45 votes

The magical thinking of guys who love logic

79 comments

  1. [8]
    acdw
    Link
    I think I came across this article through Mastodon, and it came up in the "Stop Mocking Vegans" thread, so I thought I'd post a new topic about it. Basically, it's about people (mostly men) who...

    I think I came across this article through Mastodon, and it came up in the "Stop Mocking Vegans" thread, so I thought I'd post a new topic about it.

    Basically, it's about people (mostly men) who claim they're "logical" and so their arguments (usually misogynistic, xenophobic, etc.) are right. Only, they just use the term "logical" as a blanket shielding them from criticism. It was a neat read. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

    24 votes
    1. [5]
      mike10010100
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      The problem I've found, especially when touching upon subjects which hit closet to home with "logical" people is that they tend to assume what people are saying, rather than read what people have...

      The problem I've found, especially when touching upon subjects which hit closet to home with "logical" people is that they tend to assume what people are saying, rather than read what people have said.

      So you end up with someone arguing a completely logical point, but not about the topic that is actually being discussed.

      Another form of this is "Texas Sharpshooter". They work backwards from a supposed truth and find every piece of evidence to support it, rather than looking at the body of evidence presented and then working towards a conclusion. The former is relatively easy if you're halfway good at Google. The latter is quite difficult and requires actual expertise.

      16 votes
      1. acdw
        Link Parent
        Yes - and combine that with a growing distrust of "traditional" forms of authority (science, etc.), and you've got a recipe for disaster.

        Yes - and combine that with a growing distrust of "traditional" forms of authority (science, etc.), and you've got a recipe for disaster.

        13 votes
      2. [3]
        JakeTheDog
        Link Parent
        Just a quick PSA - that's not what begging the question means, though it's a common mistake. You may be thinking of the Texas Sharpshooter (see link). /pedantry

        Another form of this is "begging the question". They work backwards from a supposed truth and find every piece of evidence to support it, rather than looking at the body of evidence presented and then working towards a conclusion.

        Just a quick PSA - that's not what begging the question means, though it's a common mistake.

        You may be thinking of the Texas Sharpshooter (see link).

        /pedantry

        11 votes
        1. mike10010100
          Link Parent
          Ah dang it, thanks for the correction! Although, looking at the difference, it seems there is also a good bit of begging the question in these types of "logical" people. They make claims that...

          Ah dang it, thanks for the correction!

          Although, looking at the difference, it seems there is also a good bit of begging the question in these types of "logical" people. They make claims that assume an underlying belief so that they can prove the underlying belief true.

          5 votes
        2. imperialismus
          Link Parent
          Begging the question means circular reasoning, in which the premises which are supposed to support the conclusion implicitly assume part of, or all of, the conclusion. There’s a great deal of...

          Begging the question means circular reasoning, in which the premises which are supposed to support the conclusion implicitly assume part of, or all of, the conclusion. There’s a great deal of overlap. For instance, a lot of redpillers have a rigid idea of evolutionary biology, and then they go looking for data points to support that, but then they end up interpreting the data in such a way that their interpretation is only valid if you assume as a premise at least part of the conclusions those data points are supposed to prove.

          5 votes
    2. Loire
      Link Parent
      This is exactly it. The modern conservative movement has mastered the practice of telling a lie so often that it becomes the "truth". The more they repeat something the more it makes it reality....

      Only, they just use the term "logical" as a blanket shielding them from criticism. It was a neat read. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

      This is exactly it. The modern conservative movement has mastered the practice of telling a lie so often that it becomes the "truth". The more they repeat something the more it makes it reality.

      By claiming "logic!" It gives their sophistry an air of llegitimacy with those who don't know any better.

      6 votes
    3. Magneto
      Link Parent
      Article is pretty on point, however I think it's dangerous to group people who are willing to dabble with conservative thinking or are political centrists into this group of "logical" people. The...

      Article is pretty on point, however I think it's dangerous to group people who are willing to dabble with conservative thinking or are political centrists into this group of "logical" people.

      The author implies that if you're not a left leaning thinker, you're ironically irrational.

      6 votes
  2. [15]
    SantalBlush
    Link
    The most pervasive tactic I've seen in these "logical" debates involves what I like to call "selective skepticism", which is really just confirmation bias in a lab coat. When an individual is...

    The most pervasive tactic I've seen in these "logical" debates involves what I like to call "selective skepticism", which is really just confirmation bias in a lab coat. When an individual is faced with information they don't like, they will apply a more rigorous standard to fact checking it under the pretense of being a scientific thinker; on the other hand, they more readily accept information which confirms their existing beliefs.

    Tell me if this line looks familiar:
    [citation needed]

    When you see that used in a heated debate, chances are that the person is engaging in selective skepticism. They're not interested in your citations, and if you provide one they will quickly point out some irrelevant flaw in the material to discredit it. This is not how real discussions are carried out in research, and they are just playing at being scientists.

    16 votes
    1. [6]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      I agree that it's a bit rude because it implies that we should always give sources for what we write in casual conversation. I like how /r/askhistorians does it. The rule there is that giving...

      I agree that it's a bit rude because it implies that we should always give sources for what we write in casual conversation.

      I like how /r/askhistorians does it. The rule there is that giving sources isn't necessary, but polite requests for sources are always welcome. There's nothing wrong with asking "how do you know?"

      So, I would interpret a "citation needed" more charitably as a request for sources.

      10 votes
      1. [5]
        NaraVara
        Link Parent
        Not just that, but in some cases there isn’t one specific citation you can give. Lots of claims and conclusions involve a synthesis of information from a variety of sources places and genuine...

        Not just that, but in some cases there isn’t one specific citation you can give. Lots of claims and conclusions involve a synthesis of information from a variety of sources places and genuine experts in a field are frequently going to rely on claims that rely on drawing a general expert consensus on a topic.

        The idea that every claim is specifically citable frankly just privileges facile and reductive arguments over detailed and nuanced ones. It’s ok to tell people you don’t buy a claim and ask them to elaborate so they have a chance to talk through the topic with you, but that approach requires enough humility on the asker’s part to empty their cup so the person making the claim can then fill it. But slinging “sources!” around is just looking for an excuse to invalidate an argument you don’t like.

        And also, in some cases it’s just not reasonable to expect a person who is well read or expert on a topic to give a remedial education in it to a potentially hostile pupil in the space of an online comment. If someone doesn’t feel like having to do that in a particular case, it doesn’t magically make you “right,” it just means you’re walking around with misconceptions too deep for it to be worth someone’s time to deal with. This isn’t anything to be smug about.

        3 votes
        1. [3]
          skybrian
          Link Parent
          There are certainly things we know that are hard to explain. It also might be hard to explain how we learned them. Some things we won't be able to agree on, or maybe it's not worth the effort....

          There are certainly things we know that are hard to explain. It also might be hard to explain how we learned them. Some things we won't be able to agree on, or maybe it's not worth the effort.

          When the attempt fails, that doesn't make anyone right. It means we disagree, and maybe we just have to accept that?

          However, I don't think those are reasons to discourage people from asking? You can always say, "sorry, I don't remember" or maybe, "it's complicated."

          3 votes
          1. [2]
            NaraVara
            Link Parent
            The people who tend to ask will not accept “it’s complicated” or “saddle up for 2 years of reading and lectures” for an answer. They will take your attempt to do so as a deflection and pompously...

            The people who tend to ask will not accept “it’s complicated” or “saddle up for 2 years of reading and lectures” for an answer. They will take your attempt to do so as a deflection and pompously declare victory.

            1 vote
            1. skybrian
              Link Parent
              Well, I hope we can do better than that on Tildes.

              Well, I hope we can do better than that on Tildes.

              2 votes
        2. SantalBlush
          Link Parent
          Well said. I think the notion that one can necessarily prove or disprove a statement within the body of a few social media posts is probably a fallacy. To give an example, a complex mathematical...

          Well said. I think the notion that one can necessarily prove or disprove a statement within the body of a few social media posts is probably a fallacy. To give an example, a complex mathematical proof which requires years of study to understand would be extremely difficult--if not impossible--to briefly convey to a layman, especially if they were determined not to agree.

          2 votes
    2. [7]
      mike10010100
      Link Parent
      So is it on the person refuting the claim to find citations that disprove the point made, even if the point has no basis in reality? Doesn't that make discussion a bit one-sided on the part of...

      So is it on the person refuting the claim to find citations that disprove the point made, even if the point has no basis in reality? Doesn't that make discussion a bit one-sided on the part of people making unfounded claims?

      4 votes
      1. [6]
        SantalBlush
        Link Parent
        Why would you think "some people only pretend to want citations" and "it's important to provide citations" are mutually exclusive statements?

        Why would you think "some people only pretend to want citations" and "it's important to provide citations" are mutually exclusive statements?

        1 vote
        1. [5]
          mike10010100
          Link Parent
          Because you said: Perhaps they're getting tired of having to refute statements that the person has made without any effort to back up their statement. I know that's when I pull that out. I've done...

          Because you said:

          When you see that used in a heated debate, chances are that the person is engaging in selective skepticism

          Perhaps they're getting tired of having to refute statements that the person has made without any effort to back up their statement. I know that's when I pull that out. I've done cursory searches, and I'm either unable to find what they're talking about, or I want to understand the outlets from where they get their information.

          7 votes
          1. [4]
            SantalBlush
            Link Parent
            Replying with the text "[citation needed]" in various forms is a snooty way of trying to appear more intellectual than the other person, and I think there are better and more productive ways of...

            Replying with the text "[citation needed]" in various forms is a snooty way of trying to appear more intellectual than the other person, and I think there are better and more productive ways of telling someone that their argument lacks evidence.

            3 votes
            1. [3]
              mike10010100
              Link Parent
              I feel like that says more about your stance than anything. It's just a memetic way to ask for sources. Any snootiness comes almost entirely from your own experience, not from the text or the...

              I feel like that says more about your stance than anything. It's just a memetic way to ask for sources. Any snootiness comes almost entirely from your own experience, not from the text or the person's meaning.

              What other way would you consider responding to those who claim repeatedly that the earth is flat, that vaccines cause autism, that the deep state is preventing Trump from bettering the US, or that gay people are immoral and don't deserve rights?

              It's a way to confront people about the fact that their deeply held beliefs or claims about reality aren't actually truthfully or realistic. Yes, it's a bit condescending, but it's a reminder that matter how right you believe you are, you still need to justify your opinion in a way that others can independently validate.

              There's a reason why conservatives end up more pissed off at this response than liberals.

              7 votes
              1. [2]
                SantalBlush
                Link Parent
                I tend to ignore them online. If I'm talking to someone like that in person, I feel like I can have a more impactful conversation with them. Judging by your description here, and the way you...

                What other way would you consider responding to those who claim repeatedly that the earth is flat, that vaccines cause autism, that the deep state is preventing Trump from bettering the US, or that gay people are immoral and don't deserve rights?

                I tend to ignore them online. If I'm talking to someone like that in person, I feel like I can have a more impactful conversation with them.

                Judging by your description here, and the way you misrepresented my original comment, I get the feeling that you might just enjoy picking fights on the internet, and I'm just not interested. I'm a professional researcher, so I use citations as part of my job, and my point was certainly not that citations aren't important. Rather, I was saying that they are often requested with a rhetorical purpose in mind, and I think you may have illustrated my point.

                6 votes
                1. mike10010100
                  Link Parent
                  Often in online debate, the way to ensure that everyone sees just how ignorant someone is is by forcing them to show they have no evidence for their claims. Putting the onus on them corrects the...

                  Often in online debate, the way to ensure that everyone sees just how ignorant someone is is by forcing them to show they have no evidence for their claims. Putting the onus on them corrects the asymmetry of effort required to refute bullshit claims.

                  and the way you misrepresented my original comment, I get the feeling that you might just enjoy picking fights on the internet, and I'm just not interested.

                  I really didn't. I quoted the part where you assumed that the majority of times "[citation needed]" is used in a heated debate, it's because of selective skepticism. How else should one interpret this statement?

                  I also love how you've simultaneously elevated yourself above "picking fights on the internet", while continuing said "fight".

                  Rather, I was saying that they are often requested with a rhetorical purpose in mind, and I think you may have illustrated my point.

                  Yes, the problem is that the rhetorical purpose is often "this person is making something up and is now forcing me to do tons of research to disprove what he claimed with minimal effort", rather than your earlier claim of "selective skepticism".

                  3 votes
    3. acdw
      Link Parent
      Hell yes! 100%, you're absolutely right. I've actually had to do a lot of work on this myself, because it's so easy to do. The frustrating thing is that sometimes it seems like the only people...

      Hell yes! 100%, you're absolutely right. I've actually had to do a lot of work on this myself, because it's so easy to do. The frustrating thing is that sometimes it seems like the only people working against selective skepticism are those who I agree with.

      4 votes
  3. [7]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. [5]
      cadadr
      Link Parent
      Logic is like a relay, it'll do the knick-knacks if you connect it correctly, but if the circuit is incorrect, the knick-knacks won't lead to the correct outcome. These folks, as another commenter...

      Logic is like a relay, it'll do the knick-knacks if you connect it correctly, but if the circuit is incorrect, the knick-knacks won't lead to the correct outcome.

      These folks, as another commenter says, generally use the word "logic(al)" rather than the Logic itself. If you base you logic on some certain ideas, it's not hard to find that patriarchy, white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, etc. are all logical and are the way to go. But those particular ideas are bogus. They won't let those ideas be considered critically and objectively; they'll build fences around it out of taboos and anger and even violence. Once you internalise "the fence" and the ideas lies, you can easily render say homophobia totally logical. E.g.:

      • Sex needs to be reproductive
      • Homosexual sex is not
      • Therefore, it is bad

      or

      • <My particular "race"> needs to reproduce
      • The only means to this is reproductive sex
      • Thus, non-reproductive sex is bad

      With both of these, if you accept the first axiom, the rest is fairly logical. The important thing is to notice that that first axiom is BS, which these people fail to do. Thus I think going after that first axiom is more helpful with dealing them (e.g. "WTF is a race anyways?" rather than "Why are you racist?"; they'll be way more confused with the former).

      13 votes
      1. [4]
        Algernon_Asimov
        Link Parent
        It's more than that. There's also an axiom missing from that first syllogism: Non-reproductive sex is bad. All your version of the syllogism proves is that homosexual sex is not reproductive....

        The important thing is to notice that that first axiom is BS,

        It's more than that. There's also an axiom missing from that first syllogism:

        • Non-reproductive sex is bad.

        All your version of the syllogism proves is that homosexual sex is not reproductive. There's nothing there to support the jump from "not reproductive" to "bad". The homophobe hasn't demonstrated a connection between homosexual sex being non-reproductive and homosexual sex being bad.

        And that missing premise is what turns this "logic" into "personal preference". The proponent of this "logic" then has to demonstrate that non-reproductive sex is bad - which leads to very tricky conversations about all the times he's had sex without trying to have a baby.

        Of course, they'll dodge and twist and fail to address the problem because they're not really being logical. But that missing axiom is a bigger flaw than the existing axioms.

        This is the worst mistake these "logical" people make: they skip connections between their premises and their conclusions. They elide the gaps.

        8 votes
        1. [3]
          cadadr
          Link Parent
          Yeah, non-sequiturs are what makes life hell... W.r.t. the non-reproductive sex argument, in generally it ends up at Onan one way or another, overtly or not: God said it's bad to spend your...

          Yeah, non-sequiturs are what makes life hell...

          W.r.t. the non-reproductive sex argument, in generally it ends up at Onan one way or another, overtly or not: God said it's bad to spend your "seeds" for nothing. I am not particularly informed on this, but my impression is that Abrahamitic religion views homosexuality as some sort of nasty male masturbation: I've read the Bible up until Esdra, and IIRC I've only encountered some mentions of male homosexuality (Sodom and Gomorrah, Noah and Set, off the top of my head). Nothing about lesbianism etc. that I remember.

          2 votes
          1. Algernon_Asimov
            Link Parent
            Not necessarily. I've seen total atheists put forward the same pro-reproductive argument. They base their "logic" in evolution: non-reproductive sex doesn't make offspring, so homosexuality...

            W.r.t. the non-reproductive sex argument, in generally it ends up at Onan one way or another,

            Not necessarily. I've seen total atheists put forward the same pro-reproductive argument. They base their "logic" in evolution: non-reproductive sex doesn't make offspring, so homosexuality doesn't improve the species and it should naturally die out.

            I think sometimes people use religion (or evolution!) as pretexts to pretend their own bigotry is justified.

            4 votes
          2. NaraVara
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Technically what God got mad at Onan for was refusing to do his duty by siring an heir for his brother by her widow. The masturbation thing was a retcon because subsequent generations didn’t...

            Technically what God got mad at Onan for was refusing to do his duty by siring an heir for his brother by her widow.

            The masturbation thing was a retcon because subsequent generations didn’t understand this alien bit of ancient Hebrew culture.

            3 votes
    2. mrbig
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Logic is just a tool, like math and physics. Without ethics, you can do all sorts of evil with them. That is not to say the subjects of the article are logical in any sense of the word, because...

      Criminals and evil people can be hyperrational and logical.

      Logic is just a tool, like math and physics. Without ethics, you can do all sorts of evil with them.

      That is not to say the subjects of the article are logical in any sense of the word, because they're evidently less rational that the ones they seek to "destroy" (to use a word from the article).

      6 votes
  4. [25]
    skybrian
    Link
    I find that informal logic is mostly useful for disproving armchair reasoning and talking yourself out of mistaken conclusions. It's unusual that you can prove anything using logic alone. Usually,...

    I find that informal logic is mostly useful for disproving armchair reasoning and talking yourself out of mistaken conclusions.

    It's unusual that you can prove anything using logic alone. Usually, you need data, and this depends on your sources and your judgement. My most common conclusions are "well, it depends" or "there is no way of knowing without doing more research."

    Hopefully this will make you curious to learn more. Thinking you know enough is a bad sign.

    Rational-sounding ideologies often do seem attractive, but it's important to notice that emotional argument is more common than logic when praising rationality. In college I found Objectivism very interesting until I noticed how incredibly emotional Ayn Rand's writing was getting about things.

    I find it rather ironic that Yang's supporters wear MATH hats but there is little math involved. Where are the spreadsheets? It's the same mistake again. (And I say that as a Yang supporter.)

    13 votes
    1. [5]
      moocow1452
      Link Parent
      Not a mistake, they're missionaries of their own bias, and that's why they're so obsessed with "debate" and rhetorical ownage.

      I find it rather ironic that Yang's supporters wear MATH hats but there is little math involved. Where are the spreadsheets? It's the same mistake again.

      Not a mistake, they're missionaries of their own bias, and that's why they're so obsessed with "debate" and rhetorical ownage.

      8 votes
      1. [3]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        How do you know? I don't know how you'd establish that they (we) are any better or worse than anyone else promoting a political candidate?

        How do you know? I don't know how you'd establish that they (we) are any better or worse than anyone else promoting a political candidate?

        1. [2]
          moocow1452
          Link Parent
          I should specify that I'm referring to Rationalists using "facts 'n' logic" as a shibboleth more than anyone backing a particular candidate or mythology. Even back when LessWrong was where the...

          I should specify that I'm referring to Rationalists using "facts 'n' logic" as a shibboleth more than anyone backing a particular candidate or mythology. Even back when LessWrong was where the Rationalists hung out, there was this element of script kidding philosophy into "purpose," and that hasn't seemed to change that much.

          7 votes
          1. skybrian
            Link Parent
            Thanks for clarifying! However, it seems that we're attributing negative attributes to fuzzy groups of people. This is a bad conversational pattern and I'm sorry I started down that path. I've...

            Thanks for clarifying! However, it seems that we're attributing negative attributes to fuzzy groups of people. This is a bad conversational pattern and I'm sorry I started down that path.

            I've spent a fair amount of time reading LessWrong and some of it is good writing. I respect it as a serious attempt to get better at thinking, even if it sometimes fails at that.

            2 votes
      2. mike10010100
        Link Parent
        Oh lordy, you guys mentioned Yang, it's only a matter of time until they all descend upon this thread too.

        Oh lordy, you guys mentioned Yang, it's only a matter of time until they all descend upon this thread too.

        2 votes
    2. acdw
      Link Parent
      I agree with all your points. I took one logic class in college, and it (and the basic rhetorical analysis unit of Freshman Comp) taught me how to spot logical fallacies, and avoid them. Not much...

      I agree with all your points. I took one logic class in college, and it (and the basic rhetorical analysis unit of Freshman Comp) taught me how to spot logical fallacies, and avoid them. Not much more than that, though.

      3 votes
    3. [6]
      onyxleopard
      Link Parent
      It’s interesting that you raise this because the original issue that rationalist programs that spawned during the enlightenment were focusing on was that to do with what can you reason about in a...

      It's unusual that you can prove anything using logic alone.

      It’s interesting that you raise this because the original issue that rationalist programs that spawned during the enlightenment were focusing on was that to do with what can you reason about in a vacuum. Not that Descartes or Kant were solipsists, but notions like "I think, therefore I am." don’t leave a lot of room for data-gathering. (After all, "I have the experience of thinking, therefore I am." isn’t as pithy.)

      I think you’re leaning towards the middle-ground that Kant’s The Critique of Pure Reason argues, but again, the rationalist program, from the beginning, was grappling with how to synthesize an epistemology that appreciates pure reason but that would not devalue empiricism.

      Whereas, today, on the internet, I see a lot of arm-chair rationalists (the very same ones that McCrea is calling out) who are not reacting to empiricist dogma—they take it for granted that their world-view is informed by data, even if such data are cherry-picked to support their points. No, these paragons of rationalism are reacting to postmodernist philosophy. They relish empiricism, and very much believe themselves to be enlightened (even if they have no clue about the modernist tradition or philosophy in general).

      The fundamental issue is the "logical man" archetype sees logic as either a shield or a weapon. I think this is the fundamental ideological schism between real philosophers and arm-chair philosophers who want to win internet arguments: the utility of logic is that it is fundamentally a framework for common understanding. Anyone who argues for a position and doesn’t assess alternative arguments in good-faith is very clearly an ideologue and hardly acting rationally (no matter what claims they make about their own mental acuity).

      2 votes
      1. [4]
        Algernon_Asimov
        Link Parent
        Actually, Descartes was looking for one basic knowable axiom that he could base his philosophy on. It was an attempt to root philosophy in reality. And his opinion was that the only thing any...

        Not that Descartes or Kant were solipsists, but notions like "I think, therefore I am." don’t leave a lot of room for data-gathering.

        Actually, Descartes was looking for one basic knowable axiom that he could base his philosophy on. It was an attempt to root philosophy in reality. And his opinion was that the only thing any person can actually know is that they think. Everything else is unreliable because it comes from our senses which may send us faulty message.

        He was doing the ultimate in data-gathering. What is the only data we have which is reliable and can not be falsified? The fact that we think. We think, therefore we exist. That's the only think we can know for sure.

        7 votes
        1. [3]
          onyxleopard
          Link Parent
          But thinking isn’t empirical data. Belief in our own existence is intrinsic and fundamentally not empiricist. Descartes, as I understand his philosophy, was not a solipsist, however, as he...

          But thinking isn’t empirical data. Belief in our own existence is intrinsic and fundamentally not empiricist. Descartes, as I understand his philosophy, was not a solipsist, however, as he espoused the use of deductive reasoning to ascertain knowledge of the world (as opposed to relying on the senses which he deemed fallible).

          1. [2]
            Algernon_Asimov
            Link Parent
            I never said or implied that Descartes was a solipsist. He was looking for irrefutable provable truths on which to build a philosophy - and the one irrefutable provable truth available to you as a...

            I never said or implied that Descartes was a solipsist. He was looking for irrefutable provable truths on which to build a philosophy - and the one irrefutable provable truth available to you as a thinking entity is that you think. That's the only thing you can know for sure. Everything else is open to question.

            3 votes
            1. onyxleopard
              Link Parent
              I don’t think we’re in disagreement and I don’t think I mischaracterized Descartes, so I’m just going to reiterate, the reason I brought up rationalism was because of its original motivation of...

              I don’t think we’re in disagreement and I don’t think I mischaracterized Descartes, so I’m just going to reiterate, the reason I brought up rationalism was because of its original motivation of trying to build an epistemology of “knowledge in a vacuum”. That is what Descartes attempted, but the empiricists reacted to these ideas, and they likely wouldn’t find cogito ergo sum acceptable because it’s not empirically based.

              2 votes
      2. skybrian
        Link Parent
        Well, I did say "logic alone" but what I actually believe is more along the lines that as amateurs reading about things on the Internet and discussing them, we usually don't know very much about...

        Well, I did say "logic alone" but what I actually believe is more along the lines that as amateurs reading about things on the Internet and discussing them, we usually don't know very much about whatever the subject of conversation is, because we have don't have personal experience, we just read stuff on the Internet. There are exceptions, though.

        (Yes, philosophers have considered whether we should trust our senses but I'm not particularly interested in that level of skepticism.)

        We also don't know very much about other people we talk to on the Internet, so I think it's presumptuous to pretend we know their deeper motivations. I usually try to be charitable and assume people argue out of an excess of geeky enthusiasm.

        It's a philosophical stance that I think works well for keeping things reasonably chill rather than getting into unnecessarily heated argument.

        5 votes
    4. [12]
      mrbig
      Link Parent
      Yes, informal logic evaluates the correctness of arguments, but the truth of the conclusions is usually a matter for science.

      It's unusual that you can prove anything using logic alone. Usually, you need data, and this depends on your sources and your judgement.

      Yes, informal logic evaluates the correctness of arguments, but the truth of the conclusions is usually a matter for science.

      1 vote
      1. [11]
        NaraVara
        Link Parent
        Science doesn’t generally do a great job with anything that’s not a naturalistic phenomenon. This doesn’t imply there isn’t any truth in those fields, but it can imply that “truth” is veiled and...

        Science doesn’t generally do a great job with anything that’s not a naturalistic phenomenon. This doesn’t imply there isn’t any truth in those fields, but it can imply that “truth” is veiled and conclusive assertions are possibly inaccessible to human minds.

        Most schools or philosophy and theology have broad frameworks for what are considered to be valid sources of knowledge, forms of reasoning, and values. Many of them are considered axiomatic and you kind of just need to take them as articles of faith. Even the naturalistic, positivist bias of the hard science/engineering fields are rife with such articles of faith, and a lot of the “logic bro” type arguments are insistent on making sure those articles are never questioned.

        2 votes
        1. [10]
          mike10010100
          Link Parent
          Like which, for example?

          Even the naturalistic, positivist bias of the hard science/engineering fields are rife with such articles of faith

          Like which, for example?

          1. [9]
            NaraVara
            Link Parent
            Well, naturalism and positivism to name two. . .

            Well, naturalism and positivism to name two. . .

            1. [8]
              mike10010100
              Link Parent
              I see, so you have examples of something that is true without it being able to be independently and scientifically verified? That's my understanding of positivism and/or naturalism...

              I see, so you have examples of something that is true without it being able to be independently and scientifically verified? That's my understanding of positivism and/or naturalism...

              1. [7]
                NaraVara
                Link Parent
                This is just begging the question and presuming the positivist frameworks of the scientific method are the default frameworks for accepting the truth value of statements. You’re functionally...

                This is just begging the question and presuming the positivist frameworks of the scientific method are the default frameworks for accepting the truth value of statements.

                You’re functionally demanding that all statements must hew to a positivist framework to be regarded as valid, which just mirrors the behavior I’m talking about.

                1 vote
                1. [6]
                  mike10010100
                  Link Parent
                  Feel free to present an alternative framework and we can judge the validity of it based on whether or not it can be used to reliably predict the outcomes of events, for example. Which statement,...

                  Feel free to present an alternative framework and we can judge the validity of it based on whether or not it can be used to reliably predict the outcomes of events, for example.

                  Which statement, in your opinion, might be valid but could not adhere to positivist or naturalist framework?

                  1. [5]
                    NaraVara
                    Link Parent
                    Anything that isn’t a material phenomenon obviously. You want to give me a positivist proof about the optimal color to paint a bedroom? Or a positivist solution to the trolley problem? Or a...

                    Anything that isn’t a material phenomenon obviously. You want to give me a positivist proof about the optimal color to paint a bedroom? Or a positivist solution to the trolley problem? Or a positivist proof for the existence of human rights as a concept?

                    2 votes
                    1. [4]
                      mike10010100
                      Link Parent
                      The optimal for to paint a bedroom is the one that causes the people who will occupy it to be happiest. That is something you can measure, statistically. If the majority of the world agrees that...

                      The optimal for to paint a bedroom is the one that causes the people who will occupy it to be happiest. That is something you can measure, statistically.

                      If the majority of the world agrees that to be a moral person is to minimize suffering, then the trolley problem is dictated by the solution that minimizes suffering. In addition, we can statistically measure society's response to said question, and determine what the general public would think the "right" answer is.

                      Again, if we agree that to be moral is to minimize suffering, then human rights are a natural conclusion.

                      Each of these can be viewed as positivist and naturalist problems.

                      1. [3]
                        NaraVara
                        Link Parent
                        No it’s really not. You’re not even able to make an argument as to why this is, you’re just making a bald assertion, finding a metric that suits it, and deciding that metric is the “truth.” This...

                        The optimal for to paint a bedroom is the one that causes the people who will occupy it to be happiest. That is something you can measure, statistically.

                        No it’s really not. You’re not even able to make an argument as to why this is, you’re just making a bald assertion, finding a metric that suits it, and deciding that metric is the “truth.” This is backsolving from the conclusion you want.

                        You haven’t actually validated any of these frameworks you’re trying to use. Who said majoritarianism is the best decision making process? Who says “minimizing suffering” is the ideal purpose in life? What does “suffering” even mean? How are you going to presume to create a global utility function that defines suffering for everyone when people have variant preferences?

                        You’re not actually defining anything here as a right answer, you’re just claiming that the positivist system has a mechanism for declaring what’s right, but you haven’t connected positivist “proofs” to truth in any grander sense that would be satisfying for anyone who cares about it.

                        1 vote
                        1. [2]
                          mike10010100
                          Link Parent
                          I mean if we want to be specific, opinios/preferences can't be true or false. But we can survey people's opinions inorder to come to some sort of truthy consensus. Whether that's about what the...

                          I mean if we want to be specific, opinios/preferences can't be true or false. But we can survey people's opinions inorder to come to some sort of truthy consensus. Whether that's about what the meaning of suffering is, or whether or not being a moral person is minimizing said suffering.

                          1. NaraVara
                            Link Parent
                            An aggregate of things that may be true or false isn’t necessarily any more true than the individual things. In fact, whatever truth there was is now guaranteed to be adulterated with falsehood...

                            An aggregate of things that may be true or false isn’t necessarily any more true than the individual things.

                            In fact, whatever truth there was is now guaranteed to be adulterated with falsehood because you’ve blended it all together.

  5. rkcr
    Link
    I've often thought about how logic is dangerous if you start with the wrong axioms. I think the core problem is when people don't check their base assumptions before applying logic.

    I've often thought about how logic is dangerous if you start with the wrong axioms. I think the core problem is when people don't check their base assumptions before applying logic.

    12 votes
  6. [2]
    FZeroRacer
    Link
    I've very much noticed that when people self-describe themselves as a rationalist, what they're really saying is that everyone else around them is irrational. It's a mechanism to make themselves...

    I've very much noticed that when people self-describe themselves as a rationalist, what they're really saying is that everyone else around them is irrational. It's a mechanism to make themselves seem like they're truly smarter and above all of the nonsense that other lowly irrationalists deal with.
    And most of the time, they're just as irrational as anyone else. They just seemingly lack self-awareness; when you start using your own citations, they dismiss because it doesn't fit their narrow and rational worldview that surely must be the right worldview. The only way to get through to them and get them to acknowledge your worldview is that somehow you have to get them to admit when they're being irrational which...well, is difficult when their entire existence depends on them being rational.

    7 votes
    1. acdw
      Link Parent
      The older I get, the more I realize I'm not special. I think the people who cling to "rationality" are really clinging to that lost idea of "specialness" -- they're terrified to be like anyone else.

      And most of the time, they're just as irrational as anyone else.

      The older I get, the more I realize I'm not special. I think the people who cling to "rationality" are really clinging to that lost idea of "specialness" -- they're terrified to be like anyone else.

      1 vote
  7. [7]
    jgb
    Link
    I recognize the point this article is making but I think it attacks the wrong target. It's not the logic that's the problem, nor the rationality - it's the belief that one is being rational when...

    I recognize the point this article is making but I think it attacks the wrong target. It's not the logic that's the problem, nor the rationality - it's the belief that one is being rational when that's quite evidently not the case. The redpill world view is not rational, and can be for the most part rejected on the basis of reason. This should be (yet another) article attacking TRP, not one attacking men for aspiring to rationality.

    We recently discussed ContraPoints' recent video, in which she suggested that a new ideal of masculinity should be created to fill the void left in a world where men are no longer expected to work ten hours a day down the mine to support their wife and kids. I have given it some thought and believe that rationality should be considered part of ideal masculinity. That doesn't mean being an emotionally devoid pseudo-Klingon, it means applying ones intelligence to work out a course of action that will produce good outcomes (both material and emotional) for oneself and others. Kipling got a lot of stuff wrong, but I think his message to boys that they should keep their heads when all about them are losing theirs was a sound one.

    7 votes
    1. [3]
      acdw
      Link Parent
      I read the article as doing pretty much that, actually. Like, there's no real working definition of "rationality" as an end goal, rather rational thinking is a tool that can be applied to some...

      This should be (yet another) article attacking TRP, not one attacking men for aspiring to rationality.

      I read the article as doing pretty much that, actually. Like, there's no real working definition of "rationality" as an end goal, rather rational thinking is a tool that can be applied to some situations. TRP guys misread it as the goal and make it a central point of their identity.

      rationality should be considered part of ideal masculinity

      I need to watch that ContraPoints video, sounds interesting. But my question here is, should rationality be a masculine trait and not a feminine one? And if so, why? I'm always kind of leery of gendered ideals. I think that life advice should be generally applicable to everyone for it to really be worth something.

      6 votes
      1. [2]
        Gaywallet
        Link Parent
        As a gender anarchist, I absolutely agree that no traits should inherently be masculine or feminine. However, I also don't think we're going to get to a state of true androgyny of traits for quite...

        my question here is, should rationality be a masculine trait and not a feminine one? And if so, why?

        As a gender anarchist, I absolutely agree that no traits should inherently be masculine or feminine.

        However, I also don't think we're going to get to a state of true androgyny of traits for quite some time. Right now, men don't have a lot they can point to and say "this is behavior I should strive for".

        However, I do think we can point to a few traits that are present in toxic masculinity and look for healthy alternatives. One such trait, as was pointed out by @jgb is that in toxic masculinity some are overly "logical" as has been discussed in this thread - someone who divorces feelings entirely from their actions is toxic, whereas someone who is able to divorce some feelings from their actions, particularly when things are falling apart and can be a strong leader during a crisis is something I think most people would consider to be a healthy idea of masculinity.

        Whether its' inherently masculine or not is unimportant in the context of providing at least a few concrete ideas of healthy behavior that we can try to idealize for men so that they have something to model their behavior after.

        3 votes
        1. acdw
          Link Parent
          Ah, I got you. I agree that boys need better qualities to aspire to than "strong", "stern", etc.

          Ah, I got you. I agree that boys need better qualities to aspire to than "strong", "stern", etc.

          2 votes
    2. [3]
      krg
      Link Parent
      I think you meant "Vulcan." Klingons seem to relish their emotions.

      emotionally devoid pseudo-Klingon

      I think you meant "Vulcan." Klingons seem to relish their emotions.

      5 votes
      1. [2]
        jgb
        Link Parent
        Thanks for the correction, that is what I meant. Not sure why I got them the wrong way round.

        Thanks for the correction, that is what I meant. Not sure why I got them the wrong way round.

        2 votes
        1. krg
          Link Parent
          Sometimes we need plausible deniability for our nerddom. ;)

          Sometimes we need plausible deniability for our nerddom. ;)

  8. [7]
    Eva
    Link
    This article (and most everything The Outline puts out, for that matter) is fantastic. My twitter account is vaguely well-known with a certain niche of self-proclaimed "rationalists" and (worse)...

    This article (and most everything The Outline puts out, for that matter) is fantastic.

    My twitter account is vaguely well-known with a certain niche of self-proclaimed "rationalists" and (worse) "centrists"; every time I click on one of their profiles it's always callipers and "Oh my God, the Blacks and Latinos are At It Again!"

    It's seriously one of the most irritating things about the platform.

    7 votes
    1. [5]
      Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      What is "callipers"? I don't recognise this word, and my research shows it only as an alternative spelling of "calipers", but none of the meanings of this word seem to make sense in this context.

      every time I click on one of their profiles it's always callipers

      What is "callipers"? I don't recognise this word, and my research shows it only as an alternative spelling of "calipers", but none of the meanings of this word seem to make sense in this context.

      4 votes
      1. [4]
        Eva
        Link Parent
        A depressingly common trend among self-described "rationalists" is tying IQ to skull-size, race pseudoscience, etcetera—callipers were one of the many archaic tools their debunked favourite...

        A depressingly common trend among self-described "rationalists" is tying IQ to skull-size, race pseudoscience, etcetera—callipers were one of the many archaic tools their debunked favourite scientific topic was investigated with, and as such has resulted in many jokes around callipers by their detractors.

        10 votes
        1. thundergolfer
          Link Parent
          Eg. Sam Harris hosting and defending Charles Murray. Not quite callipers, but callipers adjacent, and I'm sure thousands of Sam Harris listeners had not trouble taking one or two steps two the...

          Eg. Sam Harris hosting and defending Charles Murray.

          Not quite callipers, but callipers adjacent, and I'm sure thousands of Sam Harris listeners had not trouble taking one or two steps two the right from Murray and embracing modern phrenology.

          5 votes
    2. acdw
      Link Parent
      Ooooof, that's frustrating. And like, phrenology is such obvious bunk, too. Like all that crap. It's like with building the wall at the Mexican border, like (a) that's terrible in so many ways,...

      Ooooof, that's frustrating. And like, phrenology is such obvious bunk, too. Like all that crap. It's like with building the wall at the Mexican border, like (a) that's terrible in so many ways, like you're a bad person for mentioning it, but also (b) it's also just not going to work! Like on a practical level. Ooh that stuff cheeses me off.

      2 votes
  9. mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    I'm a man that loves logic, philosophy, and reasoning. I'm not particularly gifted nor have professional training in any of these subjects, but I'm a long-time semi-dedicated layman. I sought...

    I'm a man that loves logic, philosophy, and reasoning. I'm not particularly gifted nor have professional training in any of these subjects, but I'm a long-time semi-dedicated layman.

    I sought logic (among other things) to better understand the seemingly irrational world where I lived in, and I must say it helped me a lot. But, unlike the fellows in the article, I actually studied it, and by doing so my own flaws and limitations became very clear. The more you know, the more you know how much you don't know. A vaccine against arogance.

    What these "redpillers" are doing is just an imposture of wisdom, it's like if I thought wearing a white-coat made me a doctor. This pisses me off not only because of their bigoted values, but because I actually use logic on a day-to-day basis, and soon I won't be able to use vocabulary associated with "reasoning" and "logic" (two great things that we need more and not less!) in a conversation to avoid being mistaken with one of them.

    6 votes
  10. [7]
    mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    As a man, I must say that anything men’s movements ever achieved for me was to make my relationships significantly harder.

    As a man, I must say that anything men’s movements ever achieved for me was to make my relationships significantly harder.

    3 votes
    1. [6]
      acdw
      Link Parent
      Do you care to elaborate? Do you mean "men's movements" like the Red PIll, or like feminism practiced by men? Or something else?

      Do you care to elaborate? Do you mean "men's movements" like the Red PIll, or like feminism practiced by men? Or something else?

      3 votes
      1. [5]
        mrbig
        Link Parent
        I mean men's movements in general. They're usually just a front for misogyny and bigotry.

        I mean men's movements in general. They're usually just a front for misogyny and bigotry.

        6 votes
        1. [4]
          acdw
          Link Parent
          Oh yeah, it's really frustrating. Like how I saw on Mastodon yesterday a thread about how it's frustrating to be into Nordic stuff because it's been coopted by white nationalists.

          Oh yeah, it's really frustrating. Like how I saw on Mastodon yesterday a thread about how it's frustrating to be into Nordic stuff because it's been coopted by white nationalists.

          5 votes
          1. [2]
            Micycle_the_Bichael
            Link Parent
            Its how I feel about gaming communities. I feel like I am more invested in competitive League of Legends than both your average person, and your average viewer. I watch every game of LEC and LCS...

            Its how I feel about gaming communities. I feel like I am more invested in competitive League of Legends than both your average person, and your average viewer. I watch every game of LEC and LCS every week, so that's approximately 20 games a week, or about 15-20 hours of content + listening to a couple of podcasts a week. I don't know why I'm so invested, I haven't played the game in 6ish years. But I still love the competitive scene. That said, I have to avoid /r/lol and twitter and am embarrassed to talk about it to people I know in real life because the communities are just... fucking terrible. Its definitely not as bad as the alt-right with "rational logic" or white nationalists with Nordic stuff, but its still just a bonkers amount of sexist, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and just in general bullying/being a dick. Sucks that shitty people have to ruin things we like because they just suck so hard.

            5 votes
            1. acdw
              Link Parent
              This is me with a lot of animation-related stuff. The phrase "this is why we can't have nice things" springs to mind. I hope you're able to find a good LOL community someday!

              This is me with a lot of animation-related stuff. The phrase "this is why we can't have nice things" springs to mind.

              I hope you're able to find a good LOL community someday!