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Bad Thinking List

A lot of bad thinking involves:

  • creating arbitrary mental categories, then addressing each small category with its only parochial answer
  • arbitrarily separating things with shared attributes into separate categories
  • selective attention
  • impatience, intolerance, deciding right away some other idea or person is dumb, unreasonable, or "crazy"
  • authority, prestige, and generally judging the speaker instead of the speech
  • low standards for what is considered good or succesful

Elliot Temple on September 18, 2016

Comments (11)

What's an example of selective attention?

Anonymous at 12:58 AM on September 21, 2016 | #6649
Can you give examples for point one and point two in your list?

Anonymous at 7:05 PM on September 22, 2016 | #6653
#6653

philosophy of science vs epistemology in general

different types of writing (essay, blog post, book chapter that's an essay, impressive paper that's an essay someone created a postscript file of)

school education vs. stuff you didn't learn at a school


#6649

looking at the upside of something and not the downside. or vice versa.

paying lots of attention to one thing someone mentioned (e.g. a video game) instead of to a bunch of others that are better but you aren't thinking about.

Anonymous at 9:39 PM on September 22, 2016 | #6656
> paying lots of attention to one thing someone mentioned (e.g. a video game) instead of to a bunch of others that are better but you aren't thinking about.

Isn't it impossible to not do this? What you pay attention to depends on what you already know.

Anonymous at 11:34 PM on September 22, 2016 | #6663
lots of times people know a ton of other video games and could remember them and prioritize if they stopped and tried to. but they don't. they selectively focus on what's in front of them in stead of other stuff they DO know about.

Anonymous at 11:43 PM on September 22, 2016 | #6669
>>> paying lots of attention to one thing someone mentioned (e.g. a video game) instead of to a bunch of others that are better but you aren't thinking about.
>>
>> Isn't it impossible to not do this? What you pay attention to depends on what you already know.
>
> lots of times people know a ton of other video games and could remember them and prioritize if they stopped and tried to. but they don't. they selectively focus on what's in front of them in stead of other stuff they DO know about.

I don't think we are thinking of the same thing. Can you give an example where that happens and why it's bad?

Anonymous at 4:06 AM on September 23, 2016 | #6686
Joe loves 5 computer games. CS, LoL, dota2, war3, sc2.

Billy says "hey wanna play overwatch?"

Joe thinks "hey overwatch sounds fun, ok" and plays a bunch of overwatch with billy.

Joe actually likes those other 5 games more and would have had a better time. but he wasn't thinking about them. he didn't compare how good overwatch is to them. he just compared overwatch to doing nothing in order to determine it's fun. and yeah overwatch is totally fun for Joe compared to doing nothing but that's a dumb comparison. Joe is selectively paying attention to some options (overwatch and the bad default of doing nothing) and not to others (CS, LoL, dota2, war3, sc2)

curi at 11:00 AM on September 23, 2016 | #6688
a big categorization thing people do is they categorize disagreements. one they think of as the other guy being stupid, rather than as a disagreement. another is the other guy being ignorant, not a disagreement, in their mind. another is their kid "not listening", rather than a disagreement. another is their kid "being a troublemaker", rather than a disagreement. another is "schizophrenia", rather than a disagreement. and on and on. people have a million special categories for denying disagreements are disagreements.

curi at 2:35 PM on September 23, 2016 | #6692
> a big categorization thing people do is they categorize disagreements. one they think of as the other guy being stupid, rather than as a disagreement. another is the other guy being ignorant, not a disagreement, in their mind. another is their kid "not listening", rather than a disagreement. another is their kid "being a troublemaker", rather than a disagreement. another is "schizophrenia", rather than a disagreement. and on and on. people have a million special categories for denying disagreements are disagreements.

how is this different than you thinking that the person disagreeing with you is overreaching? aren't you also categorizing?

not being hostile, i genuinely want to know.

Anonymous at 12:20 AM on September 24, 2016 | #6697
sometimes people are stupid, ignorant, overreaching, etc. sometimes i notice, though i also sometimes don't think about it. a lot of problems i have in conversations are because i forget people are stupid, ignorant, irrational, have low standards, etc. then when i treat people like they are better than they are, the gap causes problems.

stupidity, ignorance, overreaching, etc, doesn't stop stuff from being a disagreement which can be approached in the standard truth-seeking manner.

some people are trying to understand the world, others are seeking socially acceptable justifications not to think about criticisms, arguments, etc

what's bad is to use these categories as excuses to dodge discussion, not reply to criticisms, and otherwise not act like you normally would in a disagreement.

they are bad as *reinterpretations* of disagreement. they can be ok as additional concepts that in no way remove, or *delegitimize* the disagreement.

what NOT to do: "yes he said i was wrong and wrote an essay, but what he says doesn't count/matter because he's stupid/ignorant/overreaching".

also pointing out overreaching is an *actionable* tip which people can find helpful and use to discuss better.

pointing out ignorance and stupidity and theoretically actionable tips that people could benefit from, but in practice that doesn't happen. it's much harder to use them in a practical, constructive way than the overreaching tip. overreaching has content explaining what to do differently.

curi at 12:28 AM on September 24, 2016 | #6698
it's also bad if you don't recognize that disagreement-you-attribute-to-stupidity and disagreement-you-attribute-to-ignorance have a lot in common. if they are just disconnected, separate things in your mind that's bad. they have a lot in common (the disagreement part).

curi at 12:29 AM on September 24, 2016 | #6699

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)