Mistakes You’ve Made with Reason?
Posted: 10 January 2007 03:36 AM   [ Ignore ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
RankRank
Total Posts:  27
Joined  2007-01-09

As people who are often involved in rational thought, debate, and posing arguments, and who also strive towards good use of reason, lets learn from our mistakes.

What are some of the irrational ideas you’ve held, or logical fallicies that you’ve made? Especially of interest are ones that are hidden with skillful use of rhetoric.

Obviously you cannot share the stories of ones that are yet undiscovered, but you could talk about the process of self-evaluation or peer-evaluation that led you to realize your fault.

"To make no mistakes is not in the power of man; but from their errors and mistakes the wise and good learn wisdom for the future."
Plutarch

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 January 2007 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4097
Joined  2006-11-28

Welcome moretap, great subject! Great thinkers can start with a bad presumption and construct powerful, elegant arguments in favor of a mistake (just look at Thomas Aquinas).
I don’t know if my example exactly fits what you’re talking about, but for a long time I was an agnostic leaning towards deism because the argument from design really resonated with me. As a scientist studying nature, the elegance, order, and seeming sense of it all led me to accept the idea of a designer behind it all, albeit an inaccessible one not really involved in the visible world to any extent. It’s a powerful argument because even though based on an emotion (the sense of wonder at the beauty and complexiity of the natural world), it allows each new discovery and link found to be seen as supporting evidence. Thus your scientific, reasoning faculties are directed toward supporting and essentially unscientific, irrational idea. Ann Druyan’s recent interview on POI describes beautifully the feelings involved, but makes a much better arguement for where to direct them-away from a supernatural deity and towards the phenomena themselves and the pursuit of greater understanding through science.
I have since come around to an agnosticism leaning towards atheism because the countervailing arguments (sometimes called, tongue-in-cheek, Stupid Design) are pretty devestating. Clearing the process of natural selection adapts the available raw materials provided by random processes (e.g. genetic variation) and previous selection to the selective exigencies of the current adaptive environment, and no designer is called for.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet Blog
You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place. 
Johnathan Swift

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 January 2007 07:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5508
Joined  2006-10-22

One area of confusion that occurs to me, happened in about 1969 when I had started attending a Unitarian church (when I learned the minister was an atheist.  smile )  During the “talk back” a woman who I later described as a combative women’s liberationist stood up and railed at great length against the double standards imposed by males on women.  After a few weeks of listening to her, I decided I would put together a logical, rational argument to show her the error of her ways. 

After all, as much as I loved and respected women, I had been brought up in an environment where all my family members, male and female, accepted the facts that women, although very nice, were not as rational or intelligent as males and weren’t in control of their emotions.

As I sat there thinking through my argument, I became angrier and angrier - not at her, but at myself.  How could I have accepted and believed something with no real evidence and that just wasn’t reasonable for all my life?

It took a while for me to re-orient myself, but it was worthwhile because I was more disposed to examining others of my long held beliefs to see if they were myths, too.

Occam

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 January 2007 01:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15405
Joined  2006-02-14

Good question, moretap. I’ve made plenty of errors in my lifetime. When I was a kid, I believed all kinds of nonsense about woo-woo subjects like the paranormal and so on. Basically I watched too much “In Search Of” and was given too many books about ESP and the like. LOL (Also loved SF and fantasy, but appeared to take them way too seriously!)

It was only when I ran across back issues of Skeptical Inquirer in the library that that all began to change. I finally realized that there really had been experiments done—conclusively—to show that this stuff was nonsense. It surprised the hell out of me, but I found it fascinating!

Partly I think I enjoyed reading about that because at the same time I’d had a deep interest in science; I just hadn’t been aware that science had tackled these issues.

Anyhow, I’m sure I could think of plenty more such irrationalities ... I think the task for all of us is to try, as best we can, to always be aware of when we are believing or desiring things irrationally. It’s a very hard thing to do, especially since it is very easy to deceive oneself or rationalize ...

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 January 2007 02:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29

Plato’s beauty absolute pretty much did it for me. It also didn’t help that I was taught Lamarck’s theory of evolution instead of (the correct) Darwin’s Natural Selection one; my biology teacher (in the 70s in Czechoslovakia) was a comunist who found Lamarck’s theory very convenient. Plato, Lamarck and von Daniken’s “ancient astronauts” made my life a mess. It took Dawkins’s Selfish Gene to wake me up and calm me down.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 January 2007 03:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  975
Joined  2005-01-14

Living in a small town in the South, you learn the hard way that reason will only take you so far in life.  Most of the time, things are done in a certain way, “because we’ve always done it that way”, even though everybody complains that it’s stupid or inconvenient or just unfair.  Examples too numerous to describe.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 January 2007 08:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  44
Joined  2005-11-01

Reason

Hmmm?  Rather an open question.  I guess by “reason” you mean reasoning that I have tried to use that did ot work out.  Boy, there are lots of those.

Lately, I think I have made a lot less errors in “reasoning” since I found the Order.  Its not anything perfect, but rather a different way of approaching the question.

Hmmm, example?  OK, if I am asked a question that is not valid and I try to answer it like it was valid, then I get in trouble cause no reason works on an invalid question.

“Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”  YES or NO. 

Assuming you do not beat your wife, this question is not valid so either answer is wrong and so is any reasoning that is used to answer the question.

However, if we ask a valid question, we are much more likely to develop a correct and, even more importantly, a useful answer.

JMHO.

Elder Norm

 Signature 

ARO "www.aro-religion.org"  The belief in Reality and the organized seach for its measure.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 March 2007 12:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  142
Joined  2007-03-11

Re: Mistakes You’ve Made with Reason?

[quote author=“moretap”]

“To make no mistakes is not in the power of man; but from their errors and mistakes the wise and good learn wisdom for the future.”
Plutarch

An angry man is again angry with himself when he returns to reason. ~
Publilius Syrus

Profile