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Barriers to Study
(excerpt from Study Basics)



There are three major barriers that one is likely to run into in studying. They are:

The majority of all study problems fall in one of these categories.

The first and most important barrier is the misunderstood word. If in studying you go past a word you don't fully understand, if you notice it or not, subsequent parts of the text will blank out on you. Your memory of what you have studied will have holes in it and you will have a feeling of emptiness concerning the subject.


The handling on misunderstood words is to locate them and get them fully defined

The second barrier to study is the skipped gradient. If you get in over your head, (that is without having gone through all the steps required), you will end up with a feeling of confusion. You attempted too steep a gradient of learning, you got too much data you couldn't digest, and you got confused.

The solution to a skipped gradient is to go back to the point where the material wasn't confusing and go through it more gradually.

The third barrier to study is lack of mass. The mass is the subject we are studying, the thing itself, the physical objects etc. If you study without having enough exposure to the actual mass you will end up feeling squashed or dizzy.

To fix a lack of mass we must bring the student into contact with the physical mass of the subject or with a suitable substitute for that.

Each study barrier has some very definite symptoms and some very exact methods of remedy.


Misunderstood words

A misunderstood word is a bypassed definition. It is a word you don't fully understand the meaning of.

The phenomena of the misunderstood word are quite obvious but remarkably overlooked. It basically comes down to: you don't understand what you study if you don't understand what you study.

It doesn't depend on percentages. Just because you understand 95% of the words doesn't mean that you understand 95% of the materials. Even 1% of misunderstood words can destroy 99% of your understanding.

The effect of a misunderstood word goes far beyond the word itself.

If you go past a word that isn't fully understood your attention will sub-consciously stick to that word. You are likely to not notice what you are reading right after that point.

Blank spots will follow from misunderstood words. Your memory will have holes concerning the material. You might feel blank or empty about what you studied. And it is unlikely that you will be able to understand and apply the materials to amount to much.

A misunderstood is not necessarily obvious. The words you clearly know that you don't understand are not the most damaging. Much more insidious in their effects are the words you have an imperfect understanding of. You might have the wrong definition, a partial definition, an uncertain understanding, or whatever.

Simple words are particularly dangerous. Very often one has never bothered to fully understand them. They are taken for granted. An incomplete understanding of a word like "for" or "the" can wreak havoc on one's understanding of a subject.

If in studying a text you start to feel blank, nervous, upset, or you start to yawn - it is time to look for a misunderstood word.

The solution is to go back to the end of the part where you were not having trouble. The misunderstood word will be found right before you started having trouble. There is a word there that needs to be defined correctly.

When you find a possible misunderstood word you need to look it up. You find it in a good dictionary and you get it fully defined. You must understand its definition fully and you must understand the use of the word in the text at hand.

If you are aware of misunderstood words and if you locate them and define them as soon as (or before) you get the symptoms, you can feel bright and comprehending about any subject you study.

If you continuously go past misunderstood words the symptoms will compound. You will not only feel blank and washed-out, you will start disliking the subject. It is not really fun any more, it bores you or upsets you. If you continue any further you will start complaining and blaming the subject or others for your trouble (see also "Overts and Misunderstoods"). And eventually you will drop the subject and not want to come back to it.

If you are forced to keep studying you might develop ways of memorizing the material and even pass tests. But, you are no longer with it, and you won't be able to apply it.

A misunderstood is known for short as an M.U., or an MU.

The Symptoms of misunderstood Words:



Gradients are when you move ahead one step at a time. You can accomplish anything if you can lay out the steps from where you are to where you want to go and then follow the steps one by one.



When you study something on a gradient, each step is designed to include a little bit more than the step before it; each step will be a little more difficult or require more of you. If you follow all the steps you will end up with the level of skill and accomplishment you want.

This applies mostly to actions and practical skills, but also to theoretical study. If you want to learn to swim it really works the same way as if you want to master nuclear physics.

If you are going to learn to swim you would start by looking at some water, maybe dip a toe in it, stand in water to your knees, gradually put your whole body in the water, move a bit around in shallow water, try to float, practice swimming strokes, start swimming, and sooner or later you can swim.

If you study a more theoretical subject you would probably wish to start with some of the basics explained in simple terms, some examples of the use of this subject, some basic definitions, some pictures, and you would gradually work into more and more advanced presentations of the subject.

Unfortunately subjects aren't always presented that way. Some textbooks seem to assume that you already know the subject and overwhelm you with information without regard to the order of presenting them. Also, materials might be missing that you really need. Nevertheless the same mechanisms are at work.

If you study something at too steep a gradient you will be hit by confusion and overwhelm.


It is like trying to learn to swim by being thrown into the sea without any introduction. You are not going to like it, things will be moving too quickly for your taste.

If you have a choice in the matter you can make things much easier for yourself by selecting a study route that is built on a manageable gradient of steps.

No matter which study program you are following you are still subject to the phenomenon of the skipped gradient. You might without noticing go on to the next step without mastering the one before it.

Skipped gradient is recognized by a confused feeling, reelingness, a mixed-up feeling.

Often one will attribute all one's trouble to the step one is at. But, if we are talking skipped gradient, it is the step before that you need to look at. Or at the last step where one was doing well before one started to be confused.

The solution to skipped gradients is to go back, find the missed gradient, and to fully master that one, before one goes on.

The Symptoms of a Skipped Gradient:



A confusion is a collection of unpredictable, randomly moving particles. Everything is moving, nothing is standing still.

If you are in the middle of a traffic jam in a foreign country where you don't know the traffic rules, that would adequately illustrate a confusion.


What makes a confusion confusing is the lack of stable data

A stable datum is a predictable datum or particle. Something that remains stable and predictable while other things are moving.

In the traffic jam, if you knew some of the rules by which the car move you could probably sort out the confusion. Or if you used one car as reference point and worked out what the other cars did in relation to it, it would be less confusing.

Confusions can be resolved by stable data. If you start somewhere, anywhere, and you get to know something stable about one part or one particle then you have a starting point. Then you can relate other parts to that and pretty soon you have more stable data. If you keep doing that you will eventually know all about the confusion and it will no longer be confusing.

Any subject can seem confusing at first. But as you build up a structure of stable data about it it will become less and less confusing

In studying, you are building up a structure of stable data about the subject. With that structure of stable data you will become more and more able to handle confusions in that subject.

It is wise to evaluate data well before one assumes them as stable data. The best stable data you can have in a subject are the actual basic principles it is built on.

If your stable data are shaken the feeling of confusion will return. You will stay confused until you re-establish your stable data or assume new ones.

For example, if you based your study of airplanes on the datum that they fly because they have engines and propellers, you might feel confused if somebody shows you a glider plane.

So, if you run into a confusion the reason might be:

1. You went too fast into a subject you don't have enough stable data about yet.

2. Some of your existing stable data were shaken.

As mentioned, you will fare best if you choose your stable data carefully.

Sometimes you will be forced to re-evaluate existing stable data. That is not necessarily comfortable, it might include a temporary state of confusion. But if you have previously chosen false information as your stable data it will be necessary. Changing them might feel like taking one step back, but it would be followed by two steps forward.



In study the mass is the actual subject that you study. It is the physical places, objects, and activities that you are studying about.

If you study auto mechanics then the mass is the actual cars, engines, and parts.


Studying works best 
   when the mass of the   
subject is included.

The mass is very important to any kind of study. It is basically what it is all about. It is what you expect to handle when you are done studying

Studying will work best if you are exposed as much as possible to the mass. If you have the subject mass available for you to interact with you won't lose track of what it is about.

This is not just to help you understand better. There is an actual physiological phenomenon connected to it. Studying without mass will give you physiological reactions.

If you study with too little mass available you will feel squashed, dizzy, bored, or exasperated. You might even get sick.

The remedy for lack of mass is to supply the mass.

The best mass to provide is the actual thing the student is studying. But, if that is not always practical there are suitable substitutes:

Written materials do not constitute mass. The written word is significance. What we are trying to accomplish is a balance between mass and significance.

In the absence of the actual mass of the subject, the student can produce his own representations for mass.

Making drawings at certain intervals while studying is quite useful. You can demonstrate for yourself what you have studied and you can introduce at least a shadow of application by making drawings and diagrams.

Demonstrations is another very useful method of getting more mass. As you study you can demonstrate the use of the materials with random items at hand. You can show yourself or others how principles word with rubber bands or paper clips. Or you can make clay models that illustrate what you are studying. More on this below.


The Symptoms of Lack of Mass:



You can bring yourself some mass and verify your understanding of the materials by doing demonstrations with little random objects you have at hand.



There are several advantages of this:

You should have a little demo kit that you keep close to your study area. It can contain various objects that you can make demonstrations with. The subjects shouldn't have much significance to them, they don't have to look like what you study. Paper clips, rubber bands, screws, batteries, keys, beer caps, or whatever.

Now, showing principles of your subjects with paper clips put you to a certain test. You have to understand what you studied in simple terms, and you have to divorce your understanding from the words used about it. You have to show it actually in the physical universe, not just explain it in significance.

For example, say you were supposed to show the law of supply and demand. You could say that these paper clips here are cars that are driving around and they need gasoline, and this rubber band over here is an oil company and the beer caps are gasoline they are producing. You can show they are exchanging gasoline by moving the beer caps from the rubber band over to the paper clips. And now if we add more cars (paper clips) we need more gasoline (beer caps) and you would show that.

You can only do that if you have grasped some degree of simplicity about the subject. And you might realize while you try to show it that you hadn't really translated it to reality before. What mentally appears to be understood might reveal some flaws when you have to show it.

When you do a demo you make the demo items show what you are talking about. You move them around as appropriate to illustrate the matter. If you do it for somebody else you would explain what each item illustrates. However, it is not acceptable to do it by significance only. Putting two rubber bands on the table and saying "This is the supply and this is demand" is not enough.

Once you get the hang of it you will realize that is quite a useful way of making sure you can translate the studied significance into physical action. You will catch yourself in parts you didn't fully get and you can maintain a better feeling about what you study.

The actual mass of the subject is always best, but demonstrations are a practical and convenient substitute.


Clay demos

There is a more elaborate method of doing demonstrations for the principles you really have to grasp. To establish that you know and can use the basic principles of the subject you can do clay demos.

A clay demo is done with clay, model wax, or play-dough. You make the clay show what you are trying to illustrate. You would put labels on each part saying what it is.

For example, if you needed to show "a policeman" you could make a figure out of one color clay, attach a little piece of paper with "policeman" written on it, make a blob of another color into a hat and write "hat" on the label, and make a "gun" out of another piece of clay.


The Clay Demo has to show 
the thing. It is not a piece of art. 
Bodies should be around 10 cm 
(4") tall and each significant part 
of the  demo should be labeled as it 
is  completed. The overall label is face 
   down, when the demo is checked out. 


This is not an artistic endeavor, it doesn't have to be pretty. We are just trying to bring something from the realm of significance into the physical universe

You make something out of the clay, and then immediately you put on a label. The clay must show the thing, so no involved explanations on the label. "Student" might be acceptable to put on a clay body, but "tired student" wouldn't be. You would have to get the clay to show a tired student, if that was the job at hand.

When you are done with a full clay demo you make a big label for the whole thing saying what it is supposed to be, and you turn it upside down. If you are doing this as part of a course the instructor would then examine your clay demo. He looks at the clay and tells you what he sees. If that matches your label for  the demo your demo is passed. If no match, you need to work more at your demo to make the clay really show it.

A clay demo is mostly for the student's benefit. It will also provide a method for the instructor of checking the students understanding, but that is only secondary. The main purpose is for the student to achieve a higher degree of understanding and application concerning a certain subject.

Clay demos aren't meant to be easy, they are expected to be a challenge. What you will be asked to demonstrate will not be "policeman". It will be more involved subjects, such as "What is study?" or "A misunderstood word". If you have to show that in clay so that somebody else can see it you must get down to the simplicities of the matter. You might not know how to show it when you start out, but after working with the clay for a while you will.

In trying to make a clay demo you might realize that you didn't really understand what you had studied that you are now trying to demonstrate. In that case you would go back and re-study it, and then do the clay demo again.


Conceptual understanding

The understanding we are after in study is not literal and it is not complex.

If you really understand something it is simple for you. You don't have to walk around remembering many complex rules. When you have conceptual understanding of the basis for the rules, you can call them up when necessary.

Conceptual understanding is not words. It is the clear idea of what we are talking about, beyond mere language.

You might have to study a lot of words and complexities to reach conceptual understanding of something. It is not what you start out with, you've got to work at it. But the eventual test is that everything becomes simple and intuitive.

A true expert in any field has conceptual understanding of his subject. He can express it to others in simple or complex terms as he chooses. He can think with it and work with it and develop it further. He is not dependent on text books or other authorities. He knows the subject.

There is a distinction between "knowing" and "knowing about". A student is learning about something and getting to know about data in the subject. An expert knows without having to refer much to specific data. Knowing is conceptual. Knowing about is more mechanical.

The following is based on R. Hubbard's Word Clearing Series:


Misunderstood Words (MU's)
- and How to Clear Them


"Misunderstood" or "Not-understood" are used to describe any troubles with understanding words, symbols, etc. It can be lack of understanding of a word, concept, or symbol. Most people think of a misunderstood as something they don't know - a "not-understood." A "not-understood" is a misunderstood but there is more to it. It is fully described in the 10 categories below.

A Misunderstood Word or Symbol (MU) is:

1. A false definition: The person has a definition that has no relationship to the actual meaning of the word. Example: The person reads or hears the word "dog" and thinks that "dog" means "pillow". You can't get more wrong. Example: A person sees a multiply sign (x) and thinks it means to cross something out.

2. An invented definition: An invented definition is a type of a false definition. The person made it up himself or he was given somebody else's idea. This can be difficult to find as he is certain he knows it - after all he invented it himself. But usually it does read on a Meter.  
Example: A gang talks about 'goop' all the time. A new member does not know what it means, but take it to mean 'beer'. To the gang it means 'drugs'. The new member is very confused.

3. An incorrect definition: A definition that is not right but may have something to do with the word or symbol. Example: A student reads the word 'image' (like how an actor is perceived by the fans)  and takes it to mean painting or drawing. They are related but failure to distinguish between them lead to MU's and confusion in the students mind.

4. An incomplete definition: A definition that just isn't precise enough or insufficient. 
Example: The person reads the word "office" and thinks it means "room." The definition of the word "office" is: "a room or building which holds an administrative business activity." 

5. An unsuitable definition: A definition by itself is correct, but does not fit in the context it is used. It causes the student not to be able to understand the sentence correctly. 
Example: The person hears the sentence: "he is dressing a turkey." The person understands "dressing" as "putting clothes on." That is one definition of "dressing" but it is not the definition used in the sentence. The definition of "dressing" that applies is: "making ready to cook, or by cooking." 

6. A homonymic definition:  One word that has two or more clearly different meanings. A homonym can also be two (or more) words that sound the same ("piece" and "peace" for example). This can cause the student not to understand the text.  
to box (sport); a box (container). Piece (a part of something). Peace (opposite of war).

7. A Substitute Definition: A substitute definition occurs when a person uses a synonym for the definition of a word. A synonym is not a definition. A synonym is a word having a meaning similar to that of another word. 
Example: The person reads the word "portly" and thinks the definition of the word is "fat." "Fat" is a synonym for the word "portly." But "portly" means: "of a stately appearance; impressive, especially because of size." You need to learn the full definition for a word as well as its synonyms.

8. An omitted (missing) definition: An omitted definition is a definition of a word that the person is missing; it can be omitted from the dictionary he is using. In other words, the word is used in a meaning the student doesn't know, but he thinks he does. This can often have to do with slang or humor. 
Example: to 'borrow' something may mean to steal it. 

9. A No-definition:  A no-definition is a "not-understood" word or symbol. 
Example: The person reads the sentence "The business produced no X%&$." The student obviously don't have a definition for 'X%&$' as it simply is a misprint and can't understand the sentence.  

10. A rejected definition: A rejected definition is a definition of a word which the person will not accept. This can be based on emotional reactions to it. The person finds the definition degrading to himself or group, etc. He may have a total misunderstood on the word and still refuse to have it explained or look it up. 
Example: A person runs into the musical expression "C Minor", but knows that belongs to classical music and he finds people with that interest too intellectual and the type that look down upon him. He is totally unwilling to look it up. 'C minor' is a musical key, meaning the musical scale the piece of music is using. It starts on the note 'C'. 

Any word that fits one or more of the above descriptions  must be cleared up as it is an MU. Use a good size dictionary or more than one dictionary, text book, or encyclopedia. It is harmful to go on past or ignore a misunderstood word or symbol as one simply will not understand what he is studying. A student must show self-discipline and not go past misunderstood words. You will learn to recognize the symptoms from the reaction you get while reading. Especially the mental blankness which usually follows right after a misunderstood. Look up the symbols or words and get them fully defined before going on with the reading. Students must understand it takes a self-discipline that has to learn. The different types of "misunderstoods" and "not-understoods" must be clearly grasped by a person seeking to clear them in himself and others. The most common error in Word Clearing is for the person being word cleared to believe that a misunderstood is something he simply does not know. With this limited definition he cannot effectively be word cleared nor should he word clear others. So these definitions of "misunderstood" and "not-understood" should be very well known as it will often be necessary to clarify them to the person being word cleared.


Clearing Words
It has become all too obvious that a misunderstood word remains misunderstood and will later hang a person up unless he clears the meaning of the word in the context it is found in. The MU's also have to be cleared in all of its various uses in general usage. When a word has several different definitions, one cannot limit his understanding of the word to one definition only and call the word "understood." One must be able to understand the word when, at a later date, it is used in a different way.

To clear a word one looks it up in a good dictionary. Dictionaries recommended are The World Book Dictionary (2 volumes); also Funk and Wagnalls Standard English Dictionary. A good dictionary should use simpler words to explain more difficult words with. It should have the origin or derivation of the word. It shouldn't use synonyms to define a meaning of a word with, but actually define the word by description. You should be able to complete the steps below easily with such a dictionary.

The steps:

1) The Definition that applies: The first step is to look over the definitions to find the one that applies to the context in which the word was misunderstood. One reads the definition and uses it in sentences until one has a clear concept of that meaning of the word. This can take many sentences. 
2) Other Definitions: Then one then clears each of the other definitions of that word, using each in sentences until one has a conceptual understanding of each definition. 
3) Derivation: The next thing to do is to clear the derivation - which is the explanation of where the word came from originally. This will help gain a basic understanding of the word. 
4) Don't clear the technical or specialized definitions (math, biology, etc.) or obsolete (no longer used) or archaic (ancient and no longer in general use) definitions unless the word is being used that way in the context in which it was misunderstood. 
5) Clear Idioms. Most dictionaries give the idioms of a word. An idiom is a phrase or expression whose meaning cannot be understood from the ordinary meanings of the words. For example, "give in" is an English idiom meaning "yield." Quite a few words in English have idiomatic uses and these are usually given in a dictionary after the definitions of the word itself. These idioms have to be cleared.
6) Clear synonyms. One must also clear any other information given about the word, such as notes on its usage, synonyms, etc. so as to have a full understanding of the word. If one runs into a misunderstood word or symbol in the definition of a word being cleared, one must clear it right away using this same procedure and then return to the definition one was clearing. (Dictionary symbols and abbreviations are usually given in the front of the dictionary).

You are reading the sentence "He used to clean chimneys for a living" and you're not sure what "chimneys" means. You find it in the dictionary and look through the definitions for the one that applies. It says "A flue for the smoke or gases from a fire." You're not sure what "flue" means so you look that up: it says "A channel or passage for smoke, air or gasses of combustion." That fits and makes sense so you use it in some sentences until you have a clear concept of it. "Flue" in this dictionary has other definitions, each of which you would clear and use in sentences. Look up the derivation of the word "flue." Now go back to "chimney." The definition "A flue for the smoke or gases from a fire," now makes sense so you use it in sentences until you have a concept of it. You then clear the other definitions. One dictionary has an obsolete definition and a geological definition. You would skip both of these as they aren't in common usage. Now clear up the derivation of the word. One finds in the derivation that it originally came from the Greek word "kaminos," which means "furnace." If the word had any synonym studies, usage notes or idioms, they would all be cleared too. That would be the end of clearing "chimney."

List of Words
You will from time to time encounter lists of words that you need to clear on yourself or on a client. In this case, you will not have any context for the word. If you don't know the context of the word, you should start with the first definition and clear all definitions, derivation, idioms, etc. as covered above.

Find a Good Dictionary
If you find yourself spending a lot of time clearing words within definitions of words, you should get a simpler dictionary. A good dictionary will enable you to clear a word without having to look up a lot of other ones in the process.

Cleared Word EP
A cleared word means conceptual understanding has been achieved. When each of the common meanings is understood (and any technical meaning that is needed for the materials studied) that should be the case. You should have the feeling that the word is now part of your vocabulary.
That's what a cleared word is. It is a word that is understood. In metered Word Clearing this would produce a floating needle and very good indicators. There can be more than one F/N per word. Clearing a word must end in an F/N and VGIs. Off the Meter this would be accompanied by very good indicators. The above is the way a word should be cleared. When words are understood, communication can take place and with communication any given subject can be understood.

See also definitions related to Word Clearing in Glossary, including Method 1-9 Word Clearing.

Link to Word Clearing Intensive, an audited action.

See also 'Overts and Misunderstoods' for more data about the importance of clearing words.

Word Clearing Intensive (M1): "The action taken to clean up all misunderstoods in every subject one has studied. It is done by a word clearing auditor in a formal metered session. Each subject ever studied is cleared for MU's. Each MU is cleared to F/N. There can be many F/N's per word (each definition, derivation, etc. are each taken to F/N). MU's are traced back to earlier similar MU's to a win (EP). This can go back to earlier similar subjects before the EP is reached. The result of a properly done Word Clearing Intensive is the recovery of one's education".


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