the way of looking at it is unequal. Where does this fundamental problem come from? Who could be responsible for this inequality? As ‘tis nobler asks these questions, the answer is clear – ‘tis nobler.
Of course, if you are asking the very same questions, the answer is equally clear – you. Along with wide shut (see previous post), everyone is also unbalanced:
I know myself better than you know yourself.
I know you better than you know me.
My ‘group’ knows your ‘group’ better than your ‘group’ knows my ‘group’.
Your actions ‘speak louder’ (say more about you) than my actions (say about me).
My thoughts ‘speak louder’ (are more consistent with who I am) than your (less consistent) thoughts.
And yet this lack of balance is generally ignored. Indeed, the suggestion that ‘you know me better than I know myself’ is be a popular theme in literature and music:
But this contention is not supported by the evidence. The origins of ‘Know Thyself’ are somewhat murky and the application of this saying to daily life is equally problematic. We think others know us as an open book but our senses and thinking can be ‘wide shut’ and we think we know others much more than they know us because we lack balance. How can we know ourselves when our perspective is so unbalanced?
Insight can be a marvellous quality but it (and other forms of thinking) can be distorted in many ways. When you use insight, what is literally and figuratively in sight? Can you think through these issues in a balanced way?
Find your own way through and around these distortions – it’s a balancing act!
If you look up, what do you see? If you’re indoors and taking this question literally, you might answer ‘the ceiling’. If you’re outdoors and thinking atmospherically, you could answer ‘the sky’. There is one answer that is independent of location and almost certainly correct regardless of where you are, who you are or what you are doing.
Any ideas on what this could be? It’s not really a trick question although the answer does involve trickery. This ‘thing’ must always be above you for you are always under it.
What are you always under? An illusion! Being under an illusion – that you are as clear to others as you are to yourself - is a constant companion in your experiential learning and behavioural change efforts, simply because you are you and you are therefore not somebody else. Of course, they (being all the others) are under the same illusion that you are; this turns the shared illusion into the reality with which we all must cope. It’s crowded under there!
We all think that others will understand us as we understand ourselves. We believe this should be straightforward as we consider our feelings and actions to be an ‘open book’, unambiguously there for all to see and comprehend. Further, as our ‘book’ is open, we should all be on the same page all the time. But even ‘open books’ present many challenges:
Can you imagine the ways in which misunderstandings flow from our mistaken belief that we are transparent to others? Can you imagine the ways in which this illusion is compounded because we also assume that the actions of others are as transparent to us as our own actions are?
As a learner and changer, it’s never easy being ‘you’ for you are continually monitoring, identifying, analysing and resolving challenges. During this process, you will be selective, sometimes to your advantage and sometimes not, you will be suspicious without necessarily knowing the cause and you will be caught short-handed for demands may exceed your capacity to cope.
It’s hard enough being you. With the ‘book’ metaphor, it is challenging enough to establish where you are, what is happening and what it all means, even when you know the page, paragraph and preceding chapters. Can you really expect others to ‘read what you are reading’ and therefore understand what you understand?
Try to be transparent, for valid connections with others can only help your journey. Never just assume that you are transparent, for even though you consider yourself to be an ‘open book’, you will still often appear as an enigma machine to others.
‘tis nobler wants to show you a painting. More accurately, ‘tis nobler wants to show you a painting of a painting. To be fully truthful, it’s a painting of a painting of a painting. No, that’s not quite right; it’s a painting of a painting of a painting of a painting. Still not there, but it’s time to change direction otherwise we’d continue to follow the paintings of paintings deeper and deeper.
And, as you explore ever deeper, you realise that this is just like experiential learning and behavioural change; whatever way you look at it, you should always try to look beneath and beyond the immediate. The ‘painting’ may be nice but what can be found beneath and beyond the immediate ‘painting’ represents true value and perhaps your true values.
Beneath and beyond don’t just shape what you do, they can also shape how you feel about it. According to some recent research, beneath and beyond feelings can reach the surface without you being aware of what lies beneath and beyond. When ‘tis nobler stresses the core principle:
What you do tells me more about the situation than it does about who you are,
it is important to remember that there are situations beneath and beyond the immediate situation being observed. Why are you doing that? Why are you feeling like that? Answers to these questions may be partly anchored in the immediate but they are also always likely to reflect goals, attitudes and values beneath and beyond the immediate.
Beneath and beyond are measures of depth and distance that indicate where valid and enduring answers may be found. Where will you find your whys? Will you always find it in the obvious and immediate or will you explore beneath and beyond?
If ‘tis nobler said that this post was ‘hicoec’, would you realise that it is about choice (or, less cryptically, choice about)? Perhaps this unusual opening indicates that the spelling of choice is adaptive – that is, it can be changed to adapt to a different situation. And in this case, the different situation involved a need to be cryptic.
Exercising choice is inherently adaptive in a way that is much deeper and much more important than you might realise. If you stay on the surface, it is easy to be dismissive of your role in making choices, something which happens many times every day. After all, many of these choices are straightforward, many of them don’t need a second thought (in fact, many of them don’t even need a (conscious) first thought). These choices are made to preserve patterns that provide the foundation for skilled performance (and patterns can be known as mental models, schema, mental representations etc).
The methods we use to make our choices are subject to many distortions and biases and yet we strive to avoid losses while trying to gain some benefits. Most of the time, we’re OK at this (with OK being some distance from ‘good’); some of the time, though, we’re absolutely hopeless. Again, if you stay on the surface, you can just look at the rewards within a given choice and then bounce from choice to choice. This sort of behaviour could be considered specifically adaptive and generally positive (adaptive behaviour is designed to make things better).
But choices provide the opportunity to go deeper than this, should we so choose! It is possible to transcend the rewards within our choices and reap the rewards that exist beyond specific choices, rewards that are found in the act rather than the outcome of choosing. A bird in the hand might be worth two in the bush but a bird in the hand will always be worth less than the three birds you can obtain by making the effort.
Each choice gives you the opportunity to put your personal stamp on things, to make real that which is important to you. Choice is about choosing – the surface view – and choice is about control – the deeper view. Choice as control goes to the heart of self management and is fundamentally adaptive. The previous post ended with these words:
You have the power to choose to stop. You have the power to choose to change.
And now you should realise that you also have the power to control through choosing. What you actually do is up to you, for you are free to decide:
A bobbing cork at the mercy of the waves and the wind or a sailing craft pursuing the course established by you as captain – you do have the choice. Find your own way to choose and control.
It’s an open secret that an open secret is an oxymoron. ‘tis nobler is unsure whether this old news came from military intelligence or the Italian government for there has been a deafening silence. There are contradictory views on the involvement of paradoxes and contradictions in oxymorons; actually paradoxes lead to contradictions so it might be a case that everything ‘tis nobler writes is false. ‘tis nobler wonders whether you are able to exclude that last assertion from your conclusion; if you cannot do this, it’s rather paradoxical.
Perhaps it’s like concluding that you are not free to do but (and say this in your best Yoda voice) you are free to do not. It would be more realistic if you said ‘free you are to do not’.
Are you free to do not? So it would seem from the evidence (although it is restricted to very simple experimental tasks). This is a very big topic – one that will generate much discussion between neuroscientists, psychologists and philosophers for it is fraught with methodological and conceptual issues – but let’s pick out the very essence of it as it reinforces the fundamental importance of self management.
One fundamental advantage of experiential learning is the shift from conscious or intentional processing of information to subconscious and unintentional (but NOT unintended) operation. There are many, many examples that you could draw on from personal experience in which you are doing things in a sensible, co-ordinated, effective and efficient manner without being fully aware of them – the most ubiquitous example could be driving a car, much of which takes place ‘in the background’ and occasionally from the backseat! Are you exercising free will in these instances?
This may or may not be different from the chain of events that underpin specific and isolated choices, for what affects these discrete choices may still be as complex as any skilled behaviour. Being unaware of ‘what and why’ prior to the conscious act may have little to do with free will and more to do with learned, validated and elegant patterns. Who knows?
But, regardless of the precise mechanism(s), it appears possible to stop this automatic process before the (non-conscious) action is implemented. While the status of a ‘go motion’ remains debatable, a ‘stop motion’ exists. Stop motion is a paradox and yet it is exceedingly clever. It relies on compressing a large number of very subtle changes to produce a fluid pattern, which is not that far away from the goals of experiential learning:
Even on autopilot and not consciously aware of what you are doing, you retain the capacity to stop and change. You should be aware that you have choices, even when you are unaware of their existence.
You have the power to choose to stop. You have the power to choose to change. What will you choose to do?