Tag Archives: Metacognition

Superfluous Superstructure of the Self

June 7, 2024
Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog

We all pay some attention to our inner lives. But for some of us this means sustained micro-observation and for most of us it is occasional flashes in between slavish addiction to the endless rushes of information coming in through our five fascinating physical senses.

This tsunami of infobits roaring in has itself escalated over time, causing even more outward focus.

But even 2500 years ago, Aristotle made the same observation, commenting that the unobserved life is not worth living. He was trying to get more people to turn inward. His teacher’s teacher Socrates had started the whole thing by his exhortation “Know Thyself”. (Socrates had inspired Plato with whom Aristotle studied.)

The greatest philosophers and psychologists of all time were all practiced at inner micro-observation. This was especially true in ancient India, and for example, metacognition is at the core of Buddha’s teachings. In the modern era this includes William James, perhaps the best of them all at concentrated introspection, as well as Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, and Abraham Maslow. Freud however was more of a rationalist, deducing things logically, whereas Jung was more of an intuitionist, taking the original feelings arising in his cognition without embellishing them with rational overlays as much as Freud did.

A long time ago by introspection I realized that thoughts do not arise as thoughts but as feelings, and then the cognitive affective processes embellish those feelings with attributed meanings, interpretations, often involving images, metaphors, and words, at which point they are truly what we all call thoughts.

This has recently been discovered by science, decades and millennia after the same insight was available to each of us by micro-inner-observation.

It will help you attain metacognition to imagine that your inner space has a map. At the pure core of your being imagine that you have a center, something like an energy or a gas, that you can sense. In higher states of consciousness such as the spiritual level of Flow state you can see this self of yours as light, often bluish. Most of the time you can only feel it.

Imagine now in this map that there is another part of yourself that you yourself have built over time, a superstructure that is overlaid on top of the central sphere of your selfness. Suspend disbelief for the sake of argument, and for the moment consider my theory that this part of you is akin to an artificial intelligence (AI) that has a physical underpinning of neurons and their interconnections in your brain and nervous system, specific neurons and interconnections which were caused by your experiences, especially where there were degrees of emotion and assimilated “learning”. The word “learning” is in quotes because much of this was mis-learning.

The entire superstructure taken together corresponds to what Freud termed the Ego.

This superstructure uses a substantial part of your mental energy but the return on that energy investment tends to be negative. The expenditure of this incremental cognitive load tends to do you a lot more harm than good.

Freud said that this appurtenance was called into being when the baby first experiences frustration at not getting what it wants or needs. It functions as the security officer (Worf in Star Trek) and press agent, business manager, negotiation agent, sales rep for what Freud called the Id, and I refer to above as your core beingness.

The reason I say Freud was more of a rationalist is that when I introspect into my Id or core essence self I do not find the animal selfishness and limitation to hardwired instinct that Freud said I would find there. Instead I find a happy lightness of being that is not needy but is caring and fascinated.

Try this experiment and I feel that you will totally get what I’m saying and can add it to your personal strength arsenal.

  • Take your place in your core, the pure witness, the observer.
  • From that vantage point, simply observe the feelings that arise in your superstructure.
  • You will sense the apparent duality in you at that point, probably a realization of your own indifference and yet interest in these ego feelings.
  • This higher feeling is the most important key to metacognition.

You may have experienced this many times in your life, and it may have come about by temporarily hitting bottom. When you have been pushed around by life and have not seen the lesson the universe intended, you may in your frustration, resentment and rage just say to yourself that you give up, you just don’t care anymore.

When this happened to Bucky Fuller – heartbroken by unrequited love – he decided to commit suicide. Once he did that he was in his core self, looking at all of the superstructural self he had built, disillusioned in a good way by all that stuff, having just given it all up. He now discovered no reason to end his life, for a new better version of it was just beginning. He then became the Bucky Fuller genius we all remember.

You can practice this core self-perspective any time you want, for a few seconds or minutes or extended periods, even continuously for the rest of your life.

The essence of the feeling is that you are above all the nigglings in your superstructure. It’s only habit which has made you so vulnerable to those sudden feelings of worthlessness, fear, anxiety, defeatism, hatred, envy, resentment, and so on which have become automatic and super powerful.

Habits reinforced by hundreds of thousands of repetitions in your life do not pack up and go away right away. They will sometimes come back and even overpower you sometimes. But once you have learned to identify with your core and not your superstructure you are on the high road to true freedom. Keep practicing this Observer state and you cannot lose.

My best to all,


Live chat with my avatar now.

If You Are Normal Today, It Might Be Holding You Back

Created May 17, 2024
Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

With metacognition a child can become a mensch at an early age… And it’s never too late to begin practicing metacognition.

The norm today is Emergency Oversimplification Procedure (EOP: the condition that sets in when there is too much information resulting in desperate shortcutting such as rationalized guesswork), a way of using the mind that as little children we fall into as a result of being surrounded by people in that state.

It never occurs to us to question it because it’s totally automatic from the first moment of awareness.

A new paper reports that children who are taught to watch their minds starting at age 2.5 years, show advantages in memory over the control group by the time they are 4.5 years old.

There shall be many other such experiments; and I will be doing some of them with Dr. Jerry Zaltman, in our work of teaching metacognition (also known as self-awareness, mindfulness, Observer state, etc.) to students from Kindergarten through college.

Eventually this will lead to children’s books, animated content, and games (physical, mental, emotional; interactive video, Artificial Reality, etc.) which teach the youngest children to pay attention to their minds as well as everything else. Jerry and I are also planning to insert courseware for public schools and colleges, and, with Chaim Oren, workshops for C suites.

Metacognition does not just improve memory, it improves quality of life. As Aristotle said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.”

The more adept the individual is at metacognition, and the more constant is his or her use of metacognition, the more situational awareness they will have, the more they will comprehend the causes and effects they experience, the more they will be able to discriminate quickly between healthy and unhealthy impulses they have. The more rapidly they can understand the principles of ethical behavior. The more easily they can avoid ego-driven behavior.

With metacognition, a child can become a mensch at an early age.

A child can learn to pay attention to hunches and see if they come true. And can realize when they are having inspired thoughts. And can even precociously discover their purpose in life. But they can only do this if they are watching their own minds as much as they watch the events being reported by their senses.

The same applies to us at all ages.

And it’s never too late to begin practicing metacognition.

The norm is by definition =100 IQ. Today’s amazing AIs are crowdsourcing and parroting everyone, hence their advice is also coming from a 100 IQ. Aspire to something higher and better. Aim for supernormal.

It is said that Buddha taught his son metacognition using a mirror.

“There are actions which bring good to the people and actions which bring harm,” Buddha said, holding up a mirror so Rahula could look at himself. “Before you say anything or do anything, reflect on what good it can do and what harm it can do. If there is any harm, do not say it, do not do it. Do this reflecting continuously. Only take actions that are purely for the good.”
The First Son, Episode Two of Agents of Cosmic Intelligence, by Bill Harvey

My Best to All,


Live chat with my avatar now.

There Is a Better Way to Run Your Mind

Created April 26, 2024
Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

The way you run your life has a lot to do with the way you run your mind.
The way you run both these things determines what kind of results you get.

You have surely noticed that not every idea you have is equally smart. We have all had experiences of being very sure of something then having it turn out to be wrong. We’ve all had experiences of ignoring our own hunches then having regretted that as they have been proven to be right.

It doesn’t have to be a crapshoot, guessing which way to go on something.

There are procedures you can learn which lead to inner clarity,
and therefore a degree of greater certainty about which way to go.

These inner procedures fall into a broad category labelled metacognition. Thinking about thinking, and more specifically observing the way you yourself think.

There are reasons why most of us do not learn metacognition naturally. One is that we take for granted things we have become accustomed to. By the time we are seven years old, the age at which Piaget postulates we enter the concrete operational stage, we have gotten so used to the automatic ways we have operated up until then, that it doesn’t occur to us that we have any choice in the matter of the way we think and feel and act. We are already firmly established in habit patterns which have been reinforced over and over again.

In the future, it will, I suspect and hope, become a well-known fact that children should be encouraged to reflect upon the ways they use their mind, starting from day one. In such a world, it might not take seven years to get to the concrete operational level, nor twelve years to get to the formal operational level, nor nearly a lifetime to become a mensch.

Acceleritis (the accelerating number of question-producing stimuli experienced by the average person in the average day) is, in my estimation, a major cause of what neuroscience calls the default network. This is a way of using our minds which the entire species now tends to over-use, due to a sense of how complex everything is, and a giving up on the possibility of figuring it all out. A half-century ago I noticed this behavior pattern and called it Emergency Oversimplification Procedure (EOP). In this behavior pattern, most of our decisions are automatic and reflect habit without reconsideration. Daniel Kahneman famously gave this behavior pattern the name System 1. Neuroscience has not validated the existence of System 1 nor System 2, and also sees this more as a continuum than a dichotomy. In fact, EOP causes dichotomania, the inability to see anything other than black-and-white polarities.

Starting to become more in control of your own mental process begins with simple observation. Watching what your mind does. Withholding judgment as to whether it is good or bad, just watching and noting the way it proceeds from step to step, or leaps across associational patterns from thinking about one subject to another one that the mind has been reminded of by a happenstance linkage between the two domains.

Common Types of Inner Experiences

The Narrator: You will notice a tendency at times to tell yourself the story of what is going on at the moment. Talking to yourself but not out loud, except perhaps at times when you assume no one can hear what you are saying. Some of us talk to ourselves out loud even when others are around. The best way to look at this is as unused creativity looking for an outlet. If you have time perhaps when you find yourself narrating your life, you might sit down and start writing without thinking twice about it, just automatically writing whatever comes into your mind.

Another less positive way of looking at The Narrator is that it is wasting time, and that it is evidence of the ego, the part of you that feels inadequate and spends energy to cover that up and protect you against all the superior people around you.

The Negativity Merchant: This is a sense of negativity that some part of you is trying to sell the rest of you. It sucks you in without your being aware of exactly what is going on, all you can discern is that you are down. It all happens too fast, slips past your guard if you have one, and you are in the grip of fear, or anger, or despair before you know it.

It appears that at least nine out of ten people have virtually zero resistance capability to this inner mood merchant.

One who is practiced in metacognition is able to detect the merchant and neuter its automatic emotional reactions.

This is an especially useful talent to have when someone is trying to push your buttons on purpose in order to manipulate and control you. The person attempting that may not even be aware they are doing it, if they too are in EOP, which is the most common state of humanity today.

Holding the emotional reaction at bay is accomplished by asking yourself questions which you might realize are questions you could have started asking yourself a long time ago. Questions like “That hurt my feelings because I care so much about other people’s estimate of me. Why do I care so much about that?” It might help at first to pretend that there is a Dutch Uncle or psychoanalyst or beloved parent asking you that question.

Pettiness is an aspect of the ego’s concerns which you can use to rein in the ego. You are a noble being, above such things.

Old Tapes: Things you’ve heard yourself say before, many times, over a period of decades. Old rhetoric. You may love some of these stories, things that made a big impression on you in your youth. They are so old they pre-date the internet, and so the word “tapes” is apropos. If the Narrator or the Negativity Merchant is trying to sell you something, they might invoke these old sayings. Some of the Old Tapes could contain valuable gold, nevertheless, as a body of work they constitute a Bias Catalog that could be holding back your own growth. It’s up to your metacognition to separate the wheat from the chaff in a new, unbiased way as if you are being reborn and can decide what to keep and what to dump.

Inspiration: Ideas just start flowing in your mind. The obvious wisdom of the words in your head makes it seem as if someone else is saying them to you. Good idea to write these down, and to make sure that you write enough about the revelations so that you later recapture the entire meaning, which can otherwise slip away.

Seeing Goodness: This can occur at any time. Suddenly you see some aspect of a person or a thing which you realize is admirable, even touching, and you feel uplifted by the moment. It can be a realization of a good side to what is otherwise not so good. It might relate to how you feel about your own life at that point in time, which is one of the best feelings we can have.

It all starts and ends in the mind.

As dark as the present days have been, we might perceive that we are living through the time in which barbarism is on its own very slow way out. Naturally, anything on its way out is going to fight like the devil to not be expunged. With our amazing media technologies and well-developed techniques of deception, well-meaning masses of people can easily be led astray. It all starts and ends in the mind, and our naivete about metacognition is the most dangerous thing in the world today, and the thing that is most easily fixed.

If the Universe Is One Consciousness, the Creator Is You

Created April 19, 2024
Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

The world’s most acclaimed quantum mechanics and relativity physicists including Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, John Wheeler, and Stephen Hawking dealt with consciousness in ways that have not, to my knowledge, been looked at by philosophers for their possible implications.

Physicists are a very useful subset of philosophers—especially when physicists deal with things beyond the physical.

Originally, physicists were not willing to deal with the non-physical; they left that to the metaphysicists and metaphysicians. Over time, two things changed:

    1. Energy, which, being invisible, was not considered physical, was reassigned to be covered by physicists.
    2. Metaphysics became lumped with superstition and religion as being outside the field of science.

Then, Einstein came along and included the observer in his thought experiments, allowing consciousness to be included in the mathematics of relativity. Heisenberg showed that the observer influenced the outcome of the experiment.

Einstein was convinced that quantum mechanics was not a complete description of reality, and he attempted to prove it by means of the EPR Paradox, which continues to be debated with a lot of difficult math by many brilliant scientists, without any final resolution. The closest thing to a resolution might be the little-known analysis by Belgian physicist Diederik Aerts which showed that quantum mechanics could not describe two separate physical systems – suggesting that the universe/multiverse cannot be more than one single system.

Einstein wanted a complete description of reality and found it hard to reconcile that with what he called “spooky action at a distance”. All of his early thinking had been based on the classical physics in which action at a distance had been ruled out and replaced by the idea of the exchange of invisible particles/wavicles in the space between objects which accounts for the illusion that they are acting upon one another. This exchange of invisible particles is a simple extension of the colliding billiard balls picture of reality which underpins all of physics all the way back and to this day.

Magnetism and gravity were satisfactorily explained using this concept. However quantum entanglement suggests that either space/distance is an illusion, or that the billiard balls being exchanged between the once-connected-physically-but-now-separated items are allowed to move much faster than the speed of light, in fact, with instantaneity.

Physicists are still debating these things today. The debates disappear if the universe happens to be one single consciousness. One Single Consciousness (OSC) is the one theory (proposed in 1976 by me as The Theory of the Conscious Universe, “TTOTCU”) I know of which explains all of the experimental and observed evidence.

The closest that physicists have come to my TTOTCU theory is Wheeler’s concept of the Participatory Anthropic Principle. This states that consciousness is the factor which converts probability waves into concrete states of physical and energetic reality. I’m pretty sure he thought of TTOTCU and recognized that he would be taking a big chance to embrace it. Instead, his theory was that matter and energy existed before consciousness, but only as probability waves, never frozen into specific forms and events, until the universe somehow evolved life forms with consciousness that now gave the universe the ability to be specific.

I find it easier to swallow TTOTCU than Wheeler’s bootstrap. In my bootstrap, the Nothingness recognizes itself as experiencing the receipt of information (i.e. a consciousness, a self) and then discovers it can imagine and create information for its own consumption. And that it can spin off avatars which can either remember their original identity or not, depending on what the universe’s game might be at the moment.

Nevertheless, since I am only a philosopher and not a physicist (as I had originally intended), I was greatly heartened to read the last book written by Stephen Hawking in which he included Wheeler’s Participatory Anthropic Principle in his own summation of reality. This gave me a leg to stand on despite the disparagement of philosophers by some scientists who call us “scientists without laboratories”.

So my Mission in life as I interpret it is to, as best I can, bring into popular awareness two things, TTOTCU and metacognition operational methodologies which have worked for me. Since I am a scientist at heart I do not proclaim that these ideas are facts, but that they are real possibilities. The entire universe/multiverse may be a single consciousness. In which case, you and I are missionaries from that consciousness into this created world which exists within the imagination of the one consciousness, a singularity which exists above time and space.

Just accept for the sake of argument that this could be the true situation. Look at where we are as a species. We have been fooled into thinking that all of this physical stuff around us is what is real, and that it all came about by the collisions of matter and energy bits, accidentally. Therefore, that there is no higher meaning or purpose to life or existence, there is nothing to stand in awe and wonder of.

Naturally, with that as the prevailing worldview (most people act as if this is what they believe, although some of us partition off our faith in a specific religion as something we also believe, but when we come out of the temple we soon begin hating and competing again) it is obvious why we have established authoritarian governments to protect us from criminals, and although seeming to be getting away from that for the past couple of thousand years it is once again flooding back front and center to apparently about half of us even in the most democratic nations.

In other words, if TTOTCU happens to be correct, but almost no one on the planet accepts that in their gut yet, we are all betting on the traditional view of materialism and accidentalism, living in fear, complaining, blaming, and having fun mostly in escapist ways. This seems to us on a subconscious level to be the most rational approach given that there is no way of knowing whether TTOTCU is reality or bunk. Or is there a way of knowing?

I find that by maintaining awareness that TTOTCU might be the reality, I am constantly receiving new information in my mind that surprises, inspires, and delights me. When I fall from this state into one of fear and negativity and attachment to outcomes, I become cut off from that Muse. I detect pragmatic value by keeping my mind open to the TTOTCU possibility. This is where metacognition comes in. You too can experiment with entertaining the TTOTCU possibility in your own lives and seeing if there are any pragmatic benefits you receive as a result.

Cooperation with others becomes the basic operating principle in a world that recognizes the possibility of TTOTCU.

Game theory comes in here as well. In game theory one inspects each alternative one has within some defined “game”, and then imagines what the outcome will be from taking this route or that one. My assertion from decades of self-experimentation is that it causes more “wins” to keep one’s mind open to the very real possibility that we are all a single consciousness. It causes fewer “wins” to rule TTOTCU out as bunk.

Negativity is self-defeating. This is consistent with Wheeler’s Participatory Anthropic Principle. We get out what we put in. It is not as simple as “manifesting” whatever we set our minds to, that is an oversimplification that goes much too far and ignores the interaction among all of the different “dinner orders” being requested by all the particles of consciousness – you and me and each of the rest of us. But it is true that Garbage In, Garbage Out – the love you take is equal to the love you make – if you put in negativity you will get back negativity – if you put in constructiveness and well wishes to all, you get back a happier world.

We call the objects we humans create “artifacts” or “artefacts”.

Einstein felt strongly that the universe is a Godifact, but preferred other terms such as Nature, and the intelligence behind Nature, the Creator.

Intention node is another name for avatar. I have also called us attention nodes, particles of consciousness, psions. Quantum theory appears to require that everything is definitely one connected system. Consciousness is something each of us avatars has, and perhaps someday our memory blocks will be released and we will remember our true identity, and even remember the moment we first realized ourself.

Gold In Gold Out

Negative In Negative Out

Positive In Positive Out

Love In Love Out

Opportunities = what we today feel are the insurmountable problems about to destroy us and the planet – our own doing – we understandably (because of not knowing the TTOTCU lens is a real possibility) are down in the dumps about our condition. As long as we continue to be stuck in that old way of looking at things, we will just make things worse. We need to exercise our courage and our free will to open our minds to a new position of clarity and openness to entirely new ideas, and to see us as lucky to be the generations alive today at the turning point in history, where we take ourselves in hand and set up the new system of the world.

Love to All,

Live chat with my avatar now.