You Are Not So Smart

Hypothetical situations involving dragons, robots, spaceships, and vampires have all been used to prove and disprove arguments.

Statements about things that do not exist can still be true, and can be useful thinking tools for exploring philosophical, logical, sociological, and scientific concepts.

The problem is that sometimes those same arguments accidentally require those fictional concepts to be real in order to support their conclusions, and that’s when you commit the existential fallacy.

In this episode we explore the most logical logical fallacy of them all, the existential fallacy. No need to get out your pens and paper, we will do that for you, as we make sense of one the most break-breaking thinking mistakes we’ve ever discovered.

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Direct download: 078_-_The_Existential_Fallacy.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 12:36pm EDT

Here is a logic puzzle created by psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.

Linda is single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with the issue of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in demonstrations. Which of the following is more probable: Linda is a bank teller or Linda is a bank teller AND is active in the feminist movement?

In studies, when asked this question, more than 80 percent of people chose number two. Most people said it was more probably that Linda is a bank teller AND active in the feminist movement, but that's wrong. Can you tell why?

This thinking mistake is an example of the subject of this episode - the conjunction fallacy. Listen as three experts in logic and reasoning explain why people get this question wrong, why it is wrong, and how you can avoid committing the conjunction fallacy in other situations.

Direct download: 077_-_The_Conjunction_Fallacy.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 11:03am EDT

If you traced back the ad hominem attack and the argument from authority to their shared source, you would find the genetic fallacy, a fallacy that appears when people trace things back to their sources.

We often overstate and overestimate just how much we can learn about a claim based on where that claim originated, and that's the crux of the genetic fallacy.

In this episode listen as three experts in logic and reasoning explain when we should and when we should not take the source of a statement into account when deciding if something is true or false.

Show Notes:

Direct download: 076_-_The_Genetic_Fallacy.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 1:45am EDT

Sometimes you apply a double standard to the things you love, the things you believe, and the things crucial to your identity, and often you do so without realizing it.

Special pleading is all about searching for exemptions and excuses for why a standard, or a rule, or a description, or a definition does not apply to something that you hold dear.

It's also used to explain away how something extraordinary fails to stand up to scrutiny, or why there is a lack of evidence for a difficult-to-believe claim.

In this episode, listen as three experts in logic and reasoning dive deep into the odd thinking behind the special pleading fallacy.

Direct download: 075_-_Special_Pleading__Moving_The_Goalposts.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 12:56am EDT

If you believe something is bad because it is...bad, or that something is good because, well, it's good, you probably wouldn't use that kind of reasoning in an argument, yet, sometimes, without realizing it, that's exactly what you do.

In this episode three experts in logic and rationality explain how circular reasoning leads us to "beg the question" when producing arguments and defending our ideas, beliefs, and behaviors.

Direct download: 074_-_Begging_The_Question.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 11:04pm EDT

We don’t treat all of our beliefs equally.

For some, we see them as either true or false, correct or incorrect. For others, we see them as probabilities, chances, odds. In one world, certainty, in the other, uncertainty.

In this episode you will learn from two experts in reasoning how to apply a rule from the 1700s that makes it possible to see all of your beliefs as being in “grayscale,” as neither black nor white, neither 0 nor 100 percent, but always somewhere in between, as a shade of gray reflecting your confidence in just how wrong you might be...given the evidence at hand.

Show notes:

Direct download: 073_-_Bayes_Theorem.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 12:39pm EDT

In this episode, we explore why we are unaware that we lack the skill to tell how unskilled and unaware we are.

The evidence gathered so far by psychologists and neuroscientists seems to suggest that each one of us has a relationship with our own ignorance, a dishonest, complicated relationship, and that dishonesty keeps us sane, happy, and willing to get out of bed in the morning. Part of that ignorance is a blind spot we each possess that obscures both our competence and incompetence called the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

It's a psychological phenomenon that arises sometimes in your life because you are generally very bad at self-assessment. If you have ever been confronted with the fact that you were in over your head, or that you had no idea what you were doing, or that you thought you were more skilled at something than you actually were – then you may have experienced this effect. It is very easy to be both unskilled and unaware of it, and in this episode we explore why that is with professor David Dunning, one of the researchers who coined the term and a scientist who continues to add to our understanding of the phenomenon.

Show Notes:

Direct download: 072_-_Dunning_Rebroadcast.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 12:37pm EDT

Does the Bermuda Triangle seem quite as mysterious once you know that just about any triangle of that size drawn over the globe just about anywhere will contain as many, if not more, missing planes?

When you desire meaning, when you want things to line up, when looking for something specific, you tend to notice patterns everywhere, which leads you to ask the question, "What are the odds?" Usually, the odds are actually pretty good.

Though some things in life seem too amazing to be coincidence, too odd to be random, too similar to be chance, given enough time (and enough events) randomness will begin to clump in places. You are born looking for clusters where chance events have built up like sand into dunes. Picking out clusters of coincidence is a predicable malfunction of a normal human mind, and it can lead to the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy.

Direct download: 071_-_The_Texas_Sharpshooter_Fallacy.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 2:17pm EDT

What do you do when a member of a group to which you belong acts in a way that you feel is in opposition to your values? Do you denounce the group, or do you redefine the boundaries of membership?

When our identities become intertwined with our definitions, we can easily fall victim to something called The No true Scotsman Fallacy.

In this episode, you will learn from three experts in logic and argumentation how to identify, defend against, and avoid deploying this strange thinking quirk that leads to schisms and stasis in groups both big and small.

Direct download: 070_-_The_No_True_Scotsman_Fallacy.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 6:24pm EDT

Obviously, the world isn't black and white, so why do we try to drain it of color when backed into a rhetorical corner?

Why do we have such a hard time realizing that we've suggested the world is devoid of nuance when we are in the heat of an argument?

In this episode we explore the black and white fallacy and the false dichotomies it generates. You'll learn how to spot this fallacy, what to do when someone uses it against you, and how to avoid committing it yourself.

Direct download: 069_-_The_Black_and_White_Fallacy.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 4:37pm EDT