According to a top Saudi cleric, driving damages women’s ovaries. Does the fact (reality) that some people believe that make it true, if only for them? What—exactly—is the relationship between reality and what we believe? You may know people who believe that their beliefs accurately reflect reality. If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you know that one of my recurrent themes is the need for an evidence procedure that allows individuals to base their beliefs on reality to the degree that it’s possible.
It was, for example, perfectly logical for our ancient ancestors to believe that . . . → Read More: The Reality of Beliefs
In my spare time, I follow political discussions as best I can, primarily because politics influence all of us in ways both large and small, including the taxes we pay and the way our collective dollars are spent. The past several years have provided a wonderful opportunity for noticing how linguistic framing influences the way we think about the decisions politicians are making about how our money is to be spent. The best way to know what’s really going on in politics is by understanding the rhetorical concept of framing.
The word frame applies to discourse in basically the . . . → Read More: Language Matters
Some of you have noticed that it has been a long time since my last post. It isn’t so much that I had nothing to say as it is that I was overwhelmed by how much needed saying. A lot has been going on, and even areas where not much has been happening (the U.S. Congress), the inaction is fraught with meaning.
Where a lot has been going on—forest fires in the U.S., flooding in the U.S., wars and rumors of wars in the Middle East, and changes related to global climate change—it is hard for me to know . . . → Read More: Sticking to Our Guns
Does it really serve a purpose to suppress the truth? I’m not concerned about the “little stuff,” such as who flirted with whom at the office party or how the rear fender of the family car was damaged. My concern is with the “big stuff,” things that influence everyone.
You may recall, for example, that in the sixteenth century, Galileo found himself in hot water with the Catholic Church for supporting Copernicus’ theory that the earth was round and was orbiting around the sun. The Catholic Church attempted to suppress the truth, but one of the things about important truths . . . → Read More: Knowing the Truth
In some ways this blog entry ties back to my previous posts on Choice Points: “Forks in the Road” and Evidence Procedures. One of the things I have been noticing about recent political debates is how often people, and perhaps especially politicians, seem to be absolutely sure of so many things.
In statistical terms, when we measure most populations on most scales (such as height, weight, IQ, education, age at death, etc.) the result is the familiar bell shape of Pareto’s Law.
It make sense: Some people are really tall, some are really short, and most . . . → Read More: Yes, No, or It Depends?
It’s that time of year. When we turn the page from December to January, most of us give at least a little thought to “New Year’s Resolutions.” It’s hard not to. Virtually every publication—both traditional and electronic—has at least one article on how to make and keep resolutions, what resolutions are being made by famous people, and how quickly resolutions can be broken. We tend to forget that we can leave old behaviors behind and/or begin new ones at any time, but birthdays and the start of a new year tend to amplify the sense of leaving the old behind . . . → Read More: Resolutions Revolution