GOAL: Post free form thoughts, tangents, and restatments of ideas related to the article. I think they’re related to ideas ET has talked about elsewhere.
Thinking about practicing to train subconscious mind: What else is going on besides trial-and-error detection/correction?
Practicing is repeatedly doing something to test whether your subconscious is serving up the right commands. Then you make many small adjustments based on what the subconscious is giving you.
Practicing is still conjectures and refutations. Practice puts the conjectures through repeated trials that refute parts of the conjecture; or they refute variations of the conjecture. Practice makes the conjectures go through a more objective trial than thought experiments. Practice involves doing something in the external world (beyond your mind). Practice brings the objectivity of empirical testing to the skills being tested.
Another reason, besides objectivity, to empirically test the subconscious is that the subconscious is a bit of a black box. It reminds of the oracle from Fabric of Reality, except that the subconscious is fallible and can be changed by conscious thought. Accessing the ideas subconscious comes from trying to find the right questions ask of it by asking a variety of questions and then seeing what answers it gives. One of the ways to do that question answer process is by practicing.
Actually doing worksheets, using flashcards, writing notes, and doing other activities is more effective than thinking alone. Even saying ideas out loud to yourself often helps compared to just quietly sitting still.
Practice takes mental load off the conscious mind during the training as well by adding memory aides to the process. Memory aides allow more of the conscious mind to focus on the specific area being practiced compared to keeping track of all the supporting information at once.
Some questions (just musings/not very well-thought over):
During childhood you taught your subconscious to practice and learn things. You automated parts of learning so that they no longer require conscious attention. Doing that is very powerful.
How context dependent are these automated subconscious learning processes? I guess that they all must be to some extent. Overall skill in English would be a really general subconscious learning skill that lots of other stuff builds upon. Is there some super generalized knowledge structure type automatization that is making a big difference in learning abilities?
Does the quote refer more to something like knowing how to practice effectively? Does it mean stuff like recognizing when you’re not making progress toward a goal in practice? Another one might be, knowing how/when to switch modes of practice to make more progress.
An analogy is using a computer. You can think of the stuff displayed on screen as the conscious ideas. What the computer does, which isn’t displayed, corresponds to subconscious ideas.
Is it possible to expand the scope of the conscious mind? Can the conscious mind learn to display more on the computer screen? Could that be a way of becoming a better learner? What limits if any are there on the size of the conscious mind? Why would the conscious mind have limits?
Quick summary of article:
There are two categories of ideas: conscious and subconscious. The subconscious does the background computation that displays to consciousness.
The categories differ in terms of control and understanding. There is more control and understanding in conscious mind.
Subconscious is usually built with practice. Practice improves the subconscious and frees up the conscious mind. Practice for a low error rate, then automatize.
Subconscious skills are the building blocks for new knowledge. You can’t build very far on faulty layers of knowledge.
Simplify practice into small parts because the subconscious can’t deal with complexity. Make the task procedures very explicit (like and algorithm or recipe).
A lot of subconsciousness was formed when young. Improving on tradition with new or unconventional ideas means using conscious rationality to check for and correct errors.