Recognizing logical fallacies is not only an indispensable tool in the skeptic’s toolset, but it is also very useful in day-to-day discussions/debates for recognizing faulty arguments:
In logic and rhetoric, a fallacy is usually an improper argumentation in reasoning often resulting in a misconception or presumption. Literally, a fallacy is “an error in reasoning that renders an argument logically invalid”. By accident or design, fallacies may exploit emotional triggers in the listener or participant (appeal to emotion), or take advantage of social relationships between people (e.g. argument from authority). Fallacious arguments are often structured using rhetorical patterns that obscure any logical argument.
Though an argument is not “logically valid”, it is not necessarily the case that the conclusion is incorrect. It simply means that the conclusion cannot be arrived at using that argument. (…)
The nice poster above is from yet another website that explains the most common logical fallacies. Other excellent sites with information on, and explanations of, logical fallacies are this one, this one, and finally this one.
It may take several readings of those sites to become familiar with the specifics of these fallacies, but the result is being able to recognize them in discussions when they occur, as well as knowing how to counter them, if needed.
This is an analysis of ‘the culture of surveillance’ by the director of the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s University in Canada, Dr David Lyon. He’s very good on the strength of what he describes as the cooperation between surveillance and the surveilled!
There’s a grudging but inevitable acceptance of what happens now in surveillance through government, policing, intelligence and commerce but it’s also now hardwired into streets, smart phones and the internet. And we’re absolutely complicit with our huge uptake of social media. Lyon describes this as the “democratisation of surveillance”.
Time travel makes great science fiction, but can it really be done? Travel into the future is already a reality, but visiting the past is a much tougher proposition, and may require fantastic resources such as a wormhole in space. Nevertheless, if going back in time is allowed, even in principle, then what about all those paradoxes that make time travel stories so intriguing?
Paul Davies is a physicist, cosmologist and astrobiologist at Arizona State University, where is Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science. He is the author of many books, including “How to Build a Time Machine” and, most recently, “The Eerie Silence: are we alone in the universe?”
Speciesism, as defined by Wikipedia, is the assigning of different values or rights to beings on the basis of their species membership. It’s a behaviour or ideology which, in all probability, is used only by the human animal, both versus other species of organisms as well as with (undesirable) members within its own species.
At this Sydney Writers Festival session, he’s speaking with magazine journalist David Leser.
Izzeldin Abuelaish is a Palestinian doctor and infertility expert who was born and raised in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. He trained in Egypt, London, Israel, Italy, Belgium and the US, and spent most of his working life working in Israel. Abuelaish worked as a researcher at the Gerner Institute at Sheba Hospital in Tel Aviv. He now lives with his remaining family in Toronto.
David Leser has been a journalist for 32 years, working as a feature writer in North America, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. He has been nominated four times for the Walkley Award, winning it in 1999. He has won the Magazine Publishers Association award for feature writing three times. Since 2000 he has been writer-at-large for the ‘Australian Women’s Weekly’. He is the author of four books.
We’re not just living longer, we’re thriving longer, Bateson says, but so far we seem to be thinking shorter. Aging societies the world over can benefit from increased longevity because human lives have added a new stage, what Bateson calls “Adulthood II: the age of active wisdom”. People of grandparent age, finding themselves with more energy and health than obsolete stereotypes had led them to expect, are seeing their lives whole and the world whole and taking on radically new activities in light of that perspective. These older adults have the potential to bring a longer perspective to decision-making that affects the future.
Mary Catherine Bateson is a writer and cultural anthropologist who divides her time between New Hampshire and Massachusetts. She has written and co-authored many books and articles, and lectures across the US and abroad and has taught at Harvard, Northeastern University, Amherst College, Spelman College and abroad in the Philippines and in Iran. In 2004, she retired from her position as Clarence J. Robinson Professor in Anthropology and English at George Mason University, and is now Professor Emerita. Her books in print include “Composing a Life”, “Our Own Metaphor” and “Peripheral Visions”, as well as a memoir, “With a Daughter’s Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson”.
Stewart Brand is an American writer, best known as editor of the Whole Earth Catalogue. He founded a number of organizations including The WELL, the Global Business Network, and the Long Now Foundation. He is the author of several books, most recently “Whole Earth Discipline: An Eco-Pragmatist Manifesto”.
Drawing on their reading of Western classics, Dreyfus and Kelly analyze how different epochs offered unique answers to the question of what is sacred and what can provide meaning for human existence.
They explore the examples of Homer, Jesus, and Melville to highlight differing paradigms of culture practice. Dreyfus and Kelly then trace the transition to the secular age in which nihilism prevails.
They conclude by identifying how a sense of meaning emerges from heroism, athletics, and craftsmanship.
The above playlist (of two videos) also has an episode of the same programme from 2006 that features Hubert Dreyfus discussing “Meaning, Relevance, and the Limits of Technology”:
Host Harry Kreisler welcomes philosopher Hubert Dreyfus for a discussion of why machines cannot become human. In their discussion, they talk about the role of philosophy in clarifying what it means to be human.
Also see Sean Kelly’s contribution to The New York Times’ philosophy blog The Stone.
Former ‘New York Times’ writer James Gleick (the man who popularised “the butterfly effect” in ‘Chaos’) has produced the definitive history of the age in which we live, ‘The Information’.
In Gleick’s book ‘The Information’ he speaks about the information “flood”. He talks with Robyn Williams, presenter of ABC Science and ABC Radio National.
We are in a predicament where we have the ability to reach out and get facts easily. Although we may have access this does not necessarily bring with it knowledge. The gatekeepers of information are more important than ever, due to our reliance on these authorities for truth.
This event was presented by Sydney Writer’s Festival 2011
James Gleick is an author, journalist and biographer whose books explore the cultural ramifications of science and technology. His books have popularised concepts such as “The Butterfly Effect” and sold bucketloads around the world. His most recent book, “The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood”, is being hailed as his crowning work. Gleick is also the author of the bestselling books “Chaos”, ‘Genius’, ‘Faster’ and a biography of Isaac Newton. Three of these books have been Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalists, and have been translated into more than 20 languages. James divides his time between New York City and Florida.
Robyn Williams has presented science programs on ABC radio and television since 1972. He is the first journalist to be elected a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, was a visiting fellow at Balliol College, Oxford, and is a visiting professor at the University of NSW.