brainroads-toward-tomorrows mental patterns


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Dense reading and Dense Listening

Thinking — as a skill — Overview by Edward de Bono


Thinking broad and thinking detailed is intertwined with ↓ and so is operacy and Teach Yourself To Think


For each thought fragment, concept, illustration, link, or text block
you encounter on
your could EXPlore (
employing dense reading and dense listening
plus #thinking broad and thinking detailed
then ask yourself what does this mean for me? (illustration)
along with performing a PMI
in conjunction with visualizing the operacy involved




  • Part of Information And Thinking chapter from Edward de Bono's Thinking Course

    • Introduction

      • We need as much information as we can get.

      • But we also need thinking.

        • We need thinking to decide what information ↑ we should seek and where to look for it.

        • We need thinking to make the best use of the information ↑ we have.

        • We need thinking to set up possible ways of putting the information ↑ together.

        • See Six Frames For Thinking about Information

        • See The information stage in Teach yourself to think

      • The traditional notion in education that information is sufficient is old-fashioned and dangerous.

      • There is one being who cannot think—and cannot have a sense of humor.

        • That being is, of course, God.

        • Thinking involves moving from one state of knowledge to a better one.

        • Since God has perfect knowledge

        • He is always there already.

        • So thinking is not only superfluous but impossible.

        • Nor can God have a sense of humor since there can be no surprise when the punch lines have always been known.

      • It is only our lack of complete information that makes it necessary for us to think.

        • In education we try to approach the God-like state of complete information. That gets harder and harder as there is more and more information to absorb. The idiom is that of information supply.

        • Thinking is no substitute for information.

          • Check the timetable, do not just try to think when there might be a flight to Geneva.

        • The more information we have the better will our thinking be and the more appropriate our actions.

        • Since every little bit of information helps, every bit of time must be taken up with providing more information. So there is no time to look directly at thinking as a skill.

      • The dilemma is obvious.

        • If we could have complete information in an area then thinking would be unnecessary.

        • But if we cannot have complete information then it is better to have somewhat less information and higher skill in thinking.

        • This dilemma is illustrated below. Simply stated the dilemma is this: If we cannot have complete information should we spend time on more information or on thinking skills?

          • There may be certain areas where it is possible to have complete information but more often we have to supplement the information with thinking.

            Suppose the timetable does show that there is a flight from London to Geneva at 9.45 A.M. designated as SR 815.

            Now that we know, do we need thinking?

            Indeed, we do.

            How are we going to get to the airport?

            How long should we allow to get there?

            Is it rush hour?

            Are there any strikes on at the moment?

            Is there likely to be bad weather and what would be the best way of checking this?

            Does it matter if the flight is late?

            If the plans are disrupted how do I let the person at the other end know of this?

            These are all considerations that require thinking.

    • Dense Reading and Dense Listening

      • Very few people are good listeners.

      • A good listener listens slowly to what is being said.

        • He does not jump ahead nor does he rush to judge nor does he sit there formulating his own reply.

        • He focuses directly on what is being said.

        • He listens to more than is being said.

        • He extracts the maximum information from what he hears by looking between the words used and wondering why something has been expressed in a particular way.

        • It is active listening because the listener’s imagination is full of “could be” and “may be” elaborations.

      • Dense reading is like dense listening.

        • The reader reads between the lines and considers all the implications of what has been read.

        • It is the opposite of fast reading, which is only interested in the broad thrust of what is being offered.

          • If you want to find out what happens and want to get to the end of the story quickly then you are not using dense reading.

        • Both styles of reading have their place and their value. As usual the skill of thinking lies in knowing which skill to use at any particular time.

        • Dense reading involves a lot of thinking.

        • Implications can often only be seen if our thinking creates a number of possible situations around what is being read.

        • Consider the implications of the following remark which I once made to a class in Barcelona: “It seems to me that there are a lot of shoe stores in Barcelona.

          • “ The implications could include the following:

            • that I had visited that part of town where the shoe stores were located

            • that I had probably walked rather than gone by car

            • that there was a part of town with a large number of shoe shops

            • that I may have wanted to buy some shoes or had other special interest in shoe stores

            • that there were good profit margins on shoes in Spain

            • that people wore more shoes

            • that tourists bought shoes in Barcelona

            • that shoes wore out more quickly

            • that there were no very big shoe stores

            • that business property taxes were low in Barcelona

            • that there were few shoe stores in other parts of town

          • Most of these are highly speculative and on the basis of “It could be that....”

            With a single statement that is as far as things could go.

            When there is a whole passage to be read then the overlap of these expanded speculations can start to form into something more definite.

            For example, if the passage went on to mention high property prices in Barcelona then it would seem likely either that people bought a lot of shoes or that the profit margins were high.

            Similarly if Barcelona was mentioned as a tourist center then this would increase the likelihood of larger sales of shoes.

      • There is no special trick about dense reading and dense listening except to want to do it.

The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said — Peter Drucker

Thinking broad and thinking detailed





“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker

The shift from manual workers who do as they are being told — either by the task or by the boss — to knowledge workers who have to manage themselves ↓ profoundly challenges social structure

Managing Oneself (PDF) is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” … “It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities: Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life), and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context




These pages are attention directing tools for navigating a world continuing to move toward unimagined futures.



What’s the next effective action on the road ahead


It’s up to you to figure out what to harvest and calendarize
working something out in time (1915, 1940, 1970 … 2040 … the outer limit of your concern)nobody is going to do it for you.

It may be a step forward to actively reject something (rather than just passively ignoring) and then working out a plan for coping with what you’ve rejected.

Your future is between your ears and our future is between our collective ears — it can’t be otherwise. A site exploration starting pointThe memo THEY don't want you to see



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