Abstract thinking is derived from the technique invented by Alex Osborn in 1952 called BRAINSTORMING. It lets people toy with ideas as "abstract concepts" so they'll share data and make new connections. It also allows us to overcome a widespread tendency to overlook "obvious" options before beginning a search for new ideas. It's best used as a group technique to "open minds", generate ideas and assess "the known" (although it's also a good personal discipline to practice detachment from ideas). It can be an effective tool for examining virtually any type of problem or development and fills Dr. Linus Pauling's criteria for getting a good idea: "Get a lot of ideas and throw out the bad ones". Most people fall prey to self-criticism and do the exercise poorly. Click on the above silver button to see its instructions.
Avoid analyzing answers; this will only stifle the flow. Allow as much humor as possible to influence the process; this will help transcend personal inhibitions. Bring forth as many answers as possible as limits are contrary to the whole spirit of brainstorming.