Monday, March 3, 2014

Critical Thinking and Rational Analysis Tools

I've got nothing new today, but I've been harping about critical thinking and rational analysis in my past few articles. Here is a list of conceptual tools that you can begin learning and applying this very moment. Its not difficult, it just takes a little discipline. Everyone needs these tools to help parse through and destroy all the endless b.s. on the internet:

* unambiguously define all key terms in your argument so that they can be used consistently in your dissertation. The term is limited and restricted for crisp, clear and consistent use throughout presentation. Adjectives are used to qualify nouns and adverbs to qualify verbs. This avoids the Fallacy of Equivocation. A does not equal A.

* avoid contradictions; avoid Law of Identity, A is A, is contradictory

* learn to identify and associate synonyms not only in definitions but while parsing discourse.

* continually ask yourself the question "who cares?" to avoid irrelevant issues

* avoid Authority Arguments, i.e. do not appeal to authority

* identify prejudice, bias, propaganda, self-deception, distortion, misinformation, etc.

* avoid the Fallacy of Reification: explain why we cannot reify concepts into objects and why we cannot attempt to ascribe motion/actions to concepts.

* skillfully raise relevant questions so as to creatively solve problems.

* When parsing sentences resolve the ontological context of the referent. Which of the two fundamental categories does a word fall into: 1. object or 2. concept? If the referent has shape it is an object. If not it is a concept.

* avoid confusing nouns of syntax with nouns of reality. (Ordinary speech vs. Scientific language).

* do not perform verbs on concepts; do not use concepts to perform verbs

* kill the observer (an expression to be taken in context. It means make observer independent assumptions or be objective)

* avoid limiting your conceptual realm of reasoning by NOT using tautological systems (such as math and logic) that confine your premises by locking them into axioms and cripple your mind. Tautological systems such as math and logic are artificial, and only solve derivational type problems. Mother Nature could care less about formal logic, mathematics and physical laws coming out of Mankind.

* Provide an “explanation” as to WHY an event occurred the way it did; it’s mechanism, who were its mediators, etc.....and not just a petty “description” of what happened. Logic is especially bankrupt in assisting with this formidable task.

*Objects and explanations must be conceivable.

* Rational explanations should be able to be visualized, illustrated, and can be put as a movie on the big screen as a movie without any missing frames. If it cannot be visualized, then it cannot be understood because it contradicts reality.

* DO NOT convert hypothesis and theory into a facts of the Universal Movie

* Intellectual honesty in a debate requires that you directly quote the statements that you are addressing in your arguments. (do not misrepresent another's position)

* avoid premises and assumptions derived from analogy. Do not infer from analogue assumptions. Rather use analogy to illustrate rational premises and assumptions.

* be critical about your own attempts at criticism. Refutations are rarely final, and more often a prelude to further refinements.

* recognize that assumptions and explanations stand or fall on their own merit.

* marshal sufficient data, observations and evidence for brainstorming before committing to hypothesis, theory and conclusion.

* discard irrational hypotheses and theories

* adapt oneself to reality

* Dispositions: realize human irrationale and error. Have an open-minded outlook. Refuse to think that your desires shape Mother Nature (God and Mother Nature doesn't care about your desires). Be tentative.

* resist the notion that some authority, a great philosopher or physicist has captured the whole truth.

* be willing and able to follow an explanation to the only conclusion to be had---possible, or not possible.

* think for oneself

* be detached emotionally

* avoid ad hoc hypothesis fallacy: do not add hypothesis to a theory in order to save it from being discarded

* avoid Rationalization: do not make excuses or bellyache

* use adjectives (static concepts) to describe nouns of reality.  Adverbs (dynamic concepts) describe verbs (dynamic concepts) performed by nouns of reality.  Physics is a study of nouns, adjectives and verbs.  Math is a study of adverbs.

* apply Occam's Razor: 'shave away' unnecessary assumptions. The Medieval saying is "plurality should not be posited without necessity". Newton: "We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances. Therefore, to the same natural effects we must, so far as possible, assign the same causes."

* Identify and associate the fact vs. statement of fact dichotomy:

Fact, true fact, truth: Every minute detail of what actually is, was, happens, or happened irrespective of witnesses or observers; A detailed film clip of an actual event that conceptually includes every frame for that interval of the Cosmic Movie.

Assumption, statement of the facts, scientific fact: A subjective statement from a witness concerning an event or an object. A statement of the facts is either a description of an object or a narrative, an objective listing (usually chronological) of a series of events. A particular interpretation of the evidence or of an observation. (synonyms: an opinion, a lie)

* Physics is the study of causes and objects.  Philosophy is the study of reasons and concepts.

I also have previous blog posts on Cognitive Biases and Informal Fallacies.  

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