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Neurohacking - Resources
Written by NHA   
Thursday, 23 April 2015 07:54
Tags hacks - exercises






Volume 3


Section 4

Advanced level hacks & exercises


Network 5, abilities & functions

5.1 sense of acceleration/deceleration, hardwired calculation abilities

5.2 Self awareness, self esteem, presentation

5.3 Declarative memory & association

5.4 Ergonomic processing & analysis

5.5 Autonomy, innovation, introspection & planning

5.6 Formal language & Intellect (IQ)

5.1 sense of acceleration/deceleration, hardwired calculation abilities


    1 Write down the letters of the alphabet and put the numbers 1-26 above them.

    Write yourself notes using the numbers only and read them in a week’s time, seeing if you can remember what they say. An even better method is to work with a partner and write each other coded notes that you then have to decipher. Practise working out what the code would be for random phrases or words, in your head without using pen and paper.

If you speak two or more languages, practise translating phrases from one to the other.

Mind maps improve eidetic memory too.


 2 Give the different letters of the alphabet the numerical values 1-26 [A=1, B=2 etc]. Try to think of words in which the sum of the letters adds up to 40. Next time you can use a different figure.



Exercise for networks 4 & 5 – hand binary calculation

First we assign values to the fingers of our right hand, like so:

The thumb counts as 1, the index finger 2, the middle finger 4, the ‘ring’ finger 8, and the little finger 16.

Each finger can be down [representing a 0] or up, [representing a 1]. Start with all the fingers in the down position. Thus, each position has a 0, and this represents the number zero [00000 = 0]. You can now represent any 5-bit number with one hand. For instance, to represent 10011 [which is 19 in decimal] , your fingers would be Up/Down/Down/Up/Up.

Now let’s play with it – to add one, look for the smallest [value] finger that is down. Raise it, and lower all fingers in even smaller positions.

With one hand, we can represent numbers up to 11111 [31] to get up to 1000, use the other hand: The thumb on the left hand represents the ‘32’ position, the index finger 64, the middle finger 128, the ‘ring’ finger 256, and the little finger 512. With this, we can get up to number 1111111111 [1023].

For example: 1000 is represented as 1111101000 [because 512+256+128+64+32+8=1000].

Making a game out of translating numbers that you think of into binary notation using your fingers like this may seem a bit pointless, if you’ll pardon the pun. Here’s the point: the networks you have to use in order to do this are getting great exercise. You’ll become more adept at all kinds of other calculation skills without having to practice.

You’ll also fine-tune your sensorimotor network, so you’ll notice improvements in dexterity and physical response time as well as mental calculation abilities.


5.2 Self awareness, self esteem, presentation

 Hack self esteem & improve coping skills -evaluating and challenging negative self-talk.

Negative self-talk can become an automatic habitual reaction to stressful events. Reframing assists in becoming aware of any internal monologue; and widens our perspective in particularly challenging situations. Awareness of intrusion from internal dialogue relates to emotional awareness and regulation, and self-awareness. Furthermore, modification of negative self-talk is important in the process of learning to regulate feelings. Recognizing self-talk helps us reproduce perspectives of others in private speech and incorporate multiple perspectives into relational and emotional problem solving. Moreover, self-awareness, monitoring, and communication of one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are essential prerequisites for healthy emotional functioning.

Steps involved in this hack are (a) becoming aware of one’s thoughts, (b) evaluating the content, and challenging negative perceptions by questioning their validity, (c) the reframing activity, which utilizes the answers to the questions in part (b).


a) Consider the problem or issue you are working on. What are your thoughts and feelings? Be honest.

b) Ask yourself the following questions (they are designed to challenge erroneous beliefs or cognitions.):


1.Are these thoughts really true?

2.Are the negative aspects of this situation being overemphasized or overweighted in memory?

3.What is the worst thing that could really happen?

4.Is there anything that might be positive about this situation?

5.Is a negative outcome assumed? Why?

6.How do you know the situation will turn out badly?

7.Is there another way to look at this situation?

8.What difference will this make next week? In a month? In a year?

9.If you had one month to live, how important would this be?

10.Are you setting unrealistic standards for yourself? Would you be this harsh if the event had happened to a friend?


c) Using your answers to these questions, write a positive reframe for the scenario.


Student example:

Original scenario: I just had a bad disagreement with my best friend in which I got anxious and used sentiment and dysfunctional behavior. It ended badly and I will not be able to talk to them until tomorrow.

Reframing: I cannot read their mind so I will not jump to conclusions about what they are thinking. A little time away from the situation may be good. If we're both sensible and have time to think, we should be able to sort it out tomorrow.


hack for reducing suspected self obsession

There are various methods for redirecting our attention away from thinking about ourselves all the time. One of the best, perhaps surprisingly, is gardening or taking care of plants. But the key thing in all methods is to occupy the mind with healthy input -and get into the habit of deliberately seeking out healthy input (about any subject except yourself!) whenever you catch yourself mulling over self-interested thoughts & feelings.

Challenging irrational beliefs is always good for disarming paranoia and also good for avoiding self obsession. Useful questions:
1 What makes you think you are more important than others?
2 Why have you got into the habit of constant self-analysis?
3 What makes you think others are interested in you, or your opinions & beliefs?
4 Does feedback confirm your beliefs that others are interested in you?


 Hack to assess self-capability at any task

The answers to two simple questions, if we are able to be honest, can accurately forecast how we will respond to a stressful situation.

The two key questions are:

"How demanding do you expect the task to be?"
"How able are you to cope with the demands of the task?"

You score your answer to each question on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 6 (extremely). The difference between the two provides a single measure of whether you interpret the forthcoming event as a challenge (when coping ability outweighs demands) or a threat (coping ability insufficient for the demands).

The important research finding is that this single measure accurately predicts how well we subsequently cope with situations. Those who rate the upcoming situation as more of a threat tend to perform worse than those who rate it more as a challenge. Moreover, these two simple questions predict our coping abilities above and beyond other relevant factors such as age and years of experience.[154]


Exercises for objective self assessment

Objectify an aspect of yourself using analogization:

Schedule for an hour free. If you don't get the analogy, you won't be able to do the exercise, so read it through first.


Imagine that your body is the outside 'hull' of your starship and you begin the game as the Captain. As the Captain you expect the crew to take good care of the ship, and today you are going to inspect it to see if they are doing their job well or if they need more instruction. To do the inspection, here is your maintenance crew's check list to tick off:


1 The outside skin should be clean and free from parasites; any scratches, injuries or other damage should be under repair. Clean if necessary, taking note of any surface problems.

2 Fuel intake, waste disposal systems and docking bays should be clean and unobstructed. Clean if necessary, take note of any problems.

3 Determine current weight of ship in air @ 1G, and note.

4 All sensors should be in good working order and unobstructed. Test if necessary.

5 The ship's AI will know if there have been any problems lately. Ask it to recall any physical issues still needing attention.

6 Put the ship through its paces - Can it pitch, roll and yaw without discomfort? (see diagram)


Pitch, roll & yaw


7 Send all your notes to the First Officer in network 5


Now you play the First Officer. Look at your Captain's report. What sections of the crew may need more resources or other input to do their jobs better? Plan and implement the means to achieve this. Congratulate your crew and yourself for jobs well done but point out what is currently lacking and how it may be improved. Explain your plans and warn them if you may need to change routines slightly to achieve better results.

Now you have a very clear idea of the state of your physical body and what you are doing to improve it, and all you did was play a game. This is how real learning, and real improvement, come about. Inventing your own analogical scenarios works even better, as the characters you must play will associate more closely with your real self than ours do.



Assessment exercise – how are things going?

Particularly look at what is 'moving towards' growth and what is moving towards decline. -What is the ratio of one to the other in your surroundings? In your input? In your output? In your relationships? In your plans?


feedback exercises

Draft a list of the judgments and decisions you’ve made over the past 30 days. Reconsider each one, focusing on how bias could have contributed – and what you can do to ensure it didn’t.

Consider past judgments or decisions that led to a less-than-beneficial results. Are you sure the results had no benefits? What have you learned because of the resulting experiences (apart from not to do it again)?

Remaining objective about intuition

1. Be comfortable with not knowing some things and accept that you don't know yet. View the intuitions or impressions you’ve received as stand alone data, and don't be in a rush to know what it means or to trust it straight away. Trust that you will see whether it pans out when you know more and trust that if it is sound, there will be conscious evidence to back it up. Look for some.

2. Give it time. Sometimes the simple act of sitting with something long enough helps you feel differently about it or brings it into conscious awareness. Either is useful.

3. Let go and detach from outcomes. Meditation is a great way of learning how to do this. The simple act of letting thoughts rise and fall, without latching on to them is certainly a useful skill. It can help immensely in detaching from our own subjective views.

4. If you are fortunate enough to know other intelligent people whom you trust, get a second opinion. Depending on how you’ve received the intuitive hunch or insight, you might want to ask what a trusted friend thinks. Just talking something through with someone you trust can help you understand it better yourself. Don't depend on others to decide what to do for you; tell them your proposed solutions along with the problem.

5. Keep anxiety down. If you become anxious whilst thinking about a problem, stop and do some anxiety reduction before continuing to work on it.


Directed abstraction for hacking low self-esteem

People with low self-confidence are liable to hold onto negative assumptions about themselves despite concrete evidence of the contrary; that is, they fail to "generalize from success". This can often happen to NH students during snapback. A new technique, called directed abstraction, can help the overly-self-critical change their mindsets.[153]


Directing abstraction means:

1 considering something you are usually good at

2 stopping to consider how a specific success with this task or skill may have more general implications (this is the abstraction part)

3 directing your thinking towards which personal abilities were key to the success.


Student's example: “I was able to score very high on this computer game because I have good spatial and sensorimotor responses, a good working memory, fast reflexes...etc ”


Engaging in directed abstraction appears to give a particular boost to those people who tend to believe they have low competence day to day: afterwards, they not only had more confidence in their ability (than similarly self-critical control participants), they also believed they would do better at similar tasks (like playing computer games) that they approached in the future.

The technique seems to be appropriate for a range of settings, although obviously it’s only useful to use it following an event that can be reasonably seen as a success, otherwise it could backfire. And it’s simple to use working with a friend or by ourselves, just by taking the time after any success to think through what it owes to our personal qualities.


5.3 Declarative memory & association

declarative memory speed-learning hack

Choose any topic from the NHA site that you do not know much about yet but are interested in and would like to learn more.

Instead of researching the topic to learn it, imagine that in half an hour you are going to have to explain the basics of it to a newbie.

Spend 10 minutes (only) reading about your chosen topic on the website, making notes and planning how you will explain it as you go. Can you construct any diagrams on the topic? Can you think of any analogies that might make it easier for your student?

Researchers have uncovered this simple technique which measurably improves declarative memory for passages of text. All that's required is to imagine and consciously 'behave as though' you're going to teach the material to someone else, which increases the unconscious 'importance' weighing during input thus ensuring more accurate long term storage in declarative memory.

exercises for declarative memory:

Remembering Verbal Material –recapping

In situations where you are unable to refer back to visual material for review, recapping is a useful technique. Using recapping also does away with the need to take immediate notes.

What you do is whenever the speaker says ‘any questions?’ [or after the talk] say you would like to ensure that you have understood what has been said so far. You then express in your own words the main points made and ask for correction if necessary. This ensures communication is fully understood and it is a powerful memory aid because it helps concentration (especially on boring or difficult material.)

At the end of the presentation do a major recap of the material as a whole and ask questions if you need to for further clarification.

This recapping may also be done with a third party after the event –anybody who seemed to take more of it in than you did. It can also be used with books or film and video material.


Primacy and Recency

    The beginning of an event, lecture, film, journey, list etc., is likely to be weighted more strongly and consequently remembered. This is also true of the final scene, passage, conclusion and so on. This characteristic of weighting can be used to advantage by introducing the main points or characters you need to remember early on and summarizing the conclusions at the end. This principle will work for periods of several years (e.g. at college) as it will for short lists of objects. It is also true for life as a whole in that early events are most influential and recent events most easily remembered in detail.

Think of ways that first and last things seen can be designed to envelop the whole. With an essay this may be a first paragraph that summarizes your argument and a final paragraph that summarizes your main points.

Verbal learning memory booster

Memory can be boosted by taking a brief wakeful rest after learning something verbally new, and that memory lasts not just immediately but over a longer term.

"Boosting new memories with wakeful resting." July 23rd, 2012. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-07-boosting-memories-resting.html


Tag weighting with words

You can use cognitive input to enhance memory weighting. The fastest way to do that is start telling yourself to remember. If you just learned a person's name, for example, tell yourself, "Remember that". This signals the unconscious mind to rank this input higher in importance.

Tell yourself why you want to remember something, and how you will remember it. To remember a person, think about how that person will be important to you in the future, where you'll see them next, and anything you notice about them. Clearly seeing the importance of remembering will help a lot and the additional associations (where you expect to see the person next, for example) will weight the memory more densely in the first place.

Use a keyword, for example ‘record’; as an instruction to your unconscious mind to increase weighting on the recording of an event and a signal to yourself to pay attention. This works well in self-suggestion and hypnosis.


Hack to improve declarative memory & learning speed:

This is an ‘add-on’ to the “Mind Map” method. It’s great when swotting for exams, learning from books or manuals, or trying to remember a big load of facts in any context:

Quantity survey the info –break it up into bits, one for each study session that you have available.

Scan briefly through the information as though you are a shopper flicking through a catalog looking for interesting things for sale. Look at anything that automatically catches your eye, such as pictures or headlines, but don’t dwell on anything for too long.

Study introductions, summaries and conclusions first. Make a mind map as you’re going along. The keywords will help your storage and recall.

As mentioned earlier, the brain has a natural timing optimal for learning and remembering. The trouble is, everyone's is slightly different. Research shows that this spacing effect is the product of the transfer of the memory trace from the flocculus, a cerebellar cortex region which connects to motor nuclei involved in eye movement, to another brain region known as the vestibular nuclei. Protein synthesis in the cerebellum plays a key role in memory consolidation, and humans and animals are able to remember things more effectively if learning is distributed over a period of time rather than performed all at once.

You can find out yours by trial and error starting with the basic method below:

Study until you are just starting to get bored with it. Wait ten minutes, then go over the material again. Then leave it alone for 24 hours, and at the same time next day, look at the material a third time. You can then forget about it for a week, after which you should review it once more. If you want to keep the information long-term, you should include another two sessions, one after a month and one after six months. If you keep to this pattern of timing, your memory of the material will be stronger, and if you use it regularly, permanent.


Recent research devised a mathematical method to calculate your ideal learning schedule, which can be found here:



exercise to improve declarative memory

Testing yourself on something that you like and know well (for example, your knowledge of star trek, or movies, or your favorite subject) will temporarily improve declarative memory for everything else in the few hours after the test. This means you can have fun answering a quiz on whatever you're into while knowing that you are giving your declarative memory a boost.

Useful just before considering decisions or for learning something new you are not so good at; this exercise gives you an advantage right before you start.

It even works if you do a test about totally banal stuff; so go ahead -

DO IT NOW -without looking to check, answer the following questions:

1 what color is the floor in your bathroom?

2 how many black shirts do you have?

3 state the number of things currently in your fridge

4 what date is your best friends birthday?

5 how many odd socks do you currently have?

6 how many hard copy books are in your living room?

7 what color underpants are you currently wearing?

8 what is the nearest town to your current home?

9 where is your electricity supply emergency cutoff switch?

10 where can you turn off the water supply to your house?

You can now check the answers for yourself and see how many you got right. (The last two may also assist you in future crises).

The important part: For the next few hours your declarative memory is primed to remember whatever you choose to put in it.


Hacks & Exercises to improve recall

When declarative menory problems arise, we usually forget names first of all. If you do this, first you need to find out whether you have a genuine long-term memory problem or whether it is only a 'recall' problem. You can test this by finding out whether the names/facts that are forgotten can be recalled with someone prompting you (the usual example of prompting is giving the starting letter; for example, this dude's name begins with 'A'). If the name still cannot be recalled even when given the starting letter, it's a genuine LTP issue. If the name IS recalled when given this clue, it's just a recall problem.

If it's a recall problem, an immediate hack is to line up a row of family/friends photos and see how fast you can name each one. (Practice will result in fast improvement unless there is a problem with receptors). Alternate version: make a list of movies you've seen and see how many actors you can name from each movie.

Another one: Look up the names of people you know, to find out what their names actually mean (for example Alexander means 'helper of man'). This exercise increases associations with names (which increases memory access connections in the brain).

Mnemonics also work well. A fun example is to make up 'warrior names' for all your relatives, for example 'Mary the Magnificent' or 'Dave the Defender', (and imagine them all dressed up in warrior costumes, it's hilarious) : ) This helps us recall names better but it does have the side effect of making us giggle, when the associated 'warrior' image pops up in our mind, along with the name.


Hack for those unfortunate dudes studying for exams:

If you can break the school conditioning that books should be read 'properly' or not at all it can cut your study time by at least 50 per cent. This method will not guarantee information staying in long term memory, so it should be done a week or two before the exam for best results [see next hack for stuff you actually want to learn]. You have to be prepared to draw all over books or notes so find a pencil if you don’t want them permanently scribbled on. Then follow this formula:

1. preview:This is an initial survey at speed. Look at the amount of material and consider the amount of time you have to learn it. Divide the load into days/weeks etc (eg if there are x pages/chapters of text to study in y days/weeks, you need to study z pages per day/week.) Remembering to take breaks to optimize your learning, go through each section in the following manner:

Scan briefly through everything but the main text. Look at the contents page, pictures, back cover or dust cover notes, summaries, conclusions, graphics, margin notes, italics, bold type, capitals, subheadings, quotes, tables, dates, statistics, graphs, footnotes etc. Be especially careful to pay attention to the outlines of diagrams, and other illustrations. Aim to understand the overall structure of the information. Don't make notes yet.

2. zoom outview: Now read the beginnings and ends of each chapter and scan the rest of the text. Aim to get the gist of the arguments but leapfrog the difficult detailed or boring bits. Key word diagram notes or highlighting may help if the structure is complex. You can now begin to select what is useful to study further, criticize the content and reject parts, marking only what you are sure will be useful.

3. zoom inview: Reread what you have so far concluded will be useful and start making notes or a mind map. Look at some of the difficult bits and details associated with key areas but still don't get bogged down; if it’s not clear move on regardless (few authors will not summarize key points clearly at some stage!) Mark key summary text and related passages so they stand out. Make your own index of relevant pages and subject areas on the rear fly leaf.

4. overview: Re-read key text and related passages. Scan to make key notes and/or a mind map. For a heavy book or area of study make a mind map or large general diagram of the overall structure and sub-diagrams for each section/topic etc. See what bits of information are missing and seek them out in the material, adding to your notes/mind map. Include in your map associations with stuff you already know.

5. review: Read notes next day and then in one week and in a month. In the first review redraw the initial key word diagram - to clarify the pattern. The subsequent reviews can be quick - a matter of 5 minutes. If you’ve followed the formula you may find you now have time to fill in a few more details and because you have all the basics, this should be easier. Consider the way this information relates to you personally and what it will enable you to do.

6. clear view: Form a strategy for prioritisation of things to remember, considering what is likely to be required of you and what sort of context you will be expected to put the information in.


Exaggerate differences and similarities

    A foreign or exotic word might stand out from a passage of normal prose. A flower might stand out in a muddy battlefield. A sparrow would stand out in an aviary of finches. The weird, unexpected, unusually strident out of context, will be remembered. Exaggerations of SIZE seem to be especially effective, and to remember in time, make it rhyme.

To memorize a forgettable name, exaggerate or use an associated rhyming word that will make it stick in the mind. (Examples: Smith, Myth; Dave, Slave; Peter, Meter)


Input control when learning declarative information

An environment free from distraction is a great help. This is a personal thing but some find it useful to get out of their familiar surroundings. Go to the local library or set aside a new space.

Difficult material will generally require shorter, sharper periods of concentration e.g. heavy technical information.

Take regular breaks for exercise. To avoid over-familiarity, consecutive periods of study should provide you with a variety of stimuli, i.e. similar subjects and media should not be learned in sequence.

Always remember that no new knowledge can be moved into long term memory until after you next sleep!


    Fiction Exercise, declarative memory

Choose one page of any fiction book at random and read through it once. Put the book away out of your sight and answer the following questions:


Who was the main character mentioned on that page?

What other characters were mentioned on the page?

What were the main objects referred to on the page?

How much information do you have that tells you where the action was talking place?

How much information do you have that tells you when the events were taking place?

If there was speaking, who spoke?

What was the most significant event occurring on the page?

What was the number of the page?


You can vary this technique and use it with non-fiction, magazine articles, film reviews and whatever you want to play with.


Test yourself

Experiments show that with retrieval practice, everything gets substantially better ("everything" includes target memory; cue for the stimulus that evinces the target; and association of the relationships between things.

Pretend you are setting an exam or quiz for students of the subject you are learning. If you study in this mode, noting down the issues it will be important for students to remember and what sort of questions you could ask to see if they have the basics, you can often pre-empt an entire exam and predict many of the actual questions!

for hacking mental ruts

Talk about it out loud. Stand up and walk around and talk. Answer your own questions out loud as though talking to someone else. Saying stuff out loud breaks the habit of restricted thinking, and words start coming together in different ways. Research explains why this happens: written language and spoken language are processed in different parts of the brain and activate different neurons.


Exercise to understand how conguous association works in general, and how in particular you personally make decisions

Take a word, thing or process at random. The thing or process should be represented in a single word, symbol or even photograph. Write, draw or stick this in the centre of a large sheet of paper or your screen. Then using the word or picture as a focus, make a mind map, placing around it as many associations as you can jot down in 5 minutes. This in itself may be revealing.

If you can do this with others, it's very interesting to see someone else's associations and thoughts around a subject as a reference point from which to judge your own.

Next, do a more detailed version in which you allow associations of associations. If you have enough room you will see how association ‘chains’ can branch out to follow different sequences of thought. What constructs do you see behind the associations? What poles do they have?What are the continua behind the constructs? What ontological assumptions inform the choice of each continuum?

This process can obviously be useful when entering upon a new subject of study, but you may not have thought of doing it with random subjects before. The extensive associations on the more complex version will give you a clear sense of what concepts and constructs influence consideration of the subject in your mind.


5.4 Ergonomic processing & analysis

Hack to increase resilience against distraction

New research reveals that by learning to make discriminations of a sound amidst progressively more disruptive distractions, we can diminish our distractibility. A similar strategy might also help people with attention problems or other mental challenges.

Distractibility, or the inability to sustain focus on a goal due to attention to irrelevant stimuli, can have a negative effect on basic daily activities, and it is a hallmark of the aging mind.

To do this hack you will need to make your own recording: researchers used different sounds as 'targets' and 'distractors', with the goal of having trainees focus on the target frequencies while ignoring the distractor frequencies. Then they had to continue to correctly identify that target sound amidst progressively more challenging 'distractor' sounds. Distractor sounds were progressively made more similar to the target sound.

Training led to diminished distraction-related errors, and trainees' memory and attention spans improved. Also, EEG recordings revealed that neural responses to distractors were reduced.

hack to prevent repetitive mistakes

This is a cognitive behavioral style hack.

Imagine your brain as analagous to a computer system which keeps on making some error that repeatedly results in the same problematic consequences. You know the judgment/decision process is going wrong somewhere, but you don't yet know where. By analogizing, we can view the system objectively as what is under scrutiny here; not ourselves.

If a system repeats a mistake, it has for some reason 'trusted' false information (either as input data or from its own software) twice. Where is that false information coming from, and what is the correct information it should be replaced with?

Go through this checklist of possible problem areas:

1 Is this a hardware problem or a software problem? -Is the system getting what it needs to perform properly (such as adequate power, accurate information, correct procedures)? Maybe we don't know, but in the human case if we suspect the system may be affected by lack of its needs being met, we can check the physical basics so we can eliminate some possibilities. Human systems need: Play, Exercise, Nutrition, Input and Sleep (which has the unfortunate acronym of 'PENIS', which we are unlikely to forget).

2 Is any wrong input or incidental input biasing or distracting the system? In the human case this could be anxiety, emotional instability, cognitive dissonance, alcohol, drugs, illness or conditioning. Again maybe we don't know, but we can practice anxiety reduction, emotional awareness and reasoning, to help eliminate a few more possibilities.

3 Is there an error in input? In a human, output for new decisions requires drawing conclusions from input evidence. If the initial evidence is false (or if there is no evidence) obviously the output (the decision) will be wrong. WE are the judges of input, and must depend on how genuine we can prove it to be.

Even if we are adept at judging input, input from people prone to anxiety or cognitive dissonance who say things they don't mean is still a danger here, since if we don't know them we might take them seriously (misplaced trust), and if we do know them we still have no sure way of knowing which bits they DO mean to be taken seriously (high level of uncertainty), so after a time (or a few times, anyway), everything they say is unconsciously labeled 'possibly not true; don't rely on this'. Discard any input from anxiety-driven or anxiety-vulnerable sources and also any for which there is high uncertainty.

4 Is there an error in procedures? In human terms, are we under- or over-analyzing the situation? Are we over-weighting intuition or rationality? Are we pre-judging a situation, person or thing without really knowing enough facts about them?

5 is external interference taking place; such as hacking? In human terms, this means are we doing things of our own free will or obeying the wishes/commands of others? Are we being coerced or deceived into situations or behaviors which later turn out to be harmful or wrong?

If we feel forced to base our judgment and decisions on the wishes of someone else (or the rules of a counterfeit game) they are unlikely to bring success for our real selves.

6 Is the error in the operating systems ontology? In human terms, are we basing decisions on a false underlying belief or assumption (such as, 'it's different this time', or, 'it won't happen again', or, 'this is sinful')? Are we framing a situation as 'inevitable' when in fact it isn't?

Short term temperature hack for important judgments & decisions

You probably know that lack of sleep, poor nutrition, alcohol and drugs can affect our ability to make decisions. What you may not know is that temperature can too.

Homeostasis tries to maintain a working temperature for mammals of around 36-37c (97-98f), and we have quite a small range of tolerance. Variation in temperatures is a normal occurrence and we may not think about the implications it has on our cognitive faculties.

Our own individual tolerance range calibrates to the context where we normally live, and in sudden transitions to a colder or hotter context it takes us a couple of days to adapt. During that time, judgment and decision making abilities may be enhanced or impaired.

Our optimal function zone ambient temperature is around 22.2c (72f), and raising the ambient temperature just 5 degrees to 25c (77f) will make us measurably worse at spotting errors. Shifting the ambient temperature 5 degrees lower to 19.4c (67f), however, enables us to detect twice as many.

It's all about glucose metabolism. Hot contexts require the body to burn more glucose (use more energy) than cold contexts. The more glucose is used to regulate body temperature, the less glucose is available to be used for higher order cognitive functions like making decisions.[131]

This is a short term hack because the body adapts after a few days and the hack then has no effect, but if you have an important judgment or decision to make, drop the ambient temperature in your room by 5 degrees.

Because lowering temperature is temporarily good for cognition, that doesn't mean more is better. Ambient temperature of below 19c (66.2f) for long periods begins to compromise our immune system. Nor does this mean those living in cooler climates make better decisions; remember adaptation will cancel out the effect quite quickly so save the hack for important decisions.

Also remember, if our context is temporarily too hot, our decision making abilities are likely to be impaired until we adapt, so don't make important decisions during a heatwave or shortly after arriving somewhere hotter than you're used to.

Decision-assisting hacks

1 You will need: an images website or selection of varied magazine/book pictures.

Find six pictures; two that remind you of pleasant events or places in your past, two that make you think of possible pleasant events in the future, and two that remind you about nice stuff going on in your current life. Save them in your Captains Log.

Focusing on the relevant time-related images when making decisions related to past, present or future helps the decision making process. Prompting ourselves with images related to the future, for example, causes unconscious processing that makes it easier to think more realistically about the future. This is a handy hack for those who feel they need to be less impulsive and make healthier long-term decisions.[132]

2 For those who wish to increase their ability to delay gratification (for example, you get one cookie now or a whole box next week). If you have difficulty delaying gratification, tend to 'grab the single cookie' and find yourself losing out, have a fruit/honey snack during the decision making process.

Our blood glucose level not only regulates eating behavior but also decision-making. In other words, can you wait longer to get a bigger reward when your blood glucose levels are higher? Research finds that, yes, you can![133]

This doesn't work with all sugars or sweeteners; in fact those who tried a diet coke during the decision making process were MORE prone to impulsivity; going for small immediate returns instead of more profitable delayed rewards.[134]

Socratic Questioning mnemonic for analysis of info and improving comprehension

PQRST. It stands for:

Preview (look at ALL the available information. What is it generally about?)

Question (Which questions are you hoping to answer by reading or listening to this information?)

Read (read through it or listen and take notes)

Summarize (What is the summary of the information?)

Test (Have you answered all your questions?)

Try PQRST on any documentary, TV programme, newspaper article, friend's report of an event, etc.

This is called 'Socratic Questioning', or sometimes 'Directed Self Discovery' as it involves asking questions about what you are trying to achieve. Socratic questions tend to be ones like, 'What do I already know about this?' and 'What might I learn from this?' In other words, you are trying to access any concepts or constructs that you have for a particular set of information so that you can be consciously aware of how you are congruously adding to it.


Exercises to improve mindfulness

One of the worst habits of conditioning is that we simply don't pay attention any more. We're always trying to get things done quickly, and because of that, we lose the childlike wonder of focusing in on the smaller details and asking "why is that there?" So, like any habit, increasing your powers of awareness means first identifying the bad habit (prioritizing quantity instead of quality; getting things done fast and missing the smaller details), and cultivating new habits (slowing down and paying attention). The first step is to just stop and pay attention every once and awhile, but here are a few things you can do to train your brain along the way:

1 Give yourself monthly, weekly or daily challenges that enable you to slow down

One of the classic tricks for forming a new habit is to gradually get used to it regularly but in an unobtrusive manner. Since we're looking at mindfulness (awareness) as a habit, let's start by observing one new thing every day. You can do anything you want here, provided it causes you to slow down and observe the real world from another perspective. Some suggestions are:

Take one photograph each day of a detail in nature and think/learn about it.

Try something you have never eaten before once a week and give it points on a 'tasty' scale of 1-10.

Note the different (or similar) colors of clothes people wear each day for a week.

Look at a piece of artwork you've never seen before once a day. Do you like it? Why?

Listen to a piece of music you've never heard before once a week. Do you like it? Why?

Note the changes in a natural area once a month -make notes or take a photo if you like. What changes took place when?

View pictures of the natural world every day. Research shows that those who view at natural scenes (even for less than a minute) make significantly fewer errors and demonstrate superior concentration.[137]

...The idea is to gradually teach ourselves to notice small details in our environment and daily life. As we do so, we'll become more attuned to reality and more likely to notice what's changing and at what pace.

2 Take field notes to focus attention

If you're really struggling to pay attention and personal challenges aren't working, science can teach us another trick: start taking field notes throughout the day, like a detective or anthropologist.

Many of us need to retrain our attention, learning to focus on relevant features and disregard those that are less salient. One of the best ways to do this is through the ergonomic process of taking field notes: writing descriptions and drawing pictures of what we see.

When we get ourselves in the mindset of taking field notes, we start paying more attention to the details. We can do this anywhere, including online with videos; dedicate 10 minutes to observing a different person's (or animals') behavior. Pay attention to how often they repeat small behaviors, when their eyes stray from one thing to another, or if they're constantly changing behaviors. The more you do this on paper, the better you'll get at being aware of it on the fly.

3 Briefly meditate or initiate the relaxation response daily

Meditation or relaxation can help increase our focus. A few minutes a day is all we really need. Mindfulness training teaches us to pay attention to ourselves and what's going through our head more accurately. It's not about going on a meditation retreat, but just taking a couple of minutes to focus. When we can focus on ourselves, we become a better observer of the real world as well.

Some people (often frontloaders) find it difficult to meditate, which rather baffles them because it sounds so easy: just relax, close your eyes, and think of nothing; blank your mind, as though you were listening hard... yeh, right  :  )

If you have problems starting meditation  then it's a good idea to:

1 delay starting meditation until you've done some other anxiety-reducing activities, preferably physical ones such as martial arts, massage, dancing or yoga.

2 remember once you do start meditation that things will change after a certain 'critical mass' of practice, and all you need to do is put in the practice; you don't have to 'get it right', you just need to keep up the habit of practice. Some have found it helpful to recite a long poem by memory during first attempts to calm the mind. This does mean going to the effort of learning the poem but it keeps the mind focused in a manner that has enough points of similarity to meditation that it eases our way. Another similar method is to try to concentrate on a favorite piece of music and really listen attentively to the whole piece while lying quietly relaxing. Don't worry if you fall asleep doing this the first few times; that's your body catching up on lost defragging time; as you progress, meditation will replace lost sleep and you'll notice a rapid improvement in memory when this happens.

4 remember critical thinking

Once we start paying close attention to the real world, we can start turning those observations into theories or ideas. Deduction is about thinking through a situation logically and applying critical thinking to what we're seeing. Essentially, critical thinking is analyzing what we observe closely, and deduction is coming up with a conclusion based on those facts.

The first step is to recapture our childlike awe of the world and start asking as many questions as possible. It's important to make a habit of thinking critically about things. So, when we store new information or learn anything new, we don't just automatically let it into our brain; we learn to critically analyze input. We ask ourselves, "Why is this important?" "How does this connect with things I already know?" or "Why do I want to remember it?" When we're doing that we're training our brain to make connections between things and we're building a more comprehensive network of knowledge.

When we're asking a lot of questions, we're thinking critically, and that improves our skills at deduction in general. Writing down our ideas and conclusions about stuff we are reading, and the questions we have during and after reading, will consolidate those ideas in our memories. Traditionally, mind maps are used as brainstorming tools, but they're a great way to take notes as well.

5 Form associations between what you see and what you know

Of course, all the increased awareness and critical thinking isn't going to do us any good unless we can start making associations between the knowledge we already have and new input we encounter. New information should connect and cohere with previous knowledge like a mind map. The more associations we make, and the more often we think critically, the better we're going to get at making deductions.

If it's difficult to 'bridge the gap' between existing knowledge and new information, there is incongruity somewhere. Seek it out!

5.5 Autonomy, innovation, introspection & planning

Gratitude hack

Research shows that people who are thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress, have more positive emotions, and are better able to reach their goals. Experiencing gratitude is strongly associated with improved health.

We feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. We can apply it to the past (retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of childhood or past fun), the present (not taking everything for granted as it comes), and the future (maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude).

Studies have shown that gratitude can produce a number of measurable effects on a number of systems in your body, including:

increase of serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, norepinephrine, testosterone

decrease of cortisol, cytokines

decrease of blood pressure and blood sugar.


Gratitude helps us refocus our attention toward what's good and right in our life, rather than dwelling on the negatives or things we may feel are lacking.

Here are some ways to increase gratitude:

One way to harness the positive power of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal or list, where you actively write down exactly what you're grateful for or happy about each day. In one study people who kept a gratitude journal reported exercising more, and they had fewer visits to the doctor compared to those who focused on sources of aggravation.


If someone does something nice, send them a thankyou email.


Once a week, reflect on events for which you are grateful, and write them down. As you do, feel the sensations of happiness and thankfulness you felt at the time it happened, going over it again in your mind.


Practicing meditation with a theme means that you're actively paying attention to the theme alone. A mantra is sometimes used to help maintain focus, but we can also focus on something that we're grateful for, such as our abilities, our health, or a happy memory.


Starting each day by thinking of all the things you have to be thankful for is one way to put your mind on the right track. Also, remember that your future depends largely on the thoughts you think today. So each moment of every day is an opportunity to turn your thinking around, thereby helping or hindering your ability to think and feel more positively in the very next moment.


5.6 Formal language & Intellect (IQ)

exercises for improving thinking skills

The following four exercises are used by a Certain Intelligence Agency to improve thinking skills.


Breaking mental ruts

If you get stuck with a creative output problem, talk about it out loud. Go somewhere private, sit or lie down, relax, and talk. Good questions are: "What is the point of this paragraph? What am I trying to communicate?" "The point I am trying to get across is that ...," Answer yourself out loud as though talking to someone else. Often, it just comes. Saying it out loud breaks the block, and words start coming together in different ways.

Researchers have learned why this happens; written language and spoken language are processed in different parts of the brain. Often, speaking frees up the unconscious to do some lateral thinking in its spare time.


Sometimes ruts are caused by too much repetitive work or self-restricting habits. Reconsider:

We do not necessarily need to be constrained by what the 'mainstream' or others believe. Some things we think we already 'know' could be wrong.

We do not necessarily need to be constrained by existing frameworks. Frames can be changed if you need a broader perspective.

We do not necessarily need to be constrained by the data available. Often there is a chance to find out more; however small.


Question assumptions and conclusions

It is a truism that we need to question our own and others' assumptions. Experience tells us that when analytical judgments turn out to be wrong, it usually was not because the information was wrong. It was because an analyst made one or more faulty assumptions or unjustified conclusions that went unchallenged. Sometimes, assumptions that worked well in the past continue to be applied to new situations long after they have become outmoded.

One approach is to do an informal sensitivity analysis. How sensitive is the ultimate judgment/decision to changes in any of the major variables or driving forces in the situation? Those lynchpin assumptions are the ones that need to be questioned. We should ask ourselves what could happen to make any of these assumptions out of date or wrong, and how we can know this has not already happened. We should try to disprove assumptions rather than confirm them. If we cannot think of anything that would cause us to change our mind, our mind-set may be so deeply entrenched that we cannot see the conflicting evidence. If this is a problem the 'competing hypotheses approach' (see below) helps identify the lynchpin assumptions that swing a conclusion in one direction or another.

We should also try to identify alternative models, conceptual frameworks, or interpretations of the data by seeking out individuals who disagree with them rather than those who agree. Most people do not do that very often. It is much more comfortable to talk with people in one's own group who share the same basic mind-set.

One kind of assumption we should always recognize and question is 'mirror-imaging' (filling gaps in our own knowledge by assuming that the other person is likely to act in a certain way because that is how we would act under similar circumstances. To say, "That's what I would do if I were them …" or, “In their position, I would...” is mirror-imaging. Mirror-imaging leads to dangerous assumptions, because other people DO NOT think the way we do. The frequent assumption that they do is termed the "everybody-thinks-like-me mind-set."

some useful perspectives

A useful technique for exploring new ground and forward planning is 'thinking backwards'. As an intellectual exercise, start with an assumption that some event you did not expect has actually occurred. Then, put yourself into the future, looking back to explain how this could have happened. Think what must have happened six months or a year earlier to set the stage for that outcome, what must have happened six months or a year before that to prepare the way, and so on back to the present.

Thinking backwards changes our focus from whether something might happen to how it might happen. Putting ourselves into the future creates a different perspective that keeps us from getting anchored in the present. Analysts will often find, to their surprise, that by doing this they can construct a quite plausible scenario for an event which they had previously thought unlikely.

Try playing 'the devil's advocate' and deliberately see if you can construct an opposing pov. You may not necessarily agree with that view, but try to represent it as strenuously as possible. The goal is to expose conflicting interpretations and show how alternative assumptions and images make the world look different. It often requires time, energy, practice and commitment to see how the world looks from a different perspective.

'competing hypotheses approach'

Analysis of competing hypotheses, sometimes abbreviated 'ACH', is a tool to aid judgment on important issues requiring careful weighing of alternative explanations or conclusions. It helps us overcome, or at least minimize, some of the cognitive limitations that make certainty more difficult to achieve.

ACH is an eight-step procedure grounded in basic insights from cognitive psychology, decision analysis, and the scientific method. It is a surprisingly effective, proven process that helps avoid common analytical pitfalls. Because of its thoroughness, it is particularly appropriate for controversial issues when we want to show what we considered and how we arrived at our decisions.

The term "hypothesis" in its broadest sense as a potential explanation or conclusion that is to be tested by collecting and viewing (and presenting) evidence.


How to do it:

1. Identify the possible hypotheses to be considered. Use different perspectives to brainstorm the possibilities.

2. Make a list of significant evidence and arguments for and against each hypothesis.

3. Prepare a mind map with hypotheses across the top and evidence beneath each. Identify which items are most helpful in judging the relative likelihood of the hypotheses.

4. Refine the diagram. Reconsider the hypotheses and delete evidence and arguments that have no diagnostic value.

5. Draw tentative conclusions about the relative likelihood of each hypothesis. Proceed by trying to disprove each hypothesis rather than prove it.

6. Analyze how sensitive your conclusion is to a few critical items of evidence. Consider the consequences for your analysis if that evidence were wrong, misleading, or subject to a different interpretation.

7. Add conclusions. Discuss the relative likelihood of all the hypotheses; not just the most likely one.

8. Identify milestones for future observation that may indicate whether events are taking a different course than expected.

It is important to distinguish hypotheses that appear to be disproved from those that are simply unproven. For an unproven hypothesis, there is no evidence that it is correct. For a disproved hypothesis, there is positive evidence that it is wrong.

cognitive reappraisal anxiety hack

A fast-working cognitive reappraisal trick that helps with anxiety:

Tell yourself that you feel excited whenever you feel nervous.

That's it. It sounds stupidly simple, but it's proven effective in a variety of studies and settings. It works because the chemistry of desire and excitement utilize some of the same neurotransmitters and hormones as the chemistry of alarm; or 'arousal' in general.

You've probably noticed already how calmness feels nothing like anxiety, but excitement feels 'sorta' like it. If we prime the unconscious with a verbal cue to expect and interpret the chemistry as excitement, rather than anxiety, it obligingly complies. Likewise apprehension becomes anticipation.

For some people, this is much easier than trying to calm themselves down all the time. Calmness, of course, is low in arousal chemistry, and it takes less effort for the brain to jump from charged-up, negative sentimental feelings to charged-up, positive emotions. This makes sense, since changing anxiety into calmness requires flipping both the intensity (high to low) and the valence (sentiment to emotion). Changing anxiety into excitement just requires one of those flips. If you can accomplish this, you'll not only feel better, you'll perform better.

Hack to increase truth-hunting abilities

Visual illusions provide a glimpse of how our brain can misinterpret reality without our intent or awareness.

Viewing some of you favorite visual illusions immediately before approaching a new subject increases our awareness of the possibility of misinterpretation, and primes the unconscious to 'keep an open mind' and question new information; avoiding unjustified assumptions and considering alternate possibilities.


debating exercises

1 Consider the following two hypotheses, then follow the instructions:


A “Humans automatically hold infants against the left side of their chests, because that's where the heartbeat can be heard most clearly and that strengthens bonding.”


B “Humans automatically hold infants against the left side of their chests, because most humans are right-handed and want their strongest hand/arm free to get on with doing things.”


instructions if working alone:

prepare notes to debate this issue. You will want to find any evidence you can to back up these claims, and any evidence available to disprove them. Using these resources, create a well-structured argument to present for either side.


instructions if working with other/s:

prepare notes to debate this issue. Choose one of these claims and find any evidence you can to back it up, and any evidence that might disprove it, which you must counter. Whomever is debating with you will want to research the other claim in the same way. Also look up any evidence that might disprove the opposing claim. Using these resources, create a well-structured argument to present for your chosen claim.


Which hypothesis wins the debate?


 2 Consider the following two hypotheses:

A Cloning animals is a bad idea because replication within the same genome causes genetic problems, same as incest does.

B Cloning animals is a good idea because that way we can feed more people.


Instructions as above.


Brain Training links

Memoriad Software (Free):
Has a lot of math and memory games with nice customization (timer/speed/difficulty settings etc)

Math Games/Test Web Based

Reflex/Response Training

This is originally for gamers who want to improve their counter strike skills, but there is a direct link between response time and cognitive efficiency, via a bottom-up approach.


Reasoning training: Personal research exercise

Assertion in UK: “drinking more than 21 units of alcohol a week is damaging to your health”.
Where did the evidence to support this well-known ‘fact’ come from? What research is the figure '21 units' based on?
See if you can find out! The answer may surprise you.
...What sources are you NOT going to believe?

(if you really get stuck on this one, mail the forum)

games to exercise your brain

1 (week long game): choose an event which occurs every day (such as, eating). Set an associative goal (for example this week, every time I eat the second meal of the day, I will find a word whose meaning I don't know and learn the meaning.)

At the end of the week, see how many of the new words you can recall. Can you remember which words you learned on which days? Where were you at the time?

2 assign each network to a number on a 6-sided die. Roll the die. Whatever number comes up, you must find a task or part of a task to do which is relevant to that network.

3 think of six short phrases which tell an important truth about developmental reality (examples, 'practice builds networks'; 'ecstatic means ex-static'; 'growth proceeds in stages'.) Collect them in your Captain's log. Use them in hypnotic inductions, or as key phrases in self programming.

4 Without looking, can you remember what topics were discussed in Tutorial 1? Write down what you can remember, then check how well your memory is doing.


Just for fun

(needs assistant with good sense of humor and low anxiety)

When two people stare into one anothers' eyes for a long period of time, both can experience altered states, including disassociation symptoms and hallucinations. Certainly, people tend to experience odd sensations when staring at ANYTHING for a long period of time - dots on a wall, for example; but for some reason, ogling each others' eyeballs has peculiarly strong effects.[238]

The idea is to stare, motionless and emotionless, into each others' eyes for ten minutes, in a dimly lit room to enhance facial features, and see what happens. Thus far, experimenters' experiences include disassociation, changes in sound, color, or time perception, hallucinations, dysmorphic face perceptions, strange-face apparitions, odd perceptual experiences, spontaneous giggling, general mirth and in some cases great hilarity. Some were unable to continue without laughing.

If you really can't find a suitable assistant, this exercse can be done with a mirror; however results are not so pronounced as with another living human (staring at pictures of others' eyes doesn't work so well either).

Nobody in a lab has afaik yet (2016) tried this in various different mental states (for example, does it still work if you're drunk?) So here we are on the leading edge of research. Party on, dudes.


Network 6, abilities & functions

6.1 Self direction & morality

6.2 Diplomacy & communication

6.3 Working memory & association

6.4 Coordination

6.5 Judgment, decisions & strategy

6.6 Interaction


Hacking executive functions

Executive functions (EFs) include Working memory, strategy, coordination, communication, self direction and other abilities enabled by network 6. These next few hacks/ exercises are for improving EFs in general.

It has been shown that behavioral cognitive training leads to enhanced performance in task switching, memory updating, and dual tasks. Similarly, direct neurocognitive modulation of brain regions that are crucially involved in specific executive functions, via neurofeedback, also leads to behavioral benefits in response inhibition, task switching, and memory updating. Response inhibition performance has been shown to be improved by neurostimulation of the right inferior frontal cortex, whereas neurostimulation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex exerts effects on task switching and memory updating. Current data suggest that training gains may indeed generalize to untrained tasks aiming at the same cognitive process, as well as across cognitive domains within executive control.

to augment EF:

1 learn another language

A growing body of research demonstrates that bilinguals show advantages in executive function, specifically inhibitory control and task switching. 

Bilingual individuals also seem to have an advantage in an area known as conflict processing, which occurs when there are multiple representations of one particular response (for example, a word in one language and its translation in the individual’s other language).[149] Specifically, the lateral PFC has been shown to be involved with conflict processing.


2 start playing an instrument or singing

Musicians (compared with non-musicians) show enhanced performance on measures of cognitive flexibility, working memory, and verbal fluency. Musically trained people show enhanced performance on measures of verbal fluency and processing speed, and significantly greater activation in pre-SMA/SMA and right VLPFC during rule representation and task-switching compared to musically untrained people. Overall, musicians show enhanced performance on several constructs of EF, and musically trained children further show heightened brain activation in traditional EF regions during task-switching. Musical practice appears to promote the development and maintenance of certain EF skills, and there have been many previously reports of links between musical training, enhanced cognitive skills and intellectual achievement.

3 move your ass

There is one surprising but well-supported way to improve executive function in both children and adults: aerobic exercise. Research concludes that “ample evidence indicates that regular engagement in aerobic exercise can provide a simple means for healthy people to optimize a range of executive functions.”

Here are some of the benefits of exercise for executive function:

Regular aerobic exercise can expand working memory, the capacity that allows us to mentally manipulate facts and ideas to solve problems, as well as improving selective attention and our ability to inhibit disruptive impulses. Regular exercise and overall physical fitness have been linked to intellectual achievement, as well as more success in multitasking.

Those who exercise regularly display quicker reaction times, give more accurate responses, and are more effective at detecting errors when they engage in fast-paced tasks.

High Intensity Training, fast swimming, energetic dancing and strenuous climbing have shown the best results.



6.1 Self direction & morality

Hacking sentiment rushes with anti-distraction training

This is surprisingly easy to do, and relies for its effectiveness on the fact that we use the same networks for concrete and abstract tasks. Hacking distractions when concentrating attention also enables stronger emotional control; as both basically require improvement of our ability to ignore irrelevant information. This can result in reduced sentimental reactions to emotional events, and overwrite brain connections associated with this habit; strengthening neural connections between brain regions involved in response control.

Anti-distracting training is pretty easy to set up and even makes for a fun game with others. If you are working alone simply training yourself to do the Stroop task (see Tutorial 11) will suffice. Any activity where you have to deliberately ignore some information and select other information is adequate. If you want a bit of variety in your training, you can set up things to deliberately attempt to distract you, which you must then attempt to resist. A couple of examples are music, videos, pictures of sexy people or alarm noises you can set up to begin at unexpected times. Your task, of course, is simply to pay more attention to what you are actually doing and ignore all interruptions. Your only limit is imagination.

This is the beauty of networks having multiple functions: you DON'T NEED to practice ignoring nasty things; because practice at ignoring ANYTHING will teach you the process, and you can then apply the process whenever and wherever you choose, including during sentiment attacks.

Incidentally, unless you really are a masochist, DO NOT use biological imperatives for distractions (such as hunger, a real live partner trying to seduce you, or a friend who thinks it might be a laugh to set your pants on fire or pour cold water over your head). There are some things we are not supposed to ignore.

multilevel self programming hacks

Remember: The ideal is 'full communication', that is to say, communication with our unconscious and conscious minds and appropriate emotional weighting simultaneously; therefore we include areas for each; for example sensorimotor and spatial input communicate directly with the unconscious mind, cognitive and verbal input communicate with conscious awareness, and belief, expectation and assumptions add the emotional weighting.

1 approach

People are motivated to approach things they like. They must have learned that association - if they approach something, they infer that they like it. We can flip that association and use it to influence ourselves to change our attitude about something.

We can essentially convince ourselves that something is more attractive or less aversive by making ourselves approach it or at least have the feeling of approaching it. The unconscious informs the conscious mind - we use what happens to our body to help our cognition; this is using your body to help inform a decision.[230]

Incorporating 'approach' scenarios into your hypnotic inductions is one way to use this information, and using that as part of a multilevel hack can enhance results.

Example: include the approach scenario, deliberate smiling, imagery of what you intend to achieve with regard to a new habit or idea, and verbal information about the ideal.

It is also possible to use this approach to reduce phobic aversion to certain items.

2 doors, gateways

Often a key archetypal behavior in stories, going through doors, especially to the outside, is another effective trigger for unconscious awareness of change. Incorporate this move into a program for inducing change.

Example: include a 'doors' scenario, calm music, images of serenity, scented flowers, and verbal information about the ideal.

3 bathing

Having a bath or ritual washing is a classic shamanistic maneuver before inducing altered states. It primes the mind for expecting 'new beginnings'.

Example: include a ritual bathing with scents and sounds, candlelight, and verbal reminders of the new behavior. Remember: never mention what you are NOT going to do (ie, don't say, 'I'm giving up cakes', instead emphasize, 'I'm eating fruit daily. That's the new me. Some fruit every day. That's why my skin is improving', etc.

Hack to prevent dendritic remodeling during anxiety

The effects of chronic stress on dendritic remodeling are blocked by blocking NMDA receptors, as well as blocking adrenal steroid synthesis.[231] A recent report indicates that NMDA receptors and glutamate are also involved in stress-induced shortening of dendrites in medial prefrontal cortex.[232]

NMDA receptors can be blocked by many substances, including theanine (in green tea), huperzine A ('chinese moss'), zinc, l-phenylanaline, alcohol and ketamine.

Excess glutamate is implicated in much anxiety-related damage. At this stage you should be able to research 'glutamate antagonists' or 'glutamate inhibitors' for yourself.

hack using directed association

If you habitually use any product for a mild condition (for examples, anti-histamine cream for insect bites, moisturizer, vitamins or supplements, athlete's foot powder) you can make up a placebo version. A great trick is to disguise it to look like the original so that you can''t tell them apart, and there are various ways to do this. For example, we can pull apart a capsule, tip out the contents and replace them with another substance, such as coconut oil or an herbal product. Ideally we should get this into the same packaging as the original substance; the two should look identical, so save empty packaging.

We do not use this right away, but leave it sitting beside the original. At some point, when we go to grab the original, we will select the alternative instead, and at this point the less attention we pay, the better. We behave as though we are doing the usual thing, and just get on with life as though everything were ordinary.

Note: I personally have experimented with this hack, replacing anti histamine cream with calendula herbal cream, and successfully achieving an anti histamine effect with no active ingredient and no side effects.[233]


Morality exercise - what are you doing?

Here's the self-test: stop anytime throughout your working day and ask yourself these questions:


Is what I am doing here honestly beneficial to me? (clue: does it increase ability or does it increase dependence?)

Is it genuinely beneficial to humanity?

Is it morally good from biology's pov?

Could I prove this in logical argument? What evidence would I use?


If you can honestly answer 'yes' to the first four, and can also cite evidence for your assumptions, you probably already work in a cultural context. If you can't, you must understand that your unconscious already knows the answer to those questions, and all we are doing here is making them available to conscious awareness. That means if you have to answer 'no' to any of them you must face up to the fact that your choice of occupation is negatively impacting your own (and maybe others') wellbeing, and that effects both your self esteem and unconscious anxiety levels bigtime; because it prevents further development. It's time to strategize for change.


6.2 Diplomacy & communication

fine tune your smile hack

Remember one of our earliest hacks; the smile hack? Chances are you've made use of this for a quick mood boost. Now we can extend it a little.

Smiles come in two variants: calm smiles, which involve a wrinkling of the eyes and a widening of the mouth, and excited smiles, which involve extra muscle action to part the lips and open the jaw.

So, instead of just 'cheering yourself up' you can decide what sort of cheerful would be most beneficial to you. Do you need to be happy and calm, or happy and excited?

Choose the type of smile most relevant to your situation. If you need high arousal emotions, you can demonstrate this to your unconscious through excited smiles. Meanwhile, calm smiles should be used when lower arousal emotions are more desirable.

Bear this in mind when in public too. Calm smiles tend to attract the attention of those who value a calmer demeanor, while excited smiles attract those who value higher arousal in behavior.[237]


Exercises for communication with core conditions

Exercise1 (warm up exercise)

Practice discussing, writing about and expressing two things: (1) what’s good about your life right now and (2) what would make life more interesting and fun. Learn how to say and write just that; without any criticisms, complaints, value judgments or demands.

Don't include negatives (for example, 'I'm getting a bit less hassle this month') – reframe them as positives (for example, 'I'm succeeding in getting more peace & quiet this month').

Include discussion of the most recent things or events you have enjoyed and why you enjoyed them.

Notes: Using core conditions enables communication skills that strengthen our resilience and ability to remain sane, even under trying conditions. The exercises are to remind us about what we already know—about biological needs and how healthy humans are meant to relate to one another—and to assist us in thinking, talking and behaving in congruous ways that both manifests and reinforces this knowledge.

Exercise 2

Practice awareness of autonomy and interdependence and the concept of "power with" instead of "power over" others. Consider things you need to do or would like to do, which you are not currently able to do alone. Replace 'Who can I get to do X for me?' with 'Who or what can help me learn to do X?' or, 'Who might like to do X with me?'

Exercise 3 Discourse analysis

Consider a past situation or event where things went badly for you. Using the 'Alice & Bob' method for naming those involved, write a short account (anything up to half a page of A4) of what happened. Don't spend more than ten minutes doing this, as we are going to edit it later. Alternatively, record yourself giving an account and then play it back and make notes.

a) Write a second account, differentiating your observations from your evaluation; that is, include only the bare facts of what happened and miss out any words that are evaluating or judging anything. In avoiding value judgments, we avoid using words like good, bad, right or wrong, because they have a high emotional rating. Terms with a high emotional rating prevent us or an anxious listener from connecting easily with what we might actually be saying and feeling.

b) Specify the behaviors and conditions that affected you.

c) Differentiate your feelings from your thoughts during the event. What were you thinking? What were you feeling? Are there periods where you can't remember what you were thinking?

d) Identify and describe the internal feeling states you remember, in a way that does not imply judgment, criticism, blame or punishment. Do NOT descibe emotions or sentiments. Describe how your body felt (eg hot, cold, numb, nauseous, unable to move, unable to keep still, tense, stiff, relaxed).

e) Identify the biological imperatives (human needs) in you that were being met or not met in relation to what was happening and how you were feeling.

f) Describe what you would have liked to happen, in terms that that clearly and specifically states what you wanted (rather than what you didn’t want), in a factual way that is framed as a desire and not a demand (do not use the terms 'should have or 'shouldn't have').

When we focus on clarifying what is being observed, felt, needed, and wanted, rather than on diagnosing and judging, we access a greater depth of comprehension.


Exercise to break habitual interpretation

We have been trained to frame our own feelings in counterfeit game terms; as sentiments, and through habit may continue to do so. We can retrain ourselves to see what is really going on with the aid of reframing or 'changing the script'. If we don't, we may underestimate ourselves and others by judging through a filter of anxiety.

Think about a communication problem in any relationship, past or present. Consider what those involved felt during the problem and use the Alice and Bob method to write notes about the emotions or sentiments involved (eg, 'When Alice said X, Bob felt ….........., when Bob did X, Alice felt …..........'). Then consult the reframing phraselist below, and change your notes accordingly. (see other lists below)

Comunication with core conditions – Change the script reframing phraselist

Where you have interpreted your own and others' feelings as

Change the script to interpreting those feelings as one or more of the following

Hurt, rejection, ignorance, neglect

Offense, uncertainty


Alarm, concern, antipathy and defensiveness

Sickess, fear, freak-out, panic, repulsion

Disgust, alarm, offense

Worry, nausea

Concern, alarm, disgust

Jealousy, possessiveness, envy

Offense, uncertainty


Lust, desire, friendliness, amiability, empathy

Guilt, shame, embarrassment

Sadness, uncertainty

Anger, violence

Antipathy, defensiveness, alarm

Hopelessness, helplessness, despair

Uncertainty, concern

Persecuted, suspicious, paranoid


Arrogance, hubris, snobbery, megalomania

Pride, confidence, certainty, autonomy

Shyness, timidity


boredom, apathy, tiredness, depression, misery

Concern, sadness, grief



scared, nervous

excitement, anticipation




Levity, Light heartedness, humor




Comfort, appreciation


Comfort, excitement, friendliness, interest


Disgust, alarm, antipathy

Isolation, loneliness, neglect

Uncertainty, concern, sadness

Now we apply the question 'Why?' to all our amended statements, and this is cool because we already know the answers to every one! The answers will be either: 'Because my needs were not being met', or, 'Because my needs were being met'. You can go on to work out which needs were not being met (e.g. safe space, self care, trusted allies, learning, comprehension).

Repeat this exercise with behaviors and construct your own list, with the headers:

'Where you have interpreted your own and others' behaviors as' and 'Change the plot to interpret those behaviors as one or more of the following'.

Notes: When we practice reframing how we express ourselves and hear others, instead of being habitual, automatic reactions, our words become conscious responses based firmly on an awareness of what we are perceiving, feeling, and wanting. We are led to express ourselves with honesty and clarity, while simultaneously paying others a respectful and empathic attention. In any exchange, we come to hear our own deeper needs and those of others. We begin to observe more carefully, and to be able to specify behaviors and conditions that are affecting us when anxiety strikes. We learn to identify and clearly articulate what we are trying to achieve in a given situation.

Regular practice replaces our old patterns of defending, withdrawing, justifying or attacking due to anxiety. Panicky or aggressive reactions are minimized.

Advanced users can incorporate other kinds of language into their practice, for example body language, gestures, facial expression, calmness, silent empathy, humor, stories, poetry; but don't try to do all this at once during initial practice, let these other forms simply develop themselves (because they will, as congruity, self confidence and personal integrity increase).


6.3 Working memory & association

hacks for improving working memory

One method for improving working memory is ambient association. To do this we deliberately concentrate on the sensorimotor and spatial aspects of an experience associated with the item we want to remember; for example, where we are, what we can see/hear/smell etc., If working memory 'times out', going back to the same location may help give it a boost. To more clearly recall recent information, close your eyes. Research has shown this technique works by helping us to create the original context in our mind's eye.

Variety is the spice of life, and the oil for a smooth working memory. What improves a working memory most is its working as intended. It is designed to serve the whole brain; not just N5! That means variety; not the same type of input all the time (such as most brain training offers). Creativity, design, construction, cooking, dancing, games and gardening all provide plenty of exercise for WM. Responsive memory comes with practice. At root, we remember when we pay attention; when we are deeply interested or engaged. When things make sense in context and are congruous with the rest of what we know. When information has personal meaning to us, is significant and coherent.


snacks for improving working memory:

oily fish, organic nuts, berry fruits, green tea, sweet peppers, soft cheeses, organic white meats.


Exercises to improve working & short term memory
internalizing data 1

When improving memory we can test and assess ourselves in small safe ways; for example making a shopping list, attempting to memorize the list, shopping without it, and seeing what items we forgot.

Now here's the trick: the more actual real life inconvenience this causes, the faster memory will get its act together, especially if a lot of energy is involved. For example, if you have just walked to the shop in bad weather to do this exercise and now realize you forgot something important and have to go back, we bet you won't forget so much next time. Your brain values energy, and whenever it seems like energy is being wasted that creates a need to solve the problem.

Nothing transcribes genes, synthesizes proteins and forges new connections as fast as giving the genome a clear signal of real life biological need. The results will soon prevent extra journeys by upgrading your memory to ensure ergonomic energy use.

This is a no-lose exercise because physical exercise is good for the brain too, but do not practice the method when going on long-haul holidays, or out to get something really important. Choose a safe context to test yourself, where there may be slight inconvenience but no anxiety, and progress will be rapid.


internalizing data 2

Somewhere you have a list of contacts. It may be on your phone, in an address book, scattered about on separate bits of paper and post-it notes, or on your computer. Assemble/find it and consider the following:

Which are the six most important contacts in this list? To help you make this shortlist, consider which ones you would be most likely to use if you needed help or were in trouble, which ones would you think of as closest allies, and which ones you care about most.

When you have made your shortlist, write down just the names/nicknames in your Captains log or on a separate piece of paper and put away all other references to them. Without looking at your source material (phone, address book etc), for how many of these six individuals can you remember a home address, contact number, and email?

For any that you cannot remember, go back and make an effort to memorize the details for those six people. Test yourself until you know them off by heart. Not only does this exercise improve your memory, it could also increase your chances of survival in an emergency.

'categorization game' hack

People can increase their attention skills by grouping objects into categories, and then using these categories to search for objects more efficiently. In other words, we can build new knowledge or use existing knowledge to increase our attention, using deliberate conscious categorization.[236]

Use this hack when learning something new, or on any subject you are studying, shortly before studying, to prime your attention.

Example: Alice is learning about marine biology. She selects 50 pictures of marine animals, some of which she doesn't yet know, and categorizes them into groups depending on size. Then she categorizes them in terms of shape, then in terms of feeding habits (for this she has to do some research), and so on. The more we play with information we are learning in these simple ways, the more primed our attention will be for study after this hack.

exercise to improve working memory, attention, modeling skills, executive function and comprehension

Learn to spell, in your own language.

This is a very serious suggestion, because actually bothering to learn to spell without needing a spellchecker makes such noticeable improvements in all these mental functions that intelligence overall is augmented bigtime.

For a start, you need to be able to control your attention and focus in order to learn to spell. And you have to play with words. You need to go back to that 'childlike' space of paying genuine attention to stuff and noticing details and small differences. You need to actually look at words, think about words, play with words, study words, wonder why some words are spelled the way they are, find out, use words to practice getting the spelling right, consult dictionaries if you are not sure, and generally immerse yourself in the nature of wordiness.

Second, you will learn more about words themselves, their origins and meanings, and you'll become able to predict with this knowledge how to spell a word you haven't heard before and what a word is likely to mean although you're not familiar with it. You'll learn where words come from and what their meanings really are. You'll learn the traditions of scientific language, such as 'if it ends with -ase, it must be an enzyme'. You'll even learn why the periodic table uses 'Pb' for 'lead' and 'Ar' for silver. The whole experience will add an extra dimension to your knowledge of words.

Third, your self esteem will probably improve too because hardly anybody has this skill despite the fact that most of us are capable of learning it. Being able to spell without technical aid sends a clear message of the presence of intelligence.


6.4 Coordination


Exercise to engage functional networks

Write down the processes necessary to:

a) change a tire

b) change a baby

c) find out exactly where the island of Muck is located

During these exercises you recruited procedural memory, declarative memory and working memory, and initiated several temporary functional networks to process the concepts in your imagination.


hack to improve default mode network (creativity open mode) function

Everyone has at least a few non-negotiable values. These are the things that, no matter what the circumstance, you'd never compromise for any reason - such as "I'd never hurt a child," or "I'm against the death penalty."

When people read stories that deal with these core, protected values, the "default mode network" in their brains activates. The more important to you personally the issues raised in such stories are, the more activation will occur.

It will take experimentation to do this, but you can make a collection of stories, legends, myths etc that prime you for creativity open mode.[234]


hack to improve salience network function

Reading literature is encouraged as an activity because research has shown it to be of benefit to mental health and wellbeing, but it is specifically good for mental flexibility (the ability of a person to shift a course of thought or action according to the changing demands of a situation, using the salience network).

Mental flexibility allows an individual to abandon a previous response set or pattern in order to generate an alternative that is better suited to the requirements of the situation at hand. Since this is exactly what is required in adopting new habits, this is a very worthwhile tool for augmentation.

Research found that the sustained experience of reading poems can challenge rigid expectancies and fixed thoughts and increase mental flexibility through the process of the reappraisal of meaning and the acceptance of fresh meanings; a process that is experienced as intrinsically rewarding. This is especially promising since the activated areas of the brain that provided a sense of reward in the very process of activation is known to be particularly under-vitalised in those suffering from depression.[235]

exercises for developing PCS

1 what single word associates with the following words in each group?



















2 Choose a word at random; our example is 'cat'. How many directly-associated words or terms can you list for the chosen word?


cat walk, alley cat, big cat, wildcat, catfish, cool cat, catmint, cat scan, tomcat, cat burglar

Answers to part 1 at end of hackipedia


6.5 Judgment, decisions & strategy

strategy hack: 'LEAD' mnemonic

Have to make judgments or take a decision in a short period of time? Strategize by applying 'LEAD': Logic / Emotions / Analysis / Decision This is, in effect, all you have to do to make the best decision possible in a limited time.

Managing Strategy Problems

Here are some tips:

Take a step-by-step approach to tasks & projects.

Rely on visual organizational aids while training up memory, but don't become dependent on them.

Use tools like time organizers, computers, or watches with alarms in a similar manner.

Make schedules and look at them several times a day.

If problems arise recalling procedures, ask for written and oral instructions whenever possible, or get someone to talk you through it and take notes.

Plan ahead for transition times and shifts in activities.

To improve time management:

Create checklists and estimate how long each task will take.

Break long assignments into chunks, and assign time frames for completing each one.

Use calendars to keep track of long-term assignments, due dates, tasks and activities.

Write the due date on the top of each task in your schedule.

To better manage space and keep things from getting lost:

Have separate work areas with complete sets of supplies for different activities.

Organize your work space so that everything you use there has a regular 'home' to go to and train yourself to return it there automatically after use.

Minimize clutter.

Schedule a weekly time to clean and organize work and leisure space.

To improve 'getting things done' habits:

Make a checklist for getting through projects.

Interact with others who have good EF skills. Observe how they exercise control and what strategies they use to keep things together.

Use a week sheet and update it weekly.


Tips to enable projects to run smoothly

This comes down to defining what “success” means — in quantifiable terms — before work begins on a project.

1 Write down the projects goals in a clear way and define 'success' in terms of a measurable goal. measurable goals eliminate ambiguity.

2 Make sure everyone involved understands what it will take on their part for the project to succeed. This eliminates the need for management.

3 create well defined intermediary targets to aim for.

4 Make a 'to do' list for all goals. This adds an obvious indication of progress.

5 Treat planning as essential; not optional.


exercises to assist planning skills

1 restrict focus to quality rather than quantity

List all projects, make a schedule assigning specific times to tasks. Then add at least 25 per cent to your estimates of time required. Don’t try to convince yourself that this once, you’ll do more in less time – that’s the planning fallacy. And don’t worry that scheduling life will drain it of fun; on the contrary, giving your days more structure will free you from constantly having to decide what to do next.

  • Schedule ‘slack time’; times of relaxation during which memory defragging can catch up a little.

  • Refocus every hour or so. You don't need to set any alarms to do this, just stop every once in a while and consider whether you’re currently doing what needs doing most. That way, your plan won’t become a distant memory.

  • Replace your to-do list with a ‘will-do’ list. Abandon those 30-item daily lists that you never get close to finishing. Instead, pick fewer items than you think you can manage – five, for example – but really commit to doing them well. In the long run, you’ll get more done.

2 Do a Mind dump

Free-up some memory space and get your brain running on all six cylinders again by performing a mind dump. A mind dump is exactly what it sounds like: you get everything currently on your mind out of your head and onto paper (or a computer screen).

Simply start writing or typing all the tasks, ideas, thoughts, subjects and commitments that are currently on your mind. You can schedule items from the list later.

How do you know which tasks on your Mind Dump list to tackle first? You can use a system where your go through and rate them by importance with “A, B, C” or something like that, and then schedule the A’s to be completed first. But usually whatever is most important 'jumps out' at you as you look over the list.

On a good schedule you should have every one of your waking hours of every day of the week blocked out with something. This does NOT mean that we are constantly doing something every minute of the day — we schedule time for doing absolutely nothing too. You now have a 'rough draft' outline of how you're going to use your time during the week.


3 Review Your Life Plan & Goals

Now that you’ve freed up some mental space, it’s time to review your life plan and long-term goals. This step will help you keep “first things first” in mind as you plan your week out and ensure you’re staying on track with your goals.

Many people find that they're quite good at completing short-term goals, but that those short-term goals get them off track with future aims. If this describes you, reevaluate your short-term to-do list in light of your long-term goals. You might need to amend your life plan and goals as well, as new experiences and insights change your vision of where you want to be and what you want to do.

Don’t have a life plan or goals? Well, now’s the time to create them. See the NHA guide section for how to do this.

4 Practice ongoing self assessment

Reflect on the previous week and how you performed in your various roles. How did it go? Did you achieve the goals you set for yourself? What were your successes and failures? How could have you done things differently? Are there any tasks or items you need to follow-up on? By writing down your observations about the previous week, you create a record that you can look back on to see how you’re improving, which speeds progress.

After you’ve reviewed your previous week, start setting goals for the coming one.

exercise in critical awareness

Imagine you are shopping for a food item you regularly use. A label on the food catches your eye and you read, 'New, added ingredient: Fofimer'.


What would your response be (apart from thinking, 'WTF is Fofimer?')? Would you still get the food? Would you tend to believe it's probably safe to eat as usual? Make a decision.


Imagine you look up 'Fofimer' and find one article that says Fofimer is a synthetic additive which was used to preserve grains and beans in the late 20th century but was withdrawn from use due to suspected harmful effects on humans. What would your response be? Would you still get the food? Make a decision.


Alternatively, imagine you look up 'Fofimer' and find one article that says Fofimer is a powder made from a tropical berry recently suggested as a 'superfood' which is beneficial to human gut flora. What would your response be? Would you still get the food? Make a decision.

When you have decided what you would do in each case, write down what you would do in each case and why. Now consider what factors have featured in your decisions, bearing in mind one of the main points of successful strategies: analyzing and interpreting information and situations. Would you change your decisions in each case, after considering this point?

See end of hackipedia for notes and the second half of this exercise.

Exercise to practice argument analysis

Below is a list of categories, followed by a series of arguments. Your mission is to determine which categories match which arguments.


1 false dichotomy

2 Over generalization

3 Implausible contradiction (false conclusion)

4 Circular reasoning

5 plausible

6 wrong example



A the concept of receptor sensitivity could explain why some people do not become alcoholics even though they have already had a considerable number of drinking sessions.

B the proportion of people drinking occasionally or regularly decreases towards the end of adolescence, from 80% to 50%, which implies that there is an increasing interest in drinking over the course of youth

C negative attitudes towards drinking are often reinforced in young people, for example when parents display how much they enjoy a drink after dinner

D the expectation that drinking alleviates stressful situations leads more likely to drinking behavior in these situations than the expectation that drinking is helpful in situations of high strain.

E the concept of inherited alcohol sensitivity relates to the fact that some people react more sensitively to alcohol, because they are more susceptible to alcohol.

F it was found that young people started drinking when they did not make friends, thus, the missing influence of friends is generally an important factor to start drinking.

See end of hackipedia for answers


Exercise to practice strategy

Assessing different strategies

Try out different strategies in the same situation. For example, here is Alice's plan for what needs to be done tomorrow:

email Bob

have a shower

go to local shop for milk

do 2 diagrams for project

make backup of music files

do laundry

mend back gate

prepare dinner

continue writing text for project

water indoor plants


Get your Captains log, and make a similar list of tasks you aim to do each day for the next three days (you can update your lists as you go along). For the next three days, try out these different strategies:

Day 1: start at the top of your list and, no matter how off-putting it seems, work through it in the order you listed. At the end of the day, make a note of what happened (did you get everything done? What got missed out? How far did you get?)

Day 2: look at your list and rearrange it into different task areas; for example: things to do online/things to do outdoors/domestic tasks/tasks best done in daylight/etc. Proceed with one type of task at a time. At the end of the day, rate your progress as you did on day 1.

Day 3: Look at your list and assess task types as you did yesterday. Now decide on the most sensible order you think it's best to do things, and proceed. To help you do this, practice with Alices list. For example, fixing the gate is a messy job, which Alice would be foolish to tackle right after having a shower, nor would going outdoors to the shop be pleasant with wet hair. Backups tend to do themselves once set into motion, as do laundry and to some extent cooking, so multitasking may be employed here.


Exercise to examine our wants and needs

Sit comfortably and consider what you currently feel most interested in and attracted to. This can be anything, for examples: foods you would quite fancy, a particular place you feel you would like to live, an activity you think would be great to do, a subject or area of study that you feel attracted to or inspired by, a place you would like to visit, a role you would like to fill, or a subject or person you would like to know more about, a creative project you'd like to do. List these desires in your captain's log. Next, try & figure out which animal behaviors are associated with the ideas (for examples: seeking food, assessing territory, seeking experience, seeking information, exploring, seeking a mate, making allies, cooperation, playing, creativity).

Next, ask yourself WHY you feel you want to do each of these (your animal behavior assessment should give you clues). Look at your 'wants' in terms of fulfilling genuine, honest biological needs.

If anything is left 'homeless' (ie, one or more on your list of things you want do not have any correlates in either animal behavior or biological needs, your unconscious won't take them seriously as options to strategize for. You have to understand the biological need behind the behavior before the mind can view the concept as a congruous one, because whatever it is that you are doing, regardless of the degree of abstraction, the unconscious mind can only see the concept in terms of biological needs being met.

It doesn't understand anything else. If its needs are not met, it will maintain an unhappy, unhealthy state; if they are, it will be happy and healthy, and so will you.

Ignoring the hard fact that we are living creatures has caused humanity a great deal of distress and dysfunction. We'll be looking more closely into this in future tutorials, but for now consider the concept in terms of your strategy. The closer your life plan gets to directly representing and fulfilling biological needs, the faster development proceeds and the more often joy is a daily experience. When you do you want and it aligns with what biology needs, your brain feeds you endogenous opiates, absolutely free.

If it seems impossible to you that a person could begin a day's hard work with a feeling of absolute delight and excitement, your needs are not being met. Joyous emotion and love are as much a part of our birthright as walking upright and speaking words.


6.6 Interaction

interactional analysis practice

Alice owns a house in the village of Wexton Fused, and her friends have rooms there.

Alice tells everyone that she happens to know certain sorts of technology are bugged, and if her behavior is recorded,she is likely to be arrested for hacking. She claims this has happened several times before and can be confirmed through other friends. So, she says, she's asking everyone to remove these types of tech from the house and keep them out until she upgrades the security system.

Bob thinks Alice is paranoid. Things like that don't really happen. So Bob doesn't comply. He ignores her request to remove the tech, as fulfilling it would be quite a lot of hassle and take up his whole weekend. He doesn't bother telling Alice he hasn't got rid of it because what she believes is probably a load of crap anyway.

Carl doesn't know whether Alice is paranoid, because he hasn't any similar experience, but he considers a few things he believes are facts, such as:

Alice is a hacker and a security expert, with 35 years' experience. That's a lot of experience, which Carl respects.

Alice is an intelligent person.

Alice wouldn't lie about this issue having causing her problems before.

...So Carl complies, thinking, 'Better safe than sorry,' and takes his tech temporarily round to a friend's, even though it takes up his whole weekend.

Donna thinks Alice is probably being paranoid. However, she considers a few other things, such as:

Alice owns the house, and if she doesn't feel comfortable here she may either move or ask the others to leave. So Donna complies, in, she thinks, her own best interests, so as not to piss Alice off and get asked to leave.

Eve thinks it's irrelevant whether Alice is paranoid or not. Alice is her friend, with whom she wants to improve bonding. Alice has been good enough to offer her a room here, has asked for her cooperation, and she now wants to help Alice feel sure of her allies as well as build upp her own reputation for being a reliable ally. She also wants the housemates to get the good feeling of working together as a team, and after removing her own tech she helps Alice check through communal areas for anything that still needs removing.


Consider these responses to Alice, and answer the following questions:

1 Who is interacting?

2 Which interaction has the greatest benefit to intelligence?

3 What message does Bob imagine Alice will get if she notices he hasn't removed the tech? (bear in mind his framing of circumstances and use empathy to get this)

4 What message is Alice likely to perceive she's getting from Bob? (bear in mind her framing of circumstances and use empathy to get this)

5 How do you think Bob would feel if Alice got arrested?

6 What is Alice likely to think if she discovers Bob didn't comply (even though she didn't get arrested)?


Finally, explore the responses above. Which one would you be most likely to choose if you had been among the group? Or would you have chosen another solution (such as talking to Alice and trying to learn more details about her claims, or asking others to confirm them?)

Can you see how the details of the issue above are irrelevant? Outcomes (in real terms of relationships between people) would be the same if this were a story of Alice requesting on vegetarian food only in the house for a week due to her suspicions of a hushed-up salmonella epidemic, or a request to keep drugs out of the house during her parents'' visit, for fear they remove her monthly allowance (which pays for the house). ANY belief on Alice's part about events which may sound unlikely to others will do. The issue is not the details, but the basics, and in the real world of basics we interact best by addressing strategies and predicting outcomes in terms of our relationships with each other; not by addressing the details.


Answers & notes at end of hackipedia


Answers to part 1 of exercise for developing PCS

A ball

B cheese

C sleep

Answers & notes for interactional analysis practice

1 Carl, Donna and Eve. Admittedly Donna's interaction is shallow, but it still achieves the correct strategy if for limited reasons. Carl's response is thoughtful, and Eve takes the opportunity to exercise interaction as fully as she can.

2 Eve's. Everybody wins. ...But this is still not the optimal interaction.

There was cooperative behavior in most cases here, but nobody sat down with Alice and asked her for proof of her claims, or followed up her statement that others could verify her experience, and there is urgent need for communication here because in real life either: (a) Alice is paranoid or (b) Alice's claims are true. Either possibility needs to be explored if these dudes are going to remain housemates. Since Carl thinks Alice is an intelligent person AND has valid experience, he should surely be more interested in finding what's really going on.

Through rational argument revealing the veracity or otherwise of Alice's claims, everybody learns something, including Alice. And one of the first things Alice learns is that she can trust her allies to be intelligent, to question apparently unlikely claims, and to give each other honest early-warning signs of possible dysfunction. This would improve bonding and protect against further misunderstanding.

3 Bob will probably imagine that if Alice sees the tech still there, she will get the message that he doesn't believe her concerns are legitimate and isn't going to lie about it, but just get on with being himself, living according to his own beliefs; that's the honest thing to do. But he's not thinking it through, because...

4 ...From her own situational framing, Alice will most likely get the message, 'I don't give a crap if you get arrested'. Other strong possibilities are: 'I don't think you're intelligent enough for your views to be respected', 'I don't pay any attention to you whatsoever,' 'I think you''re delusional', or 'Nothing you say matters to me'.

5 This depends on how anxious Bob is, how much he cares about Alice, and whether or not he has security of tenure. Let's face it, whatever happens when Alice gets back, Bob won't be staying long. Surprise, however, may trump all other concerns and lead to Bob (if healthy) reassessing how seriously he takes Alice or (if not healthy) denying any connection, writing off Alice's arrest as coincidence, and wondering why everyone is making such a big deal out of it all.

6 Bob's behavior shows that he either doesn't believe Alice and/or that he doesn't care about what happens to her, or about his relationship with her.

If Alice is healthy, she will reassess Bob as an 'unsafe' ally; she has learned that she cannot trust him to take her concerns into consideration if he doesn't share them, even when it is something very important to her. She has learned that he has no respect for her extensive experience or sppecialist knowledge. She may also feel disappointed that he didn't interact, if she was previously convinced that their interaction was either good or improving. Or she may just feel confused and sad that things were not as she believed they were. Importantly (to her), this was only a 'one off' request - so complying was not really any great inconvenience; just a bit of hassle. In most people's books, anyone who won't put up with minor hassle for the sake of an ally isn't a close ally. Plus it was important to her, and Bob knew this.

If Alice is anxious, she will therefore feel hurt. She may feel Bob is insulting her intelligence by refusing to believe her. Any rapport they were developing will stall, and paradoxically there will be an obstacle limiting their interaction which can only be navigated by interaction. If Alice is anxious, Bob has inadvertently sent a message she will interpret as, 'I don't care whether we're friends'. If she really IS paranoid, this is a message it is not in Bob's best interest to send.

Reducing situations to their basics always helps us to analyze what's really going on and what's important. Remember, 'forget the details'!

Notes for exercise in critical awareness

Are these facts or opinions? -The information you are given here would not be anything like sufficient to base a decision on; you would need to know the SOURCES of all the information and you would need much more than one source of information before you had enough evidence/facts to successfully predict whether 'Fofimer' was safe to eat or not.

Something being 'natural' does not mean it is safe to eat, and something being synthetic does not mean it isn't safe to eat. Somebody else claiming it is or isn't safe to eat is completely meaningless without solid proof.

Second part of this exercise:

Now that you know the format of the exercise, design your own exercise based on a similar set of circumstances about which you could question an NH student in the same manner, encouraging autonomy in finding out information and assessing its validity.

The idea of these exercises is to encourage autonomous habits of seeking information, evidence-gathering and critical thinking, BEFORE making a decision.

If you'd like your exercise design to be used in a tutorial, send it in!

Note to those who genuinely looked up 'Fofimer': Well done you! You are thinking for yourself instead of just limiting your interaction to the instructions in the exercise. Keep it up! The world needs more brains like yours. And you've also learned something from experience: we made it up. -But have you any idea how difficult it is to find a realistic-sounding word that doesn't mean anything and gets no search engine hits, these days?

Answers for Exercise to practice argument analysis

A = 5 (plausible)

B = 3 (implausible contradiction – false conclusion)

C = 6 (wrong example)

D = 1 (false dichotomy)

E = 4 (circular reasoning)

F = 2 (over-generalization)




Last Updated on Sunday, 05 February 2017 14:25