Monday, November 11, 2002

Straight Thinking 101, Part 2

As the case of Paul on the ship in Fair Havens Crete shows [Acts 27:9 – 15], the majority is not always right.

Neither is the minority. Nor the experienced, nor the educated, nor the powerful . . . .

So then, we need criteria to discern sense from rubbish, wisdom from folly, if we are to make sound decisions as individuals, families, businesses, institutions and communities. A good place to start is with the question: how do arguments persuade/prove?

As Aristotle pointed out in his The Rhetoric, that brings us to the three main persuasive appeals:

(1) Emotions – very persuasive, but no better than the accuracy of the underlying perceptions that trigger our feelings or desires.

(2) Authority – 99% of practical arguments depend on authorities (starting with the Dictionary) but no expert or official is better than his facts and reasoning.

(3) “Facts” and reasoning – it is only when claimed facts are true and representative of the truth, and the reasoning from them is logically valid, that the conclusions are soundly arrived at.

That brings us to the next issue, for next time: how can we tell when a “fact” is just that?

And, just in case you think you have it all figured out, try out This quote from Vox Day today in World Net Daily’s News site:

“I am extremely confused by the way that the media is reporting on the current war with Iraq. Over a month ago, I noted that Turkish armored divisions had invaded Northern Iraq and were holding some 15 percent of the country. This weekend, Debka has reported that U.S. Special Forces, in company with elite British and Iranian military units, are fighting Iraqi forces in Southern Iraq in an attempt to gain control over the Euphrates River crossings. Combined with the training exercises in Jordan, this means that Hussein's main forces will soon be completely surrounded ... which is a very strange situation for a war that supposedly hasn't started yet.”



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