Prepackaged opinions

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“The viewer of television, the listener to radio, the reader of magazines, is presented with a whole complex of elements— all the way from ingenious rhetoric to carefully selected data and statistics— to make it easy for him to “make up his own mind ” with the minimum of difficulty and effort. But the packaging is often done so effectively that the viewer, listener, or reader does not make up his own mind at all. Instead, he inserts a packaged opinion into his mind, somewhat like inserting a cassette into a cassette player. He then pushes a button and “plays back” the opinion whenever it seems appropriate to do so. He has performed acceptably without having had to think.”

“How to Read a Book” by Charles Van Doren, Mortimer J. Adler

Thinking vs Doing?

Tom Morris explores Senator Marco Rubio’s Statement, “For the life of me, I don’t know why we have stigmatized vocational education. Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.” 

Tom gets it right. Work and thought are not and should not be exclusive.

“Doing without thinking is much more dangerous than thinking without doing.”
Tom V. Morris, Welders and Philosophers

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Cognitive Bias or Heuristic?

Tom Peters linked to this Wikipedia page this morning: Wikipedia – List of Cognitive Biases

As I read through them, I was struck by the fact that not only am I susceptible to all of them, but many also double as heuristics – or ways that we can “cheat” for information that we don’t have or don’t have time to research. Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart

Question: So, is it a cognitive bias or a heuristic?

Answer: Sometimes, both.

Your logical fallacy is middle ground

middle ground

middle ground fallacy

You claimed that a compromise, or middle point, between two extremes must be the truth.

Much of the time the truth does indeed lie between two extreme points, but this can bias our thinking: sometimes a thing is simply untrue and a compromise of it is also untrue. Half way between truth and a lie, is still a lie. Continue reading

Your logical fallacy is the texas sharpshooter

the texas sharpshooter

Texas sharp shooter fallacy

You cherry-picked a data cluster to suit your argument, or found a pattern to fit a presumption.

This ‘false cause’ fallacy is coined after a marksman shooting randomly at barns and then painting bullseye targets around the spot where the most bullet holes appear, making it appear as if he’s a really good shot. Clusters naturally appear by chance, but don’t necessarily indicate that there is a causal relationship. Continue reading

Your logical fallacy is anecdotal

anecdotal

anecdotal fallacy

You used a personal experience or an isolated example instead of a sound argument or compelling evidence.

It’s often much easier for people to believe someone’s testimony as opposed to understanding complex data and variation across a continuum. Quantitative scientific measures are almost always more accurate than personal perceptions and experiences, but our inclination is to believe that which is tangible to us, and/or the word of someone we trust over a more ‘abstract’ statistical reality. Continue reading

Your logical fallacy is appeal to nature

appeal to nature

appeal to nature

You argued that because something is ‘natural’ it is therefore valid, justified, inevitable, good or ideal.

Many ‘natural’ things are also considered ‘good’, and this can bias our thinking; but naturalness itself doesn’t make something good or bad. For instance murder could be seen as very natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s good or justifiable. Continue reading

Your logical fallacy is begging the question

begging the question

Your logical fallacy is begging the question

You presented a circular argument in which the conclusion was included in the premise.

This logically incoherent argument often arises in situations where people have an assumption that is very ingrained, and therefore taken in their minds as a given. Circular reasoning is bad mostly because it’s not very good. Continue reading

Your logical fallacy is black-or-white

black-or-white

Your logical fallacy is black-or-white

You presented two alternative states as the only possibilities, when in fact more possibilities exist.

Also known as the false dilemma, this insidious tactic has the appearance of forming a logical argument, but under closer scrutiny it becomes evident that there are more possibilities than the either/or choice that is presented. Binary, black-or-white thinking doesn’t allow for the many different variables, conditions, and contexts in which there would exist more than just the two possibilities put forth. It frames the argument misleadingly and obscures rational, honest debate. Continue reading

Your logical fallacy is genetic

genetic

Your logical fallacy is genetic

You judged something as either good or bad on the basis of where it comes from, or from whom it came.

This fallacy avoids the argument by shifting focus onto something’s or someone’s origins. It’s similar to an ad hominem fallacy in that it leverages existing negative perceptions to make someone’s argument look bad, without actually presenting a case for why the argument itself lacks merit. Continue reading

Your logical fallacy is no true scotsman

no true scotsman

Your logical fallacy is no true scotsman

You made what could be called an appeal to purity as a way to dismiss relevant criticisms or flaws of your argument.

In this form of faulty reasoning one’s belief is rendered unfalsifiable because no matter how compelling the evidence is, one simply shifts the goalposts so that it wouldn’t apply to a supposedly ‘true’ example. This kind of post-rationalization is a way of avoiding valid criticisms of one’s argument. Continue reading

Your logical fallacy is composition/division

composition/division

Your logical fallacy is composition/division

You assumed that one part of something has to be applied to all, or other, parts of it; or that the whole must apply to its parts.

Often when something is true for the part it does also apply to the whole, or vice versa, but the crucial difference is whether there exists good evidence to show that this is the case. Because we observe consistencies in things, our thinking can become biased so that we presume consistency to exist where it does not.

Example: Daniel was a precocious child and had a liking for logic. He reasoned that atoms are invisible, and that he was made of atoms and therefore invisible too. Unfortunately, despite his thinky skills, he lost the game of hide and go seek.

via Your logical fallacy is composition/division.

Thou shalt not commit logical fallacies!

The most important reason to understand logical fallacies is to keep them out of our own arguments.

Your logical fallacy is appeal to authority

appeal to authority

Your logical fallacy is appeal to authority

You said that because an authority thinks something, it must therefore be true.

It’s important to note that this fallacy should not be used to dismiss the claims of experts, or scientific consensus. Appeals to authority are not valid arguments, but nor is it reasonable to disregard the claims of experts who have a demonstrated depth of knowledge unless one has a similar level of understanding and/or access to empirical evidence. However it is, entirely possible that the opinion of a person or institution of authority is wrong; therefore the authority that such a person or institution holds does not have any intrinsic bearing upon whether their claims are true or not.

Example: Not able to defend his position that evolution ‘isn’t true’ Bob says that he knows a scientist who also questions evolution (and presumably isn’t a primate).

via Your logical fallacy is appeal to authority.

Thou shalt not commit logical fallacies!

The most important reason to understand logical fallacies is to keep them out of our own arguments.

Your logical fallacy is bandwagon

bandwagon

Your logical fallacy is bandwagon

You appealed to popularity or the fact that many people do something as an attempted form of validation.

The flaw in this argument is that the popularity of an idea has absolutely no bearing on its validity.

If it did, then the Earth would have made itself flat for most of history to accommodate this popular belief.

Example: Shamus pointed a drunken finger at Sean and asked him to explain how so many people could believe in leprechauns if they’re only a silly old superstition. Sean, however, had had a few too many Guinness himself and fell off his chair.

via Your logical fallacy is bandwagon.

Thou shalt not commit logical fallacies!

The most important reason to understand logical fallacies is to keep them out of our own arguments.

Your logical fallacy is the gambler’s fallacy

the gambler’s fallacy

Your logical fallacy is the gambler's fallacy

You said that ‘runs’ occur to statistically independent phenomena such as roulette wheel spins.

This commonly believed fallacy can be said to have helped create an entire city in the desert of Nevada USA. Though the overall odds of a ‘big run’ happening may be low, each spin of the wheel is itself entirely independent from the last. So whilst there may be a very small chance that heads will come up 20 times in a row if you flip a coin, the chances of heads coming up on each individual flip remain 50/50, and aren’t influenced by what happened before.

Example: Red had come up six times in a row on the roulette wheel, so Greg knew that it was close to certain that black would be next up. Suffering an economic form of natural selection with this thinking, he soon lost all of his savings.

via Your logical fallacy is the gambler’s fallacy.

Thou shalt not commit logical fallacies!

The most important reason to understand logical fallacies is to keep them out of our own arguments.