Epistemic 25 | Critical Thinking with Kevin deLaplante | A Street Epistemology Discussion



hello everybody welcome to epistemic number 25 critical thinking with Kevin dill plants we just had this awesome interview where Kevin we just recorded and I can't wait for you guys to hear it yeah my name is Reid I'm your host and we have Anthony and Dan what's up you guys what's up nice to be here that was a fun talk it was it's nice to have an expert who who's interested in the things that we're doing maybe from an academic perspective he spends a lot of time trying to boil down the concepts into really consumable easy to understand cartoons and if anyone's interested in Street epistemology you'd probably be interested in Kevin's work so what's been up with you guys lately I'll start I've been busy up and I've been going out and doing more interviews I'm taking a class at a local university I've been going out with my camera and engaging with people it's caught the attention of a lot of people a lot of supporters and a lot of a few people maybe that are worried about what I'm doing for some reason I've had both administrators and people like cops and campus security coming up and asking me there was one time I was out there maybe for two hours and three times during the course of those two hours somebody came up to ask me what I was doing so I'm not sure if that's just there just on guard and they're just there stopping people or if students or faculty are complaining about what I'm doing I'm not sure but I think we've got it all worked out I explained several times what I'm doing I've directed people to my work please go visit my channel I've assured them that I'm not monetizing my channel or soliciting and I think I finally put them at ease to the point where the lead of the campus police department gave me a number that I can call before I go out and I've been doing that for the last couple of days and I haven't had any issues so maybe that we've crossed the hump but I've had some really good talks too and it's not just about supernatural stuff I've been asking people to pick politics or social justice I had a really good talk today about gender being a social construct yesterday or two days ago we talked about gun control that type of thing ohh-ho you know the the evil eye so the supernatural stuff did still come up but I've been having some really good talks on non-religious claims which I have to say I find them at the moment more difficult than talking to somebody about God maybe because I've been doing that for six years and just a smattering of non religious topics but it's it's been a challenge and I'd like to be challenged it's energizing to be like it's a problem to solve how can I get more effective at using se in these non-religious situations so that's kind of what I've been doing cool and you also did a talk last night how does that go yeah I was invited to the secular Student Alliance there at the same University I think it's the fourth or fifth talk I've given to the SSA at this one University over the last several years I try to go back they they change leadership there's new students coming in and it went great and what made it good what made this one stand out compared to all the others that I've given was that at my request and the leadership agreed we invited some some of the other groups on campus to come to it there was a big larger promotional effort and we had a good 10 people or so who were from religious organizations on the campus that came and sat in and by all accounts that I've heard they really enjoyed it one person who's I think an author of an apologetics book made a post after she friend requested me saying that there was nothing that I said last night that she disagreed with that she wished more people approached the challenges that we face in this manner so it was a really great endorsement I think of what we're doing and it was the highlight of my day yesterday I think you know going to giving that talk and then getting that kind of feedback later it was just fantastic I got a ask Anthony I didn't realize he had other groups on campus did anybody ask about me did anybody ask about you and I come up at all in any conversations now at the meeting with the SSA yeah there was kind of an offhand reference some people said did you ever run into somebody who later contacted you to say they don't believe it anymore okay no there was sort of a I didn't mention that there are some instances where I've met people on camera then followed up with them later and they didn't mention that se was a was an important step in their journey and that type of thing so that came up but specifically no okay just curious because some of those groups that came on to visit for probably groups I used to run with so I don't know this one scene it wasn't tight so you were a former member of crew or me yeah I don't know but yeah I'm sure what your status is with crew at this point you might actually be still be a member for all I know but this was another apology group called ratio Christian which interestingly we've we've we've we've butted heads with a few people in the in that specific organization over the years on and off like nothing huge but but it was neat to put some faces to the names that I've seen off and on and the director of that apologetics group was there at the talk I spent 20 minutes talking to him even before my talk as we were waiting for the groom to open it was very cordial he introduced me to a couple that he invited from his hometown and it turned out that that the woman of that couple was was an author apparently of writing a book I actually ordered the book today earlier today Wow so yeah I was just it was great it was really good nice all about you ten yeah so mostly just been doing the show been trying to plan for the faithless forum I've been invited as a speaker there and I'm really excited for that it's a conference specifically made for atheist YouTube people and a lot of the people that I met last year actually went there with Anthony are gonna be back again and I'm just really excited to be back guys I'm really looking forward to it there's ten years of plans for me to go to American Atheists as well it's there's some details that have been sorted out with the atheist community of Austin that I'm gonna be sorting out tomorrow so thankfully that'll be done with also I'm recently on truth wanted one of my favorite episodes I've done so far was two weeks ago I had a Christian as my co-host which was really really fun and I think everyone who watched it agreed it was so good if I it's so hard to explain but just the energy was really good the conversations are really interesting because I'm there's I'm so used to talking to people who think the same way that I do about a lot of these things and I'm glad I can share a space with someone who yeah does share some things that I agree with but actually disagrees would be in several areas that we can kind of discuss and I don't want to say debate on but just analyze together and I want to do more things like that this week I'm having mimsey from mimsy bits who's an ex Muslim I wanted her to talk about her experience as the stuff because I definitely want to break away from the trope of we're all just white guys talking about our experiences with Christianity you know that's kind of a stigma that comes up with atheist conversations I want to bring the conversation broader to not only other religious topics but also as you know even sometimes political topics we talked about economics a little bit last week which I wasn't as prepared for as I could have been but you know just kind of broadening horizons a little bit would you ever bring a conspiracy theorist on as a co-host as a co-host I don't know we've had one or two conspiracy calls yeah I want to get more of those if there's somebody that I'm comfortable with and somebody that I'm okay with because there's issues of platforming that I also have to consider even the small with this channel is mine I don't know I don't know any conspiracy theorists right now that I would be comfortable having on I think we'd have to be somebody that I knew enough to wear that the whole thing wouldn't just explode in my face yeah yeah yeah because it's not just you it's you know the ACA and all yeah I have a little bit of that kind of legal problems and stuff too for sure yeah it could be a reflection on the ACA well if there's anyone listening to epistemic who you know somebody that that is a conspiratorial minded yet handles themself professionally perhaps might be the nicest way of putting it reach out to Dan please at least get them to call in we definitely need more of those kinds of conversations for mm-hmm go again for me I tried out a new spot last weekend to do some Essie I usually go out to Runyon Canyon here in Hollywood but it was super busy at the bottom of the trail where I usually go to it said I went to the very top of the trail I had to drive up the mountain it's really nice for you know I just released a video today so you can see the view from there and it's real it's really nice I'm gonna try do it again this this Saturday yeah I'll just give an intro of Kevin and in general he's as a master in PhD and philosophy from Western University he's just an independent critical thinking educator and consultants he focuses on the nature and importance of critical thinking the nature of cognitive biases and the negative impacts they can on judgement and decision making and effect of tribalism and polarization on our ability to think critically and D biasing strategies that can help to reduce the negative impacts of such influences all right here we are hello mr. Dilip land how's it going very good thanks very much for you hi everybody hello a nice to have you here yeah great to have you on thanks very much so the first question right out of the bat is what is the difference between critical thinking and rational persuasion right and you're asking that question because I use that term rational persuasion in the earlier episodes of my argument in cepat caste right mm-hmm cuz people weren't really using that's not really a term and in those episodes I was talking about teaching money to teach rational persuasion and is that different from critical thinking per se I think so I think critical thinking is is defined by a broader set of goals and values and rational persuasion is a skill set that I think is is fundamental to the pursuit of those goals and values so critical thinking for me is about the pursuit of true beliefs more true beliefs is good fewer false beliefs that's good wise decisions and the other part of critical thinking is really about thinking for oneself thinking independently autonomously and so I would say that anything that promotes these goals or inhibits these goals is part of the domain of critical thinking so that's a very broad umbrella because it includes everything from internal psychological factors to environmental factors social factors and so forth I take rational persuasion to be a skill set in the way I've defined that that was distinctive about the way I was approaching critical thinking in this podcast was that it combines two traditions two approaches to argumentation and persuasion it basically it combines whether have historically been treated separately that argumentation as a set of skills that tells you how to recent well you know the work where the gold was the pursuit of truth or knowledge wisdom at virtue going back to Plato and Aristotle and then the idea of argumentation as a tool of social persuasion where I'm trying to get people to agree with me on some point or a course of action and the Greeks also had that notion to Aristotle is strongly had this notion of argument station as a type of social persuasion but he called it rhetoric he bounded up within that broader category of rhetoric so within rhetoric which is the artifice of persuasion you had logos and ethos and pathos and logos was the art of rational dispute ation and then pathos is about you know evoking feelings and emotions and ethos is about how you're viewed in the eyes of your audience one's character or how you identify with them and all these things together combine to formulate a kind of persuasive communications philosophy or strategy and argumentation it gets embedded within that cluster but these historically have been taught separately that is the philosophical tradition has run with logic and argumentation as a normative theory of good reasoning quite independently really of the other tradition which views argumentation as a sub-branch of rhetoric and those have developed on long independent but parallel paths for thousands of years literally and so you have developments in rhetoric and developments in the art of argumentative persuasion that have gone through the middle ages and up through the early modern period and into the 20th century and then developments in theories of logic and theories of philosophy of science and what counts as justified true belief and new approaches to justification it came out of the Scientific Revolution and in the modern period with the rise of formal logic and a whole different set of skills and tools formulating the notion of valid reasoning highly influential but almost having nothing to do with the psychology of persuasion the psychology of social influence so if I wanted to study that I would have to go to a different University Department then if I wanted to study the foundations of logic I would code a philosophy department or a math department totally different so when I was like a teacher and I was a philosophy prof and I met people who were in the English department or in the Communication Studies department who study argumentation and do a field called argument studies no one in my philosophy program did that we had never been introduced to such a thing as argumentation studies because that's an interdisciplinary field social science psychology logic philosophy all together whereas the problems that are addressed with normative logic both formal and informal logic were sort of conceived and handled separately this is interesting because in my university experience I actually experienced the same thing I have a communication background and you're absolutely right there is a silo of knowledge between studies of formal logic and studies of rhetoric and argumentation I took rhetoric and argumentation I never took any formal philosophy classes ever in my time at University so everything I've learned from philosophy has been coming from reading books and doing kind of my own personal research but you'd think that there'd be more of a tie between the two but right now at least my experience that it wasn't know there is an and there's a historical story to tell which is probably a subject for a different episode about the separation of water there's always been a suspicion among philosophers of psychological approaches to persuasion because it it reeks of like manipulation or it's the wrong kind of justification like if your goal is the pursuit of truth and on knowledge then if I if I'm giving a spin on my argument that's appealing to these psychological factors rather than the Purex sort of content of the argument then all of a sudden no Plato would tell you that you're doing some things you know fishy there it doesn't like that he finds that suspicious he'll call that you'll if you do that too much he'll call you a sophist you're engaged in sophistry which is the eye you know the art of persuasive speech for its own sake and all of a sudden that becomes a slur and you know there's more of a story to tell but the fact is that I was teaching critical thinking classes in university programs using the standard textbooks that were standard in the curriculum across across the country across North America because critical thinking as as an educational movement in higher education and really is an American innovation of the 1970s and 80s and a lot of it came out of California because California pushed for well a lot of it came out of the 60s and the university campuses were full of students who were dealing with civil rights movement and the women's rights movement and the anti-war movement and the environmental movements there was a lot of talk about you know important social issues and you had universities set up like with people where where they really did want in fact a lot of them were sort of sixties radicals who the young professors teaching and university who wanted to talk about these issues equip with students to think critically about these substantive moral and social issues but philosophy had very little in the way to offer it in that respect because it was the heyday of formal logic as a high art where the connections to the foundations of mathematics and other sorts of formal moves and epistemology and linguistics but very little in the way of offering resources of for informal reasoning about contemporary social issues beyond the sort of normal kind of training and critical reading and writing and and debate that you would get otherwise and so there was this movement to bring like a critical thinking movement to start teaching in formal reasoning or in formal logic and that started what's called the informal logic movement in the late 60s so that's when you had the first textbooks being written that talked about the notion of an informal fallacy you know the straw man and the you know slippery slope and this whole lexicon that we're now familiar with that was in some sense a revival of a tradition that went underground in the nineteenth century but then you had a so II was taught but it was taught by philosophers who had philosophical training and not by rhetorician 's not by communications theorist not by psychologists so alumnus the other tragedy of this of the story is that a longest period the 40 years from like the 1960s and 70s to now say psychology was undergoing a cognitive revolution and psychology was discovering cognitive biases and psychology was studying the psychology of attitude formation and there's a whole field called the psychology of persuasion that goes back this whole time and none of that was being taught or introduced to the curriculum about about argumentation in either discipline so it was like these three fields not talking to each other when I was teaching critical thinking for a lugg know the 15 years and I was doing a class every year I came to discover man this is nuts I keep having to introduce articles from psychology articles from rhetoric articles from philosophy articles from whatever science in order to get the coverage and the understanding that the discipline requires that's the sense in which I thought okay we need to have some kind of term for the integrated combination of principles of good reasoning that are integrated with principles of the psychology of persuasion and influence so that's what I called rational persuasion there's just a name that really identified a problem rather than denoting anything specific Gaja so it's basically there's two different separate categories of philosophy or and just non philosophy which includes psychology these two things were separate and now we're trying to bring these things together to try to be able to figure out how to best persuade people rationally using all of this new information and putting it all together and I see se as a kind of testing ground for all of this I'm trying to keep this idea of the elephant and the writer in mind when I'm talking with people now then that's been wanna been trying to do for the past two or three years so yeah you maybe go into more of that type of idea of health and the writer or also the core belief model what is that about as well right so when you mentioned I see the Europeans probably familiar with the elephant and the writer have you talked about that on this show before I think we have you a little bit well I mean it's this was like Jonathan heights version of the system one system to distinction in cognitive biases and heuristics program but he has a particular take on it so he introduced this metaphor in his book happiness hypothesis which was his this is before the righteous mind which was what's the subtitle finding modern truth in ancient wisdom right so the writer is the rational decision-making conscious goal following part of our human nature and the elephant is the instinctive automatic non conscious emotional driven part of our nature and this is metaphor for some dual process theories of cognition but as a model of behavioral change he has the strong view about this his view is that whenever there's a conflict between the writer and the elephant the elephant always wins so you if you even though your head might tell you you have to pursue this goal here if the emotional part of you isn't aligned with that you just won't do it and similarly if you're trying to persuade someone to change a belief or change a behavior even if you can get them to rationally assent to the desirability of the behavior unless these other parts of their motivational ecology are aligned in the right way we're just not gonna change and he has a strong view about this that he really is a skeptic about the role of the rational thought processes in being causes of changes in behavior he thinks they're kind of like EPS phenomena that is they're the real cause is something deeper something in a sort of you know more emotional more instinctual more sub subconscious processes and then most of our reasons talk is a kind of post hoc rationalization so that's a thesis about the relationship being reason and emotion and the causes of behavior which one could dispute no not every psychologist holds that view but the value of the elephant the writer metaphor everyone's seen the value of that and it didn't get popular until the heath brothers wrote this book called switch back in I don't know 2012 or something like that that took this idea and they talked about you know behavioral change for like business contexts you know direct the rider motivate the elephant and clear the path or shape the path I think that was the slogan that they that they ran with there so so as a model I would say this is one of my critical thinking toolbox things I reach in and I need to have a bunch of tools in my toolbox that will help with these problems of critical thinking and persuasion that's one of them you should have that in your toolkit elf in the writer but it's not the whole story it's it's just one one useful model among among many yeah and another model you recommend is this core belief model yeah so the core belief model this is a kind of a simple observation this is like armchair psychology I'm sure persuasion psychology that anybody can do if you just reflect on the fact that some beliefs matter more to us than others some beliefs whether they're true or false matters more to us than other beliefs do like I might believe that Natalie Portman was born in Israel and my wife might believe she was born in the US and I don't really care which of us is right about that if Wikipedia says she's born in Israel then that'll settle the issue and you're not gonna you know it doesn't take much to change that belief we hold it so loosely it's just not consequential to us but there's a belief like you know climate change is a serious problem all of a sudden that matters more to me if I'm wrong about that that matters more to me so that means that the that's a harder belief to change that the standard of evidence is gonna be higher it's gonna be stricter but I'm still open to it I mean willing to engage with you know arguments to say it's not nearly as big an issue as people think it is I want to hear those arguments I'm open to that but you're gonna have to be pretty compelling to go over there that hub but then there are some beliefs that are even more central to that our heart is to change those are the ones I think of as the core of our belief Network they're the ones that are somehow tied to our identity a sense of who we are as a person as a human being so if I believe about myself that I know I may not be perfect but I try to be a good person right that's pretty important to me if I'm wrong about that man I'm wrong about it a lot about something it's gonna take an awful lot so you can think about other sorts of beliefs that are good that a part of the core their basic stance about who we are or what our fundamental goals are but what our place is and the grand scheme of things how we should live what grounds our self-worth you know stuff like that what so this gives you the tools for imagining your beliefs as a network of connected beliefs where it's a hierarchically structured network where at the periphery on the outside you have beliefs that are don't matter that much to us and therefore easier to change and then there's the intermediate level where they they matter a bit more to us so so they're harder to change and at the core the core are these beliefs that are matter the most to us and therefore the hardest to change and typically then part of this models that around the core you're gonna have a set of defensive mechanisms defensive mechanisms that are designed to protect and preserve the core why because if you'da stabilize the core you disturb lies something that's important to one's the someone's integrity and conception as a human being so things like confirmation bias cognitive dissonance deflection all these things like activated or triggered when you get starts coming in and you get it you know sniffing close to the core the alarm bells go off and all these mechanisms start triggered so with this this is like my this is my core belief Network model um it's a simple peameal picture but it helps strategically with the challenge of persuasion and argumentation because it automatically compels us to ask two questions before you do anything you should ask these two questions one is if I want to change this person's belief where is that belief located in their network is it near the periphery is it near the end the middle ears are it near the core because the strategy your persuasion strategies you've got to be different depending on the that answer and the second question which is a which is not often asked enough I think is how do we know where the belief is located in the network cuz you can make an assumption that someone's belief in God or belief in the divinity of Jesus or some other thing is really important if they identify as it a Christian for example you think oh I've got these assumptions about what their core beliefs are but you never know complete these as empirical hypotheses to be tested because some people hold different beliefs differently and I think in the podcast where I talked about this I talked about uh a guy who was a Christian he was a Catholic he went to church every Sunday but it turned out he could care less about any theological issues he was not interested in those they didn't matter in fact he was happy to countenance possibly that Jesus was just a guy who never rose from the dead but turned out that what was important to this guy was simply his identity with the religious tribe that went back a long way provided him a sense of community and foundation and cultural identity more than anything else so if you thought that his theological beliefs were central to his core identity he would have been mistaken in his case but for some someone else a devout evangelicals say he was really devout yes the divinity of Jesus would be central to their you know you know part of the core probably so anthe and i go out and do these Street epistemology interviews and I think it relates to this core belief model where we want to focus our interviews on beliefs that are more to people's core you did we help believes like that yeah I think Kevin is kind of spot-on there I never quite thought about it in those terms but very often I will run into somebody who says that they think that something is true that you would think that it's in their core their core network I think is what you refer to it as or the core belief Network yes somewhere in there in the core of their belief whether it's really yeah like you think oh that's that's it's such a fundamental position that's it's a fundamental belief it must be core to them but then a few questions later they tend to reveal that it isn't really all that important to them so I can I can relate to what you're saying there the thing that I tend to like about se Street epistemology is is how the act of asking questions does help you get a sense of how important this view is to them and perhaps in turn get a sense of where in the network that is so yeah I think that's good what I also like about this too is that it seems like you're taking really difficult concepts and breaking them down into really simple metaphors simple designs and I see that in your videos too well I'm a big the farther I am away from academia the more I I see the value of simplicity keep it simple break it down make a little diagram like you do I don't know how long you spend editing your videos but I'm always charmed by the the visuals that you have going on that explain these very difficult concepts in a simple way well I'm a sort of frustrated cartoonist right so I don't these were sort of back in that in my early days when I was thinking of doing actually when I was a grad student in philosophy I was drawing a lot and when high school I was thinking of either going into arts and maybe illustration or science I had one of those art science splits I've heard a lot of comics enjoyed drawing comics I would love the card the gray the classic cartoons but I really also liked the people who could communicate ideas in cartoon form like visually like Larry gonig see no history of the World Series or you know there's a there's a bunch of who do this and so when I was a grad student I thought okay here's an idea I'm gonna do this for 10 years I'm gonna be an academic for 10 years I'll get my PhD I'll get tenure somewhere I'll get the credentials associated with that and then I'll go out and I'll become I'll quit I'll become like an educational cartoonist and I'll just do philosophy cartoons comics or stuff like that so this is an idea I had back in grad school of course you don't tell people that too much turns out that if you share this with people they think you're not serious as an academic and and in academia you get socialized into or you have to convey the idea that you're serious about the profession you can't tell people that you intend to quit in ten years you would never be hired oh yeah in the first place right you can't do that did you ever get pushed back on people if you said I'm interested in presenting these difficult concepts in a really simplistic way I had some experience of that but it's a different if you're in a teaching environment they applied you and they reward you for teaching that the you know the students find compelling and interesting and oh good and if you're giving talks at conferences everyone appreciates a presentation it's a bit more visually engaging than the average but when it comes to developing reputation within your field as an expert I mean there is a sort of culture of smartness within academia and philosophy is quite bad for this or maybe good for it it depends on how you think but come across as smart is is a big deal and one of the ways you do that is you're just a little bit obscure so that it's kind of hard to follow you you're clear it's the combination of being clear and rigorous but also your line of argumentation is subtle enough that it's intellectually demanding and when you get that together people are impressed by you it's a purely phenomenological effect right it's like I think this is important I think this is clever and I like the way he responds to questions then all of a sudden you are at the top of this pecking order the if I if you do what I would if I would do with a broader audience and have cartoons and have but the simplest version of this possible so there's no way anybody could confuse what I'm saying or that are the argument you would be regarded as hmm well it was very entertaining but I understood everything I actually had that as a job talk it was in a job interview before my my tenured days where I gave a talk actually was talk on a topic I'm gonna be talking about a zombie theories about the collapse of complex societies this is coming up on the podcast and a couple of episodes I gave a job talk on this one of the complaints I heard from my host was that he heard someone say I understood all of it as that kind of complaint Wow like it wasn't therefore it wasn't you know deep anyways so in that sense but once you're out in the world where you're actually making a living off of the content that you make mm-hmm none of that matters all that matters is their people are engaged by it are they learning from it can their extracting value from it that's all that matters and so you're free to be as simple as you as you want which do you enjoy me more now where you're at now or the the academic background that you have well I I mean I I made choices to leave that environment in order to make my life situation better overall and it is so I'm happier now than I was back then but I really value the time I spent there are things that I can do now that I could not have done if I had left after only say one year or five years the fact that I spent 16 years 20 years if you add up grad school and you know all that stuff means that I'm in a position to do things that otherwise I couldn't so I value and appreciate that very much I like that I mean I didn't die when I was 35 see have a chance to sort of see what this other chapter every life looks like yeah awesome let's go back to this concept of rational persuasion you kind of a think of this as a type of martial art or an analogy to martial art and then you have a section of an episode talking about Street epistemology as like a soft martial art related to Russia talk about that so um you all know there's this long history of using martial arts analogies and combat metaphors to talk about various aspects of verbal debate that's a knock out argument I destroyed destroyed that objection was devastating rhetorically Oh they've they're very slippery or either hard to catch the debate was a draw all these game-like combat there are several books called titled verbal judo that identify training and rhetorical and debate so metaphors they're my position turns out is actually quite a bit stronger than that so my position is that in the sense that it's the philosophical sense that it's it's more likely to be false it says more things so I actually think that critical thinking is a martial art or that one should view it as literally a martial art not just like a martial art not just analogy to a martial art but the definition can encompass it so here's here's the sense martial art has two parts of it there's the martial / in the art part the art part is easy the art part involves you know rational persuasion and kirtle thing involves a set of complex skills that take training to learn practice and training and they're sometimes you can practice them by yourself they're internal but otherwise they're often engaged in interlocutor and partner relationship where there's something at stake you're trying to achieve so trying to win something over there when you're talking in the persuasion mode you're actually the combat metaphor makes some sense but I view like the martial context of critical thinking to be the important part so martial context has to do with them context that associates with combat or the threat of war or warrior virtues or stuff and for me it's the idea that these critical looking values true beliefs wise decision to thinking for yourself if those are impaired then you risk harm to yourself and to other people that is a culture that doesn't value those principle is is a harmful culture or at least it doesn't support those particular values that people care about but you actually have people who are can be harmed another more tangible ways if you make bad decisions I mean but bad decisions ruin lives everyday beliefs that you are earnestly following on the basis of false assumptions or irrational views hurt people every day and when you realize that there's this whole environment of messaging that surrounds us at all times the persuasive messaging that comes from media comes from government comes from corporations advertising our peers our social groups our families most of that persuasive messaging is intended to make us think do or feel something and most of it is intended to serve the interests of people other than ourselves none of that is designed to support one's genuine interest in values they're trying to persuade you for the benefit of some other goal or purpose that environment is a potentially harmful environment if you are totally unprotected if you are totally vulnerable to exploitation to manipulation and so on so there's a self-defense aspect to this right or you have you know kind of logical self-defense where a set of mental habits and background knowledge and something that can protect you from the harmful effects the worst effects of this kind of negative persuasive messaging but there's also an offensive part of it like if you want to exert your influence in in the world if you want to be empowered to advocate for the causes and values that you care about then the same set of tools becomes an offensive tool offensive in a sense that you were now the active agent you're not just protecting yourself from harm but you're actually trying to achieve certain goals and those very tools also have the capacity to inflict harm that is if you have no moral scruples and you know a new study of the psychology of persuasion and influence and Urich totally CAD right there's no end to the harm that you can inflict so just like a weapon you can hurt people with it self-defense it can be used to empower you so that's you know a sense that's the sense in which I think there was a Virginian marshall context for struggle for our intellectual autonomy it agency that's a real thing and the other part of this is that I think that any definition of a martial art that would include all of the traditional Asian martial arts karate kung-fu and so on all the modern sports based martial arts like Taekwondo judo all the softer more internal martial arts like Aikido or Tai Chi all the Western martial arts like boxing all the weapons based martial arts like fencing how to use a knife how to use a firearm anyone who does mixed martial arts or does like a combat training will treat firearm training as a martial art no doubt about it it's not traditional you know Asian martial art but it's included in that thing any definition includes modern military combat arts which includes things like tactics and strategy and logistics as part of the training behind the martial arts of a modern-day combat all of a sudden it's no longer physical violence a inflicting on people it's not even at contact right it's the whole cluster of skills it involved in being able to you know respond to the threat of violence about the possible threat of violence and defend yourself against that and possibly tally eight and then you include something like psychological operations that are part of military combat arts where you have persuasion campaigns to demoralize the enemy we've been doing it for centuries now if your definition of martial arts includes all that what I'm talking about fits in there it's not excluded you see to me do you think there are some people that shouldn't use these tools that it would they would be dangerous to have them or is this something that you're advocating that everybody uses should this tool set or this kant's these concepts be off-limits a certain to some people you think I think that if it's it's not that all that different from teaching someone how to use a firearm there are some people who you shouldn't be taught how to use for firearms you shouldn't have access to them yes now it's a little bit different here in that well people who have again no scruples can do a lot of harm with this stuff but also the core attributes of being truth-seeking making better decisions for ourselves independence of thought an autonomy an agency in our own intellectual lives those are attributes of human beings that we value as people that is a part of what makes this human part of what it means to treat someone as a human being with respect and agency is to see that they're entitled to the resources necessary to fulfill those those goals so I think there's a prima facie case that everyone's entitled to the resources to be able to develop their critical thinking and reasoning skills but that primont that case is only prana fishing that is it's not an absolute case that everyone should be given all of the resources to bet and even if they're like you know Psychopaths or their dictators and the more that they learn about the psychology of persuasion the more harm they can do no you don't know you don't need to give them more information now what I do think and I when I was in China for a visit two years ago like if I was there for two weeks giving a series of talks at a institution there and it's funny because the audience and the grad students in China know they're in China it's an authoritarian culture and they don't have a concept of critical thinking the way that we do here in the US but they recognize the value of what I was talking about and afterwards one of them stood up and asked me do you do I think that every person has the capacity to learn to develop these skills because he thought that was unlikely and I said no no no not everyone has the same capacity to develop these skills you know what what I do think is that everyone for those who have an interest to develop those skills they're entitled to the resources to be able to do that because that is a an individual good that's also a public good namely in general just like fresh water and food and education health care there are certain goods that if they're just shooted widely make everyone better off and this is one of those goods so um you know that's kind of the view I have yeah it's funny I've actually run into some people who when they heard the words critical thinking they scoffed like they they thought it was a big joke that it's it's some conspiracy or a way to teach the kids to not listen to their parents this type of thing I think they were very fundamental believers or something have you ever come across people like that and if you did what would you recommend like how would you introduce somebody to critical thinking that maybe they've heard things about it and they're skeptical of it maybe even concerned about it worried about it that's everything yeah well I do know where this comes from because there's some so there is a history and especially in the North America of conservative religious people having an ambivalent relationship to this language of critical thinking and intellectual independence part of it is theological many these views have a view that says that human beings aren't capable of discerning real truths independent of the aid of God so part of divine grace to be made in the image of God is that we have the capacity for rational insight into the world but it's very limited it is limited and corrupted by our human baser nature so real truth we'll have like religious truth spiritual truth the truth that is relevant to salvation is only possible through the grace of God now if you hold of you like that where the only way you can read the Bible and interpret it in a way that's truthful you know is through a kind of act of divine revelation so with that view any kind of worldview that promotes the idea that human beings are self-sufficient or able to their true goals and values and and achieve you know happiness in the world or greaters or salvation or own a life lefferts is is a fool's errand so we keep people away from that but they have to dance the line right because they also don't want to say think that they're squandering the gift of rational insight that God has given us so yes use our minds to make the world a better place but don't think don't have the hubris to think that you can discern the nature of God and God's will for us through this tool so that that's part of the story did you ever notice that down yeah for sure there's definitely a fear of like I'm just a human being who is fallible and my ability is what's causing me to have these doubts and stuff because I don't understand the true truth I don't understand the great majesty of things that are beyond my comprehension and you know things that are I guess God's will if we're gonna go on a specifically Christian context but you know I have a question because we have different people in our culture and different people in our society that are espousing this idea of critical thinking and maybe rational persuasion as well but who actually come from different sides of the aisle and different sides of culture I'm using an example of like ben shapiro for example i like to think that i use critical thinking and that I am this rational person and I tried to espouse that but I disagree with someone who Ben Shapiro who also says that he's using critical thinking who's trying to use the same tools that I'm using or maybe a Jordan Peterson sam Harris Christopher Hitchens these are all people who who say these think but they disagree and and have these different points of view on a vast variety of different topics and so to say that I'm just being I'm just being a critical thinker it's almost not even a value neutral thing to say anymore it's almost a thing to say well this is how I'm backing up the way that I think I am because I am using this critical thinking you guys you guys are doing this and I'm wondering do you have a view on that do you have a way of better discerning who is in his isn't doing it or even should we even call ourselves critical thinkers because there's a lot of people using this term that we may not support Tory or you know endorse so the worst case isn't you know the fact that you'll have people as far apart is it like an Richard Dawkins in Rush Limbaugh okay right take state like the the farther extreme who all will say that they're representing critical thinking values here I see that certainly and it has been historically the the term the rise of the term in the seventies got all of a sudden it's a term like you I'm a good parent you know to be a critical thinker is is a good thing it's an honorific term and so you would like to be able to appropriate it whenever you can as a sort of status enhancing thing or as a way of you know know as a tool of persuasion itself by using the label or to say that you're not fitting thinking critically as a tool of dismissing is a kind of to also a tool of persuasion and different groups will claim it well I think the truth is that what they all have in common that merits the term is that if you ask them ask people one at a time does it matter to you if your beliefs are true or false they'll say yeah it matters to me okay does it matter to you if your decisions are wise or unwise or reasonable or not or have good outcomes or not for you yeah that matters to me is it mattered to you that you can think for yourself that you can give an account of your own beliefs and values that's really yours that's not necessarily you're not parroting the views of some other source or your upbringing or your media or your peer group of your church yeah that matters to me to then critical thinking matters to you then to embrace it then you should reward them for that but what I but I think is important is to try to break it down and say coz then remind them of what's involved here that the label itself is empty the label itself used as a club or as or as a badge of honor is just a tool of persuasion get down one level below and talk about what these components actually are and then you can have a conversation like so why do you think this is true what kind of evidence do you have for that or on what basis did you make this decision or how do you know that this viewpoint you've arrived at isn't something that you've internalized from your upbringing right how deep does it go you know all of a sudden now you're playing the game that you guys play analyzing the architecture of of belief and then who gets to claim the label is sort of beside the point oh yeah I think the label could be could be off-putting to people it could be confusing but I think you're right if you just ask them questions about their normal everyday activities if somebody knocks on the door and is willing to sell you something they want to they want you to buy their bug killing service or something you tend to use a little critical thinking when you're facing these everyday occurrences and maybe just calling attention to situations where they are using critical thinking they just may not like calling it that but it is a way to protect ourselves from being taken advantage of and we do it all the time we tend to if we notice that her mom was sending a check off every month to some but some fortune teller or something like that we'd probably want to step in and ask her why she's doing that so I know I think it's something that we do all the time but then it is stigmatized in some way by some people it is it is I don't know how many P it's a pretty marginal group who has a bad association with the term critical thinking there are probably more people that don't know exactly what it means then hold a position on it in a negative light I would think right so on the right you know when there are organizations that flaunt the label a Center for critical inquiry or whatever or a lobby group that does critical thinking advocacy and you know that there tend to be opposed to most of the world view of they say a religion organization right whatever then then you can sort of it's not surprising that they would associate that kind of rhetoric with with an anti that's a good point I mean this is something I get all the time there's a reason why there's a strategic reason why for example I never come out as theist or an atheist or anything I don't it's never been a part of my public brand to take positions on political issues or really or theological issues or even on deep philosophical issues I do that because I want people who have an interest in critical thinking to feel like they can come to me and not be judged by me I do have a lot of people who are religious who reach out to me yeah because they think I'm religious mm-hmm just because I haven't said negative things about religion mm-hmm I mean I can't tell you the number of times when people will start a conversation an email saying as a person of faith how do you deal with depa blah blah and I have and I've never said anything of that sort so it is it says something about the culture about the valence is within the culture on on this this issue but I like that part of it I like that being able to attract that and that conversations that that maintain this is a you know part of Street epistemology having non-judgmental conversations that are respectful that are inje genuinely curious about how people come to the views they have and how they feel about them are a really productive I mean that's a great resource you have whether you want to change in mind or not so I I do I do sympathise with groups that have developed this association I think it's not their fault I think it's because the Association is out there and they're they're subject to a bias or they feel that where they feel like I'm entering a space where because I'm of I ideological or religious or other views I'm gonna be viewed as not a critical thinker if I was going to sell a product to conservatives I probably wouldn't call it a Green Deal or something like that there'd probably be that negative Association built into it or or maybe like maybe labels can be repackaged or or used in a way to make it more productive like like I'm thinking we talked about global warming all the time but if we called it population overload or the Browning of America or something like that maybe it would actually be more effective and in engaging the people that we need to have come aboard this this worry that we have yeah the power of words it is that it is important yeah branding I suppose all right now we're talking cups or to branding labeling so we're talking about these various different groups which i think relates to tribalism which you have had a bunch of videos and podcasts episodes on so how does tribalism relate to critical thinking well it was just inevitable that this would come up so critical thinking involved you know if you define it the way I do then anything that is an impediment to pursuing this creative thinking goals as part of the of the domain I mean it seems to be all in the news now over the past you know five years everyone talking about our tribal politics and our the rise of polarization and as a political problem and a social problem I was interested in the topic not so much as to study the political problem per se but to see how it it how it connects with critical thinking if you're interested in pursuing critical thinking goals what should you be understand about tribalism and I'll raise what kind of literacy is important what kind of background knowledge is important is there anything you can do to reduce one's vulnerability to protect yourself to not be subject to these sorts of things so that was the incentive for engaging on this kind of exploration of the of the phenomena I mean the basic idea is that you know tribal psychology is a fundamental Universal feature of human nature it's an evolved part of our thing but social polarization is not the same thing so if a polarization is is a measure of how different we feel we are from one another in in various respects and that can be a mild and that can be more extreme and so if you think of the polarization as a independent dial that you can dial all up what it does is it aggravates the tendencies in our basic tribal psychology and exacerbates them so the basic tribal psychology is that is that we have this disposition to make judgments of various kinds normative judgments based on group affiliations so judgments about what's rational and irrational and also immoral judgments about what's right or wrong or good or bad so when we identify with these tribal groups groups that we share something in common with that that's meaningful for us then we're inclined to view the views within the people within those groups in a more positive light than people outside those groups and you can imagine like an us/them dichotomy right where we're rational they're irrational you know in the more extreme cases we're good they're bad we're right they're wrong our views are justified their views are not justified and this tendency gets aggravated by the degree of polarization we feel how different we feel we are from these groups how other they are to us and what we've seen is over the last 40 years in American context especially is that quite a steep rise in social polarization measure it along various axes that social scientists study peaking in the last recently where people are really talking about it for example the rise of negative partisanship is is a sort of new mode where if you have two football teams and you can you want your team to win but you don't necessary have to hate the other team to be a positive partisan like yeah my team but I admire your team good job keep it up next time negative partisanship is when you you want your team to win but you want them to lose more you hate the or the other side so much you just I don't care who wins I just don't want you to win because you're bad your threat you're you're dangerous so the shift is less towards identifying with the great virtues of our tribal side of our partisan side and with focusing on the threat and the harm that the other side poses to us that's negative partisanship and that has flipped that's a real thing that social scientists have seen over the past years and it's always been that way to a certain descent in politics and in America where or if you're a Republican you're gonna think less well of democratic party and so on but it wasn't always the case that if you were a Republican you thought badly of Democratic people that is the those judgments didn't spill over into judgments about the members of the political group but that's changed so the survey results now suggest that simply knowing that someone is a member of a different political group makes you feel worse about the neighborhood that you live in look if someone moves into your neighborhood you're told it so let's say you're a Democrat you're a Liberal Democrat and Republican moves in that conservative even if you don't know who they are you feel less satisfied at about your living situation people don't want their children to marry people of the other party they don't want to live next door to people of the other party they don't trust the advice of doctors as much if they learn that their doctor is a member of the of the other party it goes on and on and on so this long empirical list of of judgments so I view all these as manifestations of a tribal psychology that has been cranked up to ten there's still ways to go if you go to eleven and twelve you know the higher levels then you've got civil war you've got religious war you've got violence right so we don't have to be there yet but it is a pathological State that's an even more important reason why this metaphor of or not a metaphor of critical thinking as a kind of martial art I take very seriously because this environment is so toxic is so hostile to critical thinking the independent ago thought that we need to teach people how and why it's harmful and how to protect themselves from it because it's probably going to get worse before it gets better and one of the casualties of this is not just you know political instability but we lose our individual intellectual autonomy we become creatures of the political beast that we have join tribes with and when we've made that choice we sacrifice other goods that are important to us including and especially the pursuit of truth pursuit of wise choices and their pursuit of independent critical thought I think I think that's important as part of my most recent sort of you know stuff I date the videos I'm doing on the cost of tribalism polarization is that I think I have an argument now for the danger of identifying strongly with any political group any political ideology I should say the argument is that there is a cost-benefit trade-off here and what people don't appreciate is the cost the benefits are obvious if you join up with a political identity group you get the benefits of solidarity meaningfulness cohorts or you know it's a wonderful social environment but it also has the cost of narrowing the focus of your vision distorting your perception of reality distorting your perception of yourself and especially with the world outside the tribal group you literally see a different picture of the world that's less real less true than you would be if you could perceive it from a more neutral standpoint and that's a problem mm-hmm we want to factor it believe seikar it model to the world and you run the risk of making judgments that are quite harmful you run the risks of treating people horribly that may not may not deserve it it's like any type of identity you have should come with just a big warning label just be very careful you're treading on dangerous territory there for sure well what one of my critical thing principles is if you think of the core belief Network how big your core because if your core is really big it's vulnerable like how about this try to keep the core small keep your identity small as small as you can and have a meaningful functional flourishing life but having more of those beliefs in the intermediate range that are they're important to me but they're not gonna change who I am if this turns out to be wrong be intentional about surveying how help because that that core is a target it's a target it says you are vulnerable you any if I poke you there you're going to you're gonna react defensively if your goal is again these are all conditional on you if you if you care about critical thinking you should try to keep that eye that core small but small is reasonable cool so maybe like last question talking about critical thinking as a martial art is Street epistemology a part of this mixed martial arts and how could it be improved in any way if it is well I think you know the first part is yes obviously the case what you have is is a sort of well developed in Street epistemology of techniques for engaging instead of promise okay I think of as a soft persuasion technique that's calibrated to Patek so the particular goals right I mean you what you want achieve certain outcomes with this technique and so the the methodologies been optimized I think I don't I don't think I have any any recommendations about doing it better given the goals now if the goals were different if the goals were to change people's beliefs or to convert theists into atheists or vice-versa let's say you know which is not part of treaty mr. Malla gmmi right is there isn't a sort of conversion mandate no no no it's not it's not that right but if the goal was that then the strategy would have to be different I think that's you know Kevin but that's a that's a huge concern that people bring up about people who do Street epistemology I'd say that's where most of the concerns come in it's that we have some sort of agenda that we're trying that we are doing a persuasion technique and not necessarily an investigation technique and personally I would love to hear your thoughts on that one whether you think that's valid or not and two if that is valid if if like on some level we are trying to persuade people and you know what should we do about that I don't see any problem with think calling it a persuasion technique because persuasion is open-ended like persuade them to do what if you're persuading them to just sort of reconsider the foundations of a view they hold which is what you're doing that's perfectly you know that's up you're persuading them to do that it's a persuasion technique to call it purely investigative is probably I can see some people thinking that that's not entirely truthful if they read up on this sort of history of Street epistemology where it comes from mm-hm you sort of know that this is this is a bit like communists who advocate for socialism and and they know where they want this to head right you know the past should be capitalism socialism communism but they don't want to be associated with communism so they just talk about the merits I'm just exploring ideas the pods you know public good and who owns property and like that it's kind of disingenuous right but uh I look I like the idea of cataloging these different persuasion teas I call these persuasion practices and when they get codified in different traditions I call maybe persuasion guilds if there's a social practice or like magic I mean view as a tradition that's all about using techniques of persuasion to perform tonight and so there's a trade secrets about the focusing of attention and and all kinds of things that are you know like psychological you're really cool that are useful to know and they've been refined to the point where cuz they have a specific objective in mind in seeing the connection between the methodology and the objective that's a cool technique combination you put that in your toolbox you've learned something or the street con people like the short cons and the long cons the study of con artists tree is this really rich resource for persuasion psychology but it's not also hypnosis also there's other sort of range of interesting you know I've done this stuff on the podcast earlier the seduction community mmm pickup artist yep yep artists is like there's you know they are a persuasion practice it's not a persuasion science right but it's a it's a practice that has a sort of internal there's a lure to it there are traditions there are things that get passed down that are interesting saying for example the religious persuasion side when Mormons get instructed and how to present – it's a front door of people or the use of things like testimonials like I'm not gonna tell you that why the Bible is reading of Bibles true I'm just gonna tell you my experience of how it's touched my life right that's a persuasion technique right it's crafted for a certain effect and it's used a lot because it's successful in enough cases that it's disarming that it's it's a kind of soft persuasion technique form that side I like thinking about you know amassing as many of these apologies are kind of mental models so you can you can apply and if you become familiar with them then they become things you can pull out in different context you can where you can see the world through this lens and I guess some people might be dispirited by it because they see persuasion everywhere or but I find it fascinating I think it's this is very human thing we do I kind of love it in the sense that it makes us very interesting the risk is that what I don't think that that follows is that the pursuit of like philosophical ideals or truth or scientific rationality or that though somehow this harms that I think the whole point of the martial arts thing and the argument ninja thing that I do is that is that you have this dualism this sort of this Taoist idea of the very same set of cognitive tools that can be used for social persuasion can also be used to pursue goals of truth to objectivity knowledge wisdom virtue and have been it's the very same set of tools those aren't different tools the goals are different and the social structure has to be in place in order to enable that to me to make it effective are different but you can't really understand how scientific consensus is formed and must you understand persuasion within scientific communities you can't really understand how a effective persuasion techniques are in like the persuasion guild world unless you see how they connect with reality reality of human nature these aren't opposing camps and part of my message is that let's embrace the duality of this which is a very unusual position to hold in the critical thinking philosophy community for sure where there has always been a long history of suspicion and skepticism about anything having to do with the psychology of persuasion I'm wondering if you think that there are any groups or people who could do better at persuasion or communication techniques scientists come to mind like maybe we they could actually do a better job of explaining global warming to people or something along those lines but have you ever like lamented that somebody's just really bad at this and they could do so much better or even a complete industry or science yeah well you know one of the things I was doing back at Iowa State University before I left was I was part of an argument studies group of which several members were doing communication and persuasion about environmental issues they were working on the problem of like a science communication problem how do we present information away which is takes the information that they think is reliable and useful from the scientific community and puts it in into public sphere in a way that the uptake will be positive part of out of that challenge that we have some of the best psychological social science about the challenges of this for the paradoxes of science communication we're telling people giving them more facts doesn't seem to have any effect or that you know we've learned a lot but as a consequence the talk about D biasing strategies has been refined now with I mean it's kind of in-house but one of the things that they're working on is principles for disentangling the pros and cons of a particular scientific issue from the political valence –is that are associated with it once they're entangled it's really hard to get climate change unentangled from liberal versus conservative politics it's really hard to do but there are rhetorical strategies for doing this that you can shift people's focus I mean there's a lot like having a wedge communication is where that somehow separates the issue from the politics if you could find ways to do that boy that's that's helpful I don't know if it's gonna be helpful in the bigger scheme of things I think with challenges enormous but in terms of lessons for interpersonal communication like the same disentangling strategy could actually be used for a for example to get someone let's say a very strong critic of gun control laws and we have the shooting in happen at New Zealand it's a case but they're still they just get their backs up as soon as you talk about banning assault rifles it's like no so they've politicized you know they have a whole set of values and and you know views associated with that issue and be interesting to find ways of putting a wedge in between the issue of the positive and negative social consequences of gun control laws how it reduces violence or not and the other set of worries we had their political and you know social worries so this is part of my stuff that I I look at I study and if things come up that are useful I'd like to share them on the podcast or share them you know it's a rich field and we can spend it all a lifetime unfortunately doing this yeah it's a huge topic definitely awesome well thank you so much Kevin for for being our show this is amazing I've really loved it thank you so much for the opportunity guys I really enjoyed this and it's pleasure yeah thank you so much for joining us that was really cool that I've been noticing your work and I catch it every once in a while and I'm always impressed by the the amount of effort you put into your work and your videos and they're very helpful so please keep it up I appreciate that thanks very much yes so you want to share where people can find you yeah so okay the the current version of the critic with your Academy a critical thinking Academy calm is my video tutorial site that aggregates the videos I've done over the past 10 years or so is there you can sign up their YouTube channel you can just search for Kevin don't plant there if you want to get updates like I post podcast episodes and new videos they're my main hub site Kevin Doyle plant calm is going to be more active in the next short while I have the blog there I have the argumentative podcasts episodes there with the notes but I also am actually in the process of moving the videos over to that site I want to sort of consolidate my web presence right now which is kind of scattered I don't have that launched yet but it's getting there it's close one of the options for example gonna have within the new platformers at one level you'll have all the videos at another level you have the videos plus all the all the videos will have an audio podcast associated with them so if you're like listening to podcasts and I've got 12 hours of content on this topic that otherwise you'd have to sit in front of a screen to watch but you'd rather listen to in the car that'll be available now and there's gonna be a Facebook community group like argument engine dojo a Facebook group so I again he if you subscribe to the YouTube channel or subscribe to the podcast and just search for argument ninja and iTunes or whoever ever then you'll certainly get updates they're awesome I can't wait for it I love it cool well thank you so much Kevin and awesome thank you guys that's the end of our show I'm Wade again from cordial curiosity you can find me on youtube or facebook Instagram reckon people find you Anthony head over to Twitter to do search for my name Anthony Magna Bosco or I'm at Magna Bosco and I think I'm at Magna Bosco 2:10 on Instagram Facebook oh my youtube channel is also Magna Bosco to attend uh leave me a comment on one of my videos let me know what you think I'm trying new stuff as for me you can find me on youtube at truth wanted you can also find me on twitter at objective lead and that's probably the best way to contact me although if you intend to do something longer than a twitter message i also have an email address with the ACA it is truth @ atheist – community org if you have any inquiries about the show and my show and truth wanted stuff – definitely check that out awesome and thanks and until next time see you later stay frosty

11 thoughts on “Epistemic 25 | Critical Thinking with Kevin deLaplante | A Street Epistemology Discussion”

  1. You guys STILL have trouble divorcing what SE is and how it is used.
    Listen to this drivel:
    100:43: Reid: Is SE a part of this mixed martial arts? And how can it be improved…?
    Kevin: …Yes … What you have is a … well developed set of techniques for engaging
    [unintelligible] … I think of it as a soft persuasion technique that's calibrated to
    particular goals …

    GET IT STRAIGHT!
    SE IS a thought clarifying system.
    SE is USED to cause people to doubt their stupid beliefs.
    SE is USED by atheists to create atheists.
    SE COULD BE USED by philosophically competent Ctns to evangelize Cty.
    SE COULD BE USED by any competent practitioner to sell any ideology.

  2. I like deLaplante a lot. First he got critical thinking and rational persuasion correctly distinguished. But later mixed them back together when he said critical thinking is a martial art. CT can be used by any truth seeker alone in a room. When it is used between 2 truth seekers, it's still not a martial art. It doesn't become a martial art until the effort to persuade enters.

  3. Truth seeking, helping truth seekers, and persuasion are 3 totally separate abstract concepts, regardless of the fact that any 2 or all 3 are usually combined in practice.

    SE was unfortunately born out of a blatant effort to persuade. But, divorcing the method from the practitioner, SE is totally an effort to help truth seekers. Any criticism of SE that fails to make these distinctions is worthless.

    Aristotle's discovery of logic may have been born of a self-serving effort to persuade political opponents. But regardless of his motives, logic remains the foundation of correct thinking and the effort to figure out reality.

  4. There was much discussion on critical thinking, especially around how it can be a polarising term in certain situations. Does "critical theory" cause similar problems? I sometimes see these terms conflated and even though they both have "critical" they are very different entities

  5. I wonder how Lincoln convinced a whole country to go to war ? This guy says they didn't invent critical thinking till the 60s.he sound more like a frog singing buull sht in a ses pool

  6. "Critical thinking is a innovation coming out of California in the 70 s and 80s l. This guys target audience is gullibility??? Or maybe a pass time hobby of spoon feeding stupidity.

  7. 1. It seems to me that the core thesis is that society is better served when people identify with how they think rather than what they think. This doesn't seem new to me, though it's worth propagating.

    2. It seems problematic to discuss polarization only in relative terms–e.g., in terms of difference scores without addressing the numerous short-comings of difference scores. Can we not have a more objective basis on which to assess polarization? Can we not discern whether the cause of greater polarization is one side becoming more extreme vs. both sides becoming more extreme? Is extremism ever justified? How? Isn't talking about polarization in this merely relative way potentially committing the informal fallacy of compromise? By what standards could we ever justifiably have generalized negative views of members of another political party?

    Overall, Mr. DeLaplante's argument here does not seem informed by some particularly germane prior work–e.g., Popper on justified intolerance of intolerance.

    3. I'm wholly unconvinced by the argument that rhetoric is a martial art. First, it's unclear how that designation would be in any way informative or useful. Second, the justification seems logically weak. I think Mr. deLaplante would have been better served to discuss a failed attempt at refuting his claim or of suggesting how the claim could be falsified. I find this particularly ironic.

    By not covering the negative demarcation in the definition of "martial arts" (i.e., how to discern when something is not a martial art), Mr. deLaplante fails to make his full case. E.g., by Mr. deLaplante's definition, it seems cooking, coding, and shoe-making are all martial arts. Again, though, even if it is a martial art, so what?

    4. Mr. deLaplante's speaking cadence is very similar to Jonathan Haidt's. I don't know if that indicates anything useful; I just found it odd.

  8. Not done yet, but…

    1. It's not clear to me why Mr. deLaplante asserts that the relationship is unidirectional between core beliefs and their defenses (such that core beliefs trigger the formation of defensive mechanisms). A plausible alternative is a bidirectional relationship, whereby core beliefs are nestled in easily defensible positions based on the existing mental or psychological topography (possibly to coin a phrase) and that further defenses are erected to defend those beliefs. To assert otherwise seems not to account for the role of psychological topography in forming some beliefs and not others–i.e., core beliefs presumably aren't wholly arbitrary or random.

    2. I find it hard to lend credence to a philosopher or logician who uses the phrase "he could care less" (@25:50). I don't want to discount worthwhile views based on picked nits, but my internal elephant is rolling its eyes.

    3. Why does he apparently use a lowercase "d", an uppercase "L", and a lowercase "p" in deLaplante? In what I assume is the underlying etymology of the name, "de" is a preposition, "la" is an article, and "Plante" is (likely) a proper noun (or at least a noun), so I'd think either delaPlante or Delaplante … or perhaps de la Plante.

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