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Timothy's blog on dulcimers, music, nature and life!

Based on what?

Based on what?

[photo: April 2014, Hawai'i]

When I was in ninth and tenth grade I was a part of Herndon High School’s Junior Varsity debate team as a partner with Steve Rogers representing the Negative side.  It was an invigorating and exciting experience, and the research for points and quotes gave me a sense of power:  We could develop a plan that routed the opposition, undercut the Affirmative’s suppositions, and won for Herndon.  We were undefeated for two years!

The net result for me, though, was deep disillusionment with the whole idea of working toward a desired outcome, since it really didn’t matter what we were debating about but just that we could come up with points and quotes from supposedly ‘accepted authorities’ in such a way that we could outdo the competition. 

What about actual truth?  That didn’t matter, because our goals were merely to make points and use carefully chosen quotes for positioning ourselves toward dominance.

This was my brief foray into the world of unprincipled political manipulation.

It was a valuable lesson.  Since that time I have seen innumerable examples of the same thing in ‘real life’ contexts:  activists presenting statistics and repeating well-planned talking points in order to persuade people to accept an idea that will help the activists advance toward their own goals.  But… what about actual truth?

Facebook is crammed full of this manipulation!  It goes viral!

So when you are listening to apparent logic, or using logic yourself, what is it based on --- really?  What are the sources, and are they to be depended on?  How do you know?  Logic is utterly meaningless (is there any stronger term here?) without solid sources that can be referred to as ultimate authority.

Please don’t just repeat things you’ve heard!  Do you really have cause to believe them yourself?  If you don’t, don’t say them.  If you do believe them, why --- really --- do you believe them?  Are you convinced that the basis for the logic is authentic and fundamental, or have you merely been cleverly persuaded?

This is profoundly important, isn’t it?

Who do you trust?


How do you know?

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