Characteristics Of deep thinking methodology

Deep thinking methodology deals with knowledge which has not been uncovered. To use deep thinking methodology one needs to come up with highly imaginative ideas. It involves observing evidence (signs,symptoms and symbols), hypothesizing a theory (by recognize the possibility, evaluate the situation), and then verifying the hypothesis (by carrying out experiments). Therefore a person skillful in deep thinking skill can see things that other people are not able to see. Deep thinking skill is learned through years of practicing. An example of deep thinking skill involves the Wright brothers. During the period in which they were developing the airplane, people believed that the reason birds were able to fly was because they flapped their wings. Consequently, a number of airplanes were built which incorporated the feature of flappable wings. None of these devices succeeded in staying aloft. The Wright brothers, however, making countless and detailed observations of the flight behavior of birds, noticed that whenever a bird soared in the wind with its wings fully outstretched and in a horizontal position, it gained altitude. On the basis of this phenomenon, they developed the hypothesis that a bird's wing produces lift not only because it flaps, but because of its characteristic shape, i.e., arched on its upper surface and flat on its lower surface. The brothers subsequently built a wind tunnel to test their hypothesis. When they saw it being verified, they proceeded to design and construct the airplane.

wing shape

But at that time the Wright brothers were ridiculed by the science community. A Physics professor wrote an article saying flights heavier than air were impossible. At the same time, Alexander Bell, the inventor of the telephone, had the deep thinking ability. He immediately saw the particular wing shape could produce lift and that making an airplane was possible. He tested flying his own airplane, but he was too late because the Wright brothers had applied their patent first. Historians say Bell started thinking of making a flying machine while he was still inventing his telephone. Therefore Bell might have reached the same conclusion that this particular wing shape could produce lift independently. This shows the Wright brothers and Alexander Bell had the deep thinking ability while other scientists had not. That was why scientists did not believe the Wright brother's airplane could fly at first. The difference between the Wright brothers and Alexander Bell with other scientists was the Wright brothers and Alexander Bell could see the possibility while scientists could not. There are high possibilities and low possibilities. One needs to have the skill to differentiate them. In this case the Wright brothers could see the possibility was good enough to warrant to carry out an experiment to verify the idea.

From here we can see the difference between a deep thinking innovator and a scientist. The Wright brothers made a new discovery in physics that a wing in the shaped of curved in the upper surface and flat in the lower surface could produce lift. But they had very limited other physics knowledge. On the other hand the professor had all the knowledge of physics but he could not see that a wing in the shape of curved in the upper surface and flat in the lower surface could produce lift. The Wright brothers' skill was "deep thinking". A scientist's skill is memorizing knowledge from books. They are different skills. There were lots of deep thinking innovators who made great discoveries in the past, people like Edison, Bell, Carlson etc, and also ancient scholars like Galileo, Pythagoras and Archimedes were all deep thinking innovators. After the establishment of modern education system we only hire researchers with high level of academic credentials. But someone who has high level of academic credentials does not necessarily be a good deep thinker. As a result innovations which require deep thinking skill are left un-tackled.

I assign deep thinking skill the highest priority in making inventions and innovation. First, in recent years, deep thinking skill has been sorely neglected--both in our educational system and by our research establishments. This situation has now reached critical proportions, and can only be reversed by ensuring that students and researchers are given the opportunity, support, encouragement and time needed to learn and practice deep thinking skill. Only then they can come up with independent, creative, and curiosity-driven inventions and innovations.

Second, deep thinking skill has been responsible for the vast majority of major technological breakthroughs throughout the course of our history. Among such breakthroughs I would include Nicolaus Otto's conjecture that the steam energy inside a steam engine could be replaced by burning a mixture of compressed air and vaporized gasoline. This conjecture resulted in an internal combustion engine that was lighter, quicker to start, and easier to operate. I would also include Chester Carlson's revolutionary idea that an electric photoconductor could effectively replace chemical film, an idea whose development totally changed the printing industry.

Typically, such breakthroughs are preceded by the discovery of important new knowledge. For example, in inventing the phonograph or 'talking machine', Edison uncovered the fact that each vocal sound had its own unique vibration waveform. Similarly, in inventing the airplane, the Wright brothers uncovered the fact that air lift could be created only if the wing's upper surface was in the shape of an arch and its lower surface flat. In each case, they applied their innovation (i.e., their new knowledge) toward creating an invention.

One way to master deep thinking skill is to practice practical problem solving. I recall that as a child I attempted to solve the problem of how a rainbow is formed. It took me more than a year to come up with the solution. However, our present education system does not provide us with opportunities to grapple with such ‘impractical’ problem solving exercise. It teaches us only how to apply known knowledge, not to learn how to uncover new knowledge. Some educators, for example, believe that robotics competitions can improve one's inventiveness. Unfortunately such exercises entail only the application of known technology or knowledge and not true creation of new knowledge. Because deep thinking skill training is not provided within our education system, those who have trained with deep thinking skill by themselves, are not recognized by the society at large. A top level tennis player spends about 5 hours practicing tennis every day. A science student also spends 5 hours studying everyday to achieve a PHD degree. The top level tennis players would not likely to do 5 hours practicing tennis and 5 hours studying to get a PHD degree. I have spent large amount of time in practicing deep thinking. I do not have time to do studying to get a PHD degree. But without a PHD degree, I cannot get a job in a research lab.

Deep thinking methodology cannot provide a guarantee that a hypothesis will always be verified. However, it creates a context in which this becomes a possibility. With a strong hypothesis, we have no choice but to seek verification. Only people with deep thinking ability can see the innovative idea has the possibility to be true.