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As an idiot, I found this useful. However, what did you mean by “… routinely look up key numbers and do numerical consistency checks during thinking”?

To build on your point about sleep : if you’re taking melatonin and getting enough sleep but still feel groggy, it’s worth considering the dosage. The average adult naturally produces about 0.3mg of melatonin, yet over-the-counter supplements are commonly available in dosages of 1 - 10mg.

Following the suggestion here invokes such a pronounced and immediate effect on my mental state. In the free-will example, it’s as if my mind is stunned into silence.  If I cannot rephrase what I’m thinking, can I really know I’m thinking it? Or disturbingly, have I done any thinking at all?  

In either case, removing these words forces the thought process to be redone.  It is easy to speak in the way we’ve always spoke, and to think like we’ve always thought.  This is the path of least resistance, becoming increasingly frictionless each time it is mentally rehearsed.  Moreover, it seems like these thoughts are also the first to arise. 

I posed the same question about free-will, with the same restrictions, to three friends. 

One answered with a clever argument against free will, reasoning along the same lines of Sam Harris. He began by saying “We don’t choose a lot of things in life.” At the end, he cited that since he relied on only one restricted word, it was a win. 


The two others sought assistance from ChatGPT with a one-shot prompt. Intriguingly, the generated response erred in a similar manner on both occasions. One cited free will as  “the ability to make independent and unconstrained selections...”  and the other claimed it was  “the capacity of individuals to make independent expression of their inner nature, unaffected by external influences or predetermined factors.” In both cases, the output contains a synonym.  

I am curious how its error relates to our own tendencies of thinking.  Are these first thoughts, or these first outputs, the most probable? Are they the most probable because they are the easiest?  More importantly, I am curious as to how this restricting of words can be used outside of philosophy.  If you can clarify your thinking about a problem, you should in turn clarify your ability to solve it.  If so, this then has utility in science and engineering. 

But how could this be done in practice? How do you know what words to restrict?