How to develop a practical understanding of the relationships between and among language, the human brain, behavior, and nature
The subtitle suggests that “the language we use influences the way we think.” It can also be true that how we think influences the way we use language. This is what Charles Bailey seems to have in mind when posing two critically important questions: “Do our language habits bias our ability to think and act practically, logic ally, and effectively, regardless of our discipline, areas of study, or our everyday endeavors? Finally, would changing how we think about and use language increase our ability to solve problems, including searching for invisible processes in the world around us?” He responds to these and other questions while making a substantial contribution during what Jacob Bronowski once characterized (in A Sense of the Future) as “the threshold of a great age of science,” one that continues to generate revelations about previously unknown capacities and capabilities of the human mind.
In the Preface, Bailey poses several questions to which he then responds in Mind Code. For example: “What does it mean for human thinking behavior that the brain we use to decide how and what to think is the same brain we use to evaluate the effectiveness of our thinking?” Seeking an answer to one question inevitably generates several others, as Bailey acknowledges. “I came to realize that many disciplines have raised some part of this question concerning their particular subjects, but few of any have taken the issue head on.” Until now, in Mind Code. “Do our language habits bias our ability to think and act practically, logically, and effectively, regardless of our discipline, area of study, or our everyday endeavors? Finally, would changing how we think about and use language increase our ability to solve problems, including searching for invisible processes in the world around us?” Game on.
The information, insights, and counsel he shares in Mind Code, he hopes, will help his reader to develop “a practical understanding of the relationships between and among language, the human brain, behavior, and nature.” He succeeds brilliantly in doing that.
These are among the dozens of passages of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Bailey’s coverage.
o Simple and Easy (Pages 9-15)
o The Language Habit (23-30)
o Searching for Novelty (39-43)
o Modeling Processing Fidelity (55-63)
o Systematic Biases I (64-88)
o Systematic Biases II (89-116)
o Systematic Biases III (117-131)
o The Nature of Language Fitness (132-34)
o The Nondeterministic Nature of Physics (159-163)
o Time and Space: Where the Action Is (163-170)
o Adaptive Plasticity, and, Complex Systems (186-192)
o Cognition, Meaning, and Purpose (207-216)
o Understanding Value Processing (254-259)
For me, much of the most valuable material in the book is provided in Chapter 15, “Making Systematic Sense.” Here are its components:
o Making Sense of Language (293-302)
o Making Sense of Evolution (354)
o Making Sense of Linguistic Knowledge (308-312)
o Making Sense of Entropy (312-317)
o Making Sense of Uncertainty (317-323
o Making Sense of Timing and Tuning (323-326)
o Black Box Processes, and Function Space (354-363)
o Processing Sensible Solutions (368-371)
o Resolving the Language Paradox, and, The Smoking Gun (436-440)
When concluding Mind Code, Bailey observes, “If we work better to inform ourselves – so that our expectations and the outcomes of our choices match more harmoniously and predictably with natural reality – we can come to better understand the logical outcomes of our decisions, that what we get is, in fact, what we get. Accepting language fidelity as a beneficial concept, and more importantly, as a logical cognitive behavior, encourages us to humanely improve our thinking, our behavior, and our relationships overall.”
Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the abundance and complexity of material provided in the book. However, I hope that those who read it are well-prepared to decide whether or not to purchase Mind Code and, in that event, will then find it to be of great value, as I certainly have. I congratulate Charles Bailey on sharing a cascade of thought, a stunning achievement. Bravo!