Thursday, March 01, 2007

Critical thinking is a lost art...

No, not really, but some days you can't help being snarky.

Got involved in a debate. Al Gore is a hypocrite, they say; he, after all, has a large electric bill, so it must be true.

No, I point out; he buys carbon offsets.

"Prove it", I'm told, as if the burden of proof can be magically shifted in such a manner.

The proper response to such crap is to say "No; I have no need to do so. Everything you say is a lie."

When that person responds "I'm not lying!" the response is, of course, "prove it".

Alas, it would require critical thinking to understand the role one should play in such an exchange, and so folks fail to respond as they should.

Look, it's really easy. If you think something is true, that's only the first step. You need to dig in, and look for why it might not be. You need to criticize your own thought processes, and counter all objections. At least, you need to do this if you want clear thinking that is likely to lead you to the truth.

If you want to call people nasty names, and don't care if they're true, there's a lower standard. Those standards are about as low as the standards for "things one would scrape off of one's shoe in disgust."

Put forward the proposition, "Al Gore is a hypocrite", and you need to support it. That there are carbon offsets, and methods of generating electricity that do not emit carbon, are well known, and have been part of the public debate. You can't truthfully make the claim he is a hypocrite unless you know that he does not use green electrical generation and carbon offsets.

"But... but... but.." the wingnuts sputter, "but if we have to prove he's a hypocrite before we call him a hypocrite, we'll never get to call him a hypocrite!"

Awwww. Poor diddums.

If you care about the truth, you dig, and look for the truth. Sometimes it's not easy, but if someone told you life was supposed to be easy, that person was lying to you.

On the other hand, if you're the kind of person who is willing to say something that might be false, just to attack another human being, see the earlier bit about things one scrapes off of one's shoe in disgust.

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