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What school didn’t teach you, part 5: Critical thinking and logical fallacies

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High school and university failed us all. While they taught us things like algebra and history, we weren’t taught any of the things we actually needed to know to create a successful, high quality life!

In this series of 6 videos, I’ll try to teach you what school failed to do:

1) How to build self confidence

2) How to be good with money

3) Dating and relationships skills

4) Confrontation skills

5) Critical thinking

6) Creative productivity

In this fifth video, we talk cognitive biases and logical fallacies, i.e. the ways that your brain doesn’t work very well sometimes. It’s amazing how many people think that the way they view the world and form beliefs is accurate and trustworthy, when in fact the human brain is very biased and often wrong about how it interprets information. School forgot to mention this!


Dan’s Top Resources

Books

Dan has 3 bestselling non-fiction books available in both written and audio form:

  • The Naked Truth, his latest release, shows you how radical honesty builds self-confidence and relationships
  • Nothing to Lose explores how to build confidence from the inside by correcting the programming in your brain
  • The Legendary Life is a very practical, action-focused guide on how to plan and execute a life plan that brings you your ideal lifestyle

Online courses

Dan continues to put out high quality online self-paced courses through the Udemy platform


Full transcript (unedited)

Welcome back to brojo online. Today I’m going to record a podcast that will also be a series of videos about what they failed to teach you in school. Next thing that School doesn’t teach you, or at least you don’t get in high school, you might with the right degree, get it in university. That is critical thinking and logic. I didn’t do a paper on critical thinking until my second year of my psychology degree, and I assume that only the psychology degree and maybe a few others actually has their paper, I imagined the critical thinking doesn’t serve for some many of the other degrees. And when I did that course, it just blew my fucking mind. I can’t believe that I was learning at that late in life, I was learning how to think properly in my 20s, I should have been learning it when I was five. Critical thinking doesn’t mean being critical. It just means thinking things through carefully to try and find the accurate truth. And most importantly means understanding a simple truth, your brain doesn’t work properly. When it comes to making decisions and forming beliefs. Your brain has what’s known as cognitive biases in logical fallacies. And that means it interprets evidence incorrectly, and comes to wrong conclusions. All of our brains do this all of the time. And to become a very wise person who makes good decisions you need to be actively countering against this problem. If you think your brain is good at taking in information and coming to accurate conclusions, you’re fat, because it’s not, I’m not going to cover all the different cognitive biases and fallacies because you can go and research this stuff. That’s actually one of the steps I’ll recommend. The main thing you just got to start with is this principle, I can’t trust my brain with information, I have to take active steps to clean that information up. So before it comes to making serious decisions, or forming beliefs, or taking a side and an argument or joining a group, you need to assume that the wiring in your brain has to be fixed and counted before you make your final call. That whatever you’re feeling impulsively pushed to go towards is probably not accurate, you might end up still going there. But first, you need to look at some other things to make sure that you’re not making a mistake. There’s lots of different cognitive biases and such and so on. But I want to cover kind of the worst ones and how to counter them. Now the worst ones, in my opinion anyway. First one is confirmation bias, which is you’re wired to believe what you already believe, even if it’s wrong. Okay, so you’re looking to confirm your beliefs not challenged them, you’re skewed constantly towards confirming beliefs, which means going to pick out evidence that suits that belief you already have, and ignore evidence that proves it wrong. So you can see how you can get into believing something that’s very wrong, just by choosing little bits and pieces that sound like it’s proving it right. Next is what I call legacy beliefs. I don’t know if that’s the official term, but that’s the bliss handed down from your parents and your peers. So when you’re young and impressionable, you got told what to believe, whether it’s Santa Claus, or religion or racism or whatever, you get past a lot of beliefs before you even have a chance to go away does that right? Because your brain doesn’t even fully formed yet. Legacy beliefs are probably the most damaging we have in our life, we carry on the traditions that we’ve learned without going why is this a tradition, the bandwagon effect is essentially when your group or goes to war, it’s something that echo chamber that you’re in or agrees on something, you jump on board with it just because you want to stay in the group. This idea that because a lot of people believe in something what’s called social proof, there must be more true. Simple factors, of course, that I always keep in mind, there was a time when everyone believed that the Earth is flat. Now only a very small minority of people believe that. So you understand that whatever group you’re part of whether it’s as small as your family, or as big as the vegan movement, or whatever it is, you’re part of, you’re going to feel an urge to go with that group, even when they’re wrong. So I’m going to give you some of the best counters. Okay, so this is ongoing education, I’m not going to really cover it in this video might point you how to cover it, because it’s a really extensive piece of education that you need to put yourself through. The one is the obvious one, study what’s called cognitive biases and logical fallacies. A little Google search or YouTube search will get you started. There’s lots of great stuff out there for free. And you can learn about what they are and how they affect you. And you can see examples of it in your life. And as you start to see it taking shape. You’ll feel your brain resisting against it again, or I don’t want to acknowledge this because you realize shit, I’m wrong about a lot of stuff. I feel like I’m right, but I can see how I come to the wrong conclusion. And how dangerous that is and how often I do it. The more you learn about the stuff, the less affected you’ll be by it when you’re getting information from others. People challenged them to back up their claims with evidence as a practice and argument practice called Hitchens razor, named after Christopher Hitchens, which is any claim made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence, which means you don’t have to disprove someone who didn’t prove what they claimed anyway. Or if there’s made a claim without any proof, you don’t even need to talk to them about it, just dismiss it, you find people are going to download information onto you all the time. Until you start going, how do you know that for sure? Where’d you get that information? Can you cite a study that proves there? And you realize a lot of the time like, really huge percentage of the time, people are just talking shit that they made up. And once you realize that, you’re gonna be like, Well, where do I get my information from? Always assume you’re partly wrong, and look out for that bit that you’re wrong about. But at the same time, assume you’re going to feel like you’re right. So the thing you’re wrong about is often the thing you feel very right about, that’s the most the biggest blind spot that we have, the thing you’re really sure about is probably thing you’re really wrong about. So you kind of hold on to that understanding and look for it. Look for the evidence that makes you Oh, God, maybe I’m wrong about that. So you have a kind of humility at all times i No matter how sure and arrogant I feel about a piece of information, somewhere out there something that’s going to make me look stupid. Now where is it? I should find it before it hurts me have a general principle evidence, Trump’s feelings, no matter how strong you or somebody else feels that something is true. If the evidence is it’s not, you’ve got to go with the evidence behave according to the evidence rather than the feeling. Scientific Method trumps the majority. So no matter what lots of people believe, put it through scientific method. First, has it been tested? Has it been reviewed? Does it hold up? And experiments? Does it keep proving itself to be true? Or do these people just join together in a belief, and there’s really no good reason for them to be doing so understand that every human yourself included, can and does lie. We read stuff on the internet, especially reading stuff on the internet, we hear it on the news we hear from our friends and family. And we have an underlying belief like they wouldn’t lie to me. I’m not there. Many people are that dishonest that often wrong. People lie all the time, they don’t even know they’re lying. Very few people are telling the truth. In fact, the most truthful thing any person can say at any given time is I don’t know, it’s about the only truthful statement, a human being can make a fully truthful statement, because we don’t really know anything. So as soon as somebody’s saying anything else, you’ve got to have some uncertainty about even what I’m saying to you right now. You got to think how does he know that when you get that information from? Is he lying to me is he just doing this for his own gains, I don’t mean should be super suspicious of people all the time trying to manipulate you just be a bit skeptical. But like, we’ll see if there’s proof for that before I buy into it, just because someone said it and they’re passionate about it. And I like the person doesn’t mean that done the truth. Always remember, you’re going to feel compelled to keep the belief you’ve already set a wrong even if you’re wrong. So you’ll notice yourself falling into patterns. We let’s say for example, you are a liberal, politically, you’ll find yourself always going the liberal route with every issue even when liberal was wrong. And that particular issue, fully accurate person would spike between liberal and conservative depending on the issue because one of them is more right than the other. They’re not always right and always wrong. So you’re going to notice that you always feel compelled to keep what you already believe in. And that that is a danger to you. So whenever you feel really strong about something, just always ask yourself, Oh, if I’m wrong, how would I know it and then go look for that information. So on that point, all of your research should include looking at opposing views. Imagine that you switch from your side of the story to completely believing the other side of the story. And then you go down that rabbit hole. So let’s say you’re trying to figure out what’s the truth about the war in the Ukraine at the moment. And right now you’re really like fuck Putin, Russia’s wrong. Imagine you’re like pro Russia and do that research. Just to get a more nuanced view. You know, you’ll find for example, that the Ukrainian president has a lot of red flags. There’s a lot of things that he’s done that are pretty fucking dodgy, and that the Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries on earth. And it kind of gives you a bit more nuanced like as Russia the bad guys, Ukraine, the bad guy, they may be both bad guys. I don’t know. As long as you get to, I don’t know, you’ll know that you’re being as accurate as you possibly can be. Because I don’t know was honest. Thinking you do know is dishonest. Remember, the higher the emotion, the less accurate the belief. So if you’re feeling really strongly your outrage, you’re offended. You’re passionate about something, there’s a really good chance you’re wrong, at least about some key points in that issue. So try to like challenge it. Any belief that you feel strongly about, right, you’re far more likely to be accurate if you’re just cold and calculated, and just kind of like, these are the facts as they lie. Lastly, commit to getting it right rather than being right. What I mean is rather than winning the argument and looking like the person who’s right or being on the winning team, trying to find the accurate information, the odds are the most accurate information doesn’t belong to any group. Usually, once a group formed, they already start to have confirmation bias and bandwagon fallacy. They start to dismiss counter evidence and they get whatever the opposite of nuanced is, they get really conservative and they get really stuck on a single idea. Generally, if you’ve been really accurate, you won’t belong to any groups, you’ll be too nuanced. If you can see all the elements, all the sides to the story, you’ll see that there’s truth and lies and all of them and that you’re somewhere in the middle, trying to find the point of accuracy. Right at that point, you’ll probably be on your own and that’s a good sign that you’re looking at accurate information.

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