Cognitive Flexibility

Research has repeatedly shown that people are less mentally flexible than other animals. This owes to lazy minds.

Heuristics are mental shortcuts: rules of thumb the mind uses to lazily do its job, as contrasted to working through all information available. Humans extensively rely upon heuristics.

Monkeys are less inclined toward heuristics and more commonly consider alternatives: cognitive exercise which may give an edge in survivability. Predators often rely upon typical behavior patterns to catch their prey. Breaking the behavioral mold assists staying alive.

By contrast, humans are apex predators. Relative to other, smaller primates, people can afford mental slack.

In Spokes of the Wheel, Book 3: The Elements of Evolution, Ishi Nobu posited the manipularity-intelligence hypothesis: “Basically, organisms which have lesser ability to change their environment must have more ‘on the ball’ to survive.”

Whereas humans are more inclined to iteratively use trial-and-error than figure out a complex problem entirely, corvids mentally work out a problem and act out the solution in a single try. This too indicates a species-specific laziness of mind.

Cognitive flexibility has a cultural aspect. “Cultural influences may change how people conceptualize a problem and therefore how flexibly they approach it,” notes American psychologist Julia Watzek.

Problem-solving is the epitome of skill. Here, humans fall short cognitively (relative to other species) by sticking with a mind-set. This tendency is another sign of lazy mindedness.

Familiarity stiffens mind-set. Julia Watzek: “Indeed, experts are not immune to cognitive set. In a clever study using chess configurations, the availability of a well-known familiar solution prevented expert players from finding the more optimal strategy and lowered their problem-solving performance to that of players enormously lower in skill level. Experts may make mistakes because they rely on well-learned procedures in seemingly familiar situations (in which it does typically result in good outcomes) even when others may be more adequate. For example, this could contribute to doctors unwittingly misdiagnosing uncommon diseases that present with common symptoms. In order for us to make good decisions, it is important to identify the conditions in which we fail to seek or adopt new strategies.”

Part of what makes humans unique is their innate religiosity: the inclination toward factually unfounded beliefs for working assumptions. Religiosity has been the bane of ‘scientific’ theorization as much as it has been the core of gullibility found in religious followers. Most sciences are mountains of discontiguous facts tidied up by facile false theories. This can be seen in astrophysics, neurobiology, psychology, and economics, where bogus assumptions, confusion between coincidence and cause, and failure to take advantage of obvious inferences create mainstream disciplines which ill serve science as an art of intelligence.

Rote thinking is a hallmark of ignorance, both psychologically and spiritually. That the Collective lazily let their minds run their lives explains why the world is such a mess: socially, economically, politically, and environmentally.

The spiritual path taught by Ishi Nobu is to actively dissociate from the mind by living in meditation and thereby achieve the state of mental clarity and emotional release. Nobu teaches how liberation from the mind can bring contentment, sharpen wits, and render life more enjoyable. The teachings may be found in Clarity: The Path Inside, with supplement in Spokes 8: The Hub of Being. Getting rid of “monkey mind” can you make you as smart as a monkey when it comes to cognitive flexibility.


Julia Watzek et al, “Capuchin and rhesus monkeys but not humans show cognitive flexibility in an optional-switch task,” Scientific Reports (2019).

Monkeys outperform humans when it comes to cognitive flexibility, study finds,” (15 October 2019).

Cristine H. Legare et al, “Cultural variation in cognitive flexibility reveals diversity in the development of executive functions,” Scientific Reports (2018).