Showing posts from October, 2019

argumentum ad populum

[I think I am going to start redoing some topics that I have an interest in, rather than attempting to appeal to culters and culteresses.  Who knows, maybe this is what folks want.] "Why did you smoke pot, Timmy?" "Well mom, everyone else was doing it, so I thought it was cool" "If everyone jumped off a roof, would you?" Most of us can recall a similar conversation from our childhoods. It is usually when parents tell their kids that something is not OK to do, just because everyone else is doing it. To a large extent that makes sense, right? Just because everyone else is doing it, why should you? Would you jump off a roof because everyone else was? What if the building was on fire, and people partying on the roof figured that jumping off the two-storied building was indeed the best chance of saving yourself? Then, it is not as clear cut. Often in argumentation, whether it be on your favorite news program or your debate channel, y

The Trouble with Platitudes

Well, those who know me or care to know me, know that I am not one much for platitudes. Wait, what’s a platitude? plat·i·tude ˈpladəˌt(y)o͞od/ noun plural noun: platitudes a remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful. "she began uttering liberal platitudes" synonyms : cliché, truism, commonplace, banality, old chestnut, bromide, inanity,banal/trite/hackneyed/stock phrase "boring us with his platitudes" Yup, something that sounds good, but it only sounds good. It doesn’t do anything, and if you think about it a bit, it is irritating as hell. At least to me, it is. For example, There’s no I in 'team' . Arguably emphasizing teamwork. I like how Dr. House addressed that: The point being, well, sometimes—more often than you think—there is a brilliant individual who is carrying more than her share of the load. The common argument against my irritation is that such

Thought Experiments and Hypotheticals

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it  ~ Aristotle[1], circa 350 BCE. I like to conduct thought experiments because they are useful to understand how people think. But, almost always, I am disappointed because people get defensive and refuse to engage. Perfectly understandable and often frustrating, but it does not faze me, I'll keep trying. One way to conduct a thought experiment is to use a hypothetical situation. A key requirement for such is that the participant provisionally accepts the premise(s) and then reasons out the rest. Albert Einstein used thought experiments a lot. They were useful to him to explain complex phenomena and to gain insight into them.  His book, Relativity , is filled with such. As an example, they shed light on how the same object falling from a moving train appears to take a different path depending on whether the observer is watching from the stationary platform, or from the train itsel