For most of us this just about covers the range of sources available to us. But it ignores one of the richest sources of ideas and evidence, mainly because we’re not accustomed to recognise it as such. Each day we talk to friends and acquaintances, we listen to the radio and watch TV, or we just sit thinking as we drive home in our cars, or on a bus or train.
On all of these occasions our minds are taking in ideas and processing them into complex, self-organized structures. This is rich material, which we ignore at our own cost. Just because it doesn’t come from an authoritative book or article, or from a knowledgeable tutor, doesn’t mean it’s not full of insights that the mind will feed on to produce interesting and useful structures of ideas.
Take those moments in the day when we’re alone with our thoughts without any interruptions from friends, the TV, the radio, or a book we ought to read. It’s just us and our ideas in the car as we drive home, or in a bus, or on a train.
On most of these occasions it’s difficult in retrospect to recall exactly what we were thinking at the time. This in itself is not always a bad thing. Such moments of reverie are the time when the mind can process the material it’s taken in during the day, and organise it into structures for us to use if we have the will to access it.