If the consequences of a claim necessarily lead on to an absurd conclusion, then that statement is not likely to be credible. This is a very old form of reasoning, thought to go back to the ancient Greeks and maybe before. It entails considering the consequences of a statement and if they are self-evidently non-credible … Continue reading Reductio ad Absurdum
People have said to me that without certainty and truth then all is anarchy. But in previous blogs I have outlined why we can't know any 100% truths, or have certainty. In my book Modelling Mind I argue this is an unavoidable part of our existence, and we should drop the whole idea of truth … Continue reading What Can We Do in an Uncertain World?
We all need to know what causes things to occur in order to survive. We need this information to avoid bad outcomes and achieve good ones. For example, if don't we accept that drinking foul water causes stomach upsets, then we are likely to suffer, if not die. However, the teasing out of what causes … Continue reading Of Correlation and Causation
In an earlier post, "How Can We Gain Knowledge" (May 2020), I argued that the primary, if not only, way we can justify our knowledge or belief is by the evidence that supports the knowledge or belief. However not all evidence is of equal worth, so what makes some evidence better than others. Confirmability: if … Continue reading Evidence for Evidence
I have previously outlined why we can't know any 100% certain truths. Also we all can remember some more embarrassing cases where we have rather crassly leap to totally unjustified belief. But what can we do about this reality of our existence? We can't know the certain truth about most things. I believe that, far … Continue reading Living in the Real Uncertain World
Many individuals, not least in the media, use ambiguous, inexplicit "Weasel Words" such as: may, might, could, can, scientists have shown that… They all have the same effect of presenting as true things that are not necessarily valid. For example newspapers, particularly popular tabloids, often run articles along the lines of: Alcohol Kills Studies at … Continue reading Weasel Words
Vox Populi is literally the voice of the people and refers to attempts to ascertain what the people think about specific matters. It is also referred to as the opinion of the man in the street or the man on the Clapham omnibus. Presumably such formulations include women! This is a form of support for … Continue reading Vox Populi
In a democratic society we abide by the fundamental rule of the majority and this has great advantages: Some decisions must be made on a society wide basis and democracy allows for the participation, and thus hopefully more commitment, of all the citizens.In most cases an elected group are given powers to make these decisions.They … Continue reading The Democratic Fallacy
I commonly observe it that having no responsibility for implementation leads to impossible plans. In meetings when plans are being discussed, often those without the responsibility for their implementation will argue for much tougher targets and objectives (to the point of fantasy) than those that have to do it. Often in relationships one partner will suggest a plan … Continue reading Nothing is impossible to someone who doesn’t have to do it.
Hanlon's Razor, as a term, is a bit of a spoof on Ockham's razor (see previous post), but this light-hearted presentation conceals an insidious tendency. Hanlon's Razor states: It is unwise to attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. It is common to jump to an explanation of events by attributing bad faith, … Continue reading Hanlon’s Razor