The Institute of Art and Ideas Podcast: Europe’s (Superior) Answer to TED

I first learned about the Institute of Art and Ideas (IAI) a few years ago. I was watching one of the IAI’s debates about the limits of logic. The discussion was long form, but structured. And it included perspectives from multiple areas of expertise. For those reasons alone, the IAI had my attention. After all, you don’t typically get all that from American alternatives like TED or Talks at Google. In this post, I want to introduce the uninitiated to the IAI podcast by highlighting two of my favorite episodes. Continue reading The Institute of Art and Ideas Podcast: Europe’s (Superior) Answer to TED

Sexual Harassment Accusations & The Acceptance Principle

A public figure is accused of a sexual misdeed. You know nothing about the accused besides their name and their alleged crime. And you know nothing about the accuser except their name and their accusation. Can you believe the accuser? We often learn about such sexual harassment accusations. So it behooves us to find a principled response. The Acceptance Principle suggests that we can accept this kind of accusation. Why? I’ll explain in this post. Continue reading Sexual Harassment Accusations & The Acceptance Principle

The Bias Fallacy

“They’re biased, so they’re wrong!” That’s a fallacy. We can call it the bias fallacy. Here’s why it’s a fallacy: being biased doesn’t entail being wrong. So when someone jumps from the observation that So-and-so is biased to the conclusion that So-and-so is wrong, they commit the bias fallacy. It’s that simple.

In this post, I’ll give some examples of the fallacy, explain the fallacy, and then suggest how we should respond to the bias fallacy.

1. Examples of The Bias Fallacy

You’ve probably seen instances of the bias fallacy all over the internet.

In my experience, the fallacy is a rhetorical device. The purpose of the bias fallacy is to dismiss some person or their claims.

Like many rhetorical devices, this one is logically fallacious. So it’s ineffective. At least, it should be ineffective. That is, we should not be persuaded by it.

So if you’ve seen the bias fallacy online, then go ahead and set the record straight:

'They're biased, so they're wrong.' Not so fast! We can be biased without being wrong. #TheBiasFallacyClick To Tweet  Continue reading The Bias Fallacy

A Definition of ‘Fake News’ (and Related Terms)

If the public discourse in the United States is any indication, then people in the US mean different things by ‘fake news’. Naturally, then, it is time to agree on a definition of ‘fake news’. While we’re at it, let’s distinguish ‘fake news’ from other terms.

1.  Let’s Agree On Terms

As I see it, we will need to distinguish between at least three terms: fake news, conspiracy theory, and journalism.

A Definition of ‘Fake News’

Also known as “fictional news”. Characterized by outlandish stories — sometimes about paranormal and supernatural events. Any explicit claims to truth are obviously belied by their only semi-serious and comedic tone. Examples include many of the cover stories of the Weekly World News as well as some of the satirical punchlines of The Daily Show.

A Definition of ‘Conspiracy Theory’

Bad explanations designed to glorify their author and undermine the author’s perceived nemeses. Sometimes unfalsifiable. Alas, believed by many people. Examples are voluminous. Examples include certain explanations of the assignation of John F. Kennedy and InfoWars’ Alex Jones’s claims that the Sandy Hook shootings were staged.

A Definition of ‘Journalism’

Continue reading A Definition of ‘Fake News’ (and Related Terms)

Plans for 2017

Now that I’ve been admitted to candidacy for my PhD, I’ll be focusing my energy on writing a dissertation and on publishing hitherto unpublished projects. I will regularly post bits and pieces of that on the blog.1

I’ve also become more interested in how my reasoning research relates to politics — ergo the recent posts “Is post-fact reasoning redeemable?” and “Third Party Voting: A Wasted Vote?” So I might also write about how my research relates to US and international politics.

So if you’re interested in this stuff, then stay tuned. More specifically,

  • subscribe to the blog (in the menu) to find out when new posts are published.
  • follow me on social media to find out what I’m reading, thinking, and doing.

Here’s to the best possible 2017 — whatever that would be.

  1. I share my research on the blog for two reasons: First, to get your thoughts on it; Second, to make academic research available to more people.

Is post-fact reasoning redeemable?

You know how I do. When people make strong claims, I want evidence and arguments. So this US presidential campaign was a lot of work. A lot! (E.g., I read over 1000 pages about Clinton-related investigations alone). The problem is that people made loads of unsupported claims during the election. So I asked for loads of evidence. Curiously, people didn’t take kindly to my requests for evidence. As a reasoning researcher, this was fascinating. But as an aspiring reasoning teacher, it was thoroughly demoralizing. In this post, I’ll discuss my experience, some research that bears on my experience, and what this tells us about the redeem-ability of post-fact reasoning. Continue reading Is post-fact reasoning redeemable?

So you voted third party or didn’t vote at all. Did you help Trump win?

Did you end up not voting? Did you vote for a third party? Was that just a vote for Trump? Good question. It depends on how you normally vote.

1.  Do you normally vote for one major party?

Let’s say that, historically, you’ve voted for the democratic candidate. In that case when you voted third party or didn’t vote at all, you made Clinton Continue reading So you voted third party or didn’t vote at all. Did you help Trump win?