04Mar/15

5 ways to spot bullshit

Being a critical thinker isn’t easy.  But it’s important to minimise exploitation to yourself, others and the environment.

Here are 5 ways to spot BS

1. Research logical fallacies

A logical fallacy is a flaw in reasoning. Logical fallacies are like tricks or illusions of thought, and they’re often very sneakily used by politicians and the media to fool people. It’s very easy to make logical fallacies, even with relatively reasonable critical thinking skills. Here are some of the most common ones.

FallaciesPosterHigherRes

On this page you can find examples of logical fallacy statements. For example, “You should eat all of the food on your plate because there are children starving in Africa”. This is called an “Appeal to Emotion” fallacy in which two facts that have no correlation to each other are used to manipulate the receiver into doing something.

2. Use good reasoning methods

There are three good reasoning methods that can be used to detect bullshit: deductive, inductive and abductive reasoning.

Deductive reasoning concludes:

“When it rains, things outside get wet. The grass is outside, therefore: when it rains, the grass gets wet.” Mathematical logic and philosophical logic are commonly associated with this style of reasoning.

Inductive reasoning concludes:

“The grass got wet numerous times when it rained, therefore: the grass always gets wet when it rains.” While they may be persuasive, these arguments are not deductively valid, see the problem of induction. Science is associated with this type of reasoning.

Abductive reasoning concludes:

“When it rains, the grass gets wet. The grass is outside and nothing outside is dry, therefore: maybe it rained.” Diagnosticians and detectives are commonly associated with this type of reasoning.

If you think something seems like bullshit, check to see if they have reasoned with any of these methods – if they haven’t, you’ll probably find their reasoning in a logical fallacy as discussed above.

3. Have a bullshit spotter’s attitude

Try not to become too emotionally attached to your beliefs – if you do, you’re bound to end up in a situation where your belief is invalid and unreasonable. Good critical thinkers (bullshit spotters) are humble – they understand you also suffer from the The Dunning- Kruger effect – that is, not having the competence to know that you’re not competent . When given a different opinion, ask yourself – How could my belief be wrong? Do not believe everything you think . Be prepared to change your mind about anything you believe in. Dr. Peter Boghossian discusses this in detail in the video below.

 

4. Look out for bullshit slogans

Here are just a few to get you started:

It’s 100% natural!” – Since when was everything natural good for you? Arsenic is natural… but I wouldn’t recommend adding it to your coffee.

Treat others as you would like to be treated” – Going back to the point on ‘attitude’ – think carefully about this slogan – it may have good intentions but there are always exceptions.  Should a person who has committed a range of dangerous crimes be treated the same way as others? This is quite a subjective question.

Seeing is believing” – Humans have a vivid imagination, the potential to ‘see things’ and a biological trait that makes us see patterns that do not necessarily exist. If you ever read “Demon Haunted World – Science as a Candle in the Dark” by Carl Sagan, you can find many examples of this. One example, is how humans have seen a ‘face’ in the moon for thousands of years in many different cultures. This face has been linked to a variety of religious and superstitious beliefs. However the reason we find a face in the moon is because human evolution has encouraged this pattern recognition – a baby that is more likely to recognise faces has a higher chance of survival. Also, as Neil Degrasse Tyson pointed out in an episode of Cosmos, seeing is NOT always believing – many of the stars we can see in the sky are no longer there.

sagan

5. Learn to spot evidence of bullshit

Closely linked to the logical fallacies, also keep your ear out for the following statements. You’re more likely to hear these when having a debate with a friend or family member, or when being sold something.

It’s been know for thousands of years… ” - To quote Tim Minchin – just because ideas are tenacious it doesn’t mean that they’re worthy.

Everyone knows that!” - Yeah okay, we all once knew the earth was flat, too.

I saw it on the internet” – The internet is a wonderful collection of information that has changed the way we think and live, however, it is full of bullshit. If someone says they saw in on the internet, make sure they can back up their source on the internet, or research it yourself.

Someone told me” The fact that someone told you something may increase the likelihood – but it doesn’t make it true.

 

With these five tips… and by thinking more about the information you are exposed to, you will have a clearer vision as to how to navigate and understand the world around you.

15Feb/15

Visiting communities project

I’m frequently inspired by friends I’ve met through The Zeitgeist Movement – not only with their meaningful, witty and thought-provoking conversations, but also with the amount of work they do on projects related to sustainability, science and technology. Regardless of these proactive, energetic personalities, most of these projects are done outside of the TZM Australia organisation.

Our TZM group in Brisbane has grown fairly quickly over the past few months and we’re now excited to suggest an ongoing project for anyone who would like to support TZM in particular.

Many people within TZM also have a vision of buying a large block of land and creating a mini-Resource-Based Economy. To work towards this vision, we feel it’s important to get a good feel for what it’s like for people already living in sustainable communities and to truly understand the ins and outs of what works well and what needs more thought.

To enhance collaboration within the movement, as well as share our knowledge and skills, we’d like to organise trips to a range of sustainable communities and open arcologoy projects around Australia and abroad. Here are some that we would like to visit.

1. Christie Walk, Adelaide

Christie Walk Adelaide

The project consists of 27 dwellings which include linked four three-storey townhouses with full solar orientation, a three storey block of six apartments with east-west orientation, four individual cottages, and a 5 storey apartment block facing onto Sturt Street, with a community room/ kitchen/dining/meeting room/ library, and toilets on the ground floor. Around 40 people live at Christie Walk, ranging in age from very young to over 80 with a strong ethos of  ’community’ which has developed over the past ten years.

2. Atamai Village, New Zealand

Map_teaser

Still in development, the entire village, as well as individual house sites, are designed on permaculture principles to enhance both the physical and social resilience of the Atamai community. Atamai will have a residential area, a food production area, a forestry area and recreational areas.

3. Masdar City, Abu Dhabi

masdar

Masdar City is an arcology project in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates which uses solar energy and other renewable energy sources. The temperature on Masdar’s streets is generally 15 to 20°C cooler than the surrounding desert due to its unique construction. A 45-meter high wind tower sucks air from above and pushes a cooling breeze through Masdar’s streets. The site is raised above the surrounding land in order to create a slight cooling effect and buildings are clustered close together to keep streets and walkways shielded from the sun. Public transport initially was designed to use underground podcars. The city reuses its water and functions as a headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

If you would like to find out more and make suggestions for communities to visit, please join us for Z-Day in Brisbane next month, or email me at casey.d@zeitgeistaustralia.org.

26Jan/15

Love, relationships and sexuality

As Valentine’s Day approaches, we are reminded of the traditions in human culture that fill some people with love and joy, but also a huge population with shame and guilt, especially people who don’t conform to the traditional approaches of heterosexual monogamy. This February 14, The Zeitgeist Movement Australia will share some ideas and thoughts on love, relationships and sexuality that will challenge the status quo and provide a deeper understanding of polygamy, homosexuality, the battle of the sexes, communication in relationships, engagement and marriage.

Check out this infographic on non-monogamous relationships.

4.1nonmonogamy251

Here is a sneak peak of one of the clips we will show, a TED talk by Chris Ryan, the author of the book that will change all your preconceived notions of relationships and sexuality, Sex at Dawn.

To discuss this with like-minded people and watch more interesting clips feel free to come along to Monthly Movies that Matter in the Brisbane square Library in February. We will also be showing Paradise or Oblivion by The Venus Project team. We hope to see you there.

11Oct/14

Art to inspire action for social change

Art has been used to express ideas about the world for countless generations. A way to inspire, reach out and communicate new ways of thinking. Now in the 21st century, we have so many new mediums for expressing ourselves artistically – from film, to ever-growing varieties of musical, poetic and visual expression.

safe_image

At this time in history, It is so fortunate we have so many growing mediums of expression, as well as growing mediums of communication to share ideas and thoughts on increasing social issues, economic problems, war, poverty, intolerance, corruption, mass spiritual depression and isolated existence in the West, in a time of an ever growing imbalance of power and equality in most places in the world. On a more positive note, to also share knowledge of hopeful technologies, the profound reality of our existence and the beauty of our universe.

Screen-Shot-2012-10-04-at-1.59.21-AM

In October, the annual Zeitgeist Media Festival showcased live performances, short films and presentations (poems etc.) to inspire positive change. The Brisbane Zeitgeist Movement group shared a range of the short films from the headlining Los Angeles Zeitgeist Media Festival. The feedback from this event was really positive and was met with meaningful discussion and ideas for positive action.

For your viewing pleasure the playlist we shared at the Brisbane Zeitgeist Movement Monthly Meetup has been made available below. This comes as a highly recommended way of expressing a train of thought that encourages long-term global sustainability. Please enjoy watching with your friends and family.

15Sep/14

What’s so funny about sustainability?

Last Saturday, we hosted one of our most well-attended Brisbane Monthly Movie events of the year, Zeitgeist Comedy Day. It was decided upon using a minimum-opposition vote – a strategy we use to determine the movie option that most attendees would prefer.

The movie that was selected was Bill Hicks Last Show – a one-hour stand-up comedy act from the comedian who criticised consumerism, superficiality, mediocrity, religion and politics within the current culture. Bill Hicks characterised these elements as oppressive tools of the ruling class that keep people stupid and apathetic.

billhicks

Although he died of cancer in 1994, his legacy lives on as a catalyst for social change, especially those within in the Zeitgeist Movement. Founder of the Zeitgeist Movement Peter Joseph uses Bill Hicks famous quote titled, “It’s just a ride” in the conclusion of Zeitgeist: The Movie. Below you can find the end of movie quotes, Bill Hicks’ quote starts at 3:33.

The Zeitgeist Movement Queensland invites new people with a vested interest in global sustainability to join us for our Monthly Movies that Matter. Many people who come along have never heard of the Movement, or know very little. For this reason, it was important for us to make the connection between Bill Hicks’ comedy and sustainability.

Regular Zeitgeist Movement members in attendance gave some insightful answers. For example, Bill Hicks encouraged people to question the paradigm of their existence, used comedy to reach out to others, to see others as themselves rather than separate from themselves and look at things the way they really are. In achieving this, Bill Hicks was able to promote a different way of thinking that allows us to see the flaws in the way we think that has lead to war, poverty, corruption and environmental degradation.

It is only a choice between FEAR and LOVE

It’s been suggested that the crudeness of material in his last show may have been a product of the knowledge that he was dying. Some people may find his jokes highly offensive and crude, although it’s been argued that this was his purpose – as he hits the nail on the head over several societal issues and has no boundaries in sharing what he thinks. It also contains a lot of swearing, so do not watch this if you offend easily. Personally, I find the the dark, sophisticated humour absolutely hilarious – however I did experience a tinge of uncomfortableness at his extreme bitterness towards other people. I hope to be able to a bridge the gap between our differences to work together towards a more sustainable future. This my question to you: Does this kind of stand-up kind of, slap people in the face and wake them up – or do the complete opposite – create more division between those with inflated egos and power addiction and those who genuinely want a more equal and peaceful society? Check it out below.

We also a clip of comedians George Carlin on Saving the Planet and Tim Minchin on Human Logic. This was followed by a discussion and drinks at the Coffee Club. Thank you to everyone who joined us.

event photo

Next month’s Monthly Movies that Matter in Brisbane will be on October 11th. We will showcase some of the work from the global Zeitgeist Media Festival and watch I am Fishead. We look forward to seeing you there!