The Thought Refuse

A Virtual Repository for the Mind

Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Study Supports Expert Bias

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ne of the more common logical mistakes we make is to turn to the expert bias, also known as the logical fallacy arguing from authority.  The logical error is committed by espousing expert credentials for sound logic, in order to make a logical argument.  A logical argument is founded on logic alone.  No amount of degrees or experience can supplant concrete logic.

Recently, a study was done on how expert advice affects the decision making part of the human brain, and lends physiological evidence that we are predisposed to experts over logic.  This has long been the contention of logical proponents, the most well known being Nicholas Nassim Taleb, who detailed in his New York Times best selling book, The Black Swan, just how detrimental and pervasive the expert bias can be.

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Written by huxbux

April 15, 2009 at 1:12 am

Mounting Civilian Deaths In Afghanistan Pose Problem For Obama

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The United Nations released a report accounting for civilian deaths in Afghanistan in 2008.  The report indicates that the civilian death toll rose 40% from 2007, jumping from 1,523 to 2,118 for the past year.  The total surpassing two thousand marks the highest number of civilian causalities in any calender year since the Taliban was ousted in 2001.

The UN report indicates that United States and Afghan proxy forces accounted for 828 deaths in 2008.  The large majority were caused by Taliban forces.  Regardless, a mounting civilian death toll poses a serious threat to American foreign policy success in Afghanistan.

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Written by huxbux

March 7, 2009 at 1:33 pm

The Argument of The Converse Hypothetical

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I was listening to a WBEN the other day, a local Buffalo news and talk show radio station, when I heard a clip from the morning show hosted by Tom Bowerly.  It immediately struck me as insanely illogical.

Bowerly, a typical radio conservative talk show host, sticks to his anti-Democrat, anti-Obama talking points.  In this particular clip, Bowerly was commenting on Barak Obama’s Super Bowl Sunday interview, in which he jokingly mused how he was bumped off the cover of a celebrity magazine, and replaced by an overweight Jessica Simpson.

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Written by huxbux

February 13, 2009 at 7:37 pm

The Obama Foreign Policy: Maintaining the Status Quo

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American foreign policy since World War I, and more so following the conclusion of World War II, has maintained one critical element above all else – to secure and preserve American power.  The definition of American power takes numerous forms.  A short list includes exploiting foreign resources for the benefit of American private industry, eliminating any perceived threats to American global supremacy, and usurping the popular will of foreign populations through puppet governments.  The history of American foreign policy is littered with examples, as to the propagation of US power, and doesn’t need to be elucidated here.

There is little indication that the new administration of Barack Obama will pursue a different course.  It was put succinctly by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a speech she gave on her first day in the State Department.

And we will make clear, as we go forward, that diplomacy and development are essential tools in achieving the long-term objectives of the United States.

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Written by huxbux

February 10, 2009 at 6:15 pm

The Problem of Correlation As Causation

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The confusion of supplanting correlation for causation is one of the most common logical fallacies we make.  This is the fallacy of correlation.  The basic premise is that you will attribute a connection between two experiences as the root cause of one experience being the cause of the other.

While it’s one of the easiest logical fallacies to spot, we continually fall for the trap of the fallacy of correlation.  It does require a minor exertion in mental analysis to catch ourselves spiraling down it’s pitfalls, but it’s shouldn’t be too much to ask a person to invest that energy into their own line of thinking.  None-the-less, it’s a logical fallacy which pervades everyday thinking, and, regretfully, even scientific research.

As a general schematic, think of the fallacy of correlation to be as follows:

  • Event A occurs synchronously or chronologically to Event B‘s occurrence, therefore
  • Event A is the cause of Event B.

The possibilities of the relationship between Event A and Event B are too numerous to conclude A caused B.  Some of these include:

  1. A is the cause of B;
  2. A is the cause of B, and B is the cause of A (or both events sharing a circular causation);
  3. an unknown Event C is cause for either A or B, or both;
  4. the incidence of A and B share no relationship other then temporal occurrence.

It is rare for Case 1 to be true, yet far too often we prefer it from the other possible Cases.  This is often the outcome when a layer of plausibility exists within our empirical history interconnects two events(Hume’s definition of causation).  Plainly stated, if I have been witness to two events occurring in the past, I am likely to make a connection between these two events when the happen again in the future.  They are believable.

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Written by huxbux

February 4, 2009 at 7:25 pm

Posted in Logic, Philosophy

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Living In A Non-Judgemental Universe

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Recently, I was engaged in a conversation with a 50 year old housewife when she uttered a phrase I have heard countless times before – “I try not to be judgemental.”  I have always had difficulty accepting this as remotely true for anyone, and it has struck me as a near impossible premise from the first time I heard it said.  For some reason, this time around, it came across as patently absurd.

Let us imagine the daily life of an individual who does not judge.  Lying in bed fast asleep, the alarm buzzes with it’s typically annoying piercing beeps.  Our subject turns over in bed with eyes groggily opening.  He looks at the time, 6:30 AM, and can’t decide if he should tumble out of his bed to get to work.  He’s not sure if earning that paycheck is really worth all the trouble.  Here, our non-judgemental hero would be stopped dead in his tracks.

We all, whether by sociatel pressure or not, make a value judgement as to the total benefit of employment against the effort required to earn a paycheck.  For most, we decide that having a roof over our head, driving a nice car, and being able to purchase those expensive French pasteries we so enjoy are worth the time and energy we put into our jobs.  We judge that money is well worth the time and energy required to earn it.

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Written by huxbux

January 18, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Posted in Logic, Philosophy

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Why Your Blog Hits Aren’t Really Yours

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With the explosion in the number of blogs littering the internet, every blogger takes extraneous efforts to increase their visitor count.  The all important hit count is the singular indicator whether your blog is popular or not.

There are blogs dedicated soley to advising bloggers on who to get their blogs noticed, and attract a larger share of readership.  Focusing on key words, interlinking blogrolls, content distribution, and comment links in other blogs are all part of the “how to get your blog hits” mantra.

You’ve followed all the steps to get you blog hits – selected a topic to focus on, included important key words in your tags and post titles, built a nice shared blogroll with other blogs, and politely commented on other blogs to get the word out about your blog.  After all these steps your blog is averaging a couple hundred hit per day.  All things considered, you’ve done fairly well for yourself.  But your blog is middle-brow.  One of among tens of thousands of other blogs that suffer from medicrioty in terms of hits.

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Written by huxbux

January 12, 2009 at 6:57 pm

Posted in Business, Logic, Philosophy

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