Christianity, Cultural Traits, Culture, Human Nature, Ideas, Intersubjective Verification, Knowledge, Learning, Logic, Observation, Philosophy, Quality of Life, Reason, Science, Scientific Method(s), Scientist, Subjective Verification, Thinking, Truth

Paul’s Brief and Saucy Primer to the Scientific Revolution

SUMMARY:  Several things or factors had to come together for the Scientific Revolution to take place.  The factors include logical reasoning, empiricism, peer review, and at least two basic worldviews.

(About a 7 minute read)

If you’re like me, your first question about this blog post will almost certainly be, “How did Paul’s briefs ever come to prime the Scientific Revolution?” I myself would say that’s a pretty good question!

On the other hand, if you’re NOT like me, but you instead suffer from a dangerous infestation of sanity, you probably already know that the Scientific Revolution is arguably one of the most consequential events in the entire intellectual and material history of our noble and esteemed species of poo-flinging, fur-challenged super-apes — and that it is still unfolding. Moreover, that knowledge may have gotten you to wondering how such an extraordinary thing ever got started?

As it turns out, that’s a huge question. Huge!

Continue reading “Paul’s Brief and Saucy Primer to the Scientific Revolution”

Education, Honesty, Human Nature, Intellectual Honesty, Language, Learning, Life, Living, Logic, New Idea, Quality of Life, Reason, Skeptical Thinking, Thinking

Three Pillars of a Well-Educated Mind

SUMMARY: There may be several pillars of a well-educated mind, but to me, the three most important are intellectual honesty, open-mindedness, and critical thinking.

(About a 12 minute read)

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”  ― Margaret Mead

Like most people who do not suffer from a crippling over-abundance of sanity, I am a staunch believer in the notion that we could do a much better job than we are doing in teaching people to think.

Saner people might point out the many ways in which American culture discourages teaching people to think.  For instance, there is a deeply rooted strain of anti-intellectualism in our society that has been present ever since the 1820s or 30s, and which most often manifests itself as contempt for anything exceeding a narrowly practical education.

I freely concede that making a living is of periodic importance in life, such as roughly during the period between the ages of twenty and sixty or so.  But to me, that doesn’t mean you should so focus your education on getting a good job that you fail to develop the skills necessary to lead a fulfilling life.

Continue reading “Three Pillars of a Well-Educated Mind”

Bad Ideas, God(s), Ideas, Logic, Philosophy, Religion

The Burden of Proof in Philosophy (Logic)

(About a 6 minute read)

The eternal conversation between theists and non-theists is often marked by humorous claims.  Such as when some theists claim that all non-theists are non-theists merely because they are angry at their god.  Or when some non-theists claim that all theists are irrational.  Sadly, the humor seems to escape a lot of folks on both sides.

In recent weeks, I’ve come across a claim by theists that, at least, is new to me.  I also find it humorous.  I wonder, however, whether it is not a growing fad.  I first saw it two or three months ago, and I have seen it twice again since then.  Could it be the latest craze in the eternal conversation?

Continue reading “The Burden of Proof in Philosophy (Logic)”

Bad Ideas, Belief, Biases, Cognitive Biases, Human Nature, Ideas, Intellectual Honesty, Knowledge, Logic, Philosophy, Reason, Skeptical Thinking, Thinking, Truth

Finding Truth in All the Wrong Places

SUMMARY: The post examines the notion that we can reliably decide what is true or not according to whether or not an idea “feels true”.

(About a 3 minute read)

“Suppose truth really is a woman”,  Nietzsche asks at the beginning of one of his books.  “Has not the history of philosophy proven that philosophers are clumsy around women?”

Nietzsche was among the first Europeans to recognize how problematic is the notion that we humans seek truth.  About the same time, in America, the philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce was developing Pragmatism — a school of philosophy resting on the observation that we do not seek truth, but rather seek the psychologically comfortable state of belief.

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Abuse, Belief, Community, Cultural Traits, Culture, Ethics, Free Spirit, Hate, Human Nature, Late Night Thoughts, Life, Living, Logic, Love, Morality, Morals, Mysticism, News and Current Events, Observation, Oppression, Passion, Poetry, Reason, Self-Knowledge, Skeptical Thinking, Spirituality, Thinking, Truth, Unconditional Love

Late Night Thoughts: Belief, Love, Mysticism, Blaming, and More (September 4, 2018)

(About a 7 minute read)

Almost immediately following World War II, and American firm was hired to poll the Japanese public on several issues, mostly — as I recall now — regarding the occupation and new constitution.  It was the first time the Japanese public had ever been polled.

The firm soon discovered an unexpected problem.  The Japanese people didn’t know how to answer questions about what they personally believed.

Continue reading “Late Night Thoughts: Belief, Love, Mysticism, Blaming, and More (September 4, 2018)”

Belief, Biases, Cognitive Biases, Epistemology, Intersubjective Verification, Logic, Nature, Observation, Philosophy, Reality Based Community, Reason, Science, Scientific Method(s), Scientist, Skeptical Thinking, Thinking, Truth

“How unbiased is science and how unbiased are the scientists?”

A Special Guest Post by Boyd Stace Walters II

(An 11 minute read)

Boyd Stace-Walters here.  Worldly epistemologist, savvy logician, and adept philosopher of the sciences parachuting in from an undisclosed location and secret hideaway in academia to answer Mr. Bottomless Coffee’s excellent compound question, “How unbiased is science and how unbiased are the scientists?”

As it happens Mr. Bottomless Coffee, that question was the single most frequently asked question at the most recent party I was invited to back in ’96.

Admittedly, the reason it was the most asked question is because I got deliriously drunk on two two many glasses of the old bubbly and started asking it of all the guests.  I was hallucinating they were graduate students, you see.  But I’ve learned my lesson, and never again will I drink at my own wedding.

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Community, Human Nature, Intellectual Honesty, Intersubjective Verification, Knowledge, Logic, Philosophy, Reason, Science, Scientific Method(s), Skeptical Thinking, Teresums, Thinking, Truth

How Scientists Verify that Something is True

 

A Special Guest Post by Boyd Stace Walters II

(About a 7 minute read)

Dear Ms. Teresums,

Boyd Stace-Walters here.  Worldly logician, savvy epistemologist, and frighteningly good philosopher of the sciences.  Mr. Sunstone has asked me to address you on a subject he says is “as near and dear to her as wanking.”  Whatever “wanking” means.  The subject in question being “How Scientists Verify that Something is True”.

I must dutifully warn you, Ms. Teresums, that the subject we are about to embark upon is thrilling, entirely thrilling.  It is fraught with ecstatic moments of discovery, and there are dangers, Ms. Teresums — dangerous moments when the least slip in reasoning can plunge the unwary student into the racing, whitewater current of a logical fallacy!

I must recommend you have you smelling salts handy at all times.

Continue reading “How Scientists Verify that Something is True”

Family, Logic, Love, Parental Love, Reason

My Rational Mother

(About a 4 minute read)

Almost certainly because I composed a poem about her this morning, I am missing my mom, who died a year ago to this month.  And as so often happens, one of the three or four top things I’m missing is her rationality.

I’m under the impression most folks simply do not closely associate rationality with their mothers.  I hope that’s more because they value other things, such as love, so much more than because their mothers were not very rational.  But it would not be much of an exaggeration to say, my mother was, not merely rational, but hyper-rational.

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Alex Jones, Authoritarianism, Bad Ideas, Censorship, Citizenship, Community, Conservative, Cultural Traits, Culture, Democracy, Ethics, Fairness, Fantasy Based Community, Freedom, Freedom and Liberty, Idealism, Ideologies, Intellectual Honesty, Intelligentsia, Internet, Justice, Law, Liars Lies and Lying, Liberal, Libertarianism, Logic, Morality, News and Current Events, Obligations to Society, Oppression, People, Political Issues, Politicians and Scoundrels, Politics, Reason, Skeptical Thinking, Society, Thinking, Truth

Alex Jones and the “Paradox of Tolerance”

(About a 7 minute read)

I think it can be said of Alex Jones that he is the poster-child for the “American disease” of tolerating the intolerable.  Perhaps out of all major democracies, America’s democracy is the most susceptible to the disease.  That’s because we tend to be extremists when it comes to protecting freedom of speech.

To be sure, America does limit free speech somewhat, but the limits are absolutely minimal.  You cannot advocate physical violence against someone and/or their property, nor can you “yell fire in a crowded theater” for the mere sport of it, since that might lead to physical injuries.

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Becky, Belief, Delusion, Education, Eric, Friends, Knowledge, Life, Logic, Makyo, Observation, People, Physics, Reason, Science, Scientific Method(s), Skeptical Thinking, Spirituality, Subjective Verification, Thinking, Truth, Wisdom

Becky’s Belief in Spiritual Energy

(About a 5 minute read)

Eric is an online friend who took his doctorate in physics.

I don’t know if he took his doctorate anywhere other than that, but I think he really should take it to a movie or fine restaurant every now and then.  I mean, presumably Eric has mounted his degree by now — he might as well show his degree that it means more to him than a mere quickie.

I’ve told Eric as much, of course, but his phone must be one of those older models that barely functions because the line has always gone dead on me when I’ve encouraged him to be more considerate of his physics degree’s pheelings.

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Belief, Competence, Education, Honesty, Intellectual Honesty, Intelligence, Learning, Logic, Reason, Skeptical Thinking, Thinking, Truth, Values

Mom Blinded Me with Logic!

(About a 4 minute read)

I find it curious how much it seems to be uniform worldwide that we fail to recognize and value the contributions our mothers make to our intellectual lives. Not so our fathers — we are often acutely aware of what they’ve done for us. But our mothers are almost universally another matter.

Few people I’ve heard say, “Mom taught me how to think”.  Instead, she has taught us just about everything but how to think.  She has especially taught us how to feel warm and fuzzy about people and things.  Which seems to me quite at odds with how to think — at least with how to think rationally.

Continue reading “Mom Blinded Me with Logic!”

Bad Ideas, Belief, Intellectual Honesty, Liars Lies and Lying, Logic, Politicians and Scoundrels, Science, Skeptical Thinking, Thinking

Lying With Logic

(About a 2 minute read)

It is a curious fact that an argument can be perfectly logical and yet its conclusion can be a lie.

To illustrate with as simple an example as possible:

All men are dolphins
Socrates is a man
Therefore Socrates is a dolphin

Any logician will tell you, the argument is logically valid.  That is, if the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true.  But of course, the premises are not true, the conclusion is a lie.  And in this case, that is quite obvious.

But perhaps there is something about us humans that causes us to be all-too-persuaded by merely logical arguments, because unscrupulous people use such arguments to dupe us all the time.

“Liberals care about touchy-feely things like hungry children and animal rights, therefore they make their decisions on the basis of their emotions, rather than according to reason.”

How often have you heard that one?  I would guess pretty often if you’ve listened to the likes of Rush Limbaugh, who popularized it.  But have you ever seen any science in support of the notion that liberals make decisions on the basis of their emotions more often than anyone else?

Of course not, and the likelihood they do seems to me quite possibly close to zero. The argument is simply unsupported by empirical evidence.  Although it does appear to offer some empirical evidence when it mentions liberal’s emotional reactions to hungry children and animal rights, those offerings turn out to be empirically untested assumptions — along with the further even more important assumption that liberals are more emotional than conservatives.

“Conservatives must have small penises because they need guns and large pickup trucks to compensate for not having large penises.”  Again, an argument that is logical, but a lie, for where is the science — where are the empirically established facts — to back it up?

From these examples we may see that the key thing to ask about any merely logical argument is — not only, “Does it make logical sense” — but, “Where are the observable facts to back it up?” Only in that way can you prevent yourself from being bamboozled by unscrupulous people.

Put differently, we should take our clue from the sciences, for the sciences do not accept as sound any hypothesis that is supported by logic alone, but demand that all hypotheses be supported by well established empirical evidence.

That is why they are the single most powerful means of discovering truths that humanity has yet invented.