Monday, March 23, 2009

Ah, me . . . logic. . . ?

Up to my ass and then some in illogical fallacies, arguments, premise, conclusion, deductive and inductive reasoning, and my personal fave, PhillyChief's Better Moments. Trying to teach myself how to argue gooder, and beat back the theistic hordes battering the gates of reason.

I dunno how much of the dry fact-y type stuff is sticking, but I've read and reread it so much that hopefully, as I apply it to more things, it'll become second nature. What I can't understand is why every student, in either junior high or high school, isn't made to take a mandatory class on critical thinking. Well, I have an idea. Let's see if I can turn it into an sound inductive argument:

Premise 1: Since critical thinking is the careful, deliberate determination of whether we should accept, reject, or suspend judgment about a claim and the degree of confidence with which we accept or reject it--

Premise 2: It's implicit that it's more difficult to mislead and/or distract someone who is accustomed to thinking critically, and examining everything. Therefore,

Conclusion: It is my conclusion that those in authority, whether parent, teacher, or government, are unlikely to push for mandatory critical thinking classes in public schools.

Hmm. I think Premise 2 might actually be a conclusion. And the Conclusion's probably an appeal to emotion (cynicism) . . . meh. It's my maiden voyage--sue me.

Back to the mines. . . .

"No horror can be more terrible than the daily torture of the commonplace." --HP Lovecraft


  1. "Appeal to cynicism" isn't listed in my Handbook of Logical Fallacies. I would be able to make the correlation and realize it's not an exhaustive list if only I'd taken a critical thinking class in school.


    Maybe I should add you as one of the premises--but then you'd be a hasty generalization, and probably some other kind of fallacy, as well :D

  3. Maybe I should add you as one of the premises

    It wouldn't get you far. I'm only a straw man ;)

  4. It's still a good point (about the teaching of critical thinking) and one we discussed deeply once upon a time. It's quite disappointing that even the most progressive school districts don't seem to have it on radar (though some private schools do).

    It would be easy enough to do it, without making it apparent that it's an attack on religion. All you have to do is teach critical thinking within the context of specific subjects - such as history, literature, etc. Once a child learns to USE critical thinking, s/he will eventually get around to aiming it at superstition.

  5. I wonder if that's part of the required classes in UK schools, or Canada. Nah, probably not CA, they're way too close to the US to be that intellectual. They have our stink all over them.

    Once a child learns to USE critical thinking, s/he will eventually get around to aiming it at superstition.

    Part of why there's more emphasis on learning history as rote, a set of names, places and dates with no real significance past the midterm :/

    And most teachers probably don't know how to think critically, or examine their subjects critically. They learn by rote, and teach that way, too. Check your brain and imagination at the door.

    I know it isn't all teachers, but even the teachers that would teach better, aren't really given the tools to do so, financially or intellectually. It's all they can do to make sure kids learn anything at all, let alone something as seemingly abstract as critical thinking.

    Meh. I could rant about that sort of thing all night. It's a bad deal for all concerned.

  6. Do you want to teach, or do you want to mold, as in conform youth into what's expected? That's the question, and I fear the answer in most schools. Personally, I suspect that the conservatives and the religious right have conspired to undermine education to advance their nefarious ends, and they've been wildly successful.

    Trust me, get on the mailing list for the Teaching Company. They have sales a lot and it's only a matter of time before that Argumentation course goes on sale for like $35 or so (audio download). It's worth far more than that.

  7. Hey, Vita-Babe!

    I'd have you believing there's a God after about 15 minutes alone with you in the furnace room, Sugar! ;-)

    You know... as in "Oh, God!" "Oh, God!"

    Don't worry about Chimpy, Geronimo and Chumplain, girl... I'm sure they have their own game going... if you know what I mean.

    That doesn't open an ugly door, now, does it?



  8. I suppose that we must teach our children to assess evidence and to evaluate it for themselves. There's no way that schools will encourage them to do that - they rely too much on routine and "following orders". I guess in a way that they have to as well, so as to avoid the disintegration of the authority structure.

    Mind you, if a child is taught critical thinking properly, they very quickly realize the value of paying lipservice to the system in order to obtain maximum benefits - and only then, when equipped are they in a position to take it down :D

    Muaaaahahahaha Machiavelli for tots. Lord help my young 'un.

    She's learning critical thinking a little too quickly, lol - but I guess to stifle her questioning at this age (nearly 3) would make her afraid to challenge or question any authority system later in life.