Posts Tagged ‘logic’

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

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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?

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