Judging things by their outcomes

This post is beyond the contest between consequentialism and deontology, before anyone starts firing up his philosophy brain. I notice in our society there is a profound resistance to judging actual outcomes, whether it is a public program, government service, educational process, or even a workout routine. The tendency is to try to judge either the process for its own sake or to judge the intended outcomes of the process. A workout program seems fun at the gym – it’s a great program! But… did you gain strength and muscle, cut fat, or increase your athletic capacity? We can’t abandon…

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“Star Wars Fans” and created identities

Just a little follow-up to my post yesterday: Being a “fan” is no to a large part a function of identity. However, it is fundamentally different from other forms of identity, such as race, ethnicity, or religion. For ethnicity, membership is generally obvious and immutable – either you are the descendant of an ethnic group or you are not, with the only grey area being multi-ethnic individuals in some circumstances. For religion, identity is primarily how one views himself and his alignment with tradition and creed that has been passed down, and so is in most cases not up for…

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Social Proof

“Social Proof” is something you NEED to become familiar with. It’s essential if you are going to be doing any kind of marketing. What is social proof? Basically, it’s this: Other people think this, therefore it is likely to be true. If you are thinking straight away that this is a logical fallacy, just hold your objections. I’ll explain how social proof is different than an appeal to popularity. Social proof is a very fast method of judging initial likelihood of truth – A filter, more than “proof” in the logical sense. This is in the realm of induction, obviously.…

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What is Talent?

The word “talent” is not always used consistently in the English language. Often, it is used interchangeably with the word “skill” to denote a level of accomplishment, such as, “Michael is a talented translator.” However, most people will admit that it is something distinct from mere skill, which can be acquired. “Talent” communicates something deeper than the result of practice – something is at least partly inherent in the subject. At the same time, it is impossible to discern talent in the absence of outcomes which include skill development. Nobody will recognize the talent of an artist who has not…

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Crown of Sight – scene 3

“What is there to sabotage, sir?”
Mardrel took his eye away from his telescope for a moment to look at Talel, who stood leaning against a charred tree trunk, his face wrapped against the chill of the fog that billowed per-petually from the Fay Lands close at hand.
“Much to sabotage,” Mardrel replied, “but very little we have the capacity to affect.” He handed the telescope to the scout and sat down on a nearby rock.
Talel brought the brass-barreled device to his eye. His grey cloak and gambeson made him blend in well with the tumbled stone and old ash of the burned-out grove, but he made a stark silhouette against the glow of the Fay. There, the trees grew of their own light, stretching in a golden green sheet behind the city.

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Errors of Addition

Let us examine the two most common types of thinking errors that occur within the human mind, as I have witnessed and experienced as a writer, critic, philosopher, and political commentator. These are errors not of argument (though they can cause poor argumentation), but in understanding. The first is the error of Addition, which is where one adds information to a set of data or facts. The second is the error of Ignorance¸ in which one ignores or down-plays information that is relevant to a subject or judgment. Of these two errors, ignorance is the one that has over the…

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