I Am a Truth Seeker
Only logged in members can reply and interact with the post.
Join Similar Worlds today »

Have you thought about this?

The Truth-Seeker's Handbook: A Science-Based Guide

Book Description
How do you know whether something is true? How do you convince others to believe the facts? Research in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics shows that we often make dangerous judgment errors, what scholars call cognitive biases.

These mental blindspots cause us to believe comfortable lies over inconvenient truths. Such errors leave us vulnerable to making the wrong decisions based on false beliefs. These poor choices lead to disastrous consequences for our business, personal lives, relationships, and civic engagement.

Fortunately, scientists have uncovered many useful strategies for overcoming our mental flaws. This book presents a variety of research-based tools for ensuring that our beliefs are aligned with reality.

With examples from daily life and an engaging style, the book will provide you with the skills to avoid cognitive biases and help others to do so. Using these strategies, you will prevent disasters and maximize success for yourself, those you care about, your organization, and our society.

Oldest First | Newest First | Top
CARL SAGAN'S BALONEY DETECTION KIT
Based on the book The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan

The following are suggested as tools for testing arguments and detecting fallacious or fraudulent arguments:


Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the facts.

Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.

Arguments from authority carry little weight (in science there are no "authorities").

Spin more than one hypothesis - don't simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.

Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it's yours.

Quantify, wherever possible.

If there is a chain of argument every link in the chain must work.

"Occam's razor" - if there are two hypothesis that explain the data equally well choose the simpler.

Ask whether the hypothesis can, at least in principle, be falsified (shown to be false by some unambiguous test). In other words, is isttestable? Can others duplicate the experiment and get the same result?

Additional issues are:

Conduct control experiments - especially "double blind" experiments where the person taking measurements is not aware of the test and control subjects.

Check for confounding factors - separate the variables.


Common fallacies of logic and rhetoric

Ad hominem - attacking the arguer and not the argument.

Argument from "authority".

Argument from adverse consequences (putting pressure on the decision maker by pointing out dire consequences of an "unfavourable" decision).

Appeal to ignorance (absence of evidence is not evidence of absence).

Special pleading (typically referring to god's will).

Begging the question (assuming an answer in the way the question is phrased).

Observational selection (counting the hits and forgetting the misses).

Statistics of small numbers (such as drawing conclusions from inadequate sample sizes).

Misunderstanding the nature of statistics (President Eisenhower expressing astonishment and alarm on discovering that fully half of all Americans have below average intelligence!)

Inconsistency (e.g. military expenditures based on worst case scenarios but scientific projections on environmental dangers thriftily ignored because they are not "proved").

Non sequitur - "it does not follow" - the logic falls down.

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc - "it happened after so it was caused by" - confusion of cause and effect.

Meaningless question ("what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?).

Excluded middle - considering only the two extremes in a range of possibilities (making the "other side" look worse than it really is).

Short-term v. long-term - a subset of excluded middle ("why pursue fundamental science when we have so huge a budget deficit?").

Slippery slope - a subset of excluded middle - unwarranted extrapolation of the effects (give an inch and they will take a mile).

Confusion of correlation and causation.

Straw man - caricaturing (or stereotyping) a position to make it easier to attack..

Suppressed evidence or half-truths.

Weasel words - for example, use of euphemisms for war such as "police action" to get around limitations on Presidential powers. "An important art of politicians is to find new names for institutions which under old names have become odious to the public"

Above all - read the book!

 
Post Comment
 
46 people following
I Am a Truth Seeker
Personal Stories, Advice, and Support
Group Members