Saturday, December 22, 2007

In A Discussion, It Often Boils Down To Values

In a discussion, when the parties are at an impasse, many times it boils
down to what either party thinks is important or what values they hold.
For example, Julie writes what she thinks is perfect paper and presents
it to her teacher. Her teacher agrees that it is one of the best papers
she has ever seen with regards to content but cannot justify any grade
better than average because of the grammatical errors. In this case, no
doubt the content is important, but the lack of grammatical integrity is
important to the teacher and the University. Their discussion is at an
impasse because Julie places a higher importance on content while the
teacher necessarily must place a higher importance on grammar.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rules for Critical Discussion

Rules for Critical Discussion
by Frans Van Eemeren & Rob Grootendorst,
taken from "Fundamentals of Critical Argumentation" by Douglas Walton,
Cambridge University Press, 2006.

1. Parties must not prevent each other from advancing or casting doubt on each
others viewpoints.

2. Whoever advances a viewpoint is obliged to defend it if asked to do so.

3. An attack on a viewpoint must represent the viewpoint that has really been
advanced by the protagonist.

4. A viewpoint may be defended or attacked only by advancing argumentation
that is relevant to that viewpoint.

5. A person can be held responsible for the unstated premises he leaves implicit
in his argument.

6. A viewpoint is regarded as conclusively defended only if the defense takes
place by means of argumentation based on premises accepted by the other party,
and it meets the requirements of Rule 8.

7. A viewpoint is regarded as conclusively defended only if the defense takes
place by means of arguments in which an argumentation scheme is correctly

8. A viewpoint is regarded as conclusively defended only if supported by a chain
of argumentation meeting the requirements of rules 6 and 7 and if the unstated
premises in the chain of argumentation are accepted by the other party.

9. A failed defense must result in the proponent withdrawing her thesis and a
successful defense must result in the respondent withdrawing his doubt about
the proponents thesis.

10. Formulations of questions and arguments must not be obscure, excessively
vague, or confusingly ambiguous and must be interpreted as accurately as

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

How is a Bird Like an Argument?

They both need grounds to rest on. I made that up. It is an attack on
the slippery slope, and the stinky piles of rhetoric. Kind of poetic I
think. I envision certain theistic arguments as like a bird that flies
around but has no place to rest because there are no grounds to support

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Getting Started in Informal Logic

This is actually a response to an email from a commenter.

To get you started, here is a free course in beginning logic from Rick Grush of University of California

Here is the free LSAT podcast which, believe it or not, covers what you are interested in. It is the Law School Admissions Test, but it covers informal logic and argumentation. Its a great resource for this kind of thing.

How to debate lecture series from the university of vermont

A good place to start poking around in the World of Critical thinking which is ultimately what all this about.

And there's always wikipedia to look stuff up.

I suggest you get the following books used from amazon.
To start with
- "fundamentals of critical argumentation" from Douglas Walton. It covers the formal parts of logic that you need for the informal logic that you are interested in.
- Stephen Toulmins "Introduction to Reasoning", it gives a more detailed treatment of the structure of arguments, and the different types or reasoning inherent in different disciplines.
- Johnson and Blairs "Logical Self-Defense", gets into critical thinking and argumentation and how it is applied in the real world, give you hints to avoid advertising marketing persuasion
- Informal Logic by douglas walton (again) it gets deeper into the concepts covered in the 'fundamentals of critical argumentation'
- The Art of Deception, is a classic book written from the perspective of 'the bad guy' showing you fallacies and how they are used in argumentation to try to take advantage of you.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patricks Day! Leprechauns Exist!

This is a short discussion about argument fundamentals using an example of a debate about the existence of Leprechauns inspired by the Loftus-Wood debate and St. Patricks day. Its also relevant to blog discussions.

Arguments consist of premises and conclusions. They can also be linked, where conclusions of individual arguments make up the premises of a 'global' argument. Some of the 'local' arguments that can make up a 'global' argument are arguments from Sign, Analogy and Cause just to name a few. Each of these have strategies associated with them that can be used to challenge them effectively, but this is beyond the scope of this discussion. For more information on these concepts, check the references section of this document.

Step one in a critical discussion is to agree to principles of behavior before you start. I recommend something like van Eemeren and Grootendorsts "Rules for a Critical Discussion". They say things like 'remember you may be wrong', 'don't use personal attacks', 'stay relevant' etc. If the one participant uses a personal attack or tries to avoid answering the question and goes off on a tangent, a charge of lack of relevance is warranted. Stay focused to avoid being distracted by these diversionary tactics.
Step two is to agree on the premises of the discussion. If the existence of Leprechauns entails evidence, then that is one place to start. You can both begin to present your evidence. And remember, there is no shame in being wrong. It's character building.

Are Leprechauns plausible, is an easier position to argue from either viewpoint because it entails using defeasible reasoning to argue whether it is likely or not that Leprechauns exist. Arguing about the fact of their existence is more difficult from the point of view of the principle of Burden of Proof. If a proponent says that something exists, and the respondents says something like 'show me the body', the proponent can always say that not all possibilities of discoveries have been exhausted. This has the weight of presumption in its favor because of the efficacy of the scientific method in fields such as the sciences (medicine, physics etc.) law and technical maintenance (electronics, automobile etc) and others not listed. The scientific method presumably works for these fields and showing that it doesn't will be a struggle for the respondent. Proponents and respondents must always be open to new information to avoid holding untenable conclusions.

The most tenable viewpoint is that because of the preponderance of evidence (positive or negative), Leprechauns either are likely or not likely to exist. There is a valid reason to doubt that because of the preponderance of negative evidence Leprechauns are not likely to exist beyond a reasonable doubt. The respondent, however, cannot show that that they do not exist because the respondents definition of reasonable doubt will not be the same as the proponent believer. There is a popular phrase that goes "You can't prove a negative". This is counterintuitive but logically it depends on your requirement and acceptance of evidence.

When involved in a discussion about whether or not Leprechauns exist, the strongest arguments for the respondent in a discussion like this will come from the principle of "Negative Evidence" and "Negative Proof". One reason for this is because it will account for the 'moving goalpost' type of arguments typically found in this type of critical discussion. If the proponent tries to use equivocation (changing a previously stipulated definition or properties) or demand more evidence than is reasonable (impossible precision), the respondent can show that since they both agree that the existence of Leprechauns entails evidence, that there is no evidence where there should be or of the type there should be and therefore the preponderance of Negative Evidence (lack of evidence or evidence that suggests another cause) makes their existence reasonably implausible. In order to get around this the proponent must claim that evidence is not relevant (as in the case of faith), in which case there can be no discussion and they have disqualified themselves by getting caught in a contradiction or somehow try to disqualify the negative evidence somehow, possibly by equivocation. Good luck with this argument in a community of Leprechaun believers, especially if their local economy or their well-being depends on it.

What follows is an analysis of the argument of the proponent. The argument is laid out using the Toulman argument model where the validity of the conclusion is supported by the premises and the premises are supported by the warrant of data. The warrant is like a the bridge between the data and the premise. Each of the properties of the support for the conclusion are labeled with a 'P' a 'W' and a 'D'.

The proponent says that Leprechauns exists and the respondent has doubt about this claim.

The proponent says that Leprechauns exist because there exists a valid presumption
P: There are documented cases in the past of Leprechaun sightings.
W: That the documents are reliable testimony and necessary if not sufficient to support the conclusion
D: newspaper article that John smith saw a Leprechaun on such and such day
D: newspaper article that Jill brown saw the evidence of Leprechaun visitation in her house.
Argument from Tradition, more or less.

P: There exists a cultural belief that Leprechauns exist.
W: All these people wouldn't believe if it weren't true. They can't all be wrong.
D: Collectively all these people have reasons to believe
D: A lot of people believe that fire burns, and in fact it does
Argument from Popularity.

P: We can see the effects of leprechauns in our environment
W: If Leprechauns exist, we should see their effects since we presuppose they are doing things
D: Unexplained things happen all the time, especially things that have been determined to be characteristic of Leprachauns
Argument from Cause.

P: There exists an artifact of a Leprechaun pipe
W: Leprechauns are known to smoke pipes
D: the artifact is in the museum
Argument from Sign.

P: There is independent evidence of leprechaun like beings in other cultures, even if descriptions vary.
W: Since there is independent evidence in other cultures, it creates a presumption that supports the evidence in this one.
D: In the Appalachians there beliefs in magical beings that live in the mountains
D: In Nordic cultures, there are beliefs in magical beings called Trolls.
Argument from Precedence.

P: Leprechauns are like foxes, quick and can hide easily
W: Leprechauns are clever and hard to catch.
D: Foxes are considered to be clever and hard to catch.
Argument from Analogy, inherently weak and easy to refute.

P: Leprechauns are supernatural beings making them difficult to find
W: Leprechauns would use their powers to their advantage.
D: The supernatural factors exist because no one has proved that they don't
Argument from Ignorance.

P: Leprechauns are supernatural beings making them difficult to understand
W: Because of their supernatural abilities it makes their world view impossible for us to understand because we cannot possibly share their perspective because we are not supernatural.
D: Supernatural factors exist because no one has absolutely refuted evidence suggesting that they do.
Argument from Ignorance

Laid out like this, it is easy to see where to start with the argument. In a face-to-face discussion with people that are not familiar with structured discussion, it is much harder. The warrant and the data are rarely presented without a request, but to challenge the argument effectively, they must be revealed. The concept of the "unstated premise" is similar to the warrant, and you must look for these as well. It usually constitutes figuring out what is inferred, or what factors a statement depends on but has not been addresses so far.

The respondent should challenge the conclusion by rebutting the premises of the proponent using critical questioning according the strategy most effective for the type of argument that is being refuted. In the process of rebutting the premises of the proponent, it is usually necessary to challenge the warrant and the data. Sometimes the warrant is valid but the evidence is not. The respondent should avoid making claims where possible for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that it is preferable to shift the burden of proof to the other party. Many logical fallacies do this very effectively. The second reason is that whoever asks the questions is in control of the discussion.

The respondent should try to get the proponent to commit to statements that support the respondents conclusion. In doing so, the respondent can get the proponent to make contradictory claims, it which case the proponent must retract or commit to an untenable conclusion. For example, getting the proponent to commit to the premise that in the case of four witnesses of a robbery, there will be four conflicting stories that agree to some degree. The respondent can use this to point out that testimonial evidence is weak compared to other forms and an example of this is the "telephone game" that children play. Another example is to get the proponent to admit that in cases where there was a strong presumption in favor of the supernatural, it was later proven that there were natural causes. Such is the case with schizophrenia and Germ theory.

Toulman, Stephen. 2003. The Uses of Argument. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press

Walton, Douglas N. 1995. Argumentation Schemes for Presumptive Reasoning. Lawrence Erlbaum

Walton, Douglas N. 2005. Fundamentals of Critical Argumentation. Cambridge University Press.

Damer, T. Edward. 2004. Attacking Faulty Reasoning. 5th ed. Wadsworth Publishing

Freeley, Austin J. 1993. Argumentation and Debate: Critical Thinking for Reasoned Decision Making 8th ed. Wadsworth Publishing Company

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007


  1. Behavior or attitude that is boldly arrogant or offensive; effrontery.
  2. The act of presuming or accepting as true.
  3. Acceptance or belief based on reasonable evidence; assumption or supposition.
  4. A condition or basis for accepting or presuming.
  5. Law. A conclusion derived from a particular set of facts based on law, rather than probable reasoning.
"presumption." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 07 Mar. 2007.

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  1. A basic truth, law, or assumption: the principles of democracy.
    1. A rule or standard, especially of good behavior: a man of principle.
    2. The collectivity of moral or ethical standards or judgments: a decision based on principle rather than expediency.
  2. A fixed or predetermined policy or mode of action.
  3. A basic or essential quality or element determining intrinsic nature or characteristic behavior: the principle of self-preservation.
  4. A rule or law concerning the functioning of natural phenomena or mechanical processes: the principle of jet propulsion.
  5. Chemistry. One of the elements that compose a substance, especially one that gives some special quality or effect.
  6. A basic source. See Usage Note at principal.
"principle." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 07 Mar. 2007.

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Seemingly or apparently valid, likely, or acceptable; credible: a plausible excuse.

"plausible." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 07 Mar. 2007.

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Informal Logic

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Informal Logic
Wikipedia, Informal Logic

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Defeasible Reasoning

The relationship of support between premises and conclusion is a tentative one, potentially defeated by additional information.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Defeasible Reasoning
Wikipedia, Defeasible Reasoning

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Explanations are not arguments

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Argumentation Schemes and Fallacies

Fallacies are a subgroup of Argumentation Schemes. Argumentation Schemes are what are traditionally known as fallacies. Argumentation Schemes are only fallacies when used inappropriately. For example, the following argumentation schemes are valid in the appropriate context.
- Ad hominem, in a law trial when the witness is in the process of impeachment
- Appeal to Authority, when testimony from and expert witness is used
- Appeal to Pity, for circumstances, such as family or financial obligations, about the defendant that need to be considered
- Argument from Consequences, it is not a fallacy to argue that if you smoke you may get cancer.
- Affirming the consequent is how science works.

The New Dialectic, Conversational Contexts of Argument by Douglas Walton.

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The Baloney Detection Kit

This is a stub for a description of the baloney detection kit


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Ockham's Razor

This is a stub for an explanation of ockham's razor.


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The Scientific Method

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This is stub for a discussion on the scientific method.

-the disussion will go here-

Lets say that you order a plate from a restaurant. After waiting for over an hour you begin to get frustrated that it is taking so long. Is your frustration justified or reasonable?

I say it is reasonable with a qualifier, and most of it depends on my presumptions, one more strongly justified than another.
A list of reasons in the order of justification strong to weak. In all cases my presumption would be the opposite.
- The staff have deliberately misled people about their ability to produce an egg/sausage skillet, for example, my presumption would be that they should not mislead people about their ability to produce an egg/sausage skillet.
- The staff are playing cards instead of producing the egg/sausage skillet
- The staff have over estimated their ability to produce a egg/sausage skillet,
- They are simply short staffed at the moment,
- They have malfunctioning equipment at the moment
- I have unrealistic expectations about how long it takes it make an egg/sausage skillet.
In the last case, to show that I have unreasonable expectations would depend on showing how long it really takes. That would require evidence of the empirical kind. In this case I would have a hypothesis (presumption as a claim) that would be subject to falsifiability
( It would be up to the restaurant to accept my claim on its face or request that I prove my claim that "it is taking too long". In the (unlikely) case that I can't prove my claim, I would have to change my hypothesis about how long it should take, or in the case that I choose not to, then I should walk out and try another restaurant.
In the case that I walk into the kitchen and do it myself in less time, then I have validated my hypothesis (presumption as claim), in other words proved my point. My hypothesis has survived the process of falsifiability until challenged again. Each time it survives falisifiability, and through each reiteration of the process of falsifiability it inductively comes closer to a theory and closer still to a presumed truth (presumption), strong enough to use as a premise in an argument to support a claim (such as 'it is taking too long'). In this case we know that the preponderance of prior evidence justifies the presumption that 'it is taking too long'. Of course, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, this is common sense, AKA the scientific method, and this is how the world increases its cumulative store of knowledge, building one presumption at a time.


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Friday, March 02, 2007


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This is the bibliography for this site, not all inclusive.

To start with, all the books I've read throughout my life, but these are the most relevant.

Informal Logic
- Place of emotion in argument, Douglas Walton
- Argumentation Schemes for Presumptive Reasoning, Douglas Walton
- The New Dialectic: Conversational Contexts of Argument, Douglas Walton
- Argument Structure: A Pragmatic Theory, Douglas Walton
- Commitment in Dialogue: Basic Concepts of Interpersonal Reasoning, Douglas Walton
- One-Sided Arguments: A Dialectical Analysis of Bias, Douglas Walton
- Arguments from Ignorance, Douglas Walton
- Appeal to Expert Opinion: Arguments from Authority, Douglas Walton
- Appeal to Pity: Argumentum Ad Misericordiam, Douglas Walton
- Informal Logic: A Handbook for Critical Argument, Douglas Walton
- A Rulebook for Arguments by Weston, Anthony
- A Systematic Theory of Argumentation: The pragma-dialectical approach...
- Argumentation: Analysis, Evaluation by van Eemeren, Frans H...
- Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments...
- Logical Self-Defense by Johnson, Ralph H.; Blair, J. Anthony
- The Official LSAT SuperPrep by Law School Admission Council
- Barrons PassKey to the LSAT
- LSAT logic in Everyday life, podcast
- Fundamentals of Critical argumentation, Doulas Walton
- The Uses of Argument, Stephen Toulman
- The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on Argumentation
- Introduction to Logic (11th Edition) by Copi, Irving M.; Cohen...
- Argumentation: Study of Effective Reasoning, David Zarefsky

Critical Thinking
- Argumentation and Critical Decision Making (5th Edition) by Rieke, Richard D...
- Crimes Against Logic by Jamie Whyte
- How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age by Schick...
- Innumeracy : Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Social Consequences (Vintage...
- Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life
- The Art of Deception: An Introduction to Critical Thinking
- Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science (Popular Science) by...
- Bad Medicine : Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Distance Healing to...
- Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other...
- A Mathematician Plays The Stock Market by Paulos, John Allen
- A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper by Paulos, John Allen
- Historians' Fallacies : Toward a Logic of Historical Thought by...
- How to Lie With Statistics by Huff, Darrell; Geis, Irving
- The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl...
- The Power of Logical Thinking: Easy Lessons in the Art of Reasoning...and Hard
- It Ain't Necessarily So : How Media Make and Unmake the Scientific Picture of...
- Mysterious Realms: Probing Paranormal, Historical, and Forensic Enigmas...
- Skeptics Guide to the Universe, podcast

- Harvard Medical School Guide to Achieving Optimal Memory (Harvard Medical...
- Physics the Easy Way (Easy Way Series) by Lehrman, Robert L.
- The Science Book, edited by Peter Tallack
- Nature, podcast
- The Naked Scientists, podcast
- Quirks and Quarks, podcast
- New Scientist, podcast
- Evolution 101, podcast
- Cosmos, Carl Sagan
- Stephen Hawkings Universe, Stephen Hawking
- Elegant Universe, Brian Greene
- Universe in a Nutshell, Stephen Hawking
- ABC's of Relativity, Bertrand Russell

- Argumentation and Debate: Critical Thinking for Reasoned Decision Making...
- The Debater's Guide by Ericson, Jon M.; Murphy, James J.
- Debate Course, University of Vermont

- Influence: Science and Practice (4th Edition) by Cialdini, Robert
- Persuasion: Theory and Research (Current Communication) by O'Keefe, Daniel J.

- Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth [DVD] (2001) George Lucas; Bill Moyers...
- Beyond Good And Evil by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
- Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals by Immanuel Kant
- Philosophy for Pleasure,
- Essays of Robert Ingersoll
- Why I am Not a Christian, Bertrand Russell
- Religion and Science, Bertrand Russell
- The Philosophers Zone podcast, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

- Conquering Deception by Nance, Jef
- The psychology of transcendence by Neher, Andrew
- How We Know What Isn't So by Gilovich, Thomas
- General Psychology semester
- Social Psychology semester
- Self and Society,
- All in The Mind podcast, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

- Speed Mathematics: Secret Skills for Quick Calculation
- Precalculus Mathematics in a Nutshell: Geometry, Algebra, Trigonometry
- How to Calculate Quickly
- Math Magic

Biblical Criticism
- The Holy Bible, different versions
- Evidence that Demands a Verdict Vol. 1, Josh McDowell
- Evidence that Demands a Verdict Vol. 2, Josh McDowell
- More Than A Carpenter, Josh McDowell
- Biblical Errancy: A Reference Guide
- Folklore in the Old Testament by Frazer, James George
- Gospel Fictions by Helms, Randel
- Holy Writ as Oral Lit : The Bible as Folklore by Dundes, Alan
- The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin
- The Bible with Sources Revealed by Friedman, Richard E.
- The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel
- The Historical Jesus & the Mythical Christ by Massey, Gerald
- The Secret Origins of the Bible
- Looking for a Miracle: Weeping Icons, Relics, Stigmata, Visions & Healing Cures
- Old Testament Parallels (Fully Expanded and Revised) by Matthews...
- History Of God : The 4000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam by...
- Don't Know Much About Mythology, Kenneth C. Davis
- Letter to a Christian Nation, Sam Harris
- The Bible Geek podcast, Robert Price

- Lexicon of Intentionally Ambiguous Recommendations by Thornton, Robert J.
- Test Your IQ
- The Colossal Book of Short Puzzles and Problems
- The Moscow Puzzles : 359 Mathematical Recreations (Math & Logic Puzzles)
- How to Solve IQ Puzzles
- Match Wits With Mensa: The Complete Quiz Book (Mensa Genius Quiz)

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The Baloney Detection Kit is not enough

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This ‘Critical Thinking movement’ that I hear people talk about is too shallow for me to be comfortable with. Critical thinking is a discipline and a lifestyle choice. I choose to do it, but most of the people I know do not and call me weird, but they tell me that I’m ‘really smart’ and trust my judgment.

my short list:

After studying critical thinking on my own intensely the last two years, for me the most ‘bang for the buck’ came out of studying Informal Logic, Persuasion theories, Debate tactics, Toulmans rationale and model of argumentation, argumentation schemes and presumptive reasoning (Douglas Waltons book), Theories of Dialectics and pragmatism, Social Psychology and scientific studies of motivation and altruism, comparative religion studies and introspection.

my long list:

I think that people learn by observation. We learn how to communicate by reading, watching T.V., teachers, parents, friends, advertisements and politicians. We learn a lot of poor reasoning skills this way. I think everyone learns differently but here is what works for me as I do it on my own.

It is organized according to level of effort.

- Redefine ‘argument’ for yourself to exclude the word ‘quarrel’. Decide you will not ‘quarrel’ again.

- Eat right, get plenty of rest, because above all the brain is a bag of chemicals.

- Pay attention, listen, read carefully

- Look for oversimplification, this covers a lot of ground in argumentation schemes.

- Look for presumptions, or unexpressed premises that the statement depends on

- Look for generalizations

- Look for extremes

- Use the scientific method, chances are we learned it in high school.

- look for the conclusion and find the premises in a paragraph, we learned this in high school too.

- Learn the basics of reasoning, DATA, PREMISE, WARRANT, BACKING, CONCLUSION

- learn to use ockhams razor

- learn to expect extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims.

- Listen to or watch science shows

- Pick up a copy of the skeptical inquirer, or skeptic magazine

- Listen to skeptical podcasts or tv shows ( I half-heartedly recommend Penn and Tellers Bullsh**)

- Pick up an LSAT test prep book that has the answers and an analysis of the answers and do it.

- Read Informal Logic books or High School Debate strategy books (for the sections on reasoning and persuasion). Reading creates mental shortcuts to memory. Be careful about “critical thinking” books or books about ‘Fallacies’. I’ve found ‘critical thinking’ and ‘fallacy’ books and websites to misrepresent Argumentation Schemes as typically being fallacious. The truth about ‘fallacies’ didn’t sink in until I read books by van Eemeren and Grootendorst, Douglas Walton and the team of Johnson and Blair. I highly recommend Douglas Walton.

Once you have learned the basics, then start applying them.

- Pick something easy and analyze Bill O’Reilly interviews on TV or in transcripts from Fox news website.

- look for loaded language

- look for Bias

- Look for the ‘dependencies’ which are presumptions and unexpressed premises in O’Reilly and Op-Ed pieces from, articles picked by or
Church sermons and religious apologetics but be careful, because with a little introspection and biblical criticism, you might find yourself deconverted.

- Eavesdrop and listen to discussions around you.

- Watch news interviews to help you learn how to ask critical questions

- learn to use ‘I’ statements and avoid ‘you’ statements when you…

- learn to ask critical questions. Remembering the right question at the right time has a lot to do with the mental shortcuts you created in the process of learning.

- try to pick your battles, you may have to learn to keep your mouth shut.

- Take a psychology course and a social psychology course

- Start a blog anonymously and type in what you think or keep a diary. Go back and read it after a few days to critique yourself.

- be careful what you say because the more people know you and trust your judgement, the less they doubt you. Peoples trust is invaluable.

- do a variety of logic puzzles or games. They can be found at the bookstore in the magazine sections.

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