Archive

Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

This Blog Has Moved!

strangebird-BLOG-MOVEDHi everyone. I’ve decided to move my blogs to self hosted WordPress blog websites. I decided that self hosting gives me more control, and I really wanted to split my art posts out from my author/philosophy posts into two separate blogs!

For my art and designs, please re-subscribe to http://tricksplace.com/

I’ve also opened a Zazzle store, which I decided will be the medium to display my doodles, drawings, and art on TricksPlace.com. I’ve been using a lot more color for them but also using the normal black and white line art designs you’ve been accustomed to. I think Zazzle is pretty neat and I love the idea of my designs being printed and “out there” somewhere in the world.

If you’d like to see a piece of artwork not on a product, just let me know.

For my author, philosophy, and writing blog-posts please subscribe to http://trickslattery.com/blog/

Anyway, thank you to all my subscribers or people that have visited my site in the past and commented. I really appreciate it. I’m still subscribed to many of you and still reading your blogs and viewing your art.

‘Trick

Mandatory Critical Thinking Classes Please!

July 25, 2012 10 comments

Critical Thinking classes should be mandatory for all schools, starting at an early grade. Right now the top four mandatory subject categories are Math, Science, English, and Social Studies. Five if you include Physical Education. All important, of course.

Critical thinking is, however, equally as important as any of these others. Currently it is only taught at higher level education, usually as an elective.  Because it is placed on such a low priority for most education systems, irrationality runs rampant. People are unable to discern propaganda, bias, distortion, and misinformation from the truth. They are unable to analyze information provided to them, no matter how skewed the information is.

And many of these people are intelligent in every other topic. Because it is not a requirement for most majors, a person can run the gamut of courses and entirely miss a single course on critical thinking.

There is a reason people believe in things such as alien abduction, big foot, homeopathy,  conspiracy theories, horoscopes, the nonsense purported in chain emails, and so on. Smart people! They just were never taught how to disseminate, analyze, and scrutinize information given to them.  They were never shown how to discern fallacies, how to question their own thinking, and the basics of language based logic. They were never informed of standards to acquire knowledge and why some standards are more consistent and reliable than others.

The lack of critical thinking skills does not just lead to benign thought, but thought that derives ones philosophical, ethical, and political viewpoints. Critical thinking not only benefits the student, but also the community at large. For a democracy, critical thought affects our policies  and practices. What we support and do not support.

The education system, in the U.S. at least, is riddled with problems. This is just one example of one of those problems that has huge implications.

What do you think? Should such courses be mandatory? Let me know why or why not in the comments below. :)


Sorry I have not posted in a while. Had a big move from the US to Canada and my scanner died as well. Now that I am relocated and I have a new scanner I will hopefully have some time to doodle, ramble, and post. In the meantime here is a ‘lil doodle I whipped up:

back seat driver

Don’t forget to visit my site at www.TrickSlattery.com.

“Using Wikipedia? – You Fool!” (In Defense of Wikipedia)

May 19, 2012 14 comments

“You  quoted Wikipedia?  Hah! I can now dismiss everything you have to say. Wikipedia is not a reliable source silly person. Everyone knows that!”

Ever hear that one or something like it? I know I have. Not directed at me, but at others. And it always bothers me.

I agree one should never cite Wikipedia as an academic source or as direct evidence of a claim.  But that doesn’t mean one can just dismiss a point being made that links to Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an excellent explanatory resource; one of the best on the Internet. It is a great source of information, and for the most part reliable.

Some people seem to think that, because one should not “cite” Wikipedia as academic evidence for the validity of a claim, that Wikipedia is unreliable, should not be used, or should not be pointed to.

They misunderstand the difference between primary /secondary sources, and tertiary sources that point to primary and secondary sources. Tertiary sources condense or consolidate primary and secondary source material into one place.

All encyclopedias are the latter, tertiary sources (though some have elements of secondary sources). The point here is that NO encyclopedia should be used as an academic source or for absolute evidence of a claim.  On the other hand quoting an encyclopedia is fine if the information is pertinent and has explanatory power. No one would complain if they were asked to read something from Encyclopedia Britannica or some other encyclopedia.

This brings me to the validity of Wikipedia compared to other encyclopedias, and this is where I disagree with the person who dismisses Wikipedia off-hand.

Wikipedia themself say they are not a credible or authoritative source for a research paper citation, etc.  But again, this is simply because they are a tertiary source, which should only be a starting point for research.

The biggest factor that gets some people to automatically dismiss Wikipedia: It can be updated by anyone.  Anyone! Someone that is crazier than a loon wearing high heels on Sunday can update a Wikipedia article.

So let’s go over the ups and downs for this. It certainly has its downsides, but I would suggest the upsides override them. Take another encyclopedia for example. For such an encyclopedia, the information is gathered and put together by a group of people who work for the company (ie. Encyclopedia Britannica). It is researched, checked by a much smaller group than Wikipedia, and is just as susceptible to faulty information.

Wikipedia, however, is open to a much larger group of editors – the public. This includes people who are actual experts for any given Wikipedia article.  If some joker hops on and makes a false change in an article, it will quickly be looked at by others and fixed. In many cases an almost instantaneous process.

Per Wikipedia: “Every day, hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world collectively make tens of thousands of edits and create thousands of new articles to augment the knowledge held by the Wikipedia encyclopedia.”

Unlike static encyclopedias, this allows for a flow of ever-changing and improving  information. This is a good thing.  The continual editing of Wikipedia articles , over time, “generally results in an upward trend of quality and a growing consensus over a neutral representation of information”.

The downside is, for starting Wikipedia articles, they may not be of quality as of yet. But the longer an article exists and the more hands in updating the information and citations, the better and more reliable it gets. This is a new media source that brings knowledge and access to knowledge to the table that no other encyclopedia does.

For those that claim it is unreliable, well, if they actually go to the bottom of any Wikipedia page they will usually see a list of citations and links that they can follow and research the actual source of information, if they were so inclined.

Wikipedia is information sharing at its best, and people need to think before they knock it down for short comings that are more that made up for. I say support Wikipedia. It is one of the best sites on the web.

10 Tips to Convince Others of Your Reasonable Beliefs

April 19, 2012 20 comments

Hold a belief that you really feel strongly about? Think it important to share your knowledge about something you have given a whole lot of time, effort, and thought to?

Below are some tips on assisting others to causally align with your strongly held, reasonable beliefs:

1) First and foremost, believe in what you are trying to convince others of, but don’t try to convince others just because you believe it. You want  people to align with something that you  find true or most likely true, but you want to have strong reasoning to support that truth (or likely truth) first. If you are unable to reason out your belief, and instead believe it due to an entirely psychological response or indoctrination, you may have some searching of your own to do before you should try to convince others of your position.

2) Lay out the groundwork for what you are trying to convince others of. You could have a perfectly logical structure to your argument (it could be entirely “valid”), but if there is not agreement on the premises that the logical argument is built on, the argument is meaningless. If a premise is wrong, your argument is not sound. Explain where your grounding comes from and why it should be granted.

3) Don’t be ambiguous with your word use. Clarify, clarify, clarify! If your belief is based on a word that you cannot clarify to yourself, maybe you shouldn’t try to change the minds of others until you understand the very word you are using. Try different words out instead. Some may make your point a whole lot clearer.

4) Don’t be insulted if people do not understand the case you are making. People have minds that have developed differently than your own. Do the best you can to understand which points of yours they are not grasping and try to put those points into different terms. Don’t be stuck explaining in the same way over and over if the person cannot parse the way you are explaining it.

5) Be careful not to be drawn into a drama debate. These kind of debates are unproductive. If communicating online, avoid turning into a debate monster. Rwaarrr.

6) Point out flaws in another persons reasoning, but do so tactfully. A good way is to, whenever possible, try to counteract your recognition of their flawed reasoning with something good they are saying. “I really like what you said here, but perhaps you could clarify for me this other point because it appears to me that it may conflict with X.”

7) Use analogies to help others relate to your points, but do not rely on analogies alone. They are of great use as clarifying tool but are not stand alone arguments. Also, be careful of faulty analogies that add in excess unnecessary baggage which skew a point in a direction it would not take if not for the excess baggage.

8) Don’t limit yourself to words. If you are a visual person with some artistic inclination, use that to your advantage.  A picture or drawing can help a person comprehend where you are coming from.

9) Watch out for fallacies in your argument. A single fallacy in the right place can strip all of the soundness from your position.

10) Last but not least,  don’t be a jerk to those you cannot convince. It is quite difficult to immediately go from viewpoint (A) to opposing viewpoint (B), no matter what kind of awesome case is given for (B). A change of beliefs takes time – sometimes days, sometimes weeks, sometimes years, and sometimes even decades. Sometimes you giving your case is just one tiny event that can lead another on the path to a change of mind. Consider it a long term process.

And sometimes your own mind might even change. Feel strongly about beliefs that are supported with evidence and sound reasoning, but do not close yourself off to new information that may arise. It is possible you have missed something along the way. You can strongly hold a position and still be humble.

Let me know what you think and your experiences with trying to change minds? Were you successful? Has anyone ever changed your mind? If so, what worked best?

A Distribution of Wealth to Ponder

January 17, 2012 8 comments

Distribution Of WealthIf I were to distribute all of my wealth to the poor, I would in turn become one of the poor. This is a catch 22. To live a minimally desireable lifestyle one must horde a minimum amount of what they do have, and save money for a rainy day. People who claim they want wealth equally distributed are criticized for not distributing their own wealth. They are told that if they truly believed in equal distribution that they should give everything they have to the poor…in turn making them-self poverty stricken as well. Those critics miss the larger point.

If everyone on the planet placed all of their wealth (assets, etc)  into one large bucket, and that wealth was distributed evenly to each person, there would not be a single person in poverty. No one would be starving. No one would have insufficient shelter or clothing. No one would be missing out on the basic necessities of life.

Why is that? Because a small percentage of the population owns the largest percentage of wealth.

There are around 7 billion people in the world, and about 1/5th of 1% of those people are millionaires. According to a report by CreditSuisse , Millionaires and Billionaires controlled 39% of all global wealth in 2011. Think about what it means that 39% of all wealth is distributed within 1/5th of 1% (or 0.2%) of the entire population of the world.

To see this lets minimize our numbers down to 500 people and the distribution of $100. 1 person out of the 500 people would have $39 of that $100 pot. If we were to split the rest up evenly between everyone else, that is 12 cents per person. 1 person with $39, everyone else with 12 cents. But the rest is not distributed evenly either.

The richestest 1% (which includes those millionares) that are valued over 500,000 per adult own well over 40%, and the richestest 2% own over half.

In other words, in our $100 scenerio, 2% (10 people) of the 500 people would own more than $50 of the $100, leaving the other $50 to be split between 490 people. And  that other $50 is not distributed evenly either!

One can begin to see how 2% of the world could make a drastic change in the world – a 50% change, and how, if wealth was distributed evenly, poverty would not exist.

Most people don’t bother to think about these things. They just go about their consumerist and capitalistic  lives without giving it a thought. Or if they do give it a thought they conjur up some sort of blameworthiness to the unwealthy and deservingness to the wealthy. Of course 2% of the population is 50% more deserving than the other 98%…right? And 0.2% is 39% more deserving that the other 99.8%…right?

Of course not. If you have been following my blog at all you would know I am writing a book about the lack of  free will. In it I expose these ideas of blameworthiness and being more deserving as inherently flawed. Flaws caused by a “free will” psychology.

Do I advocate complete equalization of wealth? No –  not until far in the future with (hopefully) a complete mindset change of the majority of the population. Not until such “free will” psychology gets weeded out. Of course I go into this in detail within the current book I am writing. I readily admit the need for personal incentive to those ego driven in the meantime.

Do I advocate some sort of cap on the extreme side of wealth?

Take a guess. ;-)

The Important Focus of Ethics: The Consequence

December 11, 2011 3 comments

consequentialismI am currently focusing my first book on the lack of free will. This is for a number of reasons. One important reason is that I want my next philosophical book to be on the topic of ethics. Understanding the lack of free will is an important base understanding for any ethical system. It needs to come prior.

In this post I want to briefly talk about why the consequences of our actions should be the primary focus of any ethical system. Ethics that focus on the consequence are called… take a guess… you guessed it… consequentialist ethics. The consequence is the output of the action. In other words, what will happen if you do something. It is this that needs to be the focus.

Some would think this obvious, but there are different types of ethics with different focus’s. Some are “rule based” ethics (called deontological ethics), in which rules or “duties” are the focus, regardless of the consequence. Some are virtue based ethics, where as the character of the person is the focus (and what an action means for that character), regardless of the consequence. These ethical systems, for the most part,  place the consequence as secondary.

I am certainly not suggesting virtue is unimportant, or that rules and duties should not be part of an ethical system. I am saying that those should always be contingent on the potential consequence of the action. On our predictive ability and output of what may or will happen later given a certain action.

I would argue that rules or duties make no rational sense outside of what they lead to. Outside of the consequence. One might say that it is always unethical to lie. That may be their rule: One ought not lie. And in general, this may be a good rule. What makes it a good rule is the consequence. A world of constant liars is a world where trust is impossible. But when something happens where the consequence outweighs the rule, such as a Nazi asking a person if another person is hidden and if so where, certainly it is not the ethical thing to tell the truth.

The consequence should always trump any rule based system. Likewise with virtue, it may be a virtue to tell the truth, but the consequence should always trump such “virtue”.

This simplistic example makes the point. The end output is more important than if someone is “virtuous” or if someone  holds a rule or duty. Rules, duties, and virtue should point to action that lead to the best consequence. This is by no means an elaborate argument for consequentialism and my second book will go into great detail about this. This is just a lil’ something to get a person thinking about where their own ethics are focused.

The question to ask someone that gives you a moral or ethical rule is, why is such rule ethically important? Or why is an action virtuous?  I bet they will have a hard time justifying it without pointing to an actual consequence.

Protesting Against Inequality (‘Occupy’ X)

October 16, 2011 Leave a comment

freewillscaleThe big news recently is the ‘Occupy’ protests which first started out as Occupy Wall Street and have become a larger global movement. These are demonstrations “mainly protesting against social and economic inequality, corporate greed, and the influence of corporate money and lobbyists on government, among other concerns”.

Without getting into too much depth as to why such protests are important, I want to focus on something a little more at base. Something that should be at the heart of such protests but that is hardly ever thought about. The understanding of the lack of free will.

There seems to be this belief by some who are against the protests that: if there is inequality, it is because those that do not have are to blame and those that do have are more deserving.

I explain in detail within the book I am writing that: without free will, these notions of “blameworthiness” and “more deserving-ness” need to be abandoned. People are at the position they are in life due to events that were and are entirely out of their control.

This is one reason (of many) why the topic of free will is so important and why the belief in free will is not a benign belief. The belief in free will creates this allowance of inequality. It allows people to blame others for their lack of wealth and to condone excess wealth of others who are deemed deserving of such wealth.

Understanding that free will cannot (and hence does not) exist is the great equalizer. It strip away the ego that creates such an imbalance in wealth and quality of life. It is a base subject that is given little consideration.

And without free will, the implications are gigantic.

Regardless, these ‘Occupy” protests are not asking for complete equality nor is the world ready to accept that. Most people still think free will exists. The protesters are only asking that we curve the extreme side of the inequalities. These inequalities that make the game so ridiculously unfair that only a teenie tiny percentage of the population can play.

Given that free will does not exist (which is the point of the book I am writing), and that we should be asking for much more in regards to equality, I don’t think reducing the extreme unfairness is too much to ask at all. Do you?

“Free Will” is Incoherent

October 11, 2011 4 comments

Free Will is IncoherentIn the book I am currently writing titled Breaking the Free Will Illusion for the Betterment of Humankind I not only argue that we do not have free will, but I argue that free will is logically incoherent. That it is nonsensical. That it is something that cannot coexist with reality.

I show that thoughts are events, and that there are only two possibilities for events. I show why these possibilities are entirely incompatible with free will.

I also explain why compatibilist notions of free will, which basically is a redifining of the term ” free will” in such a way that it fits in with one of these possibilities, misses the point entirely. That these notions of free will are not helpful in any way, and that they just allow people to contrive their own notion of free will that does not relate to the compatibilists notion.

In other words, the book I am writing is not one of those books that do not take a side. It is not one that suggests that there is any possibility what-so-ever that we can or do have free will. It is a firm stance on one side of a controversal issue.

But just because the book only takes one side does not mean it is not for everyone. The book is for both people that already understand that free will is impossible as well as people that hold a belief in free will.

For those that already disbelieve in free will, the arguments will strengthen their conviction or give them some new ways to think about the topic.

For those that believe in free will, the book is a challenge. It is a challenge for them to see if, after reading the book, their belief in free will still holds water. Maybe they will be able to. Maybe they have a good argument I have missed. I doubt it, but who knows? So I throw the challenge out to them.  Prove me wrong. And who isn’t up for a challenge?

If they fail the challenge, which I think they will, it is my hope that the book changes minds. That people begin to understand this important fact about reality. The book goes into depth of why this is so important. Hence the second part of the title “… for the Betterment of Humankind”.

I invite people with dissenting  points of view to read my book once it is out.

And if you are one of those with a dissenting point of view, do me a favor. After you read the book:

Send me an email.
In it explain how “free will” really is logically coherent.

I betcha can’t. ;)

WARNING! Fantasmagorical Outbreak

August 19, 2011 1 comment

Warning! Fantasmagorical outbreak.

Fantasmagoricals are everywhere and increasing exponentially. Once infected, the natural response is to spread it to others. You may already be infected! The disease is extremely contagious. It preys on the desires of an individual. It clouds judgment. It trumps logic and reason. It turns minds into mush. Very happy mush – but mush none-the-less.

There are various symptoms. Once infected, however, one is unable to truly see those symptoms.

Regardless, here are a few to be on the look out for:

  • Thinking the world is a much better place than it is. This is a huge sign that you have been infected. This is sometimes called the rainbows and unicorns symptom, as it was once thought that the people who felt this way actually saw the world as rainbows, unicorns, and pink balloons.
  • Thinking that suffering in the word is minimal or that pleasure is the opposite equivalent to pain and suffering. If you think that the suffering in the world is balanced out or trumped by the pleasures of the world, you have been infected.
  • Skewing logic to correlate to what you desire reality to be rather than to what reality is. A sure sign is when one uses a number of logical fallacies in an attempt to convince others of extraordinary claims. It is a tool used to infect susceptible people.
  • Pointing to beauty in the universe as if beauty is some quality of the universe rather than something built out of the psychology of the individual experiencing it. This is a sure sign that one may be infected.
  • Thinking that humans are so much better than every other creature living on planet earth. That humans are the end-all-to-be-all. This specie-ist quality is a sign of a fantasmagorical infection.
  • Going against what there is a mound of evidence for simply because you don’t like it and making up pseudo-scientific information to go against the evidence. This is a definite sign. If you do this, you may be beyond recovery.

There are many other symptoms but the above bullet points are a good start. Watch out as the memes are invading everywhere. There is no immunity shot one can take for it. The best defense is to learn, understand, and apply logic and reason. Create a mental barrier between your desires and what is logical. Understand that what you want, and what is, are not the same thing. And then pray to a pink unicorn that you do not catch the infection.

If someone you know shows signs of being a fantasmagorical, point them to this blog post. 
Awareness is half the battle.

For the fantasmagorical hotline, call 1-800-ƒÅñ†æzz

‘Trick’s Brain Teaser #1 – The Deterministic Universe

For this brain teaser, imagine the universe is such that every event that happens in it occurs due to a cause.

Event H causes a series of events that eventually cause event P.
Event P causes a series of events that eventually cause event Z.

If we were to rewind time to when event H happens or before and hit play, could event Z not happen the second time around (could the causes lead up to a different event instead of event Z)?

Hints to ponder:
Can the same cause lead to more than one possible effect?
Can a cause be the cause for J over K and the same cause be the cause for K over J?
If not, what does that mean for Z?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 93 other followers