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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Changing Your Mind

There are many types of online debaters on the multitude of platforms. These activities can be fun or serve as an outlet for frustration. Supposed debates that are ineffective include:

  • mutual ranting with rhetoric and memes
  • name-calling instead of providing substance
  • arguments that rely on fallacies
  • whining without making a point
Debates like these aren't really debates at all. Debate requires engagement, listening and focus. The best part of a good debate is that at the very least, you will learn something - you might even change your mind.

Re-evaluating and discarding arguments that you've always used is a challenge. You are required to dig deep and discover why you chose to believe such a thing in the first place. It's personal and conditioned by the nurturing you received or by those you deemed a reliable authority.

Letting go of a belief is a remarkable experience. Sometimes setting yourself up to change your mind is divine.Talk about a high.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Sigmos, Memes & Brands

Consider these definitions:

sigmo = a significant moment of "ah ha" or laughter
meme =  a virally-transmitted cultural symbol or social idea
brand = a mark of quick and effective identification

When presenting your thoughts, debating and writing, you're marketing your ideas. This begins with giving your target market a significant moment of validation, recognition or amusement as an initial means of engagement. Turning those ideas into memes has challenged even the best marketers. Why does some rhetoric or certain pictures go viral? No one really knows. However, although a few turn successful memes into a career, the life of most memes is short.

Branding gives ideas and written materials long life. Whether you like him or not, President Trump is a master of branding. His rants at rallies offer a vision that feeds the needs of his base. The rhetoric is memorable even when inappropriate. His brand is so powerful, there is little he can do to hurt his brand in the eyes of those who support him.

When thinking about the presentation or writing of ideas, consider branding. Grab your market with a sigmo and help your target market make a personal identification with your work. If you're lucky enough to see any or all of your work turn into a meme, use it to turn your work into a brand to maintain your market. 

The only hazard of branding (and memes) is they often take on a life of their own if you're not careful, and sometimes even when you are.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Twitter Arguments

The president uses Twitter as a direct means of communication to the American people and the world, and his tweet will be preserved as historical documents.

Twitter is an opportunity to reduce and refine arguments to their essence. Users are invited to offer research to support their arguments. Sometimes pics or comics further reduce the argument into visual terms that communicate effectively.

Twitter can also diminish the power of meaningful debate. One danger is relying on rhetoric instead of addressing specific arguments. A focus on detail can distract from the big picture. Assumptions about the definition of labels can trigger misunderstandings and inappropriate stereotypes. And then there are the trolls and bots whose only agenda is to promote their agenda.

Chat with those who disagree with. Mindful use of Twitter by connecting with those who avoid the dangers can be illuminating, providing resources and cites previously unexplored. It's really okay to change your mind.

And please - avoid name-calling and driving the

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Dictionary Fallacy

Dictionaries are a useful tool for learning the definition of words, but may not be enough to understand their meaning. Words that express strategies, philosophies or other big picture concerns require more than a few phrases.Using simple definitions in arguments makes for simplistic arguments.

In today's short attention world, it's easy to get caught in the trap of simplistic thinking, The brevity of expression required in social media can turn complex concepts into rhetoric such that words lose their meaning. Assumptions of meaning can make for misunderstanding and poor communication.

The current use of "liberal" and "conservative" in today's political environment is a prime example. Rather than delineating differing strategies of governing, these two terms have become identities that assume no middle ground, overlap or shared values. Sadly, win/lose arguments in governing mean everyone loses.

Relying on dictionaries for understanding complex ideas undermines finding resolution, whether in argument or problem solving. Taking the time to better understand ideologies and strategies requires work but is worth the effort.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is bending evidence to fit one's beliefs. Arguments that use confirmation bias can sound reasonable. Evidence is provided and conclusions are made. However, the evidence can also be manipulated to conclude something else or even the opposite.

Politicians are especially skilled at using confirmation bias. Sound bite rhetoric reinforces the claims made. When fear-mongering is added to the mix, arguments turn into tirades. This is one reason for the current bipartisan divisiveness. Each side manipulates the facts to confirm what they believe and support their thinking with emotional drama..

Want proof of this phenomenon? Try this:

  • Go onto Twitter and calmly engage in an debate with someone who disagrees with you. 
  • Ignore the name-calling and focus on the arguments
  • Manipulate their evidence to prove the opposite of what they are claiming
  • Some will respond with more rhetoric that can be picked apart. You can bombard these folks with facts, but it likely won't make any difference. 
  • Others may offer new information and resources. Investigate, assimilate and/or discard. You may discover your own confirmation bias in the process.

Thinking people want to find a meeting point so they can walk away from a debate without rancor. Yes, there is always a meeting point because we are all human.  

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Neener Neener Mobile

When thinking entails too much effort, becomes too difficult and requires research, it's easy to resort to rhetoric or even name-calling. This is especially true in social media that requires short responses to complex issues. The best example are election campaigns. Many people not only let others do their thinking for them, but inappropriately use rhetoric when debating substance. In politics this becomes a useful tool for building or derailing popularity through sound bites. Sadly, it works.

Another doorway onto the Neener Neener Mobile is through senseless name-calling of the individual arguing as opposed to their arguments. Even when accurate, the context can pervert the content. The result is a childish game of one-upsmanship.

A personal favorite are those who wish to have the final say by stating things like "that's it, so lets move on" or "quips like "you don't know what you're talking about" or those who end their arguments by saying "period."

If you are unable to debate a certain issue without malice, you are unable to debate that issue because you will more invested in being right than in communicating your point. Thus, you will end up taking a ride on the Neener Neener Mobile. We all do it at least every now and then, but trying to avoid it is a step forward in advancing thinking skills.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Thinking About Thinking

In the above comic, Penny wants to learn to think so she can write Textman. She has help from critical thinker Tikka, creative thinker Chaco, symbolic thinker Aleister and strategic thinker Miko. However, taking that first step is a doozie.

Thinking is a commitment to venturing into the unknown. Why? Because:

  • thinking does not occur in a vacuum
  • new knowledge is continually embraced and integrated into what is known
  • beliefs and opinions adjust and change with new knowledge
  • new knowledge can provoke high emotion from unconscious sources
  • thinking invites periods of chaos and entropy
  • at any time, the thinking process can shut down for reasons not easily understood
These are only a few reasons why the commitment to thinking is challenging. However, once you train your mind to think, thinking is automatic and a joy to behold whether you are contemplating the future, solving a problem, writing or cooking a meal.