Intro-level training materials for rationality / critical thinking

post by lukeprog · 2011-09-20T03:03:05.143Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 59 comments

Iksorod and I made a Google doc of intro-level training materials for rationality / critical thinking. We'll keep adding to it as we find more stuff. Please comment with your own additions.

59 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by tetsuo55 · 2011-09-20T19:42:29.883Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What about this recommendation from the here be dragons video?: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Demon-Haunted_World

Replies from: lukeprog
comment by lukeprog · 2011-09-25T00:34:32.390Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Added, thanks.

comment by __Emil__ · 2011-09-20T11:35:17.155Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd recommend linking to the main Skeptic's Guide to the Universe podcast, as well as their "5x5" podcast (which is currently linked to). Most weeks some common fallacy or cognitive bias is mentioned (usually in connection with alternative medicine).

Replies from: lukeprog
comment by lukeprog · 2011-09-25T00:33:32.190Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Added, thanks.

comment by CharlesR · 2011-09-20T14:42:01.209Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why no mention of the Sequences?

Replies from: tetsuo55
comment by tetsuo55 · 2011-09-20T19:39:49.914Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Because it is intro-level material. The sequences require a strong base to read/understand and a lot of endurance

Replies from: Bobertron
comment by Bobertron · 2011-09-20T20:05:19.414Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The sequences require a strong base to read/understand and a lot of endurance

I won't argue with endurance, but what do you mean with "strong base"? Where in the sequences are you expected to already know something that's not part of the sequences? I've read most of it (didn't care to learn about quantum physics) and don't remember such a thing.

Replies from: tetsuo55
comment by tetsuo55 · 2011-09-20T20:33:15.008Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't know math, quantum mechanics or philosophy, i had to open 10-20 pages of references and google searches to follow what was going on(per individual sequence page).

It reads as though it is assumed that you are a AI graduate.

Its also strongly aimed/influenced by american culture, so some things are weird for us Europeans.

Replies from: pedanterrific, Bobertron
comment by pedanterrific · 2011-09-20T20:39:57.828Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Is there such a thing as an "AI graduate"?)

You know, while I appreciated the pop culture (and cult-classic culture) references in the Sequences while I was reading them, probably because I got almost all of them, I can definitely see the argument that they reduce accessibility for a wider audience.

comment by Bobertron · 2011-09-20T21:09:21.324Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't know math, quantum mechanics or philosophy

Perhaps I'm used to read on, even if I might miss something. I know a bit of math, and there are a few posts that benefit from that, but only a few. I don't know much philosophy either (except the sequences, of course).

i had to open 10-20 pages of references and google searches to follow what was going on(per individual sequence page).

Let's take Making Beliefs Pay Rent (in (Anticipated Experiences) as an example. What would you have to look up there? And don't say "colonial alienation" ;-). For me it might be phlogiston and elan-vital. But A) understanding those words is hardly essential for understanding the post and B) they are explained somewhere else in the sequences (I never said navigating them were easy).

Its also strongly aimed/influenced by american culture, so some things are weird for us Europeans.

I'm European and I don't really know what you mean.

Replies from: tetsuo55
comment by tetsuo55 · 2011-09-27T20:44:04.433Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

i have tried the read-on thing on 2 pages and it made it even worse, so i dropped back to the opening pages tactic. That page you mention is actually one of the better ones although using examples like "Wulky Wilkinsen" and post utopianism made no sense to me. Having things explained elsewhere is a big problem imho, but i intend to devote some time to help fix that.

You may have been exposed to enough american culture by tv, movie, shows and books to not get overwhelmed by them?

Replies from: Bobertron
comment by Bobertron · 2011-09-28T09:29:01.990Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

using examples like "Wulky Wilkinsen" and post utopianism made no sense to me

That's sort of the point. The words "post utopianism" and "colonial alienation" don't mean anything.

You may have been exposed to enough american culture by tv, movie, shows and books to not get overwhelmed by them?

Most movies and even tv-shows that run in Germany are actually American. Books might be more of a problem, but if it's a classic like the Christmas Carole, there is a Simpsons episode about it :)

comment by [deleted] · 2011-11-21T04:21:04.116Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

.

comment by novalis · 2011-09-21T23:26:56.181Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Case of The Spelunkean Explorers, previously mentioned here in a post by cousin_it, offers a fascinating array of examples of different legal theories. Some of them are useful to think about in the context of metaethics, while others are more useful in discussing the hidden complexity of wishes.

comment by CriticalSteel · 2011-11-20T19:17:10.533Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The "here be dragons" video is nonsence. Sorry.

He commits fallacies of his own in his explanation of fallacies.

He straw mans the entire vaccine debate and the fact that 9/11 was an inside job. Furthermore he casts doubt on "conspiracy theories" with a generalisation (that they are all theories) like a true evangelist.

There are many conspiracies that are historical fact; the Reichstag fire, the gulf of Tonkin, even Caesar’s murder.

I know mentioning the law is an appeal to authority, but, even the law knows of conspiracies. They have conspiracies to pervert the course of justice, conspiracies to commit crimes. And these arnt just coincidental terms.

"Here be dragons" fails, badly. Mainly, by assuming that Critical Thinking is on some sort of political side with science, or at least, the whole of science. Instead of being, in entirety, about analysing evidence.

Replies from: lessdazed, ArisKatsaris
comment by lessdazed · 2011-11-21T01:34:23.692Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There are many conspiracies that are historical fact

...the Al-Qaeda conspiracies to blow up the World Trade Center...

HBD is tedious, and The Critical Thinker just added better conspiracy theory videos.

Part 1, Part 2

Replies from: CriticalSteel
comment by CriticalSteel · 2011-11-22T00:01:09.055Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd have to dissagree, based on evidence. Even if this gets me more thumbs down.

The evidence is: In his description of conspiricies in part 1, he never even once mentiones the word evidence. He doesnt submit evidence. He doesnt prove that what he considers to be a conspiricy theory IS infact either a theory or even a real conspiricy involving a 'group' and 'secrets'. Can you see that? He never even challanges evidence nore finds any in the whole 15min.

A word which he does mention, is philosiphy. Which, has no place in an evidenced based argument.

Without evidence to verify any of his own argument, he decends into fallacies; gerneralisations, using the words 'all conspiricy theorists', and strawmans, miss representing the point.

He fails hard. Please tell me you can see this by the evidence...

Replies from: lessdazed
comment by lessdazed · 2011-11-22T07:44:41.650Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The evidence is: In his description of conspiricies in part 1, he never even once mentiones the word evidence.

The map is not the territory.

He doesnt prove that what he considers to be a conspiricy theory IS infact either a theory

!

Without evidence to verify any of his own argument, he decends into fallacies

You didn't cite any. You didn't provide any reason to believe your claim.

miss representing the point.

The video's creator's name should be capitalized. Also, she prefers to be addressed as Miss Shirley Representing the Point.

~~~~~~~

Please read the material that is the background for many on this site if you are going to try to engage with the ideas here: Map and Territory), Words

Replies from: CriticalSteel
comment by CriticalSteel · 2011-11-22T19:20:32.934Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

sigh You obviously have no idea how to debate.

Your first point must ALLWAYS contain the evidence it is based on, BEFORE moving on. For example;

"Pigs can fly, flying is achieved by the length of the wing being greater on the top, creating an area of low pressure, effectively sucking the plane into the sky."

The first 3 words, were not verified in any way.

If it is indeed "the map and not the territory" as you say. Then it is the arguers fault (arguers for the proposition).

You see; debating method (all academic debating methods) require the argument is taken in turns. And if the guy has not presented any evidence at the end of the first sentence, let alone after a 15 min and part 1 of the video. Then they are going to get torn a new one, by the other team (arguers against the proposition).

“You didn't cite any[fallacies].”

I said: “generalisations, using the words 'all conspiracy theorists'”

That counts as 1 fallacy (why did you miss that?), and in debating terms, he is now 1 point down. My argument, which contains no fallacies (and you haven’t found any yet). Is still at 0. Therefore not much more analysis is needed to know he is wrong.

“The video's creator's name should be capitalized. Also, she prefers to be addressed as Miss Shirley Representing the Point.” Wat… oh I see… what a robust argument… descending into criticizing spelling errors.

“Please read the material that is the background for many on this site if you are going to try to engage with the ideas here: Map and Territory, Words”

I might… but as of yet, your “map and territory” is looking mighty fallacious. I really REALLY doubt that you can vindicate it.

I’m seeing the shadow of flaws and fallacies, cast throughout this entire website, for 2 main reasons; no experience debating and actually testing the theory, and, very little experience using strict critical thinking. And above all else, TOO MANY PSYCHOLOGY THEORIES.

Psychology AND theory, bare no impact upon evidence based arguments. The evidence is either real or fake, true or false. It exists in a binary state of 1 or 0, it does not matter who is looking at it, or what state their mind is in, as evidence is independent of mind as it exists outside of it. (oh here come the thumbs-down due to biased psychologists)

Replies from: lavalamp
comment by lavalamp · 2011-11-22T20:04:07.588Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You obviously have no idea how to debate. Your first point must ALLWAYS contain the evidence it is based on, BEFORE moving on. For example;

Appealing to "proper" debating technique is going to be counter-productive here. We're interested in getting the right answer. Debates as commonly practiced train you to write your conclusion before searching for the reasons, which is exactly backwards from what a responsible rationalist should do.

When a bunch of smart people disagree with you, sometimes it is because they are crazy; sometimes, because you are crazy. You should read much more of the sequences before calling us wrong so authoritatively.

Replies from: CriticalSteel, CriticalSteel
comment by CriticalSteel · 2011-11-23T01:30:41.443Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh my god....

I just found out what you meant by core sequences.... if you think that

You people are wrong... or... less right than me...

And yes... i may get around to proving this. I may HAVE to.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2011-11-24T06:20:29.354Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I earnestly and sincerely pray for your success.

Replies from: wedrifid
comment by wedrifid · 2011-11-24T14:28:43.234Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I earnestly and sincerely pray for your success.

Is that your way of saying that you suspect divine intervention may be required?

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2011-11-24T18:21:13.919Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

No. I'm serious.

comment by CriticalSteel · 2011-11-22T23:10:16.071Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Appealing to "proper" debating technique is going to be counter-productive here."

What!? Appealing to logical, turn based, evidence based arguments, is not relevant to this argument?!?

"getting the right answer."

And you think.... that thats going to happen without debating right? Right?

"Debates as commonly practiced train you to write your conclusion before searching for the reasons"

No it doesnt. Being for the proposition of an argument is NOT a conclusion, it is a theory.

You get points here because your actually talking about scientific method (i hope).

"You should read much more of the sequences before calling us wrong so authoritatively."

I'm willing to admit thats possible. But my last post. Is fine the way it is.

You didnt prove anything, and my later researching of "map and territory" or "belief and reality" (which i take to be a theory which is a proposed addition to the list of flaws and fallacies.) didnt lend any greater credibility to your point.

Its use of the term belief immediately characterises my argument as a belief, instead of evidenced based. Beliefs do not require evidence, they require faith. Therefore your fallacy does not apply here. Furthermore, it is very fallacious and risky to use this fallacy "belief and reality" because it can be stated, without the user ever having to prove the veracity of “belief and reality” by; disproving the evidence submitted, proving something is a ‘belief’ and based on faith, providing contrary evidence to prove that ‘reality’ is indeed different from the so called ‘belief’.

This new fallacy, "belief and reality" instead substitutes a group of different fallacies which could be used instead. They are:

  • appeal to authority (in the case the map/belief is issued by an authority that does not evidence that it is correct)

  • correlation not causation (where it is confused which is the map/belief and which is the reality)

  • thin end of the wedge (where the maps representatives is taken to extremes)

  • restricting the options (where the map omits valuable information about reality)

Of all the fallacies I expect that restricting the options is the one that is the most representative of the bias their trying to convey here.

Replies from: wedrifid
comment by wedrifid · 2011-11-23T02:30:55.331Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Your highschool debate club appears to have done you a disservice. Reality is not changed by your ability to spin the opponent's words into the nearest accessible fallacy so that you can prove yourself superior to the enemy in the eyes of a judge. In my observation the more skill someone has in debating (and more importantly the more they focus on it) the more they are able to prove how unnecessary it is to update based on evidence. Whether you are too far gone to recover is yet to be seen but your arguments here remind me more of boxing than of thinking. Which is fine - epistemic rationality is a less useful skill in most situations than rhetoric.

Replies from: CriticalSteel
comment by CriticalSteel · 2011-11-23T06:13:35.901Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

spin my opponents words...

You cant spin something which has a clearly defined definition.

Judge

Hum... oh i see. So when an opponent (not enemy) commits 2 fallacies and i only commit 1. Then the judge is somehow being unfair by telling them to improve their argument style.... is that what your saying? The judge is merely working out verisimilitude and is not an appeal to authority, which is what you would say if you knew a damn thing about logic and critical thinking.

"the more they are able to prove how unnecessary it is to update based on evidence."

But wait. Isnt that exactly why your saying that you wont update to learn debating? In that way your making a circular argument and have no proof.

"Whether you are too far gone to recover is yet to be seen but your arguments here remind me more of boxing than of thinking. Which is fine - epistemic rationality is a less useful skill in most situations than rhetoric."

This is just some rehearsed argument that you wished to give to some other debater and bares no resemblance to me or anything i have said. Critical thinking and debating procedure certainly arnt rhetoric, but the fact that you say so proves you are emotionally involved (something which debating trains you not to do), so it is clear you arnt very logical.

My skills far exceed debating but i accept it as the first experimental test of a theory. Since this site is composed mainly of theories which manifest into ideologies like the singularity, then debating is clearly something you need. Furthermore it is a bias of yours. You are biased against debating. It is likly you are home to several theories that dont hold up under much scrutiny, and scrutiny by standards such as critical thinking, which it is certain you do not grasp. Why is it certain? Because you made a circular argument fallacy. And i still, have made none.

Replies from: wedrifid
comment by wedrifid · 2011-11-23T13:06:03.412Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I believe I have resolved my former uncertainty to my satisfaction. The parent is an example of the kind of arguing that I associate with 'debating' but fails to meet even the most basic standards of rational discussion that is accepted here. It would be damn near perfect when participating in the MENSA online discussion groups which I have been involved in. Since you are most likely intelligent enough to join that community I expect you would gain much more status and personal satisfaction demonstrating your skills there than you are likely to achieve here.

For the sake of brevity assume that the remainder of my reply consists of quotes of most of the sentences of the parent, each followed by "straw man", "non sequitur" or "no, that's just plain wrong".

(And no. For most part the above does not consist of argument. Merely discription and observation which readers can agree with or disagree with themselves based on their own observations of the context and intellectually oriented social dynamics. Basically I just agree with lavalamp in the ancestor and will downvote all comments of the form seen here without further engagement.)

Replies from: wedrifid, CriticalSteel
comment by wedrifid · 2011-11-23T17:22:12.576Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
comment by CriticalSteel · 2011-11-23T19:17:38.498Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"I believe..."

Denial is soo last centaury... whats the null hypothesis on that one btw?

"standards of rational discussion"

"assume that the remainder of my reply consists of"

"rational discussion"

"assume"

"RATIONAL DISCUSSION"

"ASSUME"

What the fuck am i reading!?

"straw man", "non sequitur" or "no, that's just plain wrong".

Wait... you really have no idea what book i'm getting this from do you? Because that last indulgence of yours, is not a part of critical thinking. Which means your condemning something which you cannot do yourself.

"Merely description and observation which readers can agree with or disagree with themselves based on their own observations of the context and intellectually oriented social dynamics."

Why is it you dont say evidence there and avoid doing so. You do know scientific method, dont you?

"Basically I just agree with lavalamp in the ancestor and will down vote all comments of the form seen here without further engagement."

So, not only will you not learn critical thinking or debating. But you wont review any document which i produce which contains them. Furthermore, you find it reasonable and good, to down vote all the above argument, without reviewing it.

Bias and generalisation.

You cant honestly expect to have credibility under these circumstances...

How about this for a contract. You learn from whatever sources fit with your biases. And i'll learn from everything there is available. Then, we can compare whos smarter.

Replies from: lavalamp
comment by lavalamp · 2011-11-23T20:13:33.028Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Rationality is not a game you play by twisting words into the most similar sounding fallacy. Please go troll somewhere else.

Replies from: wedrifid, CriticalSteel
comment by wedrifid · 2011-11-24T01:16:46.446Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Rationality is not a game you play by twisting words into the most similar sounding fallacy. Please go troll somewhere else.

I'm actually beginning to think you are right and he is trolling. I had originally just modeled him as just another victim of too much debate practice (and a tad too much arrogance to be healthy). But surely this caricature of the phenomenon can't be sincere? I'm not even sure which way giving the benefit of the doubt would go here.

Replies from: antigonus, lavalamp, TheOtherDave
comment by antigonus · 2011-11-24T01:28:02.933Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think he's a sincere teenager who's very new to this sort of thing. They sound, behave and type like that.

comment by lavalamp · 2011-11-24T01:38:13.847Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It may not be worth the effort, but it would be interesting if one were blocked from posting as long as one's karma earned in past 30 days was < -30 or so. Might make it easier to ignore trolls.

Replies from: Desrtopa, wedrifid
comment by Desrtopa · 2011-11-25T06:40:13.336Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd be wary of a limit like that which is so easily reached by a few downvotes on a top level post, at least if the person has a record of positive contribution. Maybe if their karma earned in the last 30 days is <-30, and their total karma is not greater than 0?

comment by wedrifid · 2011-11-24T02:24:23.797Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It may not be worth the effort, but it would be interesting if one were blocked from posting as long as one's karma earned in past 30 days was < -30 or so. Might make it easier to ignore trolls.

I've been thinking something along those lines myself. Although it would be kind of awkward if one of us made a single main page post that people didn't find interesting and was downvoted just to -4. I think Eliezer and Luke may even have done that at least once out of all their respective posts. It just takes doing that once in a month that they haven't contributed much and bam, no more commenting for those top contributors for a month!

A solution that might work is having comments by < -10 total karma users greyed out or otherwise made less visible. Just any sort of automated troll warning system at all would be great!

comment by TheOtherDave · 2011-11-24T02:09:16.645Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My $0.02: I think benefit of the doubt would involve assuming that he genuinely believes that what he's doing has value as a way of arriving at truth, and relatedly believes that the fact that the rest of us aren't doing the same thing (and, further, are not supportive of his practice when he comes here and demonstrates it to us) means that we're not really interested in rationality, just signalling.

Well, that, and that he's kind of obnoxious.

(Just to be clear, I'm not suggesting that's [i]true[/i] -- my confidence level in my predictions about other people's motives is extremely low -- just that it seems like the most charitable interpretation.)

comment by CriticalSteel · 2011-11-23T23:22:37.457Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What!? This is no game! No matter how much you repeat it.

I am not twisting words. The flaws and fallacies have clear, unequivocal definitions.

http://www.criticalthinking.org.uk/unit2/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

Furthermore. I prefer the term logical. Because rationales can be different. But logic is a matter of evidence. You either are logical, or you arnt.

"troll somewhere else."

You'd rather attack me than the reasoning of my augment, because you'd lose if you did. Ad hominem fallacy.

So far your only criticism of me is something which you have failed to prove. Indeed you are not resisting debating. Now you are resisting critical thinking. And if you refuse, repeatable demonstrated evidence, then you also refuse scientific method.

You are backtracking your way away from logic merely because it doesnt fit with your dearly held opinions and biases.

Your not making your opinions pay rent. Even when their worth less than a wooden nickel.

Somtimes people like you make me think that the lessons i have learnt, cannot be tought by exercising them, like in a debate. But the information that you absorbe is not under my control, and eventually put down to biases.

I do ask one thing. What is your IQ, if i may?

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2011-11-24T01:43:24.958Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Anyone who downvoted CriticalSteel just for his unpopular positions should be ashamed of themselves.

That having been said, he deserves enough downvotes, for the obnoxious and arrogant manner he uses later in the thread. Just not for this initial post.

Replies from: wedrifid, lessdazed, daenerys, CriticalSteel
comment by wedrifid · 2011-11-24T14:39:34.534Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Anyone who downvoted CriticalSteel just for his unpopular positions should be ashamed of themselves.

Not at all. It is entirely legitimate to down-vote completely crackpot ideas purely because hearing the same old completely crackpot ideas can be annoying. It would also be legitimate to downvote the grandparent based off the arguments therein. They aren't nearly as ridiculous as what they descend into later in the thread but the "like a true evangelist" line as well as move to the entirely different kind of 'conspiracy' used in law (rather far removed from popular 'conspiracy theories') are both potentially downvote-worthy.

Replies from: ArisKatsaris, CriticalSteel
comment by ArisKatsaris · 2011-11-24T19:57:42.498Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It is entirely legitimate to down-vote completely crackpot ideas

Would it be legitimate for me to downvote people the next time they mention ideas that I consider completely crackpot (like quantum immortality), or ideas that most of the world considers completely crackpot (like many-worlds)?

The arguments contained in the ancestor post criticize "Here Be Dragons" for actual failings contained therein. That the specific ideas mentioned (9/11 conspiracy, autism-vaccine connection) are considered crackpot doesn't mean one is allowed to strawman them. It's all the more reason that one doesn''t even have to strawman them.

Replies from: wedrifid
comment by wedrifid · 2011-11-25T02:56:17.493Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Would it be legitimate for me to downvote people the next time they mention ideas that I consider completely crackpot (like quantum immortality), or ideas that most of the world considers completely crackpot (like many-worlds)?

I tend to presume less control of other people's voting behavior than you seem to.

comment by CriticalSteel · 2011-11-24T20:19:51.600Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

“Not at all. It is entirely legitimate to down-vote completely crackpot ideas purely because hearing the same old completely crackpot ideas can be annoying.”

Just because you call something crackpot doesn’t mean its true. Just because you call something legitimate doesn’t mean its true.

Indeed you are committing a circular argument fallacy right now.

“Circular arguments are arguments that assume what they’re trying to prove. If the conclusion of an argument is also one of its reasons, then the argument is circular.”

http://www.criticalthinking.org.uk/unit2/fundamentals/logicalfallacies/circularity/

And by criticising me instead of my argument, you are also committing an ad hominem fallacy.

““Ad hominem” is Latin for “against the man”. The ad hominem fallacy is the fallacy of attacking the person offering an argument rather than the argument itself.”

http://www.criticalthinking.org.uk/unit2/fundamentals/logicalfallacies/adhominem/

The only problem is. Every time you fail to PROVE it is crackpot. You commit another one of these fallacies.

"entirely different kind of 'conspiracy' used in law"

There is absolutely NO DIFFERENCE between the conspiracies used in law.

Your dangerously close to making an appeal to authority fallacy. These 3 usually come as a set.

“An appeal to an authority is an argument that attempts to establish its conclusion by citing a perceived authority who claims that the conclusion is true. In all cases, appeals to authority are fallacious; no matter how well-respected someone is, it is possible for them to make a mistake.”

http://www.criticalthinking.org.uk/unit2/fundamentals/logicalfallacies/appealtoauthority/

Replies from: ArisKatsaris, wedrifid
comment by ArisKatsaris · 2011-11-24T20:43:59.852Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The site you keep linking to is a grade school-level (junior-high level at best) introduction to reasoning, that still uses Aristotelian ideas about "proof". But reasoning has progressed significantly since the time of Aristotle 2400 years ago -- even since the time of the invention of the scientific method in medieval times.

We know how to calculate the approximate proper weight of evidence now. We have equations for probability and proper updating of beliefs. Have you even heard of Bayes' theorem?

"Appeals to Authority" aren't fallacies as long as the word of said authorities is weighted appropriately as Bayesian evidence, instead of treated as absolute proof.

Next you'll tell us that "absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence" when of course it is evidence of such, and everyone here knows it well, and anyone mathematically inclined could even give you the mathematical proof to that.

Start learning about Occam's razor, Bayesian updating, Solomonoff Induction, Kolmogorov Complexity -- also about cognitive biases (especially selection bias) and affective death spirals. Instead of talking about fallacies all the time, start thinking about biases.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-11-25T02:57:28.499Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fish in a barrel... Must stop myself...

Replies from: Alicorn, CriticalSteel
comment by Alicorn · 2011-11-25T05:27:51.191Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Be strong!

comment by CriticalSteel · 2011-11-25T03:11:17.552Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

mouth making promises my brain cant keep.

comment by lessdazed · 2011-11-24T06:10:31.370Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I tried to accommodate the 9/11 trutherism by pointing to videos discussing the problems inherent in conspiracy theories that did not use that as an example. I didn't downvote the original post and ignored early signs of confusion about how words work:

he casts doubt on "conspiracy theories" with a generalisation (that they are all theories)

This was followed in subsequent posts by map-territory confusion:

I'd have to dissagree, based on evidence...The evidence is: In his description of conspiricies in part 1, he never even once mentiones the word evidence.

That the video did not use the word "evidence" does not strongly imply that evidence was not provided. Spelling and grammar are tools to limit confusion, and writing "the word 'evidence'" as "the word evidence" isn't helping him.

The response:

your “map and territory” is looking mighty fallacious. I really REALLY doubt that you can vindicate it.

At this point, I was done but he went on:

as of yet, your “map and territory” is looking mighty fallacious. I really REALLY doubt that you can vindicate it.

To his credit, he apparently actually went and read about it, as he later said:

You didnt prove anything, and my later researching of "map and territory" or "belief and reality" (which i take to be a theory which is a proposed addition to the list of flaws and fallacies.) didnt lend any greater credibility to your point.

Its use of the term belief immediately characterises my argument as a belief, instead of evidenced based. Beliefs do not require evidence, they require faith. Therefore your fallacy does not apply here. Furthermore, it is very fallacious and risky to use this fallacy "belief and reality"

He doesn't understand how words work, doesn't understand beliefs and reality, and doesn't understand how to change his mind. I disagree with the implication that things other than tone aren't sufficient reasons to downvote his other posts.

It is not a coincidence that one person's arguments, sentences, and words are all muddled.

I endorse what wedrifid said as a reply to the new person's posts:

For the sake of brevity assume that the remainder of my reply consists of quotes of most of the sentences of the parent, each followed by "straw man", "non sequitur" or "no, that's just plain wrong".

comment by daenerys · 2011-11-24T02:10:42.811Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree. I downvoted some of his posts, not because he might not have a point, but because he was using a style that I do not appreciate on lesswrong: unneeded profanity, half-formed thoughts, aggressive tone, and (I'll admit) bad spelling.

However, I would not (and did not) down vote this original post, which seems like a reasonable argument (from the POV of someone who has not watched whatever video they are discussing)

comment by CriticalSteel · 2011-11-24T03:30:51.820Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

D:

Obnoxious and arrogant is in the eye of the beholder...

I tell people about the flaws in their arguments and theories and suddenly I AM THE ONE who's being arrogant. I find its verry common for people to start to criticise me personally after i have identified a number of critical thinking fallacies in their arguments.

This conforms to the definition of an ad hominem fallacy.

"the fallacy of attacking the person offering an argument rather than the argument itself." ~ http://www.criticalthinking.org.uk/unit2/fundamentals/logicalfallacies/adhominem/

Most often they criticise my tone, or by taking everything ive said as an insult instead of as identifying a logical puzzle for them to solve.

If they used critical thinking and scientific method and debated often, like me, then they would work out many of lifes puzzles, which is why i am such a strong proponent of it as a teaching method.

Replies from: ArisKatsaris, Prismattic
comment by ArisKatsaris · 2011-11-24T07:13:20.923Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I tell people about the flaws in their arguments and theories and suddenly I AM THE ONE who's being arrogant.

Your comments were full of implicit and explicit signals of condescension towards the people you were talking to.

I find its verry common for people to start to criticise me personally after i have identified a number of critical thinking fallacies in their arguments. This conforms to the definition of an ad hominem fallacy. "the fallacy of attacking the person offering an argument rather than the argument itself."

It would only be an "ad hominem" fallacy if I was pretending to attack your argument: if I used an attack on your person in order to undermine your position. But I'm not doing that : I'm attacking your person, in order to have you improve your attitude, regardless of what position you hold.

I really don't give a shit about your position on 9/11 or vaccination. As I'm not an American I really don't have an emotional investment on your government being innocent or guilty on these issues. I find your government already significantly much more guilty on worse issues than these two.

Most often they criticise my tone,

They properly criticize your tone, because your tone is absolutely horrible. Grow up or go away. This is a place for civilized discussion.

Replies from: CriticalSteel
comment by CriticalSteel · 2011-11-24T19:54:54.829Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Your comments were full of implicit and explicit signals of condescension towards the people you were talking to."

no source.

“It would only be an "ad hominem" fallacy if I was pretending to attack your argument: if I used an attack on your person in order to undermine your position. But I'm not doing that : I'm attacking your person, in order to have you improve your attitude, regardless of what position you hold.”

“Ad hominem” is Latin for “against the man”. “Ad hominems can simply take the form of abuse: e.g. “don’t listen to him, he’s a jerk”. http://www.criticalthinking.org.uk/unit2/fundamentals/logicalfallacies/adhominem/

Your above argument, is also a circular argument. “Circular arguments are arguments that assume what they’re trying to prove. If the conclusion of an argument is also one of its reasons, then the argument is circular.” http://www.criticalthinking.org.uk/unit2/fundamentals/logicalfallacies/circularity/

So, the reason are trying to improve my attitude, is because of my attitude (which is your conclusion). So if you believe the attitude is there. Then you are fine with this conclusion. But if you don’t… Either way you keep believing exactly what you did before.

My attitude is proportionate to my position; my argument is not disproven. So, if i disprove others argument. It is their position which should change.

You need to get used to abandoning positions which no longer work. Instead of trying to re-enforce a failed position.

“As I'm not an American I really don't have an emotional investment on your government”

I’m not American. I was discussing conspiracies. Why is it you think we have to have an emotional investment in things? It is merely a matter of evidence.

Replies from: ArisKatsaris
comment by ArisKatsaris · 2011-11-24T20:24:30.055Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

CriticalSteel -- I've not made any argument to you, circular or otherwise. I refuse to argue with you because you're obnoxious and rude.

No, I'm not making arguments about the validity of my estimation of you either, I'm just communicating it to you.

You still think people are debating you. We're not. We're telling you to improve your behavior or go AWAY. This is not an argument, this is an instruction: Improve your manners or be downvoted to oblivion, again, and again, and again.

Replies from: Vladimir_Nesov, CriticalSteel
comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2011-11-24T20:32:45.618Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Aris, I've noticed you keep engaging low-quality contributions (from different users). It's better to avoid commenting on posts that are expected to be downvoted to hidden-by-default (or already have been), otherwise you encourage further low-quality contributions.

Replies from: ArisKatsaris, CriticalSteel
comment by ArisKatsaris · 2011-11-24T20:48:39.444Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, you're right. It's a bad habit I need to break myself out of -- I keep deluding myself into thinking that I have a chance to fix their broken behaviours and make them actually useful members or atleast plant useful ideas into them.

comment by CriticalSteel · 2011-11-24T20:55:27.131Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He hasn’t proven anything yet...

All i did was challenge the "here be dragons" video, on its flaws, as per critical thinking. Which is the premier, logical method. But none of you seem to know it.

Now, having challenged your beliefs i am subjected to a cascade of arguments filled with logical fallacies in their critical thinking.

Simply put. You condemn what you don’t understand.

Also, most of you here are completely illogical and cannot even make a comment without handicapping yourself.

Just what makes you think you can down vote a critical thinker, when you yourself cannot even do it?

There are massive, gaping flaws in the core principles you all take for granted. Most of them are based on opinion and never tested, obviously, because their full of logical fallacies which people have known about since the 1700s.

comment by CriticalSteel · 2011-11-24T21:15:17.581Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"I've not made any argument to you"

Everything you SAY is an argument, a proposition, everything is a theory until proven. Which the credibility must be analysed by critical thinking criteria.

and,

If your making an argument that doesnt include evidence then your not being logical.

"this is an instruction"

Who are you, who is to suggest instructions to me, without any evidence or credibility atall by the critical thinking criteria.

"Improve your manners or be downvoted to oblivion, again, and again, and again."

Restricting the options fallacy http://www.criticalthinking.org.uk/unit2/fundamentals/logicalfallacies/restrictingtheoptions/

I'll choose door number 3 please: I'll continue using critical thinking, proving you wrong. Untill you all come around... or not.

comment by Prismattic · 2011-11-24T04:16:32.277Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Obnoxious and arrogant is in the eye of the beholder...

This is, for all practical purposes, false. "Obnoxious" and "arrogant" are not properties like "blue" or "spherical" or "rumbling" that correspond to objective phenomena independent of social context.

If you say the ball is spherical and everyone else around you says the ball is cubic, you are almost certainly correct despite being a minority of one.

If everyone around you says that you are obnoxious and arrogant, then you are, in fact, obnoxious and arrogant, even if you beg to difer.

Replies from: CriticalSteel
comment by CriticalSteel · 2011-11-24T05:29:14.198Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is, for all practical purposes, false.

Because YOU say so? Wheres your evidence? Coz all i see is a theory...

"Obnoxious" and "arrogant" are not properties like "blue" or "spherical" or "rumbling" that correspond to objective phenomena independent of social context.

Yes they are. They have set definitions in dictionaries. The evidence would be a specific quote, and the explanation of how the quote achieves the criteria of the dictionary.

Your "social context" does not prove anything besides you perception. Which is hardly evidence on its own.

"If you say the ball is spherical and everyone else around you says the ball is cubic, you are almost certainly correct despite being a minority of one."

No you arnt... jeez, you people dont understand a damned thing about logic or scientific method.

Things arnt real just because you perceive them to be real. Their real because they can be repeatable PROVEN to be real.

What you just described is being biased to your own view. WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT I'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT ALL THIS TIME...

"If everyone around you says that you are obnoxious and arrogant, then you are, in fact, obnoxious and arrogant, even if you beg to difer."

This is the complete opposite of what you just explained. Now, i'm not "certainly correct despite being a minority of one." Because "If everyone around you says that you are obnoxious and arrogant, then you are, in fact, obnoxious and arrogant".

If everyone around me said we should all jump off a bridge that wouldnt make them any more correct than if i was on my own saying we should all jump off a bridge.

The missing link is; evidence.

For example, if i was the only one on fire, and the bridge had water below, and was the only way i could be extinguished. Then, considering the evidence, i would be justified. But if i tried to convince others who were not on fire. Then i wouldn’t be justified.

BUT YOU!!! You would jump along with me!

Huehuehue.... aint i a stinka?