Thinking in public about anything that matters.

Category: About Sydney

More thoughts on Critical Thinking

THinking_3_light_2_withBackground_signedCritical thinking is a mental process of identifying what you actually know and what is assumption, what is real evidence and what is mere assertion or faked.  (It also deals with what is a valid or an invalid or fallacious argument, but I’ll just deal with the issue of evidence here.)

When someone makes a claim, but doesn’t tell you their evidence for that claim, it’s good to point out to that person that he hasn’t presented sufficient evidence to convince you of his claim.  “Sufficient evidence” includes telling you where he got that evidence – the source – of the information, so that you, too, can go to the source and evaluate whether it is a “primary” and reliable source.

For example, there has been a screen capture, purportedly of a Facbook page, being used in discussions about the character of Trayvon Martin, the young man who was shot and killed in a physical fight with George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman in a gated community in Florida.  This capture is being used as evidence to show that Trayvon was a user of a drug mixture called “lean” which can make some people paranoid and aggressive.

The capture shows Trayvon’s photo with the name “Trayvon Slimm Martin” having a discussion with another young man about the ingredients of lean, clearly with the aim of getting the ingredients together and using it.

Many people seem to believe that that capture is evidence you can count on.  But with Photoshop, I’m pretty sure that I could create such “evidence” myself, if I could find a conversation about lean on someone else’s Facebook page, make a screen capture of it, go to Martin’s Facebook page and screen capture a conversation between him and a friend, then copy and paste Trayvon’s and a friend’s photos and names over those of the people who were *really* having the naughty conversation.

Now, one could seek out “Trayvon Slimm Martin” on Facebook, which I’ve tried to do, and check to see that the discussion is on a real Facebook page.  (I’ve tried.  If the page once existed under “Trayvon Slimm Martin”, I can’t find it now.)

But even if I found such a page, I’d have to somehow verify that it belonged to *the* Trayvon Martin in question, that someone else faking that name (or who actually shares that name) didn’t just lift a photo of the famous Trayvon because he thought it would be “cool”.  That is not a farfetched possibility.  Those kinds of fakes are easy and some people love to do that kind of thing.

Critical thinking requires a person to be aware of when alleged evidence hasn’t yet been *proven* to be evidence, and to make yourself aware of what it would take to actually prove it to be evidence.  Until you can see for yourself that it is true, you should not accept it as such.  One needs to keep oneself aware of the actual status of an alleged piece of evidence in your context of knowledge.

Someone else may know it to be true, but they have to help you to know that it’s true, from the evidential source and through sound reasoning, or they should not expect you to accept their claims.

One of my points in my earlier post is that this is not an easy task, and even the most conscientious people make errors, sometimes accepting alleged evidence too soon.

I say “Conscientious people, unite!”  We should all happily help each other in a friendly way to be strict in our critical thinking.  And, because critical thinking is so important to such things as justice, we should do what we can to help those with really bad thinking habits to develop better ones by patiently pointing out errors and showing, by example, how critical thinking works.

I say “patiently” because if you treat a person with impatience it’s like saying “Don’t you know this already?  How could you make such a mistake?  Why aren’t you getting this without my help? You must be a stupid fool.”   So instead of focusing attention on the issue at hand and creating an atmosphere conducive to an objective examination of facts, you’re setting up the other person to feel defensive.  Now he feels like he has to defend his character and intelligence and feels all emotionally stirred up.  I hate seeing that happen when something constructive could actually be happening instead.

Whether it’s an error made by a habitually conscientious mind, or an error made by someone with horrible thinking habits, if you make the effort to address the error without attacking the person making it, you’re offering a small contribution toward making the world a more just and reasonable place.

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Thoughts on Critical Thinking


Critical thinking.   I try to be conscientious about it.   I’ve always been super-demanding with myself about this, even as a young child.  And it’s not easy, because you have to be on your mental toes all the time.  It can get exhausting, especially when you enter the world of the issues of the day and are confronted with so freakin’ many assertions that need to be hunted down to their sources in sound, reliable evidence.  And even when a person is super-conscientious – I know this first-hand – you can still slip up and accept something on less than a fully sound foundation from time-to time.

So it’s great to surround oneself with others who are also conscientious about evidence, who can catch one’s own boo-boos when they occur.

But the most important thing is *not* to somehow hunt every key assertion down to sound evidence.  That’s actually impossible.  One doesn’t have to know the answer about everything, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in every case, as much as some of us might feel compelled to do so.  One only has to be careful to keep aware of when you don’t actually know enough to draw a conclusion.

And you can help others by identifying when they have not presented enough evidence to convince a careful mind of their case.


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Happy Independence Day, 2013!

Learning Liberty - (c) Barbara A H Marinakis

When the American colonies finally agreed to separate from England in order to establish a country where liberty was the law of the land, it was a turning point for liberty in the world.  The American Founders declared their reasons for the separation in the Declaration of Independence.

July 4th, 1776 was the day that the Declaration was officially adopted by Congress.

From The Charters of Freedom – Declaration of Independence: A History:  “Jefferson’s account reflects three stages in the life of the Declaration: the document originally written by Jefferson; the changes to that document made by Franklin and Adams, resulting in the version that was submitted by the Committee of Five to the Congress; and the version that was eventually adopted.

“On July 1, 1776, Congress reconvened. The following day, the Lee Resolution for independence was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies, New York not voting. Immediately afterward, the Congress began to consider the Declaration. Adams and Franklin had made only a few changes before the committee submitted the document. The discussion in Congress resulted in some alterations and deletions, but the basic document remained Jefferson’s. The process of revision continued through all of July 3 and into the late morning of July 4. Then, at last, church bells rang out over Philadelphia; the Declaration had been officially adopted.”

This should be a precious document to anyone who knows the crucial value of living by his or her own honest intelligence, free from those who would impose their own beliefs and will through coercion.   Liberty enables the honest and the intelligent to go their own way (as well as the dishonest and stupid to go theirs, as long as they don’t use force or fraud to gain their ends), and to thus live with self-respect and to pursue happiness  according to their own judgment and conscience.  The result is an outpouring of intellectual, scientific, and material discovery and invention, a contentious but productive marketplace of ideas and goods.

When all agree on the principles of liberty, the widest variety of views can live in physical peace with each other (although the field of argument can become verbally heated and even ugly), and live by their own judgment and conscience.  It is when someone’s conscience includes the view that he must enforce his own particular ideology or religion on his ideological opponents that the protective wall of liberty is broken and a society of free people needs to rally against that breach. Continue reading

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Prodos Running for Parliament

For that past three weeks Prodos and friends have been working on his campaign to win the lower house state seat for the Albert Park electoral district. John Thwaites, the former holder of the seat, has resigned, along with state Premier Steve Bracks, so now Albert Park must hold a byelection to fill Thwaites’ place.

Here’s a link to Prodos’s campaign website.

And here’s the link to an interview in the mainstream Aussie newspaper, The Age.

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There are so many interesting things to blog about and so little time. Especially now that I’m using most of my time to create digital art for Prodos’ and my projects.

I’ve now been production assistant for 3 Prodos Worldwide shows, two with Gerry Jackson on labor market issues, which is going to be a weekly event, and one with Dr. Anna Blainey,who discussed twodifferent philosophical strands, historically,of the feminist movement.

For the last couple of days I’ve been working on tee shirt art for the Sydney Kendall section that will soon be in the webstore. Right now I’m concentrating on making cat art for the shirts. Want a sample?

This is from an e-card I made as a thank you to friends:

Circle of Friends
Click the pic to see a larger version.

It will now be on tee shirts that you can give to friends, or wear in order to imply that you have friends, or that you like cats, or oriental carpets.

The cats, carpet, and floor are models I bought from DAZ, a 3-D model store.I posed the cats and arranged the elements of the scene. It’s not as impressive a job as if I drew all the art myself, but it’s faster, once you’ve learned how to manage the 3-D system, which has it’s own difficulties and quirks.

Someday when I have time I’ll post more aboutmy progress in learning to create 3-D art. Pretty soon I hope to be learning 3-d modelling as well.



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The Solid Vox

I have just finished my second show as production assistant to Prodos for his new version of his Internet radio show, Prodos Worldwide on the Solid Vox network.

Prodos has had this network in mind for a very long time, and he has finally done it: he’s gotten together seven radio presenters, plus himself, is coaching them (most have not done radio presentation before), and offering them their web hosting free, in order to bring more voices who are friendly to liberty and capitalism to the ‘net.

The shows can be about anything – it doesn’t have to be about liberty or capitalism directly, but the host must be friendly to the values that we uphold.   That’s all.

The first installment of one of the new radio hosts’ shows is now online – The Stuart Goldsmith Show On this first segment, Stuart interviews Dr. Andrew Bernstein on the topic of Capitalism as the only moral social/political system.

Prodos’s two new shows are the first two in a weekly series he’s doing with Gerry “the Terminator” Jackson on the effectiveness – or ineffectiveness – of labor unions in achieving the welfare of their members, and what effect their attempts have outside the unions as well.



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Learning 3-D Art

My husband, Prodos, is creating a hilarious, astonishing fairytale based on a few characters I drew for one of his websites. That was a few years ago, before we ever knew we would fall in love.

The original plan, once my drawings inspired Prodos to make a story out of them, was for Prodos to write the story and for me to illustrate it. It was during this project that we fell in love with each other.

But once I came to live with Prodos, we decided to combine our talents to create a storytelling show, with pictures and songs and the two of us performing it , before we try to make it into a book (or several books). The story has now grown into so many episodes (which are both self-contained stories and part of a story arc), with so many characters and events, that it could easily become a TV series or a series of movies, not to mention the illustrated book.

But we want illustrations – many illustrations – of the characters and main events. For the book. For the show. But I was having trouble drawing the same character in different poses and perspectives, without a visual reference. So Prodos took a look around the ‘net and found Continue reading

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