Friday, April 13, 2012

Critical Thinking Fed Flag

I am a promoter of critical thinking and critical analysis.  This does not mean that I go around criticizing people or ideas.  (I do that, but this is not what it means.)  What it does mean is that I examine arguments and statements with an eye that looks for logical flaws.

One of my pet peeves is the attack the messenger argument.  This is a form of a Straw Man logical fallacy where the actual statements and arguments are disregarded and the history or credentials of the person making them are examined.

My example is like this.

Man One says, "Rain gets people wet because rain in composed of water."

Responding to him, Man Two says,  "We can't trust anything Man One said, because he sells raincoats for a living, and his wife sells umbrellas."

Here is the problem, we haven't had any argument or evidence that discounts the argument of Man One, but he is now somehow on the defensive, and everyone goes away wondering if rain is really a cause of wetness.

But a critical thinker totally ignores Man Two's statement.  He is not confused except by why Man Two is making irrelevant statements when we are talking about things that make us wet, not people vocation.

A more reacent one is an man who has spent his life learning about oil production gets on TV or radio to talk about energy.  He is really smart and if we actually listened to what he had to say, we would all understand energy better.  But the reporter or windmill guy, attacks him based on the fact that "Big Oil" is paying him.  He works for them.  So we can't trust what he has to say.

It drives me nuts.

The latest one for me was just this morning.  Some dude starts writing that the some of the same people that are talking up Mit Romney's qualifications also promoted people that were unsuccessful or not as qualified in the past.

What is the problem?  Who is talking about Mit's qualifications have nothing or extremely little to do with those actual qualifications.  But by tying Romney to these other people that were unsuccessful in the past by virtu of their supporters we are using a fallacy to tarnish his accomplishments and qualifications.

It drives me nuts again.

If you have something to say, then say it.  Say that you don't think a guy who has a track record of turning financially struggling organizations around will be bad for the economy.  (Both private and public sector.)  Say that a guy that professes faith in Christ is not a christian.  (BTW the name of the church is "The Church of JESUS CHRIST of latter day saints")  Say that a guy that is getting more support and delegates than any other candidate running in his party is not a "True Conservative".

Lets debate those and any other point.  But lets please do it directly.


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