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Believe nothing: fallacy-proofing  RSS feed

 
Chris Lumpkin
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Location: Richmond, VA (zone 7a)
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Paul's recent podcasts made several references to fallacies and other "ick" that gets in the way of productive communication, and it reminded me of a video that everybody should watch (maybe several times):



It seems like Western culture is particularly addicted to certainty, to the point where many people feel uncomfortable "sitting on the fence" and letting ideas remain open to challenge. They feel pressured to "believe", turn ideas into facts, which becomes Truth. Then, they have created a religious stance which is closed to new ideas, and the binary thinking of "right versus wrong" causes them to alienate other people, some of whom may share many of their ideas and concerns. I do think that binary thinking has a place, just like competition does, in nature and in a framework for making decisions. Some of the things I heard Paul reference in the podcasts sound like instances of extreme criticism; while critical thinking is another important tool in our toolbox for survival and growth, it is important to remember that none of us is omniscient or infallible - yet we are all perfect.
 
Jay Freeman
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Good video but it seems that one's beliefs are based on their understanding or vice versa.

It makes good points about not trusting one's senses and remaining more agnostic.

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Interesting concept. "Believe nothing but understand as much as you can." My take on the video is that it's making the case that belief systems, or even (over-?)reliance on science, can lead to getting stuck in a dogmatic, unchangeable point of view. The advocated method was to use understanding, and to be open to increasing knowledge (and fallacies) in almost any sphere. In doing so, the conclusion was that one would be more adaptable and, well, more free.

On the other hand, I have met some people who are very religious who also seem to be able to be open to changes and all-encompassing understanding (and even compassion). Somehow, these folks seem to be able to have understandings, and values, and even convictions, without the "I'm right, you're wrong" inflexibility. I think it might be rare, but I'm pretty sure I've seen it. I think people like this are truly inspiring in their quest for a deeper, richer life.

That said, I do think this video was artfully crafted, and intelligently narrated. I think it is an excellent reminder not to be lemmings, or "sheeple," and to be aware that things which are presented as the Truth might not be. Though, ironically, I do think it used such broad brush strokes that it might have done, in a small way, what it was trying to advise folks not to do.

Thanks for sharing, Chris. I enjoyed it.
 
Morgan Morrigan
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Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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If you can handle hard sci-fi, look up the book "Blindsight" by Watts.

Is working with folks approaching the singularity with implants, as they go up to a first contact. never seen a wilder injection of caution in what you can see...

If you can stand econmomics, lots of behind the scenes stuff shows up on Zero Hedge blog. Very not sheeple, but a herd none the less.
 
Fred Morgan
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I have a very strong belief that I am wrong somewhere. Finding out where is the fun part.

I rather doubt anyone can shake that belief, since it has been well tested by experience.
 
Chris Lumpkin
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
On the other hand, I have met some people who are very religious who also seem to be able to be open to changes and all-encompassing understanding (and even compassion). Somehow, these folks seem to be able to have understandings, and values, and even convictions, without the "I'm right, you're wrong" inflexibility. I think it might be rare, but I'm pretty sure I've seen it. I think people like this are truly inspiring in their quest for a deeper, richer life.


I agree Jocelyn, and these are people who can help build a better world, regardless of the "starting point" of their understandings based on these belief systems. If you are really sure that you are correct and someone else is incorrect, it becomes extremely difficult to listen to them with a truly open mind.

Fred's smart aleck remark does help us think about the extremes. If you have an absolute lack of certainty or belief, you probably don't accomplish much of anything. If you are completely convinced of the infallibility of some ideas, then you may miss important information. As Al Gore said to George W. Bush during their presidential debates (paraphrase from memory), "You can be decisive and be wrong". I think there is some kind of Zen-like state of "balanced uncertainty", something which could actually be a great leadership skill.

Morgan, I am now completely stuck on Watts! Many permaculture projects will languish while I sit and read, but I maintain that my sci-fi habit inoculates my work with perspective and vision. For me, the whole point of doing permaculture is to create a sustainable civilization and spread our terrestrial DNA across the stars!
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