Re: Perpetuatin' Critical Thinkin'

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Learnin' For Dummies (No, We're Not Calling You a Dummy! Wait! Come Back! I Made Espresso!)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 8:16 AM
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"Anti-Intellectualism in American Life" by Richard Hofstadter


Posted by: M | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 8:21 AM
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"How to Irritate Your Parents, Fool Your Teachers and Get Away With Everything"


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 8:27 AM
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Wait! Come Back! I Made Espresso!)

McCafe!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 8:31 AM
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Different results from a quick google search on the book in 2. If that's the official book on the topic, then an update would certainly be due.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 8:34 AM
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But seriously folx. Couldn't this be a pod-cast or something? Short attention spans and all that.

Personally, and I'm sure I'm hardly unique amongst the foggetariat in this, my parents were pretty big on the whole critical thinking deal right from the get-go. Much to the chagrin of many well-meaning but slightly dense teachers. Most everybody else I know who didn't come from that kind of background got to it through punk and hip-hop and zines and certain books. I mean, The Anarchist's Cookbook is a horrible work of incoherent nationalism and drop-out nonsense, but the process of getting a copy of TAC is something I'd want any kid of mine to experience. W/o recourse to online ordering of course.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 8:39 AM
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In this country schoolchildren can now do an AS level (half an A level, 1 year course, exam to be done at about age 17) or a full A level (2 year course, exam to be done at about 18) in Critical Thinking. I assume there is a reading list involved. Obviously it's not compulsory, or even offered in all schools.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 8:41 AM
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The two links critical of the book you have there are from conservative anti-intellectuals. Quoth one: " Having spent the last twenty years cleaning up the mess that the Intellectuals inflicted upon the nation, I think we can now officially say that this book is idiotic."

I haven't read Hofstadter's book, but everyone tells me it is a classic.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 8:41 AM
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re: 7

I've taught the A-level Philosophy course before [not the pukka full thing, but revision courses, for people cramming for A-levels]. I imagine there's some overlap.

Scottish primary schools, in some districts, have started philosophy classes. Starting from age 4 or 5, I think.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 8:44 AM
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8: Oh yes, I did not mean to imply I endorsed them. They seemed ridiculous. They just pulled up quickly.

Either way, a classic book from 1963 means there is room for a new book.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 8:48 AM
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There are a lot of unexamined beliefs that our students hold which place them in a defensive crouch entering the classroom.

I'd be interested in hearing some examples.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 8:48 AM
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11: Your teacher is an atheist plotting to rob you of your faith.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 8:52 AM
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11: I carpool with the person who runs the tutoring center and a theology professor. They both have lots of experience with students building a fence around their religious beliefs and snarling if anything in the classroom gets close to that fence. For example.

For a nonreligious example, the school read Nickeled and Dimed last semester, and I had a bunch of frustrating conversations with students who already knew that the whole premise was bullshit before ever reading the book.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 8:53 AM
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Which is why I can't teach these classes. I can't actually stay objective, because I don't really know what it means to stay objective in these areas, because I think I'm so right.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 8:54 AM
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Tackling deficits in critical thinking are precisely not going to involve 'objectivity' of that type, no? That 'equal time for both sides of the picture' notion of objectivity is bullshit.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 8:59 AM
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"... is precisely", argh


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 8:59 AM
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9 - the school my eldest would have gone to if she hadn't gone to her current one did Philosophy at 11. Probably only for a year or two, I guess, but seemed an interesting plan.

About 3 years ago, when my kids weren't interested, our local home educators group got a post grad philosopher from the university to come and do a few weeks philosophy course. I think nearly all the preteens/teenagers who did it have moved on now, I should think about seeing if we can organise something similar again.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 8:59 AM
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Is this thread designed to poke the eye of the virtual ghost of John Emerson with a sharp stick?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:01 AM
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The school we're hoping to send Sally to next year (public school, but there's an exam to get in) has philosophy classes in middle school. I have no idea if they're going to be of much value, but it looked interesting at least.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:02 AM
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Tackling deficits in critical thinking are precisely not going to involve 'objectivity' of that type, no? That 'equal time for both sides of the picture' notion of objectivity is bullshit.

It is, it is. How do you deal with someone in a defensive crouch if you are actually setting out to change their mind, then? And it is actually very rational for them to feel defensive if that's the agenda.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:02 AM
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You can show some respect for the person as an individual, and treat them gently. Persuading people they should be more open-minded to the possibility they might be wrong, and even persuading them that they _are_ wrong doesn't necessarily have to involve insulting them.*

* although I'm not personally as inclined to delicacy ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:05 AM
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20: You start out by talking about some deeply held belief that you were forced to reject by examining it critically. Maybe.

I took a brief (~2 hour) lecture/discussion on critical thinking as part of the prep for being a TA in grad school. It was a total waste of time. My contribution to the discussion consisted of trying to get the prof leading the thing to give a definition of critical thinking, which he could not. The whole thing was completely typical of the TA prep at U of $place. I drew far more on my museum docent training as a TA than I ever did on the miserable TA prep instruction.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:12 AM
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6 - Is Loompanics still in business? Maybe they could order a guide to setting up a micronation and go Galt while they're at it. And save on shipping!

Heebie, it's not what you're explicitly asking for, but How We Know What Isn't So, a very readable popular science book about information theory and cognitive biases, plus maybe a couple selected Martin Gardner essays, would do a lot of the lifting you seem to want, with the added bonus of being "look, see, it's science" rather than "YOU DOLTS, BARBARA EHRENREICH DIDN'T MAKE UP THE EXISTENCE OF INCOME INEQUALITY."

HWKWIS is also written at a level that I think a bright junior high school student could follow.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:15 AM
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The thing is, people (people who are not intellectuals, that is, which is, after all, most people) don't really like intellectuals, because they have the (perhaps well-founded) impression that intellectuals are looking down on them and their non-intellectual habits of mind. Moreover, people (i.e, most people) don't really need intellectualism in their lives unless they aspire to become intellectuals. So: why would/should people want to abandon their unexamined beliefs at the behest of intellectuals?


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:30 AM
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23: Right but my point is that I couldn't just start ordering from Loompanics willy-nilly, or my parents would have had some kind of freak-out or something. Now, if you had to order something online but have it delivered to an independent friend or something, that would be what I'm getting at. I think the prospect of being required to take a class in Critical Thinking is going to appeal to the average teenager not a whit. And for those who are already practicing some critical thinking of their own, given their prior experience of what passes for education in our society, they're probably going to be rightly suspicious that there's a hidden agenda which they have to resist.

One of my proudest moments in HS was when, in concert with a few other ne'er-do-wells, I so infuriated the goody-goody-two-shoes kids in one of my social studies classes (I believe it was actually titled something like "Revolutions and Rebellions") that one girl yelled at us "IT'S ALL JUST A BIG JOKE TO YOU, ISN'T IT?!"


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:30 AM
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. So: why would/should people want to abandon their unexamined beliefs at the behest of intellectuals?

This is the reason to teach it in schools, where it can be foisted upon them against their will.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:33 AM
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18:Yeah, Emerson really doesn't like Hofstadter, and it might be useful to remember why. 50s Cold War liberals setting themselves up as the only rational alternative to Communism, Fascism, and populism and anything else that wasn't liberal capitalism.

Which is what all rationalities tend to do.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:41 AM
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"IT'S ALL JUST A BIG JOKE TO YOU, ISN'T IT?!"

"That's what we'd like for you to believe, anyhow."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:43 AM
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I'm going to do something I don't do very often and posit a Golden Age. From about 1930 to 1970, in the US, we had a reading public. That is, there was a high degree of literacy, books were readily available and most people had grown up during a time when reading was an important component of possible leisure activities. Simply by default, average people were exposed to a broad array of arguments and prose styles. Admittedly, there were a number of flies in that ointment -- limited access to publishing for women and people of color; significant amounts of censorship; way too many books in the New England Adulterer genre; etc. But nevertheless, people read and read and read. I just don't see that possibility implicit in today's system. Sure, eggheads and malcontents can hole up with a book, and there are more books by more kinds of people available, but the broad mass of people simply doesn't encounter very much printed material that hasn't gone through the gatekeepers of Wal-Mart & Amazon.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:44 AM
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he broad mass of people simply doesn't encounter very much printed material that hasn't gone through the gatekeepers of Wal-Mart & Amazon.

I'm sure what that's supposed to mean. You won't find much published anywhere that you can't order through Amazon [in the UK, at least]. They don't seem to be performing much of a gate-keeping role.*

* they might be bastards in other ways, of course ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:48 AM
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It's all just a big joke.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:51 AM
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...people (i.e, most people) don't really need intellectualism in their lives unless they aspire to become intellectuals. So: why would/should people want to abandon their unexamined beliefs at the behest of intellectuals?

I'd want to push back pretty strongly against the idea that clarity of thought, an ability to understand the uses of language, evaluate arguments and evidence, and so on, are things that are only of use to the 'intellectual' classes, or a particular hallmark of the 'intellectual'. People in general have a pretty strong vested interest in seeing through some of the shite foisted upon them by their supposed betters.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:52 AM
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But nevertheless, people read and read and read

No. Some people read. A few people read and read. Very few people read and read and read.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:54 AM
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30: There's gatekeeping and then there's gatekeeping. Wal-Mart's version is old school, modernist gatekeeping: if the message runs counter to the overarching ideology, it doesn't get into the store. Amazon uses all its wiles to make sure everyone buys the new Harry Potter (or, nowadays, Twilight) book at half-off the cover price. More insidious, more effective.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:55 AM
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29: OTOH, the average person writes, and reads, a lot more now than they did fifteen years ago -- it's just that what they're reading isn't professionally published. A truck-driver cousin of Buck's visited us a few months ago with his girlfriend, who used to be a truckdriver until she developed a heart condition. And she was telling us about a web community for truck drivers/talk radio fans that she was involved in which sounded, socially, exactly like Unfogged. She spends a fairly large part of her day reading and writing, where fifteen or twenty years ago she wouldn't have at all.

I'm not sure of the educational/organizational implications of all of this, but with the internet social chatter, which used to be an entirely different thing from published writing, is now on a continuum with it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:59 AM
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I don't think I have met anyone who wasn't thinking, and thinking critically, most or all of the time. That part of the brain is very very hard to shut off, I know because I tried for years on end.

All these competing intellectualisms are about trying to change priors.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 9:59 AM
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re: 32

Further to 32, in fact, that division into intellectuals and not-intellectuals along those lines is precisely at the core of the problem.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:00 AM
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33: Are you 100% sure about that? I'm not claiming that there weren't illiterate and functionally illiterate people, nor that there weren't plenty of people who read maybe a genre novel or two a year. But there was a pretty huge market during that period for both Serious Literature and also for genre fiction. And non-fiction too of course. And it wasn't all just the same 5 or 10 books.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:00 AM
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Is It So Fucking Hard to Shut up and Listen to Your Teacher Once in a While?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:01 AM
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38: Of course, I'm 100% sure! Didn't you notice the precision of the terms I used? Would I post something like that on Unfogged if I didn't have the data to back it up?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:04 AM
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I don't think I have met anyone who wasn't thinking, and thinking critically, most or all of the time.

What about the vast hordes of Americans who swallow whatever Glen Beck feeds them? They may be thinking critically, but if so, they're doing it wrong.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:08 AM
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23 reminds me that a great and entertaining and on-topic book is Martin Gardner's Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. Much better than his later Science: Good, Bad and Bogus.

I've worked with a friend on some elements of a course like this. One approach we liked was deconstructing commercials--not stuff like commoditization of beauty--but just why might the fact that the razor blade shaves X people adequately not translate into your getting X good shaves out of it. I've seen kids have some enthusiasm around debunking stuff like that so it makes a decent Critical Thinking Lite.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:09 AM
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People in general have a pretty strong vested interest in seeing through some of the shite foisted upon them by their supposed betters.

Which is exactly why they tend to resist the authority of intellectuals.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:10 AM
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42: Some other items we tried to put in were simple Mythbusters type stuff for science legends.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:12 AM
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re: 43

I wasn't conflating 'intellectuals' with betters.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:12 AM
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I'm not sure the issue is "changing peoples' minds" per se - it's exposing them to ideas that they wouldn't otherwise come across.

I never heard "The Prisoner's Dilemma" or "The Tragedy of the Commons" until I was in college, but collective action problems aren't too hard to explain, and you basically can't understand how the world works until you understand that concept. Every high school student should be exposed to this. Period.

There's no religious impediment to understanding collective action problems - indeed, I think you could probably use Bible readings to explain it. True, libertarians would howl, but other conservatives would be too dumb to understand how their views are being undermined. (Or, if the conservatives figure it out, you could frame your lesson in terms of the "Tragedy of the Commons" argument against, say, gay marriage.)

There are other ideas that are like this - "sunk costs" comes to mind. These are interesting, useful ideas that can be explained on a very basic level.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:13 AM
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41:You see those "vast hordes" as means to your policy ends?

Maybe that's why they are suspicious of you, and the way you are "only trying to help them."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:14 AM
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43: Yes, in fact I think the most sophisticated critical thinking a lot of kids do in schools is doing the analysis to figure out that what the teachers are telling me is a load of crap. And a lot of it is.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:14 AM
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42 - The best part of Fads and Fallacies is the scorn Gardner heaps on food faddists. "Ha ha! The grapefruit diet! And the Fletcherists! And, uh, vegetarians. And... people who say yogurt is healthy... And... wheat germ..."


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:14 AM
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What about the vast hordes of Americans who swallow whatever Glen Beck feeds them?

Beck, in particular, seems to foster a paranoid style of thinking and thinking and thinking, where one keeps connecting up more and more words on the blackboard usually by crude association, forming very long chain concepts.

It takes as much mental energy as thinking well, and attracts people who can't turn their brain off, but it isn't critical thinking.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:15 AM
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GET OFF NATILO'S LAWN!


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:15 AM
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If we are just pointing out good popular critical thinking books, may I recommend Influence: The Psychology of Persusion. Its advertized as a "how to influence people irrationally" book but it really works as a "how to avoid being influenced irrationally"


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:19 AM
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I never heard "The Prisoner's Dilemma" or "The Tragedy of the Commons" until I was in college, but collective action problems aren't too hard to explain, and you basically can't understand how the world works until you understand that concept. Every high school student should be exposed to this. Period.

Ooh, this is good. There are a lot of things like this, I think -- fairly trivial ideas that anyone who is immersed in an intellectual environment long enough will know in their bones, but which most people haven't heard of. Every so often I find myself explaining terms like "tragedy of the commons" to my parents (who are smart, generally well-informed people, but not college-educated). In a lot of cases they already understand the basic point, but having a label and a frame for thinking about the issue can still be an advantage.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:20 AM
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I sure wish I understood the concept of "epistemology" earlier in life. This might be tougher to get across in high school - but a whole lot easier than, say, algebra.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:23 AM
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Flim Flam by James (The Amazing) Randi is also a decent approachable book in the debunking space..

48: I go for the real wackos like Lawsonomy:

Zig-Zag-and-Swirl is a movement in which any formation moves in a multiple direction according to the movements of many increasingly greater formations, each depending upon the greater formation for direction and upon varying changes caused by counteracting influences of Suction and Pressure of different proportions.

It is also interesting for its early look at Dianetics before it turned into Scientology. There are some places where I do not agree with Gardner's analysis. (Orgone accumulators do too work! ... OK, not that one.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:23 AM
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52: If we are just pointing out good popular critical thinking books,

How about pointing out rhetorical tricks such as the one where the insertion of qualifiers like "just" serve to lead the unwary reader into thinking that what follows is trivial or not very useful.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:27 AM
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I guess the 1st mistake is in assuming that someone who doesn't share your values is ignorant or stupid.

The 2nd associated mistake is believing that values can be changed with education, that liberalism/science is progress, a discovery from an accumulation of facts and a refinement of analytical tools.

The 3rd mistake is believing that methods and tools don't themselves assume and contain irreducible values.

The 4th mistake is believing that liberalism & science is a proven superior survival strategy.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:29 AM
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The 0th mistake is assuming other people are making mistakes 1-4.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:31 AM
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By coincidence, I just read Hofstadter last month and thought it was great. An update would be wonderful.


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:42 AM
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Aimed at younger children than those heebie is thinking about, but we have a few books from Prometheus Books - some 'morality for scpetics/atheists' ones and Magic Detectives. I've taken If You Had To Choose, What Would You Do? to Boys Brigade a few times, just as an antidote to the Christianity.

My eldest asked (at school, she didn't ask me) if she could be excused from the Carol Service, as she didn't believe in it. They told her to go and be open-minded. She was amusingly annoyed.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 10:53 AM
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58: I'm prepared to cop to 1 and 2, if we make them a bit less absolute.

There are important issues where people disagree with me because they are dumb and/or have corrupt/inferior values.

And liberalism/science is reasonably regarded as progress in many important ways. (Yes, yes, I know about the H-bomb and all, but I'm just trolling bob - baiting him to see if I can get him to admit that the world would be worse if human beings were annihilated.)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 11:02 AM
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57 is quite irritatingly patronising.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 11:14 AM
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My new policy is that when I feel the urge to respond to bob, I'll lie down until it passes. I expect this will make me both happier and better-rested.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 11:16 AM
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E quando queste opinioni fossero false e' vi è il rimedio delle concioni, che surga qualche uomo da bene, che, orando, dimostri loro come ei s'ingannano: e li popoli, come dice Tullio, benché siano ignoranti, sono capaci della verità, e facilmente cedano, quando da uomo degno di fede è detto loro il vero.


Posted by: Niccolò Machiavelli | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 11:39 AM
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Google Translate automatically changes "Tullio" to "Cicero" in the context of that quote, but not in every context. How smart are these translation engines getting?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 11:44 AM
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DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT.

NOT IF YOU KNOW WHAT'S GOOD FOR YOU.


Posted by: OPINIONATED TRANSLATION ENGINES | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 11:48 AM
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...baiting him to see if I can get him to admit that the world would be worse if human beings were annihilated.

I am not the type to believe the world would weep at our absence.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 11:57 AM
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Yes, the world would only be worse in the most tautological way, that is, worse for human beings.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 12:01 PM
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Permit me to make a drive-by comment recommending How to Lie With Statistics as required reading for first-year college students, or possibly high school seniors.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 12:29 PM
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Just remembering that I was quite taken with Rushkoff's Media Virus when I read it (after I shoplifted it) when I was 19. On further reflection, his earlier Cyberia is a superior effort.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 12:38 PM
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I haven't read all the thread, but it seems that there's a very clear (or should be a clear) difference between the "intellectualism" referred to by "anti-intellectualism" and the people referred to as "intellectuals." I'm not sure of a definition of the former, but the latter are a group of people who seem to be concerned primarily with talking about "intellectuals" and asking themselves what such people should be doing - repetitively, for decades, as evidenced by that Dissent forum recently about intellectuals and pop culture that appeared to have been driven by the concerns of 1952. "Intellectualism" seems like a much more valuable thing to teach.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 1:05 PM
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I think the prospect of being required to take a class in Critical Thinking is going to appeal to the average teenager not a whit.

Call the course "Seeing through Bullshit."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 1:18 PM
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I'll second KR's recommendation, though I think it works well with whenever you're studying more-than-minimal levels of algebra. High school ought to be fine.

Possibly some of the numbers need updating, because the implications of what it means, say, to earn $15k a year is somewhat different than it used to be, and if you're targeting people who may not be bringing much critical thinking to the project in the first place, it would be better for that to be obvious.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 1:26 PM
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Pleased to see Bob already pointing out the problems with scientism, saving me a comment.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 1:35 PM
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69: HTLWS should be required reading before one is allowed to drive, vote, or maybe even continue breathing.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 1:43 PM
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A lot of people just don't like school.

If I had to take 12 years of bowling lessons and I didn't like it, I may be convinced to take 4 more years of bowling lessons if that is what it took to double my lifetime income. But, I am still not going to like bowling and I am going to be way less admiring of the PBA than my teachers are.


Posted by: Lemmy Caution | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 1:44 PM
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JRoth's suggestion in 72 has serious merit.

I'm concerned, though, that any properly constituted "Seeing Through Bullshit" course is going to attract the united opposition of the fundies and the hippies, to the extent that it takes on leftish / New Age shibboleths like alternative medicine and chemical phobia.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 1:47 PM
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77: Dear Sir or Madam,

I'd like to have my child excused from Seeing Through Bullshit 101 due to his vaccine-induced autism.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 1:52 PM
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This whole discussion reminds me (perhaps unfairly, but it does) of conservatarian laments that students don't emerge from school/college with a basic understanding of economics, and if only such a course were required, those wooly-headed liberals would realize how self-defeating the minimum wage is.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 1:55 PM
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BTW, has everyone read Frankfurter's Bullshit? It really is a brilliant little piece, and has helped me understand certain colleagues better (not that it's a self-help book).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 1:59 PM
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I don't share the concern voiced in 77.2.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 2:00 PM
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Resolved: the number one result of critical thinking courses is the huge number of people who spend their time on internet comment threads screaming about straw men.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 3:39 PM
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20. I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.


Posted by: O. Cromwell | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 5:14 PM
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前列腺炎


Posted by: tk9988 | Link to this comment | 02- 1-10 6:38 PM
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57
I guess the 1st mistake is in assuming that someone who doesn't share your values is ignorant or stupid.

Well, if someone says they share my values but they disagree on how to put those values into effect in the real world, then either they aren't telling the truth about sharing my values, or they are ignorant or stupid, or I am. Is there a third option?

The 2nd associated mistake is believing that values can be changed with education, that liberalism/science is progress, a discovery from an accumulation of facts and a refinement of analytical tools.

That looks like two separate mistakes there ("values can be changed with education" is 2a, and "liberalism/science is progress, a discovery from an accumulation of facts and a refinement of analytical tools" is 2b), and I suppose I'm guilty of both. Of course values can't be changed 100 percent of the time and didactic instruction is rarely the best way, but are you saying the reverse, that they can never be changed by any kind of education? Really?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02- 2-10 7:21 AM
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65.1: I certainly believe there can be more than one method for achieving a given goal, but that choice of method also reveals values, or a hierarchy of values. And I suppose there can be a disagreement about the facts.

Obama & Yglesias disagree about Afghanistan. We can use this as a specific example. I do not believe Yglesias is ignorant, stupid, or lying, and I believe Yglesias favors peace over war, and wants the best for the people of both oountries.

Your turn:Obama.

but are you saying the reverse, that they can never be changed by any kind of education? ally?

Yeah, pretty much. I see no necessary connection between the incidence of tasting pistachio ice cream, and the like or dislike of pistachio ice cream.

That we cannot "teach" values to everyone or anyone leads me to believe that we don't understand those cases where values appear to have been taught.

Maybe values can be discovered or recognized, and I do accept change that looks like a "conversion experience", major and minor. One day I might suddenly like pistachio where yesterday I did not. An "explanation" is just a story.

There are moral dimension here. I do not approve of viewing others as objects that can be manipulated, nor am I comfortable with a self-image without free will. Free will implies unjustifiable or inexplicable actions and beliefs.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 2-10 8:47 AM
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57 is quite irritatingly patronising.

Don't worry, Bob's a nihilist. There's nothing to afraid of annoyed by.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02- 2-10 9:31 AM
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86:
Your turn:Obama.

I have no way of knowing which is the case, but I have no problem believing that at least one of the possibilities is true. Maybe Obama doesn't know or doesn't recognize the importance of something Yglesias does (Obama is ignorant). Maybe Obama believes that Bush's overall foreign policy in the Middle East would have worked if not for some relatively minor detail or other (Obama is stupid). Maybe Obama doesn't particularly care about the welfare of Afghanis at all, or sees their welfare and ours as zero-sum (Obama is, when he says he wants the best for people of both countries, lying). While all three of those seems very unlikely, any one or two totally seems possible. He's only human, and he's proven himself good at political maneuvering, which creates or at least requires a certain blinkered, hubristic worldview. Now that we're talking about actual people, using the words "ignorant", "stupid" and "lying" seems unfair, but we might as well continue the way we began.

As for the second point, I guess we have to agree to disagree. That seems especially easy considering that your reasoning is partly based on appeal to consequences or whatever the formal name for that fallacy is - you don't believe it because you don't like what it implies, about free will in this case. I can't say I've never done that, but it's not a convincing argument.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02- 2-10 12:03 PM
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