rationality

rationality


Fake News in Trump’s America

fake news January 3rd, 2021

Throughout the country’s short existence, the most authoritarian Presidents have been, in order: John Adams, George Dubya Bush, Woodrow Wilson, Andrew Jackson, and Donald Trump. There are grumblings on the Right that Obama was somewhat abusive of his power, and I think that case can be made (certainly, journalists and Freedom of Information Act seekers were very disappointed in him). I intend this essay to be about the psychology underlying political beliefs, and the hot-button topic in this realm is, perhaps with a plethora of absurdity, uttered by Trump almost daily: the term fake news. Trump most likely coined the term fake news, and though he is but a con-man, truth, lies, and deception predate him – laying bare the idiocy of our whole politico-cultural system.

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America Desperately Needs Truth, Wisdom, and Critical Thinking

truth, wisdom, and critical thinking December 16th, 2019

America has a boat-load of problems. To open a newspaper any day of the week is enough to discourage anyone. Partisanship has reached nearly-fervid proportions. I fear we have little hope of seeing the forest for the trees when 45% of Americans don’t think Donald Trump should be tried in the Senate! Indeed, Trump may be the grotesque manifestation of a country that is sick, but the origins of what ails us are older than the huckster in the White House. What does this have to do with values? Truth, wisdom, and justice are not values that one can expect to apprehend if one sits around watching Fox News, “America’s Got Talent”, and football. If we want to improve, to thrive, to avoid disaster, the road is a tough one – much tougher than a trope such as “Liberals have been causing the decay of American society for decades now!” or “The most important thing in 2020 is to remove Donald Trump from office!”

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“Anti-Intellectualism”: A Rejection of Critical Thinking

anti-intellectualism December 13th, 2018

Attorney, activist, author and secular humanist David Niose writes about one of the fundamental issues underlying much of the social dysfunction we see every day now in America: anti-intellectualism. What does this mean? This snippet captures his thesis well: What Americans rarely acknowledge is that many of their social problems are rooted in the rejection of critical thinking or, conversely, the glorification of the emotional and irrational. What else could explain the hyper-patriotism that has many accepting an outlandish notion that America is far superior to the rest of the world? Love of one’s country is fine, but many Americans seem to honestly believe that their country both invented and perfected the idea of freedom, that the quality of life here far surpasses everywhere else in the world.

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Reason and Emotion: Integrating Passion and Intellect

reason and emotion September 9th, 2018

There is an interesting metaphor for living in the world: that we ride atop an elephant (our emotion, our instincts, and our desires) and that our rational mind is like the human who attempts to direct the elephant where one wants this beast to go. This blog is about the ability to integrate reason and emotion, and the positive effects it can have on creativity, habit formation (and habit-breaking), and living a fulfilling and happy life. And what does one need to cultivate in order to ensure that rational thinking enjoys the benefit of passion and emotions? As usual, the answer is: wisdom. The bulk of the following is really quotations about reason and emotion, as exemplified by this quote by the distinguished scientist, evolutionary biologist, and author, Edward O. Wilson: “Brain scientists have vindicated the evolutionary view of mind. They have established that passion is inseverably linked to reason. Emotion is not just a perturbation of reason but a vital part of it.”

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35 Science Quotes from Many Great Scientists

science February 17th, 2018

Science is the preeminent method of knowing. It is true that intuition has merit, and much that is good and useful is not scientific per se. But if you want to understand the universe, yourself, your society, insect behavior, evolution, or any number of interesting questions, science is your method! It certainly is more reliable and insightful than religion, guessing, superstition, authority, and probably philosophy. In this blog you will find 25 science quotes by a diverse group of famous scientists. If you don’t have polio, ate food shipped in from Latin America, or are reading this blog right now, you can thank science!

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Evaluating Evidence: A Superlative Skill

evaluating evidence January 30th, 2018

Evaluating evidence is a superlative skill. That is, if one can sift through various claims and find the truth (or at least, the validity of a particular question or issue), one is at a great advantage in this world. Indeed, there are compelling reasons to hold that an ability to see two sides of an argument – both with passionate and seemingly-confident defenders – is a critical skill. Rare though it may be, and challenging as it is, it will pay huge dividends if one can harness this power. In this blog, I will present examples of complex dilemmas that call for a keen mind and an excellent skill set.

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Critical Thinking Should Lead to Wisdom

critical thinking May 1st, 2017

How can one use critical thinking to navigate all the websites, “fake news,” and wool the politicians wish to pull over our eyes? I was asked to view an article on vaccine safety from a website called The Vaccine Reaction. I tend to come down on the “mostly safe, very effective” side of the vaccine safety/utility debate, but not reflexively so. I want to believe that the government doesn’t do things that endanger the citizens, and for one primary reason: I have a fear of corporations and plutocracy and those who love money dearly, and government is a potential bulwark against that overweening power. What did I find when I read the article? What does it have to do with critical thinking, wisdom, and self-reliance?

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