Ground Belief Podcast #2 with Mark Swanson

My first ever attempt at a podcasty thing. I “interviewed” Mark Swanson, Associate Professor in the MU School of Journalism. Mark is also the creator of Feudum, a new table top “Euro” style strategy game. Mark and I talk frequently about how complex board games require and develop critical thinking skills, and that’s the subject of our conversation on this “podcast.”  This is part 2 of the interview — part 1 is here. The audio quality isn’t great, since we recorded the whole thing completely on a whim using my iPhone. If you like board games, nerds, and the psychology of critical … Continue reading Ground Belief Podcast #2 with Mark Swanson

Ground Belief Podcast #1 with Mark Swanson

My first ever attempt at a podcasty thing. I “interviewed” Mark Swanson, Associate Professor in the MU School of Journalism. Mark is also the creator of Feudum, a new table top “Euro” style strategy game. Mark and I talk frequently about how complex board games require and develop critical thinking skills, and that’s the subject of our conversation on this “podcast.”  I’ve broken the interview up into two 20-min. segments, and the second half will be posted later this week. The audio quality isn’t great, since we recorded the whole thing completely on a whim using my iPhone. If you like … Continue reading Ground Belief Podcast #1 with Mark Swanson

Bad Thinking, Part 3: The SI Jinx

Pete Rose, infamous Cincinnati Reds baseball player, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in August of 1978, in the midst of a 44-game hitting streak. That same week, his streak ended. Numerous other examples over the years foster the belief that players or teams who achieve SI cover-status will experience the “SI Jinx” soon thereafter. A pair of local favorites: the University of Kansas football program appeared on the November 2007 cover after an 11-0 start, and lost the following week to rival Missouri; Missouri then graced the cover in December 2007 after reaching their first #1 ranking, and … Continue reading Bad Thinking, Part 3: The SI Jinx

Bad Thinking, Part 2: Mood Matters

Law and Order: SVU. (Start the video at 9:36, but you may have to watch some ads.) Notice the shift in mood. Scene: detectives asking a restaurant owner (Lyla) to look at the photographs of two criminal suspects, a man and a woman. Seemingly frustrated, she looks at them but doesn’t recognize either. Lyla: I’m not really good with faces. I’m more of a word person. Detective #1: Here’s a word. Focus. [Lyla abruptly hands the photos back to the detective and walks away, obviously offended.] Detective #2: What my partner means to say is that maybe you’re just underestimating … Continue reading Bad Thinking, Part 2: Mood Matters

How To Avoid Bad Thinking, Part 1

Fast and Wrong? Nobody likes being wrong. It’s embarrassing, it gives rise to regret, and sometimes it even places us in harm’s way. In my own experience, I’ve learned that I can avoid mistakes by slowing down and thinking things through before making a move. Sometimes I spend a good fifteen minutes analyzing my options. Unfortunately, when I do this in a chess match with my son, he starts expressing his frustration in various forms of body language. This slow-approach also causes problems in most sports, especially those involving high-speed projectiles. But in many contexts, slowing down and concentrating on … Continue reading How To Avoid Bad Thinking, Part 1

Is Science Better than Faith?

Ways of Knowing? I have an atheist friend, Anthony, who does interviews on college campuses, asking students about their religious beliefs. He skillfully engages in Socratic dialogue, asking them about why they believe what they do and helping them identify flaws in their reasoning. When people mention “faith,” he frequently asks a question like this, “Do you think faith is a reliable way of coming to know things?” Anthony thinks of faith as a “way of knowing” in contrast to other ways, like science. Science uses evidence derived from observation, experimentation, etc. to test new ideas, where as the “faith-way” … Continue reading Is Science Better than Faith?

Fast Judgment, Slow Heart

We’ve always been good at jumping to conclusions and letting our prejudices run away with our reason, but now things are different. Our dumb ideas don’t just fizzle out, dying quietly in some back alley of our brain. We violently extract them from our imagination, like undeveloped offspring, and send them careening through cyberspace to assault everyone who will listen. Why? Because we can. In the classic sci-fi film, Forbidden Planet, we encounter a world where a massive machine empowers people to telepathically create anything by the power of thought alone. “Creation without instrumentality.” But they forgot that not all … Continue reading Fast Judgment, Slow Heart

Thinking About the St. Louis Protests

In my neck of the woods, there’s been a lot of talk about the recent protests in St. Louis. The protests concern the decision of the St. Louis Circuit Court to acquit police officer Jason Stockley in the 2011 shooting death of black driver Anthony Lamar Smith. What should the rest of us think about the protests? Should we “take sides?” Should we remain neutral? From the perspective of an epistemologist, there seem to be several ways your thinking might go. Here are four possibilities: You might simply form an automatic opinion based on your previous sympathies for either protesters … Continue reading Thinking About the St. Louis Protests

How I Believe

Below are 21 statements that form the basis for my own epistemology: how I believe. I’ve tried to avoid technical, philosophical language wherever possible, but it might still sound clunky to some readers. The sub-points, also numbered, offer something like an example of the claim. (Omitted from this post, for the sake of space, is any discussion about updating beliefs based on new evidence.) If you love this topic and want to go deeper, click the links. Here’s the challenge: Read all the statements, see if you disagree with any of them, then tell me why. Refer to sub-points as … Continue reading How I Believe

Hitchens, Hume, and Miracles

What should we think about miracles? Have you ever witnessed one? Most people haven’t, but they are willing to rely on the testimony of others. On the other hand, lots of people will insist that with all we know about the way the world works, we should discard our belief in miracles and dismiss testimony of them. I found this short article to be very fair in its presentation. Philosopher Tim McGrew briefly presents a way of thinking about miracle claims that gives consideration to both skeptics and believers. If you think he wasn’t fair, or omitted some crucial perspective, … Continue reading Hitchens, Hume, and Miracles