Thursday, November 1, 2012

My tolerance for BS

Recently I was asked (in private communication) how I'm able to tolerate so much BS, despite being all into critical thinking.  My interlocutor, of course, had some specific examples of BS in mind, and the simplest explanation was that I simply didn't agree that those particular examples were BS.

But this still raises the question, how does my enthusiasm for critical thinking affect my standards?  Do I sniff at fallacies all the time?  Do I only read blogs and news sources that feature consistently sound reasoning?  Do I choose friends and communities based on their critical thinking skills?

In my opinion, it doesn't really raise my standards much, in terms of what I read and who I associate with.

In part, someone who argues well is indistinguishable from someone who I agree with a lot.  So if I surround myself with people who I perceive to argue well, that's a recipe to surround myself with people who agree with me.  That might be nice, but it's not exactly a critical thinking value.

The other problem is my general sense that nearly everyone makes bad arguments some of the time.  It's just not feasible to limit myself to those who don't.  Another way of putting it is that I disagree with everyone, so I'm not particularly bothered by the fact that I disagree with any particular person.  I don't think skeptics are reliably better, they just think about it more often.

I do have a tendency to recognize fallacies and cognitive biases wherever I go.  I've joked that many of my friends are cognitive biases personified.  There's Rationalize-All-Established-Habits, Everyone-Must-Hate-the-Same-Things-As-Me, I'll-Believe-What's-Flattering-or-Politically-Convenient, Take-the-Most-Dramatic-Interpretation-Possible, etc.  And of course my boyfriend, Inattentional-Blindness.  But I can't blame my friends for being human.


Baumann Eduard said...

lqWhat is BS ? Bible study, belief study, ...

miller said...