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Thread: Baloney Detection Kit for Vegans

  1. #1
    Anti-anti-vacccine Dandelion's Avatar
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    Baloney Detection Kit for Vegans

    I'm looking for a bit of crowd-sourcing. The baloney detection kit Carl Sagan outlined in The Demon-Haunted World I believe will help critical thinking and thusly the end of animal exploitation. I (perchance quite naively) believe that good critical thinking will result in the recognition of animal rights (for lack of a better phrase) and I'd like to work towards this endeavor. The idea of animal rights AND critical thinking have been outlined in obscure and abstract language. While being descriptive and correct it's hardly a sexy form of advocacy. I'm looking for some help distilling some of these concepts into easy to understand language and phrasing. Ideally it would fit on a flier or business card fold-out. I'd like to be able to easily hand this out. It's a tall order I know but let's try breaking it down.

    Baloney Detection Kit:
    • 1A) Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the facts
    • 1B) Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.
    • 1C) Arguments from authority carry little weight (in science there are no "authorities").
    • 1D) Spin more than one hypothesis - don't simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.
    • 1E) Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it's yours.
    • 1F) Quantify, wherever possible.
    • 1G) If there is a chain of argument every link in the chain must work.
    • 1H) "Occam's razor" - if there are two hypothesis that explain the data equally well choose the simpler.
    • 1I) Ask whether the hypothesis can, at least in principle, be falsified (shown to be false by some unambiguous test). In other words, it is testable? Can others duplicate the experiment and get the same result?
    • 1J) Conduct control experiments - especially "double blind" experiments where the person taking measurements is not aware of the test and control subjects.
    • 1K) Check for confounding factors - separate the variables.

    FALLACIES

    • 2A) Ad hominem - attacking the arguer and not the argument.
    • 2B) Argument from "authority".
    • 2C) Argument from adverse consequences (putting pressure on the decision maker by pointing out dire consequences of an "unfavourable" decision).
    • 2D) Appeal to ignorance (absence of evidence is not evidence of absence).
    • 2E) Special pleading (typically referring to god's will).
    • 2F) Begging the question (assuming an answer in the way the question is phrased).
    • 2G) Observational selection (counting the hits and forgetting the misses).
    • 2H) Statistics of small numbers (such as drawing conclusions from inadequate sample sizes).
    • 2I) Misunderstanding the nature of statistics (President Eisenhower expressing astonishment and alarm on discovering that fully half of all Americans have below average intelligence!)
    • 2J) Inconsistency (e.g. military expenditures based on worst case scenarios but scientific projections on environmental dangers thriftily ignored because they are not "proved").
    • 2K) Non sequitur - "it does not follow" - the logic falls down.
    • 2L) Post hoc, ergo propter hoc - "it happened after so it was caused by" - confusion of cause and effect.
    • 2M) Meaningless question ("what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?).
    • 2N) Excluded middle - considering only the two extremes in a range of possibilities (making the "other side" look worse than it really is).
    • 2O) Short-term v. long-term - a subset of excluded middle ("why pursue fundamental science when we have so huge a budget deficit?").
    • 2P) Slippery slope - a subset of excluded middle - unwarranted extrapolation of the effects (give an inch and they will take a mile).
    • 2Q) Confusion of correlation and causation.
    • 2R) Straw man - caricaturing (or stereotyping) a position to make it easier to attack..
    • 2S) Suppressed evidence or half-truths.
    • 2T) Weasel words - for example, use of euphemisms for war such as "police action" to get around limitations on Presidential powers. "An important art of politicians is to find new names for institutions which under old names have become odious to the public"


    *stolen from here.

    **Also see: Michael Shermer's Boloney Detection Kit:
    THE TEN QUESTIONS
    1. How reliable is the source of the claim?
    2. Does the source make similar claims?
    3. Have the claims been verified by somebody else?
    4. Does this fit with the way the world works?
    5. Has anyone tried to disprove the claim?
    6. Where does the preponderance of evidence point?
    7. Is the claimant playing by the rules of science?
    8. Is the claimant providing positive evidence?
    9. Does the new theory account for as many phenomena as the old theory?
    10. Are personal beliefs driving the claim?


    Can you make the above points more coherent?
    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

  2. #2
    Protist-Based Person The.Protist's Avatar
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    I think you need to phrase all the 1s so that they are yes/no questions and yes means baloney. Then it will be easier to grok. I think you need instructions for bothe parts and further explanation for what FALLACIES mean to lay folk.
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    The Protist
    "Love is like seaweed; even if you have pushed it away, you will not prevent it from coming back." --Nigerian Proverb

  3. #3
    Plant-Based Person Lentil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The.Protist View Post
    I think you need to phrase all the 1s so that they are yes/no questions and yes means baloney.
    I disagree. I don't think you can boil "baloney detection" down to a flow chart of yes/no questions while maintaining what I think is the most important point, which is that people should think critically and not rely on others to do the thinking for them.

    More thoughts on this later, but I like how it's looking so far!

  4. #4
    Protist-Based Person The.Protist's Avatar
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    You still have to think critically about each question. But do we also need them to tally all the results in their head and think "ok, two nos and 5 yesses, but three of the yesses are good and two are bad, but the nos are... wait a minute"

    Just because something is more complex doesn't mean it involves more critical thinking.
    --
    The Protist
    "Love is like seaweed; even if you have pushed it away, you will not prevent it from coming back." --Nigerian Proverb

  5. #5
    Anti-anti-vacccine Dandelion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The.Protist View Post
    I think you need instructions for bothe parts and further explanation for what FALLACIES mean to lay folk.
    Yup, alotta that language needs to change. I don't expect the layperson to know (or care) about what a "fallacy" is. Which is why we need to simplify and sex it up. We don't even have to translate this kit line by line but maybe use it as a guide to create a version for common pitfalls vegans are susceptible to.

    Quote Originally Posted by The.Protist View Post
    I think you need to phrase all the 1s so that they are yes/no questions and yes means baloney. Then it will be easier to grok.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lentil View Post
    I disagree. I don't think you can boil "baloney detection" down to a flow chart of yes/no questions while maintaining what I think is the most important point, which is that people should think critically and not rely on others to do the thinking for them.
    I was actually tempted to do just that, I even had an idea for a website that you could use checkboxes to give a "baloney rating" but instead of checkmarks I think a slider would work better and even at that it could only give you an approximation. The baloney detection kit I think isn't so much a destination for determining truth as it is a method by which one practices the skill of critical thinking.
    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

  6. #6
    Anti-anti-vacccine Dandelion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dandelion View Post
    Here's how Shermer breaks em down FYI:

    1. How reliable is the source of the claim?
    
2.Does the source make similar claims?
    
3. Have the claims been verified by somebody else?
    
4. Does this fit with the way the world works?

    5. Has anyone tried to disprove the claim?
    
6. Where does the preponderance of evidence point?
    
7. Is the claimant playing by the rules of science?

    8. Is the claimant providing positive evidence?

    9. Does the new theory account for as many phenomena as the old theory?

    10. Are personal beliefs driving the claim?
    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

  7. #7
    Anti-anti-vacccine Dandelion's Avatar
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    Here's my first attempt at the first section. I'm distilling it down by source and then claim. Identifying a reputable source is so hard for people and yet so important.

    What is a credible source?
    • An expert in a field of study related to the claim.
    • Qualified by a reputable institution.
    • Willing to change their mind according to new evidence.
    • Has little conflict of interest.
    • Does not use their title as influence.

    What is a credible claim?
    • Is there evidence?
    • Can be tested through experiments others can also try.
    • Many other credible experts agree.
    • Is not extraordinary.

    What am I missing so far?


    Instead of "fallacies" maybe we can call the next section "red flags"?
    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

  8. #8
    Anti-anti-vacccine Dandelion's Avatar
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    On second thought to push for further conciseness maybe some of those qualifications can be moved to "Red Flag" (if we go that direction)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dandelion View Post
    What is a credible source?
    • An expert in a field of study related to the claim.
    • Qualified by a reputable institution.
    • Willing to change their mind according to new evidence.
    • Has little conflict of interest.
    • Does not use their title as influence. ("red flag"?)

    What is a credible claim?
    • Is there evidence?
    • Can be tested through experiments others can also try.
    • Many other credible experts agree.
    • Is not extraordinary .("red flag"?)
    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

  9. #9
    Plant-Based Person Lentil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dandelion View Post
    • Has little conflict of interest.
    I would change this to something like, "Clearly states any potential conflict of interest." For example, many researchers may receive grants from pharmaceutical companies, but that doesn't mean everything they have to say is biased in favor of whatever drugs that company makes. I guess I do think someone with a significant conflict of interest, such as receiving a major grant from an agricultural or pharmaceutical company, could still be a credible source. But, it is important to know that that relationship is there when you are trying to interpret that researcher's findings, because there is always potential for bias there, perhaps even unwitting bias on the part of the researcher.

  10. #10
    Plant-Based Person Lentil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dandelion View Post
    Instead of "fallacies" maybe we can call the next section "red flags"?
    How about "dirty tricks" Not really, but something along those lines.. If possible, I would get rid of the Latin or include it in parentheses after -- that stuff can be intimidating if you aren't familiar with it.

  11. #11
    Anti-anti-vacccine Dandelion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lentil View Post
    I would change this to something like, "Clearly states any potential conflict of interest." For example, many researchers may receive grants from pharmaceutical companies, but that doesn't mean everything they have to say is biased in favor of whatever drugs that company makes. I guess I do think someone with a significant conflict of interest, such as receiving a major grant from an agricultural or pharmaceutical company, could still be a credible source. But, it is important to know that that relationship is there when you are trying to interpret that researcher's findings, because there is always potential for bias there, perhaps even unwitting bias on the part of the researcher.
    Good point, thanks! I'll chuck that in there and we'll rough it in and hone later.


    What is a credible source?
    • An expert in a field of study related to the claim.
    • Qualified by a reputable institution.
    • Willing to change their mind according to new evidence.
    • Clearly states any potential conflict of interest.


    What is a credible claim?
    • Is there evidence?
    • Can be tested through experiments others can also try.
    • Many other credible experts agree.
    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

  12. #12
    Anti-anti-vacccine Dandelion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lentil View Post
    How about "dirty tricks" Not really, but something along those lines.. If possible, I would get rid of the Latin or include it in parentheses after -- that stuff can be intimidating if you aren't familiar with it.
    Hmmm neat. "Dirty tricks" though might make it sound intentional when I believe many fallacies are just errors of logic with innocent intentions. I was thinking along the lines of "things to watch out for" but maybe it should be something else? What are you going for?

    Totally gonna kill the Latin...i was thinking though it might include a link to a web version where we can be more comprehensive and add that as a side for the curious.
    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

  13. #13
    Plant-Based Person Lentil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dandelion View Post
    Hmmm neat. "Dirty tricks" though might make it sound intentional when I believe many fallacies are just errors of logic with innocent intentions. I was thinking along the lines of "things to watch out for" but maybe it should be something else? What are you going for?

    Totally gonna kill the Latin...i was thinking though it might include a link to a web version where we can be more comprehensive and add that as a side for the curious.
    Well, I think some of them are used intentionally -- for example, 2A (attacking arguer not argument) and 2R (straw man). But I think, especially for the statistics/correlation vs. causation ones, they could definitely be unintentional. Perhaps you can break it up into distractions/misdirections (things that keep you from getting at the true problem), and logical errors?

  14. #14
    Anti-anti-vacccine Dandelion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lentil View Post
    Well, I think some of them are used intentionally -- for example, 2A (attacking arguer not argument) and 2R (straw man). But I think, especially for the statistics/correlation vs. causation ones, they could definitely be unintentional. Perhaps you can break it up into distractions/misdirections (things that keep you from getting at the true problem), and logical errors?
    Good point about intentionality. It might also be easier to digest if broken up into different sections. Hmmmm....
    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

  15. #15
    Anti-anti-vacccine Dandelion's Avatar
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    *bump*
    It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

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