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Education Bookcast

Mar 3, 2018

In this episode, we will look closely at Edward de Bono's idea of lateral thinking by considering two of his books, The Use of Lateral Thinking (1971) and Lateral Thinking: A Textbook of Creativity (1977).

Lateral thinking is the central idea behind all of de Bono's work. It grows out of the models of mind that de Bono presented in his first book The Mechanism of Mind (1969), and was initially introduced in the second part of that book. De Bono coined the term himself, but now it is a commonly used word in the English language.

De Bono argues that, although logical thinking is a powerful and important approach, it is not enough. Logical thinking cannot generate new ideas. Like a car with an accelerator but no steering wheel, pure logical thinking can only have us move down existing well-trodden paths, or keep moving forward in the direction we are already going.

Lateral thinking, on the other hand, like a steering wheel, allows us to change direction. The very word "lateral" means "sideways", so lateral thinking is about moving "sideways" out of existing patterns to generate new perspectives.

The author explains that lateral thinking is closely related to both insight and humour, something that was also explained in The Mechanism of Mind. It is all about perception and perspective. Although computers can do logical operations very well, computers cannot (at least for the forseeable future) laugh. This uniquely human trait is one facet of the human capability for change of perspective - the basic idea behind lateral thinking, and a latent human strength.

Enjoy the episode.

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