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Excellent diagrams that are worth following up in this truly wonderful, and shocking, book. The limitations of consciousness are laid bare with relentless efficiency.

We're selective, rejecting and discarding data in a process of severe information reduction. Our attention is limited, memories limited and consciousness is a sort of fraudulent interpretative spotlight. The book changes your entire view of the mind, how we perceive, and the status of consciousness.

It's also full of amusing and relevant anecdotes and stories. I loved the one about Victor Hugo. After writing Les Miserables, he went on a deserved holiday. Unable to resist finding out about his book sales he wrote a letter to his publisher - it simply said '?'. His publisher replied '!'.

Must be the shortest text dialogue ever?

Nørretranders also covers the way in which the brain cons its owner into thinking that its owner's consciousness is in control of decision-making. There is more on this, and its implications for learning, in this previously featured article by Dylan Wiliam (who will be doing a keynote speech at the 2007 ALT Conference....) The half second delay, what follows? [50 kB PDF]. Abstract:

There is an increasing body of evidence that only a minuscule proportion of the sensory data processed by the unconscious mind (capable of processing approximately 11 million bits per second) is referred to the conscious mind (capable of processing approximately 50 bits per second). It is also clear that conscious awareness of stimuli from the environment lags actual perception by approximately half a second, but that a backward referral of subjective experience results in a individual's perception of the stimulus and its conscious awareness as simultaneous. These findings challenge the primacy and supremacy of conscious processing of information on which a substantial proportion of educational practice and policy is based, and suggest a re-evaluation of the the nature of teacher competence and expertise.

I also enjoyed Norretranders book and have written about the bandwidth of consciousness here:

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