I love Legos. My wife says I only wanted kids so that I could buy Legos “for the kids” and play with them. That’s false, of course. I also wanted to buy video games. But Legos were truly my favorite childhood toy. Nowadays, one fun game I play with the kids is when we each grab a handful of Legos from the box and see what we can build. We may end up with some of the same pieces–a 2×4 brick, a 6×10 plate–but our “sets” will be unique. Thus, our creations turn out unique. There’s an interesting parallel when … Continue reading Evidence Is Relative
I don’t like shots, in fact, I avoid them. Ironically, I visited my doctor yesterday, and left with a band-aid on my arm. I didn’t plan to get a flu shot, in fact I’ve never had one and never wanted one, but he talked me into it. I thought the whole dialectic was interesting, so I’ll share it with you. I think it illustrates some valuable principles of rationality and good belief formation. (The doctor actually said some of these things, and some of them I said to myself during the conversation.) The Conversation “Have you considered getting a flu … Continue reading The Rationality of a Flu Shot
I was raised by hippes. They didn’t really stay hippies, though, except for the ageless Volkswagen van, a bookshelf full of Carlos Castenada novels, and a few other “hobbies.” But I imbibed much of the classic hippie ideology, including a healthy skepticism toward authority and a respect for good pot. So, it was a bit of a shock to my parents when I converted to Christianity in my junior year of college. I imagine they felt a bit like the parents of Alex P. Keaton in “Family Ties.” Several years later, when I graduated from college and was living on … Continue reading The Secret Life of a Double Agent
Do you every think, “If only people had more skill in critical thinking?” People with well-trained minds would be (mostly) immune to fake news, bad arguments, and demagoguery. We would feel more secure about our beliefs and feel less need to shout-down or punch-out those who disagree. We would have more true beliefs and fewer false ones. These skills, however, were pitched out of public education more than a century ago in favor of Industrial Era skills. The “trivium” of grammar, logic and rhetoric was replaced with the three Rs. Perhaps the most progressive thing we can do now is … Continue reading Education and How To Believe
It’s hard to say whether the internet contains more good resources than bad, but anytime we highlight a good resource, we help nudge the inequality a little. So here’s a cat video. Just kidding! This website, “Critical Thinking Web,” stands out among many similar sites for it’s ease-of-use, rigor and interactive design. If you want to explore the world of logic and analytical thinking (and more!), this is a wonderful playground. I’ve used it as a supplement in my philosophy and logic courses. Founded in 2004 by Dr. Joe Lau of Hong Kong University, the site offers help with: Critical thinking … Continue reading Got Thinking Skills?
I frequently engage in conversations about beliefs. It’s kinda my thing. People often ask about the history of my beliefs or of someone else’s beliefs, especially religious beliefs. Everyone likes to construct a coherent story that will help them make sense of another person’s views. “That’s how they were raised,” or “they’re just reacting against such-and-such,” or “they went though some trauma that caused them to change their beliefs.” While I do find all this psychologically interesting, when it comes to evaluating a person’s beliefs, it is irrelevant. In the video, I don’t explain why the past is irrelevant. The … Continue reading The Past Is Irrelevant