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PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2020 8:15 pm 
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If this fits better elsewhere feel free to move.

So, this came up in a conversation and I'd like to explore it a bit. Rhetoric used to be (and perhaps still is?) taught as a subject in universities in the middle ages. I believe it was one of the primary subjects of schools and universities, along with (Latin) grammar and possibly mathematics?

I did not attend a university, and while I'm sure you can easily attend one without ever taking certain courses, I find that sometimes I feel lacking in never having specific education on such topics as rhetoric, debate, logical fallacies, and other similar types of approaches to things like reasoning or critical thinking. Occasionally I'll get a bit blindsided by something that I either don't know how to address or don't recognize for what it is.

With the prevalence of fake news, conspiracy theories, logical fallacies and such coming from many areas, as well as the general problem of interpreting science articles, thinking they claim something when they don't, or recognizing when claims are being misconstrued, etc, I thought this might be a good place to generally approach learning how to recognize and counteract these, not to debate specific topics or argue, but to examine how to approach things like critical thinking or fact checking, and how to prevent falling into fallacies and misinterpretations, either discussions about or links to resources on the topic.

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The dumbest thing I've ever bought
was a 2020 planner.

"Does anyone ever think about Denethor, the guy driven to madness by staying up late into the night alone in the dark staring at a flickering device he believed revealed unvarnished truth about the outside word, but which in fact showed mostly manipulated media created by a hostile power committed to portraying nothing but bad news framed in the worst possible way in order to sap hope, courage, and the will to go on? Seems like he's someone we should think about." - Dave_LF


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2020 10:16 pm 
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Oh, I like that! An intellectual thread in which money, religion and politics will play no part!

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 4:09 am 
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DH took a rhetoric class, I think in High School, in St. Paul, MN. That would have been in the 70s. He mentioned that the debate team/class was too fierce for him and he opted out.

I'm a big fan of logic, myself, but I have no formal knowledge of the subjects you've mentioned. I was once told by a learned person that I'm a deductive thinker.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 5:58 am 
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Even as someone who studied a bachelor of laws and a bachelor of arts in politics and public policy, I didn't get much formal training in logic, rhetoric, or logical fallacies. Which is a shame, as they're all very useful. And these days, cognitive bias, which is also highly relevant to understanding arguments and evidence.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 3:05 pm 
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I'm so glad there is interest!

In fact, in mulling this over, I found perhaps another useful and direct application for such a discussion - when one recognizes and understands such things, being manipulated is much more difficult. This ties back in to the Social Dilemma Netflix show I watched earlier, where they use algorithms designed to modify user behavior. If we are better at recognizing when others are attempting to manipulate us (and not even necessarily in a decidedly negative context) it would be easier to avoid.

I'll start with one study I have heard of occasionally over the years, where people were manipulated into doing absolutely horrible things (or they thought they were doing them) under the observation of a perceived authority figure.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

Quote:
The experimenter (E) orders the teacher (T), the subject of the experiment, to give what the teacher (T) believes are painful electric shocks to a learner (L), who is actually an actor and confederate. The subject is led to believe that for each wrong answer, the learner was receiving actual electric shocks, though in reality there were no such punishments. Being separated from the subject, the confederate set up a tape recorder integrated with the electro-shock generator, which played pre-recorded sounds for each shock level


As the experiment went on, when a subject became reluctant to continue, they were given various prompts in increasing levels of 'force':

Quote:
1. Please continue.
2. The experiment requires that you continue.
3. It is absolutely essential that you continue.
4. You have no other choice, you must go on.


Quote:
The experiment found, unexpectedly, that a very high proportion of subjects would fully obey the instructions, albeit reluctantly.
...
The experiment was repeated many times around the globe, with fairly consistent results.


This ability to manipulate the average person with certain types of authoritative commands is chilling. And while I'm sure every one of us would claim they would not have continued, such things force us to consider the real-world events that have followed such types of commands that others followed, whether reluctantly or no, that lead to horrific consequences.

There are other experiments that have brought up other ways in which people's behavior can be negatively influenced given a certain set of situations, another that comes to mind is the Stanford Prison Experiment.


Now,... here is the experiment evaluated from another point of view, taking into account different variables that weren't broken out above.



I do like how this much more thoroughly breaks down the individual contexts that encouraged more or less 'compliance' and where exactly certain aspects of it seemed to fail.

This is another reasons I am very interested in exploring these types of topics on how to critically evaluate information, recognize manipulation tactics, and recognize bias or fallacies in others or in our own thinking as well. It's easy to read one experiment and think it 'proves' something, and it's easy to take another conflicting result and say that 'disproves' it, but there may be more going on than just one or the other, and there may be much more complexity in the parameters than what is necessarily considered.

I think if we can understand how and why these types of behaviors can be manipulated we may be far better equipped to withstand such both in ourselves and for those around us.

_________________
The dumbest thing I've ever bought
was a 2020 planner.

"Does anyone ever think about Denethor, the guy driven to madness by staying up late into the night alone in the dark staring at a flickering device he believed revealed unvarnished truth about the outside word, but which in fact showed mostly manipulated media created by a hostile power committed to portraying nothing but bad news framed in the worst possible way in order to sap hope, courage, and the will to go on? Seems like he's someone we should think about." - Dave_LF


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 5:25 pm 
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I take everything at face value and assume the sincerity of the speaker. I'm not interested in a reality wherein it would be necessary to be constantly suspicious of my fellow humans. That would be so depressing, and I would be unable to cope with such a complicated psychological landscape.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 5:48 pm 
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I feel that sincerity is orthogonal to the topic. There are plenty of people who are sincerely ignorant, or sincerely bigoted, or selfish and manipulative. I, too, am of the opinion that most people mean what they say, but that does not in itself speaks to the quality of what they are saying.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2020 4:42 am 
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Pretty much. We're all imperfect reasoning machines, and we all have biases and blind spots that impair our judgement. It's not about dishonesty as it is about training yourself to look past them.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2020 4:50 pm 
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Túrin Turambar wrote:
Pretty much. We're all imperfect reasoning machines, and we all have biases and blind spots that impair our judgement. It's not about dishonesty as it is about training yourself to look past them.
We aren't even reasoning machines, we are emotional animals. People rarely even notice that most use their brains get is to put a veneer of logic to their emotions.

It's why depression is so dangerous - brain is low on serotonin or something, and it comes up with a really elaborate story for why it's completely logical to feel awful.

It's also how manipulation works - by putting people's emotions into manipulator's words so that they *feel* logical and easy to follow.

Neither of that has anything to do with sincerity, BTW. On both sides of a manipulative relationship, people can sincerely feel that what is happening is right and good.

Also why logical arguments fail to win over emotional conviction, no matter how stupid it actually is.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2020 5:06 pm 
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Frelga, exactly. I remember back in high school we were studying (and now I forget the philosopher) the whole State of Man vs State of Nature reasoning and I asked "When did we stop thinking of ourselves as part of nature??"

I think the dangerous part of sincerity as a measure of truth is that you can absolutely, sincerely, whole heartedly believe something that is wrong. Sincerity may be an excellent measure of a person's honesty, but is useless for judging merit, reason, and fact. This can happen especially when we misinterpret something because we can't think of how we could be misinterpreting it.

There was this great TED talk about being wrong. And the presenter gave a very effective little demonstration by asking the audience how it felt to be wrong, and she got all sorts of answers like "it sucks" or just a big thumbs down, or embarrassment, etc. Then she said, those are all pretty common answers... but they answer a question I didn't ask. That is how it feels to realize you are wrong. Just being wrong? Feels exactly the same as being right.

So I am hoping that this can be not about sincerity or honesty or trustworthiness - that would be a different kind of discussion - valid but different.

I am hoping this can be about how we examine what we feel or believe to determine if that is in fact an accurate reflection of the truth. Can we separate - deliberately - our emotional reaction and instead actively engage with critical thinking and reason to ensure we are not falling victim unawares to mistaken conclusions, no matter how right they feel.

Found the video:


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The dumbest thing I've ever bought
was a 2020 planner.

"Does anyone ever think about Denethor, the guy driven to madness by staying up late into the night alone in the dark staring at a flickering device he believed revealed unvarnished truth about the outside word, but which in fact showed mostly manipulated media created by a hostile power committed to portraying nothing but bad news framed in the worst possible way in order to sap hope, courage, and the will to go on? Seems like he's someone we should think about." - Dave_LF


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2020 9:52 pm 
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elengil, I'm happy to defer to your wishes as to the direction of the thread, but I would like to follow up on some comments already made. You said in your second post, "when one recognizes and understands such things, being manipulated is much more difficult." The idea of protecting oneself from manipulation is what led to my comment on sincerity. When one assumes the sincerity of the person one is speaking with, that automatically eliminates the idea that manipulation is a possible element of the conversation. The idea of approaching conversation with a suspicion that the other person might be attempting to manipulate (i.e., that the other person might be insincere) -- I'd have no interest in conversing within such parameters.

Frelga, your comments seem to be asserting that a person can be both sincere and manipulative at once, but as I understand the concepts, they are mutually exclusive. By sincerity, I'm referring to the speaker's ideas -- that his words do reflect a simple desire to communicate those ideas, rather than representing an effort to shape a response in the hearer.

Elengil, I did not suggest that sincerity was a measure of truth. By 'sincerity,' I simply mean that a person is honestly trying to communicate what they are thinking, without ulterior motive. This is my assumption of the other conversant in a dialogue.

elengil wrote:
With the prevalence of fake news, conspiracy theories, logical fallacies and such coming from many areas, as well as the general problem of interpreting science articles, thinking they claim something when they don't, or recognizing when claims are being misconstrued, etc, I thought this might be a good place to generally approach learning how to recognize and counteract these, not to debate specific topics or argue, but to examine how to approach things like critical thinking or fact checking, and how to prevent falling into fallacies and misinterpretations, either discussions about or links to resources on the topic.


elengil wrote:
I am hoping this can be about how we examine what we feel or believe to determine if that is in fact an accurate reflection of the truth. Can we separate - deliberately - our emotional reaction and instead actively engage with critical thinking and reason to ensure we are not falling victim unawares to mistaken conclusions, no matter how right they feel.

elengil, your first statement of the purpose of the thread seems to differ somewhat from the one in your last post. Are we talking about learning how to recognize when we're being tricked into believing false things, or how we examine and assess the correctness of our own beliefs, or do you see these two subjects as being essentially the same?

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2020 10:50 pm 
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I wasn't intending to suggest you thought sincerity was a measure of truth, I was explaining why I don't believe sincerity is really relevant to the topic.

As for it's purpose, it isn't exactly about not being tricked or manipulated, that's just one small aspect, but it does relate to why I think critical thinking and recognizing biases, as two examples, are important. Really it was just an extension of my thoughts on the subject as opposed to putting forth an entirely different basis for the thread.

So, since logical fallacies is right in the title, I'll share this video which explains what some common fallacies are. This doesn't dig too deep into these but does give a brief introduction as a jumping off point.


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The dumbest thing I've ever bought
was a 2020 planner.

"Does anyone ever think about Denethor, the guy driven to madness by staying up late into the night alone in the dark staring at a flickering device he believed revealed unvarnished truth about the outside word, but which in fact showed mostly manipulated media created by a hostile power committed to portraying nothing but bad news framed in the worst possible way in order to sap hope, courage, and the will to go on? Seems like he's someone we should think about." - Dave_LF


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2020 11:59 pm 
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This series does a pretty good job, I think, of laying out some of the broader concepts of cognitive biases that I'm interested in. It focuses pretty heavily on politics, but it's applicable across a wide variety of subjects.






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The dumbest thing I've ever bought
was a 2020 planner.

"Does anyone ever think about Denethor, the guy driven to madness by staying up late into the night alone in the dark staring at a flickering device he believed revealed unvarnished truth about the outside word, but which in fact showed mostly manipulated media created by a hostile power committed to portraying nothing but bad news framed in the worst possible way in order to sap hope, courage, and the will to go on? Seems like he's someone we should think about." - Dave_LF


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2020 12:23 am 
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Here's another one that touches on a lot more general ideas of debate/disagreement and some biases.


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The dumbest thing I've ever bought
was a 2020 planner.

"Does anyone ever think about Denethor, the guy driven to madness by staying up late into the night alone in the dark staring at a flickering device he believed revealed unvarnished truth about the outside word, but which in fact showed mostly manipulated media created by a hostile power committed to portraying nothing but bad news framed in the worst possible way in order to sap hope, courage, and the will to go on? Seems like he's someone we should think about." - Dave_LF


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2020 10:17 pm 
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Cognitive Bias, a good generic intro if that last one was a bit too focused on politics



Gets into the manipulation angle as well


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The dumbest thing I've ever bought
was a 2020 planner.

"Does anyone ever think about Denethor, the guy driven to madness by staying up late into the night alone in the dark staring at a flickering device he believed revealed unvarnished truth about the outside word, but which in fact showed mostly manipulated media created by a hostile power committed to portraying nothing but bad news framed in the worst possible way in order to sap hope, courage, and the will to go on? Seems like he's someone we should think about." - Dave_LF


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 7:54 pm 
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Likely due to their proximity to Russia, Finland has long educated their population, from childhood up, logic and critical thinking as a means to combat propaganda and conspiracy theories.
https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/201 ... news-intl/

elengil. I listened to them all. That's a lot to take in. I related to the one with Trevor Noah/Socratic method best. That type of conversation either comes naturally, or one has had exposure to someone who has modeled that conversation style or it takes a lot of practice. I would need a lot of practice. :)

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2020 5:21 pm 
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RoseMorninStar wrote:
I related to the one with Trevor Noah/Socratic method best. That type of conversation either comes naturally, or one has had exposure to someone who has modeled that conversation style or it takes a lot of practice. I would need a lot of practice. :)


Agreed, I would need a *lot* of practice. But it is a good way to just converse in general, even if you aren't trying to debate. It's genuinely engaging and polite, even when needing to disagree.

I've heard about various places that teach how to spot propaganda, that would be such a useful aspect to add to a lot of subjects.

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The dumbest thing I've ever bought
was a 2020 planner.

"Does anyone ever think about Denethor, the guy driven to madness by staying up late into the night alone in the dark staring at a flickering device he believed revealed unvarnished truth about the outside word, but which in fact showed mostly manipulated media created by a hostile power committed to portraying nothing but bad news framed in the worst possible way in order to sap hope, courage, and the will to go on? Seems like he's someone we should think about." - Dave_LF


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 3:45 pm 
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I wish I had posted this when I heard it because now I can't remember where it was from, but it was roughly along the lines of, "If you disagree with it, be skeptical and verify it. If you do agree with it, be even more skeptical and verify it from two sources." That's a good way to keep from falling into the trap of accepting something as true just because you agree with it.

_________________
The dumbest thing I've ever bought
was a 2020 planner.

"Does anyone ever think about Denethor, the guy driven to madness by staying up late into the night alone in the dark staring at a flickering device he believed revealed unvarnished truth about the outside word, but which in fact showed mostly manipulated media created by a hostile power committed to portraying nothing but bad news framed in the worst possible way in order to sap hope, courage, and the will to go on? Seems like he's someone we should think about." - Dave_LF


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